Punjab Research Group

History of the Punjab: Powerful matriarchs in the land of the five rivers

Posted in Articles, News/Information by Pippa on February 3, 2009

By Dr. Manzur Ejaz

Every historical change affects women in more profound ways than other segments of society. However, it is amazing that little has been recorded by historians in this regard. The Muslim invasion of the Punjab led by Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi in the 10th century, also resulted in fundamental changes in the status of women, but one does not find much material about this shift in women’s status in historical chronicles of that period. Probably, most of the history books of that time were written by those Northern and Central Asian men who were attached to the Slave Dynasty and had little regard for women. The only exception is Abu Rehan Al Beruni (973-1048) who wrote about the status of women and other social aspects of the Punjab.


Al Beruni’s account of India is largely based upon his observations about the Punjabi society to which he came with Mahmud Ghaznavi, and later on lived in for a long time. Therefore, for all practical purposes Al Beruni viewed India through his knowledge of the Punjab . One can trace back Al Beruni’s characterization of Punjabi women as being part of the decision-making process in all important matters, from the customs of the ancient Vedic period. We can see a similar depiction of Punjabi women in the work of the intellectuals who came after him. For example, one can find metaphorical descriptions of the status of women in the poetry of Hazrat Fariduddin Masud Ganj-e-Shakar aka Baba Farid (1173-1265) and through the memoirs of his intellectual heir Nizam-ud-Din Aulia (1238-1325). In addition, folk tales can be utilized as an indirect source of our information, though their authenticity will remain suspect.


To read full article: http://www.wichaar.com/news/315/ARTICLE/11674/2009-01-24.html

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