Life may not be easy for the Islamic Tuareg tribe in the deserts of Sahara, but what they enjoy is something we, the so-called-civilised world is yet to achieve.
Gender equality is something that concerns us every now and then, but the tribe sets an example in the domanin in a tad unique manner. The women are the masters here, owning the tents and the animals and they are free to move without covering their faces.
Much to the surprise of the Islamic World, the lifestyle of this tribe is not-so-islamic. They may have embraced the religion but have customs that Islam does not recommend. Firstly, the women do not wear the hijab here, but men have to cover their faces once they reach puberty. Secondly, women can take as many lovers before marriage and there is no one to stop them.
But of course, they are particular about certain things in this aspect. The men should come to the tent after nightfall and should leave the woman's tent before daybreak.
These unusual practices lead to breaking the stereotype in one way or the other. With the liberty of having multiple partners, women in this tribe marry late (unlike the usual Islamic regulations). Surprisingly, even after marriage, the women do not lose their hold in the family. The woman is the first to decide whether she wants a divorce or not, depending on how tolerant she is. And even if the separation culminates, it is the woman who gets to keep the tent and the animals.
However, experts say this is not a matriarchal society. While men still sit back and discuss politics and women run about their ususla errands, the latter participate in the discussion indirectly. The men are bound to take the opinion of their wives and mothers for a particular decision.
Women decide when they need a divorce and it is not considered a shame.
Interestingly, men bear with a lot of rescrictions here. For example they cannot eat in front of a woman with whom they cannot have a sexual encounter.
On the verge of extinction, this tribe is gradually doing away with some of its un-islamic traditions. Women take hijabs these days and adopting the ways of the West.
'They would prefer their people to adopt Arabic, the language of the Quran and of the wider Muslim community... They deem certain other aspects of Tuareg culture, especially music and dance, to be licentious and ungodly and they object to the relative freedom and social power that Tuareg women enjoy', said an expert.
Certainly an eye-opener in an age where time progresses but rituals and make-shift beliefs do not.