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Friday, December 2, 2022

How is hijab mandatory when namaz is not in Islam? : The Supreme Court

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While hearing the hijab row case the Supreme Court questioned the Muslim side as to how the hijab became necessary and compulsory for Muslim women when Namaz is not mandatory in Islam. Should a new rule be established to offer namaz in schools now? Or according to the Muslim community schools should be converted to madrasas or any religious centers? Schools are meant to be part of academic education where students are expected to be in uniforms and outshine themselves by focusing on their respective carries and personality development. The hypocrisy around hijab and other religious aspects like Namaz is beyond one’s understanding. As even the apex court asked the petitioner from the Muslim’s side how was hijab decided mandatory when ‘namaz (prayers), hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca), roza (fasting), zakaat (almsgiving for Islam), and imaan (faith in Islam)’ was not mandatory in Islam. The next hearing will be held on the 11th of September 2022.

In December a government school in the Udupi district barred six students from entering the classroom because they were wearing hijabs. As the controversy spiraled, students from a college in the Mangaluru district made similar claims. Why did some students suddenly decide to wear Hijab to school? Was it the first time they were going to school? Did they not know that an institution like a school requires uniformity? 

Muslim students in Karnataka started turning the issue into a protest. They said they were deprived of their fundamental rights to education and religion. The protests soon spread to other districts and even outside Karnataka, with reports of violence and stone-pelting. Prohibitory orders were imposed in affected areas in Karnataka, including Udupi, Bengaluru, Shivamogga, and Dakshina Kannada, and schools and colleges were briefly ordered to close.

Imagine demanding the wearing of saffron stoles or attires in schools Hindus. Wrath would be bestowed upon the entire Hindu community if a demand of such kind was ever made by them. Why suddenly hijab was a matter of concern for students? How did the paradigm shift from attending classes to religious attire which is not even an essential practice according to Quran? 

Rudre Gowda, the principal of Udupi college, said that students used to wear Hijab to campus and entered the classroom after removing the scarves. “The institution did not have any rule on Hijab-wearing as such and since no one used to wear it to the classroom in the last 35 years. The students who came with the demand had the backing of outside forces,” Gowda said.

To maintain the sanctity of classrooms and educational institutions The Karnataka government banned hijab inside classrooms under its 1983 Education Act. In a February 5 order, it said that under Section 133 of the act, the government reserves the right to issue appropriate directions to schools and colleges to ensure the maintenance of public order. The decision was challenged in Karnataka HC, but the Court upheld the Government’s order. 

The bench said that Essential Religious Practices should associate with Constitutional values. The person seeking refuge under the umbrella of Article 25 of the Constitution has to demonstrate not only essential religious practice but also its engagement with constitutional values. Holy Quran does not mandate the wearing of a Hijab or Headgear for Muslim women. What is not religiously made obligatory therefore cannot be made a quintessential aspect of the religion through public agitations or by the passionate arguments in courts. It is not that if the alleged practice of wearing hijab is not adhered to, those not wearing hijab become sinners, Islam loses its glory and it ceases to be a religion. Therefore, wearing hijab by Muslim Women does not form a part of essential religious practice in the Islamic faith.

Article 25 of the Constitution guarantees the “freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion”. However, this right isn’t absolute and is subject to public order, morality, health, and other fundamental rights.  ‘essentially religious’ can be proved by the ‘essential religious practice test’. The Supreme Court judgment in 1958 held that the sacrifice of a cow on the occasion of Id was not an essential religious practice for Muslims. The Karnataka High Court judgment, it has held that wearing the hijab does not constitute an essential religious practice under Islam — which means the state can regulate it. 

To reach this conclusion, the court referred to a commentary on the Quran and held that there is no “Quranic injunction” or mandate on wearing the hijab. It found that “there is sufficient intrinsic material within the scripture itself to support the view that wearing hijab has been only recommendatory if at all it is”. The court, therefore, concluded that “wearing of hijab by Muslim women does not form a part of essential religious practice in Islamic faith”.

The Hijab row was very cleverly used by the left to propagate and incite violence. Owaisi brought the hijab issue to the UP elections. Addressing a rally at Sarai Tarin in Western UP, Owaisi said, “I pray that our sisters fighting for their right to wear hijab are successful in their fight.” 

What happened in  Karnataka is anything but the quest for knowledge. In the name of faith, young girls were asked to choose hijab over education. Hijab was never an issue for any school-going student but suddenly with assembly elections ahead, it became a matter of fundamental rights for Muslim students. Because of the entire incident schools and colleges had to be shut down for a few days, and the entire educational curriculum was disturbed for no good reason.

The pre-planned conspiracy can easily be drawn since it is a matter that the minority exhibits very often. The most disturbing thing is to see the involvement of students in such an extremist activity because it is their time to invest in their studies and take the nation forward. The absolute lack of understanding of fundamental rights vested with the citizens and a mindset driven by extreme religious hatred is a leach in Indian society. It is the only driving force that can make the country hollow from within. 

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