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Hijab Our Right And Choice, Say Muslim Girls of Bhopal, Counter Kerala Governor; Clerics Too Back Them

The Bhopal girls summed up their views on the hijab issue saying India is a democratic country and they should be allowed to put on outfits of their choice. Pic/News18

The Bhopal girls summed up their views on the hijab issue saying India is a democratic country and they should be allowed to put on outfits of their choice. Pic/News18

Reacting to the Karnataka high court’s interim order that religious identities should not be revealed inside educational institutions until the final verdict is delivered in the hijab issue, the girls called it "wrong".

As a raging nationwide debate continues on the hijab, several Muslim girls from Bhopal, the City of Nawabs, have joined the chorus in its favour. They have taken the stand that wearing the hijab or burqa is their right and they are putting them on by choice, not under any pressure or force.

Videos of hijab-clad Muslim girls playing football and some others in similar attires riding bikes have gone viral on social media. Sites are flooded with vociferous backing for the outfit, especially from the Muslim community including top clerics.

To know what common Muslim girls think on the issue, News18 spoke to some of them from the city and they candidly said that the choice of outfit should be left to them.

The girls—Afrin, Samrin, Farhin and Nasrin—called the entire controversy uncalled for, maintaining that hijab sets no boundary for women at any point. “We can do anything under a hijab and it also protects us. It doesn’t stop us from anything,” they added.

How it began

The controversy snowballed after six girls wearing the Islamic headcover recently started protesting outside the Women’s Government Pre-University (PU) College in Udupi, Karnataka, as the institute denied them entry inside the classroom.

The Bhopal girls were also critical of the views of Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan who had told News18, “…The word hijab, wherever used, is in terms of curtain, seclusion, separation and not as any cloth. Hijab has been used seven times in the Quran, but nowhere has it meant cloth.”

The girls sought to differ from Khan, saying he is wrong in saying that hijab has no connection with religion, and also urged him to read Quran-e-Kareem. “You have been ordered as per Quran-e-Kareem that you should conceal your identity by putting on a sheet or cover on yourself,” they claimed. “Quran-e-Kareem orders us to practice hijab, which is our haq (right).”

Commenting on the video of Karnataka girl Muskan who faced opposition from saffron stole-clad boys for wearing hijab, the Bhopal girls said she reportedly has been using hijab for the last two years, so the issue should not have been blown out of proportion. “What they (the boys) did was wrong,” they said.

Targeting voices of opposition, the girls said they should not be prevented from using the hijab, which is their right. “If someone was making us do this forcibly, then it would be different. We are putting on hijab by our choice and feel safe doing so,” they said.

Reacting to the Karnataka high court’s interim order that religious identities should not be revealed inside educational institutions until the final verdict is delivered in the hijab issue, the girls called it “wrong”. Perhaps they haven’t seen history, they said, adding that the Begum of Bhopal—Sajida Sultan—was the vice chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University. “If hijab played no hindrance to her taleem (education), why would it hinder others?” they argued.

The girls summed up their views saying India is a democratic country and they should be allowed to put on outfits of their choice.

Kerala governor incorrect, AIMPLB member

However, Congress MLA and member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) Arif Masood too disagreed with the Kerala governor. “He is quite senior to me in age and experience and is a governor, but I will say he needs slight correction,” said Masood. “The Quran also talks about purdah and Allah Rasool also refers to this.”

Saying that certain elements wish to spread hatred, the MLA said Islam is a religion that doesn’t believe in coercion. “Those who follow Shariat, Islam embraces them and those who don’t, won’t be put under any rigour,” he added. “There are Muslim girls who are becoming IPS officers and there are some who are living under hijab.”

Commenting on the interim order of the Karnataka HC, Masood said that petitioners resentencing them have pleaded before the court that it’s an issue of fundamental rights and not a fight over dress code. “Fundamental rights mean the rights with which we are living in the country for 70 years after Independence. The girl whose case has reached the high court has been attending the said institute for two years and that too in hijab but now some people are trying to cause differences and this is not done by the girl in question. Our stand is clear that we should be allowed relaxation as part of our fundamental right,” said Masood who is at the forefront of the opposition to any possible ban on hijab in educational institutions.

Quran specified purdah for women 1,450 years ago: Shahar Qazi

Shahr Qazi Bhopal Syed Mustaq Ali Nadvi. Pic/News18

Shahar Qazi Syed Mustaq Ali Nadvi too rejected the arguments of the Kerala governor, saying a secular and democratic country enables every citizen to maintain his/her identity and perform their religious duties. It’s nothing new, the Holy Quran had issued an order that women should be asked to be in purdah while venturing out of homes. This issue (hijab) is not new and it should be seen whether it’s a conspiracy or a confusion. Our girls have been using hijab and a large number of our sisters put up ghoonghat, so this kind of issue should not be raked up in Hindustan,” said Nadvi.

He declined to say much on the Kerala governor’s pleas, maintaining that he talks about Islam and hadees and is not bothered much about who says what. “Either he doesn’t know Arabic or he is deliberately saying such things,” said Nadvi. He hailed the Madhya Pradesh government’s announcement that there is no plan to ban hijab. On the Karnataka HC’s interim order, the cleric said that first the court should come up with the final verdict as he believes it will pronounce a ruling in accordance with the Constitution. “We are only praying for aman, chain and bhaichara (harmony, peace and brotherhood) in the country.”

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first published:February 12, 2022, 01:24 IST