Is Hijab Permissible, Enforceable, Mandatory, Or Choice?

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It is an opinion-based abstract on the recent trend issue, “hijab”. It is about the worldwide women’s take on it.

Hijab
image source: the daily guardian

It is incredibly ironic that whether the woman is from an Islamic country like Iran or from a secular country like India, they are both fighting for Hijab, but one is against it and one is demanding it. Especially when women of Islamic countries are against it but women of India are demanding. 

Mahsa Amini, 22, was on a visit with her family to Tehran, the Iranian capital when she was detained on Tuesday by the police unit. This unit has been posted to enforce the women to strictly follow the Islamic republic’s dress code, which includes the compulsory wearing of the headscarf (Hijab) in public. She fell into a coma after being arrested in Tehran by the notorious ‘Gasht-e Ershad’, morality police, and died on Friday.

After her death, the women of Iran sparked protests across the country.  Their protest caught fire and the issue is gaining worldwide attention, especially after women in the country started to remove their veils and chop their hair to express their condemnation. 

What is ‘Gasht-e Ershad’ and its law?

It is the country’s morality police, established in 2005. They are responsible for imposing the hijab laws. After Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic Resistance Movement took control of Iran in 1979 through a referendum, it became mandatory for women to cover their heads in the country. Since then, Islamic laws have been in effect in the nation, and women have been covering their heads when they go out of their homes.

Hijab matter in India

In March, the Karnataka High Court in India ruled that the hijab is not “essential” to Islam in a landmark case that could have implications across the country. The court also upheld a state government order that banned headscarves in classrooms. The three-judge bench held that allowing Muslim women to wear the hijab in classrooms would hinder their emancipation and go against the constitutional spirit of “positive secularism”.

After the high court’s verdict, unsatisfied Fatima Bushra and some Muslim women protesters filed petitions in the Supreme Court arguing that India’s constitution guaranteed them the right to wear headscarves. Now the matter has reached the Supreme court.

On Tuesday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta testified before the Supreme Court on behalf of the Karnataka government, stating that even in constitutionally Islamic nations like Iran, women are fighting against the hijab. He said, “Means it’s (hijab) permissible but not essential.”

What do Muslim women want? (Worldwide opinion)

  • In an interview with India Today, Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen said “I am so happy. It is a beautiful scene that they are burning their hijab and cutting their hair in protest. It is very important for the world, for all Muslim women, because we know hijab is a symbol of suppression, oppression, denigration, and humiliation of women.” 
  •  Asra Nomani said, “The idealization of hijab can put women who choose not to wear it in a challenging position. So, yes, speaking as a Muslim-American, if I had a daughter, I’d want her to be able to not cover her hair and not have to worry about being judged by her peers as somehow less religious or “chaste.” But this doesn’t change the fact that just as women should be free and empowered to choose not to wear hijab, they must also be free and empowered to wear it if that’s what they want.”
  • Malala Yousafzai, a Nobel Prize winner and activist for women’s rights, expressed concern about the instances in which female students in Karnataka were denied access to classes because they were wearing headscarves.

She said, “Refusing to let girls go to school in their hijabs is horrifying. Objectification of women persists — for wearing less or more. Indian leaders must stop the marginalisation of Muslim women.”

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Harshika Yadav
Harshika Yadav
A trainee journalist and an English Journalism alumnus of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication.

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