HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF “HIJAB:
The term “Hijab” is used to denote a partition, a curtain, or even the Islamic laws governing modesty, and it applies to both men and Women. The main idea behind this is that all Muslims should dress decently, behave modestly, cover their private parts, and avoid sexual desire. The term is used in the Quranic Verses when referring to a curtain that served as a barrier between Muhammad’s main residence and his wife’s private quarters. This has prompted some to assert that the Qur’anic command only extended to Muhammad’s wives and not to all women. Although the tradition of hijab is deeply rooted in Islam this word is not mentioned in the Quran, the word there used is Khimar. Historical evidence suggests that veiling was already prevalent in Arabia and associated with high-class positions when the last Prophet of Islam arrived there. It gradually becomes part of Islamic culture. Afterwards, when Islam spread from the Middle East to regions of Africa and Central Asia as well as other communities around the Arabian Sea, Hijab also spread.
DIFFERENT OPINIONS ON HIJAB:
Different Muslim scholars have different opinions on hijab. Some scholars say that the “Hijab is not at the core of the Islamic faith”, is not part of the Sharia law, and is not mandatory. Other Muslim scholars such as Ghamidi said that hijab was only for the Prophet’s wives not for all women. On the other hand, there were other scholars such as Mufti Mukarram Ahmed who said that Surah al-Ahzab, and Sur-e-Noor mandates covering the head. Hence the Hijab is the core part of Islam.
VICIOUS CYCLE REVOLVING AROUND HIJAB :
In 1936, Reza Shah Pahlavi, the Iranian ruler, banned all types of veils and the women who still chose to wear them were brutally beaten. In 1979, the Islamic Revolution took place in Iran, and Hijab was made compulsory, and Women who did not wear it were beaten and detained. In other countries also, such as Turkey, the Muslim ruler Mustafa Kemal Ataturk banned headscarves in public institutions, and in 2013, Recep Erdogan again lifted the ban on veils. This cycle was also played in other parts of the world. This is the chaos that led us to the question mentioned below.
UNREST IN IRAN ON HIJAB:
The worldwide anti-hijab protests started in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, who had been imprisoned by the nation’s “morality police” for disobeying the Islamic nation’s conservative dress code. She died in the custody of the morality police. Since then, protests have started in roughly 80 Iranian cities and towns. In a show of defiance against the limitations placed on them, women have publicly burned their hijabs (head coverings) and chopped off their hair. Women are celebrating their dream of freedom by dancing and singing while cutting their hair. For more than 40 years, a totalitarian government in Iran has denied women their fundamental human and civil rights, openly discriminating against them. Similar to how the Southern states of America historically considered Black slaves as three-fifths of a person, the Iranian Constitution views women as 50% of their male counterparts. They are treated as second-class citizens. In Iran, there was a hijab law that restricted women’s rights
SITUATION IN INDIA:
In India, too we sometimes see that powerful people or the state control the people’s choice of freedom. Recently we have seen that some schools cling to strict “saree” guidelines for teachers. The Tamil Nadu directorate of school education recently rejected a plea from a teacher from Trichy asking for permission for women teachers to wear churidar-kameez in government schools.
Six students in the Udupi area were denied entry to the classroom in December by a government school because they were wearing Hijabs. More students in Karnataka spoke out when schools implemented restrictions. Muslim students claimed that their fundamental rights to education and religion were being violated. Shortly after that, the situation become tense as protests became violent because of the entry of many political and religious organizations.
PETITION FILED IN HIGH COURT:
On January 31, several students from the Udupi PU college submitted a writ petition to the Karnataka High Court and said that as wearing a hijab is an essential practice in Islam, restriction on that is a clear violation of Articles 14 and 25 of the Indian Constitution. On March 15, 2022, the Karnataka High Court upheld the educational institutions’ ban on the Hijab. According to the court, the hijab is not a requirement for practicing Islam, and as a result, it is not covered by Article 25 of the Constitution, which establishes a person’s basic right to profess their religion. “The Holy Quran: Text, Translation, and Commentary by Abdullah Yusuf Ali”, which was previously used by the Supreme Court of India in the Shayara Bano case, was consulted by the High Court as part of its investigation. According to Ali’s opinion, the Hijab was only advised as a social security precaution during the Jahiliya (periods of pre-Islamic “ignorance”) to handle situations of “molestation of innocent women.” It was not a religious practice and had little bearing on Islam.
SUPREME COURT STAND:
On October 13th, 2022, the Supreme Court issued a split judgment in the Karnataka Hijab Ban case. The Hijab ban in Karnataka’s educational institutions was upheld by Justice Hemant Gupta whereas Judge Sudhanshu Dhulia overturned the ban. He said that “If the belief is sincere, and it harms no one else, there can be no justifiable reasons for banning the hijab in a classroom.” He said that discipline is important in school but not at the cost of dignity and freedom. A pre-university student’s privacy and dignity were violated when she was asked to remove her headscarf at the school gate. Both Article 19(1)(a) and Article 21 of the Constitution were violated. She also had the right to respect and privacy inside the classroom. He argued that this right wasn’t a derivative right. He said that the state and school management needed to decide which was more essential: upholding a dress rule or educating girls. According to Justice Dhulia, the wearing of the hijab should be a personal choice under the Constitution. It might not be an ERP but rather a matter of conscience, expression, and belief. Her hijab was her ticket to education; the only way a conservative family would allow the girl to attend school. To ask them to remove their hijab would be to violate their dignity, invade their privacy, and prevent them from receiving a secular education. The High Court’s ruling was overturned by Justice Dhulia, who also declared the Karnataka government order invalid and ruled there should be no limitations on the Hijab’s use at Karnataka’s schools and universities.
As “Dr. BR Ambedkar said, I measure the progress of a community by the degree of progress which women have achieved.”
As we know today, women are frequently the focus of religious restrictions all around the world because of the way they dress, which is frequently seen as being too religious or not religious enough in some countries. This has to be changed to give them their fundamental human rights. We are seeing various comments on how women should dress these days, with one Australian Muslim leader recently comparing exposed women to exposed meat. In the cultural, political, or religious war over hijab, it is just the women who suffer. Not just women everyone should be given their Freedom of choice with reasonable restrictions as long as they do not hard the society. They should have the right to choose their clothing. The choice of clothing should not at all affect women’s education in any way. Nor Women should be forced to wear Hijab neither Woman should be forced to take off their Hijab.
Author(s) Name: Harshpreet Kaur (Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Punjab)