Kitaab and the Hijab, Muslim Girls Shall Have Both


Students come out of their school after a teacher asked them to remove their hijab in Bengaluru.

Forcing a woman to take off her hijab is an act of outraging her modesty

Aazeen F. Kirmani | Clarion India

THE donning of the hijab is an act of modesty. Therefore, by simple deduction, forcing a woman to take it off is an act of outraging her modesty. Of course, this is not what the law states. The lawmakers who defined what constitutes the outraging of a woman’s modesty perhaps believed that we are far past the days of breast cover taxation. Clearly, we aren’t. We are rapidly descending into the era of head cover taxation i.e. cover up and pay with your education and job.

The video clip that has come in from Mandya showing teachers and students being asked (forced) to take off their head covers and outer robe outside the school gates has the ability to tear one’s soul. The small clip has captured in spirit and practice the marginalisation and humiliation of the Indian Muslim. Karnataka High Court’s order had pertained to students and making teachers take off their hijab is a case of outright bullying.

As a number of people have stated on the social media, we are in the midst of a cultural genocide. I do not say that the hijab is a mere a cultural practice. It is, in fact, a religious mandate that has etched itself deep into culture. The attack on the hijab therefore is an attack on religion, culture, education, morale, dignity and financial independence. Those cheering the hijab ban for students in the name of women’s liberation are either outright dishonest to the cause they claim to espouse or are completely ignorant of the socio-cultural factors which play an essential role in determining the trajectory of a person’s life.

By forcing Muslim women to part with their hijab, the public institutions are essentially ensuring marginalisation, religio-cultural subjugation and communal segregation.

Now that anti-hijab sentiments are spreading like wildfire across the nation, and hijabi women are being regularly welcomed by rogue elements at their college gates can we legalise and formalise this form of harassment? Should we tell our daughters as they leave the house – some of them with the dreams of reaching the moon one day that they should be ready to get their modesty outraged at the gates of their college? Shouldn’t we already amend the Directive Principles of State Policy and stop pretending to be a welfare state?

As a hijabi Muslim woman, I feel betrayed by institutions that were meant to safeguard my rights. And I am not alone in my feelings of betrayal. Millions of Muslim women share the same sentiment at the moment. To know that your own state and its institutions have banded up to intimidate and coerce you and outrage your dignity isn’t a pleasant feeling at all. But history tells us that intimidating and coercion do not last long. Resilience has always been our forte, and it’s one thing we will certainly have, even when we have nothing else.

The future that I have envisioned for my daughter – that all of us have envisioned for our daughters – doesn’t include them having to choose between the kitaab and the hijab.

They shall have both!


Aazeen F Kirmani is a Hyderabad-based writer. She tweets at @TawakkkalAllah


Clarion India - News, Views and Insights about Indian Muslims, Dalits, Minorities, Women and Other Marginalised and Dispossessed Communities.


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