In the background of the ban on hijab…….
Karnataka High Court has banned schoolgirls from wearing hijab in school or when appearing for exams; still, however, agitations are going on at some places seeking permission for hijab. Few students wearing hijab have refused to take exams. Given below is an experience to find an answer to the issue – who really wants to make hijab compulsory ?
1. Conversation with three girls wearing hijab on the train
This incident occurred in 2017. I was traveling by train to Hyderabad from Goa in connection with a program. During this journey, three Muslim girls boarded the train at Hubli (Karnataka) along with their Abbajan (could have been their grandfather). These 4 were in the same compartment as mine, we got introduced and started conversing with each other.
The three girls were studying in 11th standard and were going to Hyderabad for taking the examination. The man was traveling with them as a guardian and was a relative of one of the girls. The girls called him Abbajan. The three girls wearing black hijabs were quite talkative. One of them was wearing a full burqa, but her face was not covered. Out of curiosity, I asked them what was the difference between a burqa and a hijab. The father of one of the girls was a maulana in a mosque, so she explained, in detail, the references in Islam.
I asked her how she knew so much in detail. She said that her father was a maulana, and he had told her about it.
2. Heated discussions on hijab and ghoonghat !
2A. Pathetic attempt to compare hijab in Islam with ghoonghat in Hindu Dharma : I said, “It is summer. In May when it is the peak of summer, don’t you feel very hot wearing the black scarf (hijab) ?” The three of them replied that it was a decision of their religion; therefore, they were wearing hijab. One of them said further, “Even in your religion, women wear ghoonghat. Similarly, we wear hijab.” In short, she was trying to emphasise that our religions teach the same thing.
2B. Religious fanatic girl getting angry when told that ghoonghat was due to attacker Sultans : I told them how the custom of wearing ghoonghat was started in India. I explained in detail, the persecution of Hindu girls by Sultani invaders, and the custom was started out of fear. It was never in Hindu Dharma. I also explained in simple words how our goddesses don’t wear ghoonghat.
One of the girls got angry because of my explanation and she said angrily that I was telling a fabricated story. This country first belonged to Muslims. Gandhi and Nehru sent our people to Pakistan. Their reply was enough for understanding how Muslims’ minds worked.
3. Who wanted hijab ?
3A. Some are forced to wear a hijab while some wear as they want to : The other two girls and their Abbajan were, however, listening with curiosity. I told them, “Many times, the information given to us may not be true, therefore, don’t think about it, but still, I feel, you are wearing the black scarf even in this hot weather because your Abbajan is with you.” One of the girls blushed. Their Abbajan joined the conversation and said that he had not made it compulsory for anyone. It was their own decision. The second girl also asserted that it was their own decision, but the third girl, however, frankly said that she was told by her father and till 9th standard, they didn’t wear hijab.
3B. Three girls leaving the train to buy cosmetics : After some time, we reached Guntakal station where the train halted for five hours since the main train was to proceed to Bengaluru and our Hyderabad coaches were to be attached to another train. As the train stopped at Guntakal, Abbajan got up and said to the three girls, “My old relatives stay here. I will come back in three hours; till then, take care.” After making sure that he had gotten off the train, the three hijabi girls got up from their seats and told me that they would go to the market and come back in two hours before their Abbajan returned.
3C. Girls buying beauty products even though it is against Islam, and requesting me not to tell their Abbajan answered my question ‘who wants hijab’ : Guntakal city is known for ornaments and cosmetics. After about two hours, the girls came back to the coach. They had purchased earrings, chains, black bindis, hair clips, small mirrors, etc. After coming back, they kept aside their hijabi scarves and wore the ornaments they had just purchased, and looked in the mirror. I smiled and asked them whether the cosmetics and ornaments were cheap in Guntakal. All three of them said in unison that, indeed, they were very cheap. I then asked them whether women were allowed in Islam to adorn themselves. The three of them looked at each other and were silent. One of them dared to say no, it was not allowed; the other girl told me not to tell their Abbajan that they had purchased such things. I said OK, but, it gave me an answer to the question – who really wanted hijab.
Adorning self is a natural act of a woman. However, when women are not allowed to do it, and instead are asked to cover themselves with a black scarf/hijab, a women’s liberation movement should have begun ! But who will tell this to the modern women’s liberation activists ?
– Mr Chetan Rajhans, National Spokesperson, Sanatan Sanstha.