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Dissenting Muslim religious opinion on purdah ruling

The Bombay High Court recently banned wearing scarf in schools. The decision came against the appeal filed by the parent of a girl of class 6 of Karthika English School, Fathema Hussain Sayed who was forbidden from wearing scarf by the school authorities. 

The court held the view that the essence of “Islam cannot be said to have been interfered with by directing the petitioner not to wear a headscarf in the school." The reason given in support of the judgment cannot be grasped as it is known after discussing with Islamic scholars. 

The judgment has baffled Islamic theologians, scholars and activists.Maulana Asrarul Haque Qasmi, general secretary of All India Milli Council told MG that the Constitution of India allowed people of every religion to follow it. Such decisions were contrary to its spirit. 

Mufti Ahmad Nadir, a senior mufti (Islamic jurist) at Islamic Fiqh Academy, Delhi said while referring to the Quran and hadith that Islam ordered its adherents to observe purdah and that it was the duty of every grown up girl to follow it. Muslim girls should leave such schools and colleges where Islamic principles were ignored or girls were forbidden from wearing Islamic dress, he added.

Dr Qasim Rasool Ilyas, convener and spokesman of All India Muslim Personal Law Board on Babri Masjid said “ the court has no such rights.” While commenting on some national dailies which said that "if headscarves were such a critical feature of Islam, why do so many Muslim girls all over the world go about their daily lives without them", he said that if this should be the reason, it can be said tomorrow that namaz is not necessary as so many Muslims throughout the world did not offer namaz. Dr Zafar Mahmood of IRS expressed the similar sentiments. 

Dr Sabiha Khanam, a Delhi-based social worker opposed the court ruling saying that it deprived her of the right to follow religion. Comfortable with Islam’s dress code she asked, "was not everything from food to cloth included in the fundamental right to freedom of religion?". Principal of God’s Grace School of Delhi, Dr Nazira Mahmood expressed the same opinion.

Muslim scholars generally differ on whether a girl should cover her face, but they are unanimous that covering of head, which is the case in point, is obligatory.

¯ Manzar Imam

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