News Watch, Side Feature, South Asia

Education of Muslim Women is Politicised to Discredit Sharia Law

January 2023 marks a year since the ban on Muslim women from attending Universities in the Indian region of Udupi. The plight of education for Muslim women in the modern world, post-Khilafah one that has repeated itself throughout history. Here are some of the key points:

In January 2023, the Taliban regime in Afghanistan banned women from wearing the burka and prohibited them from receiving an education.

In 2019, the Danish government passed a law banning the wearing of face veils in public places, including the burka and niqab.

In 2011, the French government banned the wearing of face veils, including the burka and niqab, in public places. This law was upheld by the European Court of Human Rights in 2014.

In 2010, Belgium passed a similar law, also banning the wearing of face veils in public places.

The unstable social structures have led to the disruption of education for Muslim women and girls, notable examples include;

Nigeria: Boko Haram, an extremist group active in Nigeria, has targeted schools and students, particularly girls, with bombings and kidnappings. As a result, many girls in the region have been denied access to education.

Syria and Iraq: The ongoing wars and instability have led to the destruction of many schools and the displacement of millions of people, making it difficult for children, including girls, to receive an education.

Yemen: The current conflict in Yemen and mass starvation have also led to the displacement of many people and the destruction of infrastructure, including schools, making it difficult for children, including girls, to receive an education.

The jewsh entity has a discriminatory policy that separates Muslim women from Jewish students in the education system. The Palestinian education system is significantly poorer and more disrupted with the war and authorities murdering, detaining and kidnapping Muslim citizens at will.

The hijab, or Islamic headscarf, was banned in Iran in 1936 under the rule of Reza Shah Pahlavi, the founder of the Pahlavi dynasty. Reza Shah, who was a secular leader, sought to modernize Iran and distance the country from its religious traditions. As part of this effort, he implemented policies aimed at suppressing Islamic customs and practices, including wearing the hijab. Women were also required to adopt Western-style dress and were discouraged from wearing traditional clothing.

This ban was in effect until the Iranian Revolution in 1979, which led to the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the return of traditional Islamic customs and practices. After the revolution, the wearing of the hijab became mandatory in Iran, and women who did not comply with the dress code could face fines, imprisonment, or other penalties.

The cyclical waves of political contradiction continue right up to the present day with women in Iran protesting against the mandatory wearing of the hijab.

In December 2021, the Government Pre-University College, in Udupi, prohibited Muslim students from wearing hijabs inside the class. Six students protested this move. The administration refused to change its new rule, leading to further protests from Muslim students. Subsequently, in January, hundreds of Hindu students arrived at their colleges with saffron scarves around their necks, demanding that students with hijabs be denied entry into campuses. They argued that hijabs violated their institutions’ rules on uniforms. Many right-wing extremists harassed and bullied Muslim women for turning up to classes with Islamic dress. Teachers and lecturers were no exception to the terrorising of sisters.

Several videos emerged on social media of Muslim female students being stopped at college gates, being forced to remove their burkas and hijabs outside, being humiliated by teachers and right-wing student groups. In some cases, Muslim women were being sent home if they refused to take off their headscarves.

On February 5, 2022, the Karnataka government issued an order stating that colleges should adhere strictly to uniform rules and that no exceptions would be made for hijabs.

Several Muslim organisations and students filed petitions against this order. On February 10th 2022, the Karnataka High Court issued an interim order restraining students from wearing “saffron shawls, scarves, hijabs, religious flags or the like inside the classrooms”.

March 2022, when the Karnataka High Court delivered a verdict in the matter, upholding the rights of colleges to prohibit students from wearing hijabs – a slew of colleges across the state began to enforce bans on hijabs, in what broadly began to be referred to as the “hijab ban.” The court stated, “Petitioners have miserably failed to meet the threshold requirement of pleadings and proof that wearing hijab is an inviolable religious practice in Islam and much less a part of ‘essential religious practice’.”

The court also claimed that the prescription of dress codes would be a “step in the direction of emancipation”. The judgement read, “It hardly needs to be stated that this does not rob off the autonomy of women or their right to education in as much as they can wear any apparel of their choice outside the classroom.” The petitioners appealed to the Supreme Court in October 2022, a two-judge bench delivered a split verdict, following which the matter was referred to the Chief Justice of India. Effectively, from the time of the high court verdict to the present, when petitioners await the constitution of a new bench to hear the matter, the hijab ban has remained in place.

What we see here is a global politicisation of Sharia Law being oppressive to Muslim women, and even in those so-called democratic nations that seek to “rescue” and “protect” women from sharia laws, they deny the free will of women who choose hijab.

The hijab or head covering is not the real violation here. Let’s be clear; the great offence is that women accept to live a life where they choose to turn their back on the “freedoms’ of liberal culture. It is this open challenge that exposes the inadequacy of secular values. The systems in place cannot meet the needs of women. This creates insecurity in the elite structures of the world. The real threat is social-political dissent and an acknowledgement that there could possibly be an alternative to capitalistic hegemony.

Journalist Johanna Deeksha is quoted in an article dated January 11th 2023, saying; “While Muslims across India have long had low access to education, those in Karnataka have struggled particularly hard for it. A government survey released in 2013 found that of all states, Karnataka had the highest dropout rate of Muslim school students between classes 1 and 8, at 6.3%. The survey also found that among all the Muslim students in India in the upper primary stage who dropped out of school that year, 73.9% were from Karnataka.”

What can be learnt from these varying styles criminalising and castigating Muslim women’s dress codes is that in all cases, the common theme is “Islam is the enemy”.

If liberals berate the Muslimah’s commitment to Allah (swt), they marginalise and punish Muslim women precisely like the Taliban or Boko Haram. The only system that will genuinely give women justice is the Islamic Laws, a fact that Western leaders want to limit from circulation using defamation tactics and diversion awareness of the real threats to humanity.

[إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا۟ سَوَآءٌ عَلَيْهِمْ ءَأَنذَرْتَهُمْ أَمْ لَمْ تُنذِرْهُمْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ * خَتَمَ ٱللَّهُ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ وَعَلَىٰ سَمْعِهِمْ وَعَلَىٰٓ أَبْصَـٰرِهِمْ غِشَـٰوَةٌۭ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌۭ * وَمِنَ ٱلنَّاسِ مَن يَقُولُ ءَامَنَّا بِٱللَّهِ وَبِٱلْيَوْمِ ٱلْـَٔاخِرِ وَمَا هُم بِمُؤْمِنِينَ * يُخَـٰدِعُونَ ٱللَّهَ وَٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ وَمَا يَخْدَعُونَ إِلَّآ أَنفُسَهُمْ وَمَا يَشْعُرُونَ * فِى قُلُوبِهِم مَّرَضٌۭ فَزَادَهُمُ ٱللَّهُ مَرَضًۭا وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌۢ بِمَا كَانُوا۟ يَكْذِبُونَ]

“As to those who reject Faith, it is the same to them whether thou warn them or do not warn them; they will not believe.  Allah hath set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing, and on their eyes is a veil; great is the penalty they (incur). Of the people there are some who say: “We believe in Allah and the Last Day;” but they do not (really) believe. Fain would they deceive Allah and those who believe, but they only deceive themselves, and realise (it) not! In their hearts is a disease; and Allah has increased their disease: And grievous is the penalty they (incur), because they are false (to themselves).” [Al-Baqara: 6-10]

Imrana Mohammad
Member of the Central Media Office of Hizb ut Tahir