Islam says hijab ideal, ‘not essential’: Karnataka govt to Supreme Court over ban order

As the hearing on the controversial issue of the hijab ban in India’s southern state of Karnataka reached its eighth day on Tuesday, a division bench of the Supreme Court was told that the hijab may be mentioned in the Islam, as ideal, but it was not essential, or else “Muslim women in countries like Iran would not be fighting against it”.

During the hearing on a batch of petitions seeking the right to wear hijabs, a bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia said it has to refer to the one verse of the Quran which makes it a “farz” (duty or something mandatory) to wear a hijab.

When Justice Dhulia asked which country is that, Mehta replied, “Iran,” adding that a mere mention in Islam means it’s permissible or ideal but not essential.

Mehta asserted that the court must avoid analysing any religious scripture.

“But for me, this is not about religion. That’s how a secular country works. You can express your views on crossroads, not by tying something….” he told the court.

Hijab is the practice or dress code in Islam in which women cover their heads using a cloth.

Petitioners in favour of the practice asserted that “hijab is a symbol of dignity just like a Hindu woman covers her head with her saree”.

The apex court has been hearing a batch of 23 petitions challenging the hijab ban in educational institutions in Karnataka.

Some of them are writ petitions filed directly before the Supreme Court seeking the right to wear hijab for Muslim girl students while some others are special leave petitions challenging the March 15 verdict of the Karnataka High Court which upheld the hijab ban.