The Karnataka High Court said there was sufficient intrinsic material in the scriptures to support the view that wearing hijab has been recommendatory only, if at all it is. "This apparel at the most is a means to gain access to public places and not a religious end in itself. It was a measure of women enablement and not a figurative constraint," the high court added.
"It is not that if the alleged practice of wearing hijab is not adhered to, those not wearing hijab become the sinners, Islam loses its glory and it ceases to be a religion," the high court's order read.
Earlier today, the high court ruled that wearing a hijab was not an essential religious practice in the Islamic faith. In its detailed order, the high court said that what was made recommendatory by the Holy Quran could not be metamorphosed into a mandatory dictum by Hadith which is treated as supplementary to the scripture.
"Whichever be the religion, whatever is stated in the scriptures, does not become per se mandatory in a wholesale way," the 129-page order read. "That is how the concept of essential religious practice, is coined. If everything were to be essential to the religion logically, this very concept would not have taken birth," the bench led by Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi added.
The high court's order came on a batch of pleas that challenged the hijab ban in educational institutions. The high court pronounced its order weeks after it concluded its daily hearings in this matter.
Holy Quran does not mandate wearing a hijab, it was merely recommendatory
The high court said the Holy Quran did not mandate the wearing of hijab or headgear for Muslim women. The bench said that whatever was stated in the sūras could only be taken as a direction because there was no penalty or penance if one did not wear a hijab.
The direction to wear a hijab stemmed from the socio-cultural conditions then prevalent in the region at the time the scriptures were written. "History of mankind is replete with instances of abuse and oppression of women... The era before the introduction of Islam is known as Jahiliya-a time of barbarism and ignorance," the high court said. The Quran thus showed "concern for the cases of 'molestation of innocent women' and therefore, it recommended wearing of this and other apparel as a measure of social security," the high court added.
The high court added that wearing a hijab was recommended after giving regard to the kind of life conditions at the time and as a measure of social security for women and to facilitate their safe access to the public domain.
"At the most, the practice of wearing this apparel may have something to do with culture but certainly not with religion," the three-judge bench said.
"In view of the above discussion, we are of the considered opinion that wearing of hijab by Muslim women does not form a part of essential religious practice in the Islamic faith," the high court said.
"Maybe in the course of time, some elements of religion permeated into this practice as ordinarily happens in any religion. However, that per se does not render the practice predominantly religious and much less essential to the Islamic faith," the high court concluded.
Updated On: 2022-03-15T14:10:24+05:30