Don’t Support Allowing Burqa or Hijab

‘I Will Advise My Muslim Sisters To Choose Education Over Hijab’

Saniya Khan, 23, a practising Muslim from Karnataka, says hijab row is the creation of political vested interests and students must not play into their hands

I am a devout Muslim who wears burqa every time I step out of my house. Yet, I don’t support allowing burqa or hijab in schools. This statement might sound confusing to many of your readers but allow me to explain my position.

I firmly believe that an ostensible display of religious practices should be kept away from schools or workplace where certain protocols are followed to bring about a uniformity an impartiality. Whether burqa, hijab or a tilak, one should refrain from carrying one’s religious identity on the sleeve in a classroom.

You may mistake me as a liberal but I am not; far from it. I am deeply religious and I wear burqa in public space. However, as soon as I enter the office premises, I take it off. For, a workplace has a decorum and propriety that needs to be followed if you choose to join in.

Having said that, I know this hijab controversy has been deliberately created to fulfil the agendas of political parties. The whole issue could have been resolved right when it started but the state elections are due the next year and I strongly suspect that a social experiment is being conducted by some vested interest to polarise society so that they can swing the elections in their favour.

ALSO READ: ‘All Women Must Support Muslim Girls On Hijab’

I see the issue has now spread and spilled over to other parts of the country. A few days ago, my sisters came home from college and informed us that how there was a sense of fear among Muslim girls. Though the college administration hasn’t issued any diktat against burqa or hijab, there were fewer girls wearing burqa in the college. This whole incident shows how much importance these girls give to the education; they are ready to set aside their religious practice for the sake of education.

This episode also gives a message to school and college administration to not deny education to women over a piece of clothing. Women are fighting to get their due status in society and they know they can achieve it through education only. We women have fought a long battle to come to this level. But, if the college administration or the government will decide to reduce our access to education institutions over the matter of hijab or jeans, it will be the defeat of the country. This will expose the hollowness of our leaders’ promise to the right to education, particularly girls’ education

My message is for those schoolgirls also that even they are deeply religious and believe that wearing hijab in schools is their fundamental right, it should be set aside for now. Because, it is serving the purpose of one-kind-of ideology which wants to create a deep rift in the society and in this whole controversy only Muslims are being marginalised.

As told to Md Tausif Alam

‘Talaq… And I Was Homeless In A Second’

Shazia Khan was just 26 when the word talaq uttered three times tore her life apart thirteen years ago. She is one of the many Muslim women who came forward last year when the government took up the issue of this instant form of divorce. On December 28, 2017, the Lok Sabha passed The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, making instant triple talaq in any form – spoken, in writing or by electronic means such as email, SMS and WhatsApp – illegal and void, with up to three years in jail for the husband. The Bill remains to be passed by the Rajya Sabha, with the NDA committed to getting it through and the Opposition adamant on referring it to a select committee. Meanwhile, here is Shazia’s story:   I was a teenager when my nikaah took place with a complete stranger from Pilibhit at my hometown Aligarh in 1993. I had no choice in this matter; destiny took me to Delhi. My husband, Aslam Khan, ran a small watch shop in Karol Bagh. We stayed with my husband’s aunt for some time and later bought our own house in East Delhi, after selling the village house. A month into my marriage, I got to know my husband was an alcoholic who would frequently pass out in public and would have to be carried home. Life went on, however, and I got pregnant less than a year into the marriage. I had a son, and my in-laws also moved in. We had another son later. One day, my husband sold the house and took a ₹36,000 advance from a buyer, a known bad character of our locality. I intervened and made sure the advance was returned. Later, I bought a plot in Mustafabad and built a house there. It was the turn of household items then. One day Aslam and I had an argument after he sold my mixer-grinder. It ended in silence with Aslam saying talaq three times. Our neighbour, Islam bhai, came and told me that I can’t live in the same house with my husband. “Aap yahan nahi reh sakte ho bhabhi (You cannot live here any longer),” he said. Just like that, I was homeless. I moved in with a cousin in Shahdara, Delhi, and called my brothers. We then filed a report of domestic cruelty against my husband, in-laws, my husband’s aunt and her son. Soon enough, my husband apologised and I agreed to go back. My first question, however, was, “How can we live together after talaq?” The answer was, “Marry him again”. This was my encounter with halala, the wedding of a divorced woman to someone else before she can remarry her first ex-husband. My halala husband was Rizwan, my husband’s friend. He was paid ₹1,000 for this deal. My only condition was that Rizwan would have no physical contact with me. As soon as I got back with Aslam, there was another shock waiting: the Mustafabad house had been sold. I was shattered, yet again. Somehow, I found the will to sort out this problem too. The property was registered in my name, so I took over the sale and took about ₹150,000 from the buyer. And ran, leaving even my kids with Aslam. I left for Aligarh, and from there Meerut, where I got a job at a doctor’s clinic. Years passed, till one day my younger son’s ill-health brought me face-to-face with Aslam again. He convinced me into living together again. We rented a flat in Delhi. It wasn’t over, though. One night I woke up to find my husband having sex with a eunuch. No words were exchanged this time, and it was really the end. I’ve been on my own since then, working one job after another to get by. The triple talaq bill is for women like me who’ve fought a losing battle against this practice all their lives.

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