The debate surrounding the hijab/veil and its implications for Muslim women in India and globally. It explores the Western perception of Islam and the role of colonialism in shaping this perception.
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah announced the withdrawal of a previous order restricting hijabs in classrooms, but later clarified that the matter was still being deliberated.
This decision is seen as an example of vote bank politics by the Congress government, validating the BJP's accusation against them.
The hijab/veil has been a subject of global debate, with Western leaders recommending partial or full bans on it.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy ordered legislation for a total ban on the full Islamic veil in 2010.
British Prime Minister David Cameron supported institutions with "sensible rules" regarding full-face veils in 2016.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced criticism for using Islamophobic language against Muslim women who wear burqas in 2019.
Muslim women have protested against Iranian state policy that enforces the hijab.
The global discourse revolves around questions of whether Muslim women should have the right to choose to wear the hijab, if the state should make laws regarding it, the provision in Islam on gender freedom, and which should prevail in a clash between state policy and Islamic provisions.
This debate is seen as part of the Western colonial project.
The dominant Western perception is that Islam has been unfair to Muslim women and does not offer equality or freedom.
This perception is influenced by the legacy of a Western colonial mindset.
Feminism against cultures in the Islamic world or in sub-Saharan Africa or even in India was mainly intended for the service of colonialism.
Wars in West Asia are often launched in the name of democracy or fighting terrorism, reflecting the West's approach towards Islam and Muslim societies.
The Western colonial project and Hindutva's majoritarian agenda share the objective of total domination and hold the idea of equal rights with contempt.
The concern about the hijab/veil in Hindutva ideology is not related to gender equality or freedom.
This is evident when comparing their positions on the Bilkis Bano case or the Sabarimala verdict.
The purdah system evolved gradually in different parts of the world, including India.
Ibn Batutta was shocked to see unveiled Muslim women in southern Anatolia and western Sudan in 1377.
Around 1595, Abul Fazl wrote that men and women in Bengal mostly went naked, wearing only a cloth around their loins.
Historian Richard M. Eaton's book on the rise of Islam in Bengal offers a narrative of the gradual evolution of the purdah system.
Around 1700, there was no evidence of the practice of purdah in Bengal, according to a ballad composed by Mansoor Baiyati.
The argument that the purdah system evolved gradually could be valid in the rest of India as well.
Scholars Fatima Mernissi and Amina Wudud have criticized Western feminism and argued that Islamic provisions can be interpreted for gender equality and freedom.
Amina Wudud's book Qur'an and Woman (1999) examines various terms and argues that there is no inherent value placed on man and woman in Islam.
Muslim women in India and elsewhere do not universally wear the hijab/veil.
Many Muslim women in India have excelled in various fields without wearing the hijab/veil.
India allows women to make their own choices and has a secular political culture.
Muslim women do not need to be emancipated by Hindutva activism, which does not respect minority rights.