Pertubuhan IKRAM Malaysia (IKRAM) expresses regret over the judgment of Karnataka’s High Court on 15 March 2022 which upheld its governorate’s decision to prohibit Muslim female pupils from wearing the hijab in school.
IKRAM is of the opinion that the state government’s ban, dated 5 February 2022, clearly contravenes the principle of freedom of religion, which is not only universally accepted as a basic human right but also enshrined in the Constitution of India.
Moreover, Article 25 of the Constitution guarantees the right of all citizens of India to freely practise their respective faiths; surely, this includes donning what is deemed in Islam as garments of modesty.
IKRAM is appalled by the High Court’s verdict in favour of the ban and its conclusion that the hijab is not ‘a part of essential religious practise’. This was reached without taking into account the works of renowned Islamic scholars, including established interpretations of the Quran and hadeeths, schools of thought and edicts.
More alarmingly, the Court referred to a term paper by a college student from Centralia, Illinois in the United States to support its ruling, even though the writer clearly is no authoritative figure in Islamic law.
IKRAM also notes that in Article 25 of the Constitution of India, religious freedom is ‘subject to public order, morality and health’.
Subsequently, IKRAM does not observe that wearing the hijab would be contradictory to any of the above. The state’s new law cannot be validated on this notion as it is inconceivable that a piece of clothing would cause harm to anyone.
On the other hand, IKRAM is concerned that the High Court’s decree could lead to public unrest resulting from inter-faith tensions and eventual bloodshed.
Therefore, IKRAM firmly calls upon Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, all entities of authority and the global community to pressure India’s government – specifically Karnataka state – to withdraw the prohibition of the hijab in schools.
The goal of this collective effort would be to allow Muslims in India to practise their religion freely, that citizens of different faiths may live in harmony and with mutual respect.
Prof. Dato’ Dr Hassan Basri bin Awang Mat Dahan
Pertubuhan IKRAM Malaysia