Many questions wander in my mind and keep me awake, often all night. I cry and pray, and the only outlet I get is writing articles. This is my eleventh article for Islamic Voice. My heart cries for many things, but on the top of my mind now is the onslaught of the ban on Hijab in Classroom (only).
Hijab controversy and School and College dropout girls
Let me ask the first straight question about the girls who left schools in the Hijab controversy and those who did not write the exams. Did they realize that they are called the dropouts of schools and colleges? No one will crown them as crusaders of Hijab, and no one will accept them at the same level as highly educated and professional girls, and even accept them as brides of their highly qualified sons. They are very soon forgotten and ruined their career, future, and future economic independence. Who will bring back their year that was lost, and who will come to help them when they become economically dependent helpless wives, as just homemakers, in the forthcoming dreaded years of islamophobic oppression and polarization. We all agree that the imposed Hijab ban in classrooms by the courts and the government is disappointing, oppressive, and in violation of our rights. But then, was it right on the part of ulema (the most divided into Fiqhs and maslaks) and self-centered political class, the community leaders, who took “Hijab in classrooms” to the level of FARZ through their emotionally charged legal and religious points of arguments. Did they ever think that there would hardly be a Muslim teacher in schools, a professor in the university and college, or a Muslim woman as a doctor, lawyer, or administrator in any office in a decade if our girls discontinue studies for the sake of Hijab in Classroom? When it has become a law, we need to abide by the law of the land (notwithstanding our protest and a legal battle being continued). There are occasions you remove your Hijab, like going for Aadhar biometrics, passport, and Visa picture, or when you see a male doctor. Unusual challenges face the community. Were mosques not closed for one year and Haj not allowed during a pandemic. Did not the millions of Muslims who have migrated to the west from all over the world agree to abide by the prevailing law in matters of civil code? Polygamy is an offense in many countries. But those countries also have fair laws to protect the rights of Minorities. I have repeatedly written that there is only one solution to the foreseeable misery of Muslims of India through discrimination and targeted harassment. Education, Education, and only Education can protect you and enable you to proclaim equality with men and women of other communities. It is the education of girls that will economically lift Muslim families. Why is our wealthy class, the educated, and the taxpayers indifferent to their responsibility for poor Muslim girls’ education? Why doesn’t each of us adopt at least one poor Muslim girl from our neighborhood to fully support their education? Do we ever ask if your maid at home if her children left school for financial reasons? If we do not start this movement, it is not just a shame but will be answerable to Allah. We are obsessed with building a row of mosques on the same road or Madrasa and never think of building schools. The religious leaders lack the courage to come together and give practical advice to our girls. Political leadership is no different. The majority of Imams continue with the age-old stereotype of Khutbas. They have mugged up in Madrasas, utterly untouched by the current socio-economic and educational challenges by some so-called religious men are in WhatsApp circulation banning education for girls, let alone giving them professional education. The Muslim youth should boycott them and ignore them.
Are this ulema and politicians ever concerned that the Muslim professors in the entire Karnataka state universities are only 16 out of nearly 1000 faculty? Do they know that Muslim students in universities are 1% and3% in colleges, and girls’ dropout is 60% in high school? No imam (except a few) is equipped or willing to speak on education, education to women, rights of women, and socio-economic issues of the community. I tried and appealed that tailored Khutbas in Urdu should be prepared, printed, and circulated across our state Masjids but saw no response.
Our mosques have committees and presidents of exhausted older people who sit there for prestige. It is time that mosques work as community centers, and are used for community development, propagate information about opportunities to the youth, and organize counseling sessions and guidance centers. If they fail to do it, they must quit their offices and allow younger active persons to take charge.
Our prophet even asked us to go to China to acquire knowledge but never said only men should acquire knowledge and only hijabi girls can acquire knowledge. The knowledge he referred to is universal learning, science and technology, and everything about Allah’s creations. The time has come for parents of girl students to resolve that education shall not be discontinued at any cost, and every well-to-do Muslim shall adopt at least one girl to educate her till the end. Allah will reward them for this act, and certainly not for showing their wealth and gold at weddings and birthdays.