By Sushil Kutty
Iran’s ruling clerics are up to their necks in protests for defending a piece of cloth they insist women should wear to keep their dignities intact. What’s wrong with that? The ‘hijab’ is such an innocuous wraparound. And it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, not when top justices of the topmost court are there to exclaim in wonder and tell an acclaimed lawyer defending the hijab, “Sir, it was a pleasure listening to you!”
The top lawyer drew ire for his defence of the hijab late that night. To be bracketed with misogynists and child-beaters is not fun. But the fight for and against the hijab will continue. Even perfectly sane top court justices find they can defend the indefensible! And but for the fact that there weren’t any sworn clerics in the courtroom, the atmosphere would have reverberated with the shouts of “God is Great!”
The hijab, the face veil and the head-cover Muslim women are ordered to carry to their graves, cannot be defeated by judicial pronouncements. At least we in India shouldn’t forget that. The fight for hijab justice is never ending. But whose fight, and whose abomination? Talented lawyers can confuse the issue, such that even erudite justices of the topmost court could get jostled into congratulating them for delivering poetry!
Seriously, religion is our ‘hopium’. We all should live in fear of the afterlife. And the unknown what happens to the last breath after the last breath escapes the body’s trap should be reason enough for the hijab. Only the soulless ask a small girl to show her face and neck. Why should she show skin? What’s so alluring about the female epidermis?
The senior advocate in the Supreme Court didn’t wait to ask himself these questions. He had all the answers pat even if at times one wondered where he was coming from, where he was going to, and what was he all about? His arguments in court defending the hijab spoke of too much reading.
He came armed with what he considered were facts when all they did was to prove that but for taking up law studies, he wouldn’t have been any great loss to the tribe of historians. The top advocate’s arguments left the two justices mesmerized; neither of them had heard such advocacy and such powerful agency before.
How many knew “Brahmins had hijacked India”? How many are aware that the Jains and Buddhists were “outsiders” who “we allowed” them to be born in our midst? The top advocate who is no stranger to the top court quoted Dr. BR Ambedkar to convince the apex court that what was abomination for the Iranian girls was elixir for the small Muslim girls of India, accoutrement that they love to wear to school.
The senior counsel quoted from Mughal emperor Akbar’s reign to buttress his claim that the hijab is not medieval but quite the fashion of modern times. The gist of his arguments was that the modern-day Brahmins shouldn’t be allowed to hijack India all over again. At one point, he argued that Islam will never rule India and that there was only “1 suicide bombing” in India!
The Mughals would have taken him to court. What else was Aurangzeb’s rule other than Muslim-rule? The fact is the “hijab hearings” are taking us into nooks and crannies where we wouldn’t have otherwise gone. India’s promise of becoming a modern progressive nation was thwarted 75 years ago by a Partition that left her wounded, and India will continue to be thwarted from realizing her potential for as long as religion is the ‘hopium’ that sets the bar for us.
Appeasement-hung politicians and silver-tongued lawyers of stellar calibre will ensure India remains in the orbit of countries such as Iran and Pakistan. The top lawyer quoted Ambedkar to staunch the anti-hijab argument knowing very well that Ambedkar considered the “wearing of burqa” one of the most “hideous sights” in India.
Ambedkar was against the “segregation” of the Muslim women. And today Ambedkar’s views are segregated. The Karnataka High Court decision that the hijab is not “essential Islamic practice” is endorsed by even the Iranian clerics, doesn’t matter how strict Iran’s hijab rules are. And Iran’s Muslim women are fighting those medieval rules to protect themselves from getting murdered while Indian Muslim women are fighting to “save their dignity”. (IPA Service)