By Abdul Bari Masoud
Lucknow / New Delhi: The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) filed a petition before the Supreme Court challenging the Karnataka High Court’s decision in the Hijab case, describing the High Judge’s ruling as a “clear interference” into Muslim personal law. Board’s strong reaction came after the conclusion of a day-long meeting of the organization on Sunday in Lucknow.
Board’s two women members Munisa Bushra Abidi and Jaleesa Sultana Yaseen filed the appeal challenging the high court’s order in the Supreme Court on Saturday which said the high court judgment, while dismissing the petitions, has proceeded with erroneous reasons to address the Hijab issue.
After a day of deliberation, the board members concluded that the court’s decision in the Hijab case involving Udupi students violated not only Article 15 of the Constitution, which prohibits discrimination in any form based on religion, gender, caste, class, or place of birth, but also Articles 14, 19, 21, and 25.
The board members voiced grave worry about the implications of the high court ruling on Muslim girls’ education, noting that it was not just against individual freedom but also against religious and cultural freedom.
The official statement said “Members reminded that the high court, while debating individual rights, had also ruled that the headscarf is not an obligatory Islamic practice.
The board members questioned the role of courts in deciding what essential or non-essential behaviour in a religion is, claiming that “the court has no jurisdiction to pronounce on essentiality problem in Islam.” It is a matter for ulemas and Islamic experts to resolve.”
The members also said that every citizen has the right to determine what is essential and non-essential in his or her faith under the constitution.
The board chastised the court for “interpreting the holy scriptures according to their whims and fancies, despite the fact that they are not authorized nor capable of doing so.”
Other religious symbols such as the turban, crucifix, and bindi may potentially be banned as a result of the Karnataka High Court’s decision.
The board requested that the Karnataka state government allow Muslim female students wearing hijab to attend classes and take exams till the Supreme Court rules on the case. The meeting also declared the Uttarakhand assembly’s appointment of an expert committee to create a foundation for the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) unlawful. The board stated, “India is a multi-religious, multicultural country, and adopting a common civil code will put a restriction on religious freedom’s fundamental rights.”
“India’s constitution has reserved rights for the Naga and Kuki tribes of Nagaland and Mizoram, stating that no law shall be placed on them that will conflict with their tribal laws under article 371 A and 371 G,” according to the board.
“The introduction of the Uniform Civil Code is being seen as a first step toward obliterating minorities’ religious and cultural identity,” the board said.
“The actual motivation is to impose Hindutva, which will forcefully absorb all small religious and cultural groups into the majoritarian religion.”
“The board’s working committee strongly believes that unity in diversity is our nation’s true identity and strength, and that any attempt to dismantle it will polarise and cause unrest,” the board stated.
The board called this a “dangerous action” and urged all “just and religious entities” to publicly reject it.
Apart from the aforementioned topics, the committee also mapped out the scope of each committee’s activity and agreed to include women on each committee.
While suggesting that more women be included on the board, the meeting also suggested that non-Muslims be included in the effort to develop a good nation by encouraging individuals to do good and preventing them from doing evil.
A source told Muslim Mirror that Maualna Sajjad Nomani’s flip-flop statements on social media also came under sharp criticism. He was asked to tender an apology over social media.
Syed Rabey Hasani Nadwi, the board president, presided over the meeting. Board secretary general Khalid Saifullah Rahmani, Vice-presidents Maulana Syed Arshad Madani and Maulana Dr Ali Mohd Naqvi, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind president Syed Sadatullah Hussaini, Dr Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas, Mualana Sajjad Nomani, Maulana Fazul Rahim Mujjadadi, and others were present at the meeting