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Neither ‘Dara Hua’ nor ‘Jai Bheem’: As Muslim side declares Ambedkar’s views on Hijab ‘offensive’ in SC, it’s time for a reality check

Hindus are predisposed to taking a kitchen knife to a battle where the enemy uses a tank. If the Hijab proceedings prove anything - it is that the ammunition needs a serious, considered upgrade.

The Karnataka Hijab storm has been rattling the doors of the Supreme Court. For the past week, the Supreme Court has been hearing a batch of petitions challenging the Karnataka High Court order that upheld the ban on Hijab in educational institutes. The matter is being heard by the bench comprising Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia.

From deciding whether wearing Hijab is an essential religious practice in Islam, to the Muslim side claiming the court has no business deciding essential practices and more, several arguments have been made so far in the case over a span of 6 explosive days. On Thursday (day 6), the lawyers representing the Muslim side, which is challenging the Karnataka HC order, told the Supreme Court that BR Ambedkar’s statement on the Hijab, extracted from the HC order, was “deeply offensive” and “totally biased”. The lawyers further said that it is one that “should not be repeated in India”.

In March 2022, addressing the hijab row under the sub-heading ‘Emancipation of women’, the court quoted Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar in support of their verdict. 

HC had cited an extract from Chapter ten, part one titled ‘Social Stagnation’ of his 1945 book ‘Pakistan or the partition of India’. In the extract, Ambedkar talks about how the ‘purdah’ system for Muslim women has been a method for them to be “weighed down by a slavish mentality and an inferiority complex”. He further talks about how it has “brought about segregation of Muslim women…keeping them secluded from the outer world. Referring to the extract the court had stated that “there is a lot of scope for the argument that insistence on wearing of purdah, veil, or headgear in any community may hinder the process of emancipation of woman in general and Muslim woman in particular.”

Colin Gonsalves, who has links with George Soros, representing the Muslim side, took umbrage at what the High Court had cited. He first cited the HC order in isolation, mentioning that the court had observed that the Hijab cannot lead to the emancipation of women. When the SC Judge corrected him and pointed out that the observation was made in connection with what Dr BR Amebedkar had said, Gonsalves essentially cancelled Ambedkar calling his views hurtful and one that should “not be repeated in India”.

Ambedkar was vehement in his criticism of the Hijab. He had said:

There can thus be no manner of doubt that the Muslim Society in India is afflicted by the same social evils as afflict the Hindu Society. Indeed, the Muslims have all the social evils of the Hindus and something more. That something more is the compulsory system of purdah for Muslim women. As a consequence of the purdah system, segregation of Muslim women is brought about…These burka women walking in the streets is one of the most hideous sights one can witness in India.

Such seclusion cannot but have deteriorating effects on the physical constitution of Muslim women. They are usually victims of anaemia, tuberculosis and pyorrhoea. Their bodies are deformed, with their backs bent, bones protruded, and their hands and feet crooked. Ribs, joints and nearly all their bones ache. Heart palpitation is very often present in them. The result of this pelvic deformity is untimely death at the time of delivery. Purdah deprives Muslim women of mental and moral nourishment. Being deprived of healthy social life, the process of moral degeneration must and does set in. Being completely secluded from the outer world, they engage their minds in petty family quarrels with the result that they become narrow and restricted in their outlook.

They lag behind their sisters from other communities, cannot take part in any outdoor activity and are weighed down by a slavish mentality and an inferiority complex. They have no desire for knowledge because they are taught not to be interested in anything outside the four walls of the house. Purdah women in particular become helpless, timid, and unfit for any fight in life. Considering a large number of purdah women among Muslims in India, one can easily understand the vastness and seriousness of the problem of purdah.

Ambedkar further said that Hindus are right when they say it is not possible to establish a social connect between Hindus and Muslims because such contact can only mean contact between women from one side (Hindus) and men from the other side (Muslims). He had largely attributed this to the Purdah system among Muslim women and said that it leads to the segregation of Hindus and Muslims. “Not that purdah and the evils consequent thereon are not to be found among certain sections of the Hindus in certain parts of the country. But the point of distinction is that among the Muslims, purdah has a religious sanctity which it has not with the Hindus. Purdah has deeper roots among Muslims than it has among Hindus and can only be removed by facing the inevitable conflict between religious injunctions and social needs. The problem of purdah is a real problem with the Muslims—apart from its origin—which it is not with the Hindus. Of any attempt by the Muslims to do away with it, there is no evidence”, he had written.

The very people, who appropriate Ambedkar and use him to further their hate not just for Hindus and Hinduism, but also to further the Jai Bheem Jai Meem trope, cancelled him in open court.

In fact, in the hallowed chambers of the Supreme Court, the Muslim side did not just cancel Ambedkar in order to justify their fundamentalism. Several other arguments indicate, quite clearly, that the Muslim side has no qualms pushing the boundaries of feigned decency to defend every tenet of Islam.

One of the arguments made during the hearing in the Supreme Court was that the High Court verdict in the matter was flawed because it cited the opinions of experts who claim that certain verses from the Quran lose their meaning with changing times. Advocate Nizam Pasha, who is focussing on the Islamic injunctions regarding Hijab, claimed that this assertion “borders on blasphemy”. Given the recent spate of violence in the name of Blasphemy, several commentators legitimately wondered if the violent consequences of Islamic blasphemy have now become a legitimate legal argument in the Apex Court of the “secular nation”.

With such arguments being made, the delightful byproduct of the Hijab hearing in the Supreme Court has been two-fold – One, it is evident that the Muslim community is not afraid to defend their practices and preserve the sanctity of Islam, thereby shedding the pretence of being progressive, secular, accommodating, inclusive and other punch words that are often used by Leftists, their ideological knights, to defend Islam. And second, in their quest to preserve the sanctity of Islam, other tropes like Jai Bheem Jai Meem are being stripped to their bare, ugly bones.

These byproducts, as isolated as they may appear, are intricately intertwined in a special way, that reveals the fortitude of the Muslim community in mounting a defence for, and vehemently preserving the tenets of Islam. In fact, I say this with appreciation and not derision. The Muslim community stands resolutely with every measure taken to preserve their faith and the requirements of their faith, however distasteful. Their dutiful devotion is something that must be observed, understood and adopted, especially by the deracinated Hindu community, that is willing to let their faith be chipped away bit by bit in the name of hollow punchlines and a misplaced sense of moral propriety.

One would imagine that the Muslim side would spare deprecating BR Ambedkar in court, given that the stalwart, his views on Hinduism and his conversion to Buddhism is the understructure on which their electoral ‘Jai Bheem Jai Meem’ trope stands. The edifice of the mythical unity between Muslims and Dalits is cemented by Ambedkar’s disgruntlement with Hinduism. This is precisely why the Muslim community and the Leftists largely choose to appropriate Ambedkar while summarily ignoring his criticism of Islam – he serves a far more important political and electoral purpose for these communities.

However, as evidenced by the exchange in the courtroom, there is a red line that the Muslim community won’t cross for the sake of this mythical unity. Dalits are to be used, not prioritised over theological purity and religious preservation. The recent example of the Lakhimpur rape and murder comes to mind – Muslim representative and their allies screamed hoarse when news emerged that two Dalit girls had been raped and hanged from a tree in Lakhimpur – it was a delicious opportunity for vultures, after all – Minor victims who were Dalits and a crime in the state of Uttar Pradesh – headed by the Bhagwadhari Yogi. However, their concern soon turned into stoicism when they realised that 5 out of the 6 accused were Muslim – those who had actually raped the two sisters. In the case of the Hijab hearings too, the Muslim side has shown their commitment to theological preservation and for that, even the cancellation of Ambedkar is acceptable if his cited views negate their religious dogma.

There is a reason why Islamists get squeamish when Jogendra Nath Mandal is mentioned in a debate about Islamic theology versus political and electoral pipe dreams like the unity between Dalits and Muslims. One of the central and leading founders of Islamic Pakistan, a Dalit, who came back to India and died innocuously after he could not accept the barbarity being heaped on Hindus. Dalits are to be used for electoral benefits and to cripple the Hindu community as a whole by separating Dalits from them. When they become inconvenient, they are to be tossed aside, vilified and forgotten.

Siding with the Dalits, however superficially, gives the Muslim community an additional trope to tomtom – they can safely claim that they are for religious and cultural preservation of those marginalised by the dominant Hindu community, not for Islamic supremacy, per se. But if the Hijab proceedings prove anything at all, it is that the veneer of respect for all marginalised communities is just that – a decorative, thin veil. In actuality, religious sentiments of any community other than their own is merely a prop to be used to make their own arguments sound palatable – a veil that can be discarded at will when the time is ripe – as in the case of the Hijab debate.

The religious sentiments, cultural moorings and social preservation of any community mean paltry little and that is a reality that we must contend with. Our Gods and our stalwarts are props to be used, abused and discarded, not respected and certainly not regarded above the preservation of Islam and all of its tenets.

The Hindu community seems to be woefully unaware of the cultural challenge that stares them in the eye. Hindus often shy away from owning their own theological foundation because they believe, truly, that if they are willing to let their faith be chipped away, either to conform to western modernism or the Abrahamic worldview, they would be viewed as a community that deserves respect and social acceptance. They are willing to let go of their traditions, their festivals, their history and even the acknowledgement of their own genocide because they think that by doing so, they would get the coveted gratification of not just the Muslim community, that they believe lash out in violence because they have been marginalised, but also the elites and Leftists, who as per a calculative strategy, wish to keep Hindus ashamed and guilty.

The Muslims have, for so long, convinced themselves with a reassuring lie about being persecuted by the Hindu community, something that seeds their victim mindset and stops them from ever looking inwards, while their radicals go on murderous rampages against Hindus, that the Hindu community, in their eternal Stockholm syndrome, believes that by stripping themselves of their cultural and religious identity, they can not only convince the Muslim community that they have nothing to be scared of (so they can stop vilifying Hindus) but also, that the Hindu identity means so little and is so fluid, that they don’t deserve to be killed for it.

Hindus need to realise that for the Muslim community, the only thing that is of paramount importance is self-preservation. The Hindus can shred to bits everything they hold dear, everything they hold sacred, and essentially die with a smile on their face, as MK Gandhi advocated, but they will still be vilified as the aggressor while their funeral pyres burn like the sun. While not becoming the enemy you fight is a lofty principle, an honourable one, it is also a path paved with annihilation. They might convince themselves that they are the “Dara Hua” community and their repeated yelps might convince you too, but this Dara Hua community can stand up in the Supreme Court and tell a judge that their judicial opinion is blasphemous. While they do this, the Hindu gets blamed by the same judiciary, for beheadings committed by Islamists. Hindus are predisposed to taking a kitchen knife to a battle where the enemy uses a tank. If the Hijab proceedings prove anything – it is that the ammunition needs a serious, considered upgrade.

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Nupur J Sharma
Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

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