When Naq decided to take the hijab five years ago, she said she experienced a “very strange” reaction.
“My veil revealed the thoughts of many people,” he said. “People were whispering to me:” Are you stressed? Do you feel hot? What shampoo do you use? Some people asked me if I had hair – they thought I had cancer. “
For him, the hijab is also a sartorial temptation – you see the splendor in all the drapes and dramas in colors.
“People think my hijab doesn’t go with my fashion clothes and makeup. But it doesn’t,” she says. “When I walk into a room, I want people to look at me and think, that Muslim woman achieves her goals, travels the world, and thrives.”
Some Muslim women – such as Wafa Khatheeja Rahman, a lawyer in the southern city of Mangalore – say not wearing a hijab does not deter them from becoming Muslims.
“I did not wear it because it does not match who I am – and no one can tell me if I wear it,” he said. “But as it stands, no one can tell me I shouldn’t wear one.”
Wafa’s mother has also never worn a hijab – but says she grew up with faith all around, listening to the stories of not only the Prophet but also the women of Islam.
“The Prophet’s first wife was a businessman, and the second was riding on a camel in battle. So, are we really being oppressed the way the world wants us to believe?” he asks.
‘What’s wrong with being a Muslim?’
There was a time when Falak Abbas hated the idea of covering his hair, a rare choice in Varanasi, the northern conservative town.
But he was 16 when he saw Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani Nobel Prize winner, on television and changed his mind.
“His head was full, but he sounded very strong. I got inspired and decided to close my head.”
His monk school protested, saying the hijab collided with a uniform, which is a long coat and trousers.
Falak says that for three days he was denied a scholarship – he even missed a biological exam. During the protest, the school called her parents and accused her of misconduct.
“They say if I wear a hijab it will cause problems not only for me but also for school as everyone will find out that I am a Muslim,” he recalled. “What’s wrong with being a Muslim?”
But he agreed after his parents told him not to “risk his education with the hijab”.
Eight years later, watching the Karnataka scenes, he says he has once again been overcome with “deep anger”.
Khadeeja Mangat, from the southern state of Kerala, is also outraged by this observation.
Her school closed the hijab overnight in 1997 – the ban was later lifted, but Khadeeja wonders what will happen to Karnataka.
“Everything is in front of you – the constitution, its principles and our voices,” he said. “But we are made to protect ourselves endlessly, even at the expense of our education.” Although the court hearing focused on wearing the hijab in the classroom, Muslim women are concerned about how the ruling will be played in a highly divided India. under the Hindu government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Simeen Ansar, from the southern city of Hyderabad, says the hijab has been transformed into a symbol of “political gain”.
He says: “I grew up with Hindu girls covering their legs under school skirts, which was not as noticeable to me as seeing Sikh boys wearing hats.
“But when it comes to the hijab, Muslim women are reduced to banners. I am traditional and oppressed if I wear one, modern and comfortable if I do not.” She says she and her sister started wearing the hijab, but gave it to her. soon after that because their choice was not fully accepted.
While her sister was facing discrimination at work, Simeen said people stared at her in places where they did not expect to see a woman wearing a hijab – a gym, a bar, or a party.
“The way people see you can be very addictive,” he said.
And this is the fear echoed by many Muslim women – that now more than ever, the hijab is all that people will see.
It is anxiety that causes Wafa, who does not even wear a handkerchief, to follow closely.
“Even when I’m at work I put on earphones and follow what’s going on [in court],” he said.
She is worried about how this will affect friends and family who wear the handkerchief.
“You rob me of my hijab, what’s next? My name is still Arab. Do I have to change that to get respect from you?”