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Hijab and Education of Muslim Women 

Hijab and education of Muslim women; Is hijab necessary? This and many other questions arise in everyone's mind when they hear about the o

By Babra Wani
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Ground Report | New Delhi: Hijab and education of Muslim women; Is hijab necessary? This and many other questions arise in everyone's mind when they hear about the ongoing Hijab row. Not only common people but even the lawmakers are debating on this question.

Hijab and Education of Muslim Women

Since the issue of Udupi came to light, it has sparked a debate. "Is it necessary to wear hijab?" ask some while some say, "Is it necessary to deprive girls of education just because they are wearing Hijab?"  But the matter of fact is that the ongoing Hijab row is indisputably a matter of concern. Muslims form a religious minority in India.

For Muslim women wearing Hijab is necessary, though a personal choice,  yet it is necessary. And many scholars, students, and academicians of the Muslim community believe that the recent Hijab controversy will result in a drop in Muslim women's hard-won participation in education. This somehow proves how Hijab improved the enrolment of Muslim women in higher education. 

According to some reports, there has been an increase in the number of Muslim women and girls in schools and colleges. According to a unit-level data analysis of the 64th and 75th rounds of the National Sample Survey (NSS) by Khalid Khan of the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, the Gross Attendance Ratio (GAR) of Muslim women in higher education in India increased from 6.7 percent to 13.5 percent between 2007-08 and 2017-18.

Some people are of the belief that in past the number of Muslim women in education particularly in higher education was less because of socio-economic issues and conservative backgrounds, but now with changing times, the conditions are changing as well. People believe if the current Hijab row is not dealt with it can affect the numbers. The ratio can decrease again because the hijab forms a part of their belief. If they are deprived of wearing Hijab, they will not be able to pursue their education.

Whatever the reason for the increase in the number is, one thing is for sure that not allowing students on the basis of their attire can result in the decrease. It is 

Muslim women who practice Hijab, believe in the power and essence of hijab. The ones who have been putting it on for a very long time now are of the opinion that they feel "incomplete" without their Hijab. "It is a part of my existence," said a girl on grounds of anonymity.

For some Hijab gives them a sense of "security" and "belongingness."  and for others, it is their way of showing their respect to their faith. What needs to be acknowledged is that for many Muslim women who are pursuing the education of their choice, the hijab is a symbol of "empowerment." 

"I feel empowered when I go to my university wearing my Hijab," said one female student who is pursuing her master's degree from the University of Kashmir. Hijab is a part of the daily practice of Islam and a very important part of religious identification. Not to forget the constitution of India has given rights to practice one's religion. 

"Hijab is part of our lives and is essential for whatever we do in our lives ...like how we eat, breathe, we do hijab ...whenever we step out of our homes we feel comfortable and empowered with our hijabs on ...education should empower us too like hijab does and both are completely compatible,"  a master's degree student told Ground Report.

To sum up, the hijab may not be a reason for increasing enrolment of Muslim women in higher education but depriving them of this right will definitely cause a decrement in their participation.

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