September 16, 2009 Special Dispatch No. 2522

Following Ban on Burqa and Headscarf by Colleges in Southern India, Indian Islamic Scholar Says: 'The Burqa is Not a Part of Islam – It Is a Part of Culture'

September 16, 2009
India | Special Dispatch No. 2522

In the southern Indian state of Karnataka, Sri Venkatarama Swamy (SVS) College in Bantwal and the Government College in Appanagri district have banned the wearing of the Islamic headscarf and the burqa on campus, according to an Urdu daily.

The Government College stopped 50 Muslim girls from attending classes for wearing burqas, while SVS College restricted a 19-year-old Bachelor of Commerce student from attending classes until she conforms to the college rules - that is, not displaying her religious identity, in this case, by wearing a headscarf.

Following objections from students, Aysha Asmin was told by the SVSCollege administration not to wear the headscarf, according to a report in the Urdu-language newspaper Roznama Rashtriya Sahara.

The following are reactions to the ban from two Indian Islamic scholars: [1]

Scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan: "The Burqa Is Not a Part of Islam - It Is a Part of Culture"

Eminent Indian Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan (above), who has written over 200 books on Islam, said: "The burqa is not a part of Islam. It is a part of culture, the culture that the people of the subcontinent have been following for ages. Nobody can enforce a dress code in the name of Islam. It is categorically un-Islamic."

He added, "If a college has a rule for girls to not wear a burqa or headscarf, then that should be followed and respected. If you don’t agree, you quit the college."

Scholar Fareeda Khan: "The Burqa Has Become the Symbol of Rigidity - And Has Nothing To Do With Islam"

Fareeda Khan, an Islamic scholar who teaches at the Jamia Millia Islamia university in New Delhi, echoed Maulana Wahiduddin Khan's view, stating: "The burqa has become the symbol of rigidity and has nothing to do with Islam."

She added: "You should accept that the burqa, a part of subcontinental culture, has been misused for suicide bombings. Why not avoid the burqa? The burqa is not part of any Islamic dress code.... I also suggest to my students not to wear a burqa at the university."


[1], India, August 20, 2009; Roznama Rashtriya Sahara, India, August 19, 2009.

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