Religion has always been a sensitive topic to discuss in a country like India which is the melting pot of various faiths and cultures. Efforts are often taken to respect every religion and refrain from hurting sentiments of people and their faith. India is a secular country and every religion have a special place here and many people from different cultural backgrounds co-exist in harmony.

Sometimes, differences may occur and resentments are caused by people. one such incident had occurred a few months back in Goa, wherein a 24-year old writer and post-graduate psychology degree holder, Safina Khan Soudagar, had taken the internet by storm after she voiced her disappointment on the discrimination she faced for wearing a Hijab.

Speaking on this incident, Prof Amirul Hasan Ansari, Director of Management Studies, Jamia Islamia University said “I condemn this unfortunate incident. Education and appearing for the exam is every student’s right. You cannot take that right because he or she is practising a particular religion.”

Every religion has its own symbolism and sentiments are attached along with it. A hijab is a sacred headgear worn by Muslim women as a symbol of modesty and decency. Many people often consider this headgear as a symbol of oppression and also as a security risk. But Hijab has a wider meaning and is also an important part of the Muslim dress code for women. ‘hijab’ is an Arabic word which means cover, screen or partition.

To raise awareness as to why Muslim women wear a hijab, the World Hijab Day is observed on 1st February.  This event was founded by Nazma Khan in 2013 to clarify the controversies and misunderstandings of Hijab and fight discrimination against Muslim women through awareness and education.

According to the verses of the Quran, hijab is a symbolism of modesty which is shown by the proper covering of the body which should be accompanied by piousness and right behaviour. But the rise in women empowerment has led one to believe that Hijab is an obstacle to the liberation of women. But in reality, it is just a way of respecting and abiding by the Islam faith.

Many Hijabi Women are also achieving great heights without least difficulty and shattering the stereotypes about hijab. Hijab-wearing Syeda Salva Fatima, who is one of the four Muslim women in India to become a Pilot, said “I had it all the time on my head and wore it over the Uniform. There was never a problem because of the hijab,”

When it comes to religions and cultures, there might be different perspectives but as individuals, we must respect and accept them. Only that way we can grow from the difference and be united as a nation. As rightly said “Unity in Diversity”, this is the one goal we must strive for being a part of this colourful country.

According to Goa Prism, The Merces-based Muslim woman claimed that she was not allowed to write the National Eligibility Test (NET), as she was wearing a hijab which was against the dress code. She further said that she had to face such discrimination on various occasions too. Does she argue that nuns can keep their headgears on then why not Muslim women wear a hijab?

This isn’t the first time where the religious sentiments were not taken into account in the field of Education System. In another report published by Goa Prism, a case of yet another student named, Umaiyah Khan, who is a student of Jamia Islamia University who is currently pursuing her Master of Business Administration (MBA), has alleged that she was not allowed to appear for the University Grants Commission –National Eligibility Test (UGC-NET) exam for wearing Hijab.     

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