The hijab is an essential religious practice in the Islam religion. It has been beautifully cited in several Quranic scriptures. The truth within the Hijab tradition transcends beyond the history itself while rendering historical analysis among all Qur’anic verses is when God revealed a covering that was a necessity to be worn by women among the consequences and circumstances they were in because of constant crimes against women and was instructed and evolved within all traditional aspects in the years of Islamic growth around the world.

In the case of Resham v. the State of Karnataka, one of the main issues rendered was whether wearing the hijab is an essential religious practice? , to prove the essential religious practice test so that the court could recognize it as an essential religious practice and protect it within all forums. When the state declared an order to the contrary, there was a huge commotion among the students and the Muslim communities within all parts of the world, especially the students who were detained from the school premises. But in this blog, I would like to pave a way toward a framework proving the essentiality of the hijab through the approach of the essentials to religion test taken in Indian young lawyers association v. the state of Kerala[1] as well as proving it with structuring different ambits of constitution and case laws as well.

The essentiality test taken under the ambit of Indian young lawyers association v. The state of Kerala was Firstly the practice should be fundamental to that religion: “Surat Al-Nur (Qur’an 24:1) opens with the verse:

[This is] a chapter which we have revealed and made obligatory and in which we have revealed clear communications that you may be mindful”[2]. “Here this clear communication by the prophet is obligatory. And very evidently the wearing of hijab is being said in this same Surat Al-Nur same chapter 24 verse 31 which reads as “And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and do not display their ornaments except what appears thereof, and let them wear their head-coverings over their bosoms, and not display their ornaments except to their husbands or their fathers”[3]

Secondly, If that practice is not observed, it would result in a change in the religion itself:

By proving that the hijab is obligatory and if they do not wear it the council would like to prove how it will change the religion itself.

An ultimate aim of an Islam devotee is to attain salvation and reach Jenna. And Quran is that book that instructs humankind instructing how he needs to live and follow the word of God so that ultimately, he will reach him. Therefore, would like to emphasize that the Islam religion is about salvation and attaining Jenna. Now, how is it not wearing of hijab destroying this or changing the religion as a whole? However, going back to the same chapter one verse before  “Chapter 24, verse 30″ Allah commands Prophet Muhammad as follows: “Say to the believing men that: they should cast down their glances and guard their private parts (by being chaste). This is better for them. (24:30).

This is a command to Muslim men that they should not lustfully look at women (other than their wives); to prevent any possibility of temptation, they must cast their glances downwards. This is known as the “hijab of the eyes”. Therefore if the hijab is a way to which that prevent both women as well as men from looking and each other in a lustful manner which will make them fail to attain salvation and reach Jenna which is the ultimate meaning of the Islam itself, we can say that hijab is an essential religious practise in Islam”[4].

Thirdly, The practice must precede the birth of the religion itself and the foundation of religion must be based on that or must be simultaneously there along with the birth of religion. It must be co-extensive with that religion.

Indeed, the practise of women wearing their headgear was an ancient practice that predates the Assyrians to Judaic norms even in Christian texts that command the woman to cover their head while worshipping God. Essential practice means those practices that are fundamental to following a religious belief. It is upon the cornerstone of essential parts or practices that the superstructure of religion is built, without which religion will be no religion. “The Commissioner, Hindu Religious Songs Endowments, Madras v. Shrilakshmindar Tirtha Swamiyar of Shri Shirur Mutt; A line was drawn between what were matters concerning religion and what was not”[5]

Essentialism itself is a very philosophical concept to which, the question arises whether the Islamic culture to practice their religious faith by wearing hijab a mandatory one or without hijab by the woman counterparts of the religion be a blank space for Islam? No, the religious practice predates Islam at the same time, Islamic texts have cited its importance for the woman to practice such traditions. Here the system saw whether this practice is a cornerstone and fundamental to Islam, whilst such religious practices were mentioned in the holy book of the Quran, and at the same time maintained its tradition for centuries. The wearing of a hijab is obligatory according to Islam but no one can force or compulsion anyone to wear it or not wearing it will make them out of the religion. If a woman is not wearing the hijab ultimately will indeed change the essence of the religious theology However, one’s own religious beliefs will not distort as everyone has the right to believe and practice how they understand religion, and attaining Jenna is under God’s almighty’s hand.

Author’s Name: Rohan Jacob (Christ Academy Institute of Law)

[1] Indian Young Lawyers Association v. State of Kerala, (2019) 11 SCC 1.

[2] Surah An-Nur – 1-64. Quran.com. (n.d.). https://quran.com/an-nur (The Qur’an 24:1)

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] The Commissioner, Hindu Religious Songs Endowments, Madras v. Shrilakshmindar Tirtha Swamiyar of Shri

Shirur Mutt, 1954 AIR 282

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