In mid-February, all eyes were on the Indian state of Karnataka as female Muslim students took a stand against a college’s decision to ban the hijab. As videos, images, and op-eds flooded our news feeds, Chicago Muslim leaders called on their communities to go further than virtual and verbal support. A think tank was created with the intention of providing guidance and encouragement for Muslims based in India.
The think tank put forth several key agenda items to be communicated and shared with Muslims based in India via press releases, social media posts, and Indian based news programs. The first item placed an emphasis on removing the misconceptions relating to Islam and Muslims that are propagated by the state. Interfaith discussions were put forth as a viable option to address this particular issue. The second item asked for a focus to be placed on the beauty and teachings of Islam be represented correctly. Muslims themselves should prove from their character and actions that they are flag-bearers of peace, equality, and brotherhood.
To further bring attention to these agenda items and the growing student hijab row protests that now spread across India, notable oncologist Dr. Tajamul Husain called for a meeting. On the morning of February 27th at the Shalimar Banquet Hall in Chicago, there were notable scholars, jurists, doctors and others in attendance. Shaykh Amin Kholwadia, founder and director of Darul Qasim, was not only present, but also addressed the assembly with his words of faith and concern.
Shaykh Amin began by expressing his concern over the hijab dispute. He spoke from a place of faith by sharing Hijab for a Muslim woman is like wings are for a bird. In discussing potential solutions, he asked Indian Muslims to mingle with persons of different faith backgrounds and make them aware of the importance of the Hijab. He went on to remark Muslims must urge their fellow citizens to believe that they are not a danger to society. In addition, he advised Indian Muslims to remain steadfast in the practice of their religion.