How an EU court ruling reveals conflicts in some strands of Islam
There was a major ruling from Europe’s highest court last week, which will have enormous significance for Muslims in all member states.
Of course, now that the UK is no longer part of the EU, it will no longer have legal authority here.
But it has enormous significance for Scotland and the UK, as it highlights how much Western values and some strands of Islam are in a worsening conflict.
The European Court of Justice has ruled that European employers can prohibit workers from wearing any visible sign of their political, philosophical or religious beliefs.
This includes the hijab, which many Muslim women see as an obligation of their faith.
This has infuriated some Muslim women, although the ruling states that any bans must “be justified by the employer’s need to present themselves in a neutral manner to clients or to avoid social conflict.”
It confirms a similar ruling in 2017 that allowed employers to enforce a “neutral” dress code that critics say disproportionately affect Muslim women.
The latter case was brought by two German workers, a special education teacher and a cashier, who were asked by their employers not to wear a headscarf at work.
The court ruling specifies that the ban does not constitute discrimination if it is systematically applied to all beliefs, even though certain religious precepts require believers to wear a certain type of dress.
Already angry voices have been raised that banning clothing such as headgear could constitute direct discrimination and therefore cannot be justified.
It has been argued that this could result in some workers being treated less favorably than others because of their religion or belief.
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Other critics believe laws, policies and practices banning religious clothing are targeted manifestations of Islamophobia. But these critics clearly fail to understand that the hijab, as a mandatory head covering, has no reference in the Quran.
The hijab has become in recent decades a symbol of Muslim identity and many now consider it to be Islamic clothing.
However, there is nothing in the Quran to make the hijab a mandatory head covering. In fact, the word hijab means a curtain or a barrier – not a scarf or head covering of any description.
The real problem is that many Muslim women don’t know what the Quran really says, and this ignorance is their greatest weakness.
In fact, the hijab is just a traditional Middle Eastern headdress that only became popular in the last 30 or 40 years, when many women from other Muslim regions began to imitate their Arab sisters. .
Some thought wearing it was fashionable while others came to believe that it was a religious obligation to wear it, making something that was cultural a hallowed tradition.
Some, going further, adopted the burqa, which covers the entire body, including the face.
It’s both bizarre and cruel because women are brainwashed into mistakenly believing that God has ordained it.
IN the 1970s and 1980s, Muslim women in Asia and Europe were not required to wear restrictive clothing, even in countries like Pakistan.
Now a lot of women here and there who don’t wear the hijab are ridiculed for not being Muslim enough.
This is a problem that the European Court has faced and which we may have to face at some point, as extremists feed on such beliefs. Extremism can be, and is, motivated by religious symbolism – and this is just as true in Scotland as it is in Iran, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia.
Wearing the burqa and veil are now part of this Islamic symbolism, but the Qur’an says nothing about wearing either. It only states that women and men should dress modestly.
Frankly, wearing the hijab doesn’t make you a Muslim any more than wearing a helmet makes you a builder.
It is important to understand that the hijab, veil or burka are not Quranic decrees and therefore are not Islamic.
They are simply cultural or fashion statements with their roots in the tribal traditions of a bygone age. So, if a woman chooses to wear a hijab, it should be her choice, and her choice alone, as it is not a Quranic decree and therefore is not part of Islam.
Islam is now in a dangerous place, in Scotland as elsewhere. Fueled by radicalism, the supposed symbols of religious faith are gaining more and more importance.
What is lost in the march towards intolerance is a true understanding of the Qur’an, the foundation of the Islamic faith.
The Qur’an provides the enduring values that we all need to live together in a tolerant and inclusive society.
It is timeless, providing a model for the future because these values are themselves timeless.
But too many Muslims instead turn to cultural or tribal traditions that should have no place in modern society.
Even though we are no longer part of the EU, we should all, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, continue to take a keen interest in the judgment of the European Court.