On Tuesday 14th of March 2017, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that employers could ban employees from wearing religious symbols, including the Islamic headscarf worn by Muslim women. In a statement, it asserted that an internal company rule which prohibits the visible wearing of a religious sign does not constitute direct discrimination. The judgement came in response to the cases of two Muslim women in France and Belgium who were dismissed from their job for refusing to remove the headscarf. Through this xenophobic discriminatory ruling against foreigners, the ECJ has proven yet again that the secular system is not fit for purpose with regards to protecting the rights of religious minorities. Indeed, such religious discrimination and intolerance is ingrained in the genetic make-up of the secular ideology as evident in the bans on the hijab, niqab, mosque minarets, and other Islamic beliefs in many secular states across the world. This oppressive judgement has widespread implications for Muslim women in Europe with regards to employment and sends out a clear message that if they wish to dress according to their Islamic obligations then they will be effectively excluded from the workplace. Therefore, it is blatantly clear that it is not Islam which is misogynistic and marginalizes Muslim women from having an active role within their societies but rather the repressive secular system which unjustly forces them to choose between their deeply-held religious convictions and the right to earn a living or pursue a career.
As has become the custom of secular governments and institutions, the ECJ has chosen to accommodate and legalise anti-Muslim populist prejudices rather than fight against it. It emphasizes the inherent dangers of the fickle and unpredictable secular system where the rights of religious minorities are at the mercy of the bigotry of those who rule and judge and can be discarded according to their prejudicial whims. Furthermore, this secular social engineering to force Muslim women to leave their Islamic beliefs and embrace a secular identity is just the latest chapter of the desperate measures being employed by Western governments and their institutions to fight the overwhelming Islamic resurgence of Muslims in the West. Indeed, such discriminative rulings and bans on Islamic religious practices demonstrate the intellectual weakness of the flawed secular system which having failed to convince Muslims to adopt its beliefs through strength of argument, resorts to coercion and bans. This ECJ judgement will only add to the stigmatization of Muslim women which is already intense in states across Europe and has contributed to the epidemic of hate-crimes perpetrated against them. How can any system which legally sanctions discrimination against religious minorities, excludes their women from societies due to their religious beliefs, and places their basic religious rights in the shredder to keep pace with xenophobic populist trends, ever be considered as a credible system to govern any society?
In stark contrast, under the Islamic ruling system of the Khilafah, the rights of non-Muslim religious minorities are set in stone for they are prescribed by the Creator and not the fickle biased minds of human beings. They have the same rights of citizenship as given to Muslims and are permitted to practice their religious beliefs without harassment or stigmatization by the state or from any Muslim. Indeed, the Khilafah State (Caliphate) upon the Methodology of the Prophethood is obliged to protect its non-Muslim citizens from any harm or discrimination due to their faith. Due to this state and its protection, those of various religious beliefs embraced Islam in hordes. It was not due to coercion or bans on their religious practices that they accepted Islam but due to witnessing the justice of Islamic rule and comprehending the truth of its beliefs. So, under which system of ruling – the one from man OR from the One who created man – are the rights of religious minorities best safeguarded? And which system embodies the qualities to govern over mankind with justice? It is the System of the Lord of the worlds only.
In these difficult times, we call our dear Muslim sisters in Europe and across the West, to keep firm in the adherence to their Islamic dress and all their Islamic obligations, and to keep their vision fixed on the unimaginable rewards awaiting them in Jannah for their steadfastness in their Deen.
Dr. Nazreen Nawaz
Director of the Women’s Section in the Central Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir