A number of Muslim groups on Saturday backed the Supreme Court’s rejection of the argument that women cannot be asked to lift face-covering veils for voter ID photographs, and said Islamic law gives permission for them to be clicked under special needs.

“I am totally with the Supreme Court order. When we have no objection to photos for passport for going to Haj, why should we object to the same for this. This should not be made an emotional issue,” Delhi Minority Commission Chairman and All India Muslim Personal Law Board member Kamal Faruqui said.

When it was pointed out that some Muslim clerics are opposing the observation, Mr. Faruqui said he will convince the community about the need for photo voter IDs adding, “I am sure they will understand the importance of having them.”

The Supreme Court on Friday said religious sentiments should not be exploited to oppose the making of electoral rolls with photographs. It was hearing a petition which argued that asking women observing ‘purdah’ to lift their veil for being photographed for voter IDs would be sacrilegious.

“Though purdah is compulsory for women under the Shariat, Islamic law gives conditional permission under special circumstances,” senior member of the All India Muslim Personal law board and Naib Imam of Idgah, Lucknow, Khalid Rasheed Forangimahal told PTI.

Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind secretary and spokesperson Abdul Hamid Nomani also said Islam allows Muslim women to show their face if there is specific need.

“What will be the relevance of a photo I-card with burqa. This is not a general situation in which purdah is essential.

“Some people mix up the special situations with the general ones. Religion gives permission for it in need. This should not be projected as a religious issue,” Mr. Nomani said.

Jamaat-e-Islami secretary Mujtaba Farooqi said, “I think what the Supreme Court said is correct. Documents of the country's citizens should be prepared and the provision of photos should be there for making of such basic documents.”

Mr. Farooqi maintained that even those who support purdah relax it for such necessary documents and Muslim seminaries have issued fatwa that photos of Muslim women can be taken if they are “need-based.”

Shahi Imam of Fatehpuri Masjid Mufti Mukarram Ahmed said he does not find anything wrong with the Supreme Court observation.

“There is nothing wrong in what the SC said. Shariyat, though, makes purdah essential for Muslim women, it permits showing their face if there is any need or compulsion. If a woman is seriously ill, she can not observe purdah from her doctor. Getting photographed for election I-card or any such necessary documents is permitted,” he said.

Citing the case of Haj, Firangimahali said in Lucknow that women do get themselves clicked for their passports and getting photographed for ensuring that they get their right to vote also falls in the same category of special circumstances.

He, however, had reservations over reported stern views of the apex court that “if religious sentiments are so strong then do not go to vote.” Comments on religious issues should be in keeping with the sensitivity of the matter, he said.

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