The Lagos Hijab case was laid to rest, hopefully, by the unanimous decision of a 5-man panel at the Court of Appeal yesterday, Thursday, 21st July 2016, amidst jubilation by Muslim students and parents present during the reading of the judgement. The judgement set aside the earlier judgement ofa Lagos High Court, and thus allows the use of the Hijab (headscarves) on school uniforms for primary and secondary female students.
Al-Mu’minaat Social Advocacy Project (SAP) sees the judgement as one which invites more Muslim girls to attend school and will increase girl-child enrollment at public primary and secondary schools. Privately run Muslim schools may have gone beyond the reach of the common man, due to the present economic challenges in the country. In fact, it may not have come at a better time than now; the end of a school session,while preparing for the commencement of a new session.
The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Number Five seeks to attain equality for men and women. This starts with giving both genders equal opportunities; particularly equal educational opportunities. Recent surveysshow that even here in metropolitan Lagos, there is a significant percentage of parents who would rather their get theirgirl-children married after acquiring primary schoolthan enroll them in secondary schools,where their faiths are not guaranteed.This judgement will give hope to such parents, thus enhancing girl-child enrollment in Lagos primary and secondary schools, and ensuring Muslims parents and their children are not forced to choose between their religion and education; both of which are essential ingredients of a good life.
Al-Mu’minaat SAP seizes this auspicious opportunity to congratulate Asiyah Abdul-Kareem and LatifahOyeniyi, who were the guinea pigs in the laboratory that resulted in this victorious judgement. This victory should spur you wonderful girls to greater heights academically and morally. You are now ambassadors of Islamic values, a position which confers on you the duty of guiding your peers to the Right Path.
The fact that Asiyah Abdul-Kareem also won the monumental award of being the One Day Speaker of the LagosState House of Assembly, among several other laurels and accolades, goes to reassure us that the Hijab actually assists its wearers to be more focused, and spurs the Muslim girl-child on to greater achievements. The Hijab does not in any way hinder development, but rather aids in higher educational attainment and good moral orientation.
We also seize this medium to congratulate the Muslim Community in Lagos State, especially the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria,Lagos State Area Unit (MSSN LSAU), led by Amir SaheedAshafa, who have persevered for so long on this multi-faceted struggle. We however are quick to call our attention to the work ahead; the work of safeguarding the Hijab, which is a garment of honour and dignity. It must not be soiled.
Sherifah Yusuf-Ajibade (Mrs.)
Al-Mu’minaat Social Advocacy Project (SAP)