By Ashraf Akintola
We live in a world where what is sin is no longer seen and observers of the trend had to stay out of the box and watch with dismay how events unfold. It is a world where we sympathize with the oppressor at the expense of the oppressed. It doesn’t matter who is on the right lane, it is a matter of how aristocratic and convincing you can tell your side of the story. It is indeed a wide wild world. Rats now mew and Birds no longer chirp like of old. We wallow as Hon Patrick most aptly submit, “in a state of menicisetal statetism, cankerous tribalism, Ethnocentric chauvinism, syphilitic parochialism, epileptic nepotism, catalytic parapoism, and state brigandish of the bluest dye”.
On the 13th day of December, 2017 at the call to bar ceremony of the Nigerian law school Abuja campus, a lady was barred from entering the ICC because she refused to remove her hijab in defiance to the tradition of the ceremony. Strange indeed! Friends of the affected sister, a graduate of the better by far university, took to social media and clamored for justice. Well, that’s the trend nowadays! The aftermath of the call for justice with the thought of a positive reception by the general public was met with a staunch and repugnant blockade. Is she the only one? Started trending! Truly is she the only one! Almost a question, but rather rhetoric! Some say she is stubborn, other submitted she must have been brainwashed to believe what she is doing is ultimately the right thing to do. Well! Time would tell.
For those who do not know, Hijab is mandatory for all female Muslims to use. It is a piece of clothing that covers the physique of the female from head to toe. It is a right recognized by the Nigerian constitution to be enjoyed by those who want to use it as an Islamic dress code. So the full picture is that the lady in question wants to practice her religion and at the same time exercise her fundamental human rights, If not in any other place, in a law school where the whole law is being churned out. It is however ironic and at the same time sardonic that the place where she thought she would be received with both arms wide open was where she met the staunchest opposition. In short, it was at the law dinner which was the hallmark of her six year sojourn in university and law school that she was robbed of her rights in broad day light.
Dear readers, you might agree with me and ask the same question similar to the heading of this write up as she isn’t the only hijab sister that is waiting to be called to bar. As was told, others yanked theirs off at the slightest provocation of not being allowed to enter the venue leaving our lovely sister to bear the consequences of her actions alone. Be wary of the fact that neither the writer nor the sister in question is rebuking the other hijabites for their actions or do the writer place the sister in a high state of eeman(belief) over the others, rather, the point to be proven is the yanking off of our fundamental rights as muslims. It might not be you today, but bear it in mind that it may come to your turn any time soon.
Although, I initially took the passive path of reaction at the beginning of the whole imbroglio, but after having watered my emotions with volumes of submissions on the subject matter which has ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous, I came to the humble conclusion of penning down my thought sand sharing my sagacious submission with those who care to join in the quest for justice for the oppressed irrespective of the religion, tribe or gender. It is a collective fight that needs to be reasoned through common sense. No more, no less. “What harm or good do my wearing of hijab have to do with my intellect?” is the question. If your answer is similar to “It doesn’t do me harm or good!” then, proceed to the next paragraph. If not, you have nothing to gain from the right up!
It is no longer news that in Nigeria today, Muslims are at the receiving end of marginalization along religious line. As soon as the colonial masters arrived, the ship of state as been steered away from the soft landing pad of the muslims. From the holidays to the dress codes of some governmental agencies, to the administrative timetables to even the rule of law and ultimately education and schooling, Muslims find it difficult to practice simultaneously their religion alongside being a complete “law abiding” citizen. Facts, not Tales have been told of children in the past who are christened upon gaining admission into school against the wishes of their parents who are muslims by Missionaries that head the schools. Richard Akinjide is a typical example in this. Some retained their religion afterwards e.g Hon Adeleke Adelabu (Penkelemeesi) while some converted totally from their religion i.e Islam e.g Chief Akinloye. Yet, muslims never cried foul and took to arms against this marginalization. The point here is that this has been on for too long!
You might also want to reason along this line too. “Is this the first time she would be using the Hijab in law school?” The answer is an emphatic No! she had used it all her life at the university and at the law school. Why is this one night so special when it is not a cult ritual I want to ask? I leave that question to be answered by those who know more than I do. Or you might want to say “even Buharis daughter commot her scarve, who she be sef?” Yes she might choose to remover her scarve as their is no compulsion in religion. Once the truth has been revealed to you, You have been given the discretion to either take it or leave it. But i so submit! This act of maginalization against muslims is an act ostentatiously aimed at provoking the peaceful nature of muslims. By who, I can’t answer!
Now to answer the question! “Is she the only one?” Yes she is! She is the only one that has the courage to demand what is rightfully hers. She is the only one that can stand firm at the face of adversity and say she is a muslim when the persecution was hottest. Yes! she is the only one that see the word freedom the way it is; to be fought for. Yes she is the only one that remembered it is a great honour to be among the strangers as stated by the prophet long ago that Islam started as a strange thing to people and it would end in that same state-where people practicing the religion would be termed as out of date and vague. The prophet concluded and gave glad tidings to the strangers. Yes she is the only one with the smile of a queen and the heart of a lion, glittering shine and the power to protect her territory. Yes she is! Yes she is a muslim ready to make a difference and liberate others like her that have the courage to mumble that same wish within their heart but with voice not too loud to be heard. Yes she is an icon that needs your prayers, support, solidarity to get what is hers as a to be lawyer and others that would come after her. Yes she is the only one. Yes she is the only that has said that enough is enough of the malignant hatred against Islam and Muslims. She is and she has said that she is a Muslimah, and they should be judged not by what they wear but by what they can offer.
Enough of this brouhaha and let it be told to the heavens that #she is the only one…..
Let it trend!
Ashraf writes in from Minna, Niger state and can be reached on +2348167093471