To keen observers, one of the major sources of controversy in Nigeria has been the issue of the hijab. The hijab – a head gear donned by female Muslims – had generated a lot of hullabaloos in several quarters. From academia to the legal institution to the health institution to the media, and down to different work places, females putting on this head gear had been – and still are – made to face unspeakable persecutions and unwarranted stigmatization. This had necessitated legal gymnastics in the country overtime.
It is clear a fact that Nigeria is a multi-religious society. In other words, it welcomes all shades of religions. It is even of particular note that the Nigerian constitution grants each individual the right to uphold and practise any religion of his wish without being persecuted or hounded. Islam is one of the popular religions in Nigeria and beyond. A sizeable amount of Muslims lives in Nigeria.
The hijab, just like the five-daily prayers, is a well pronounced aspect of Islam. Thus, repudiating those donning the hijab and calling for the ban of hijab is tantamount to banishing Islam which is in contrast to the dictate of the constitution. It is therefore an act of sheer intolerance and illegality to stand in the way of the hijab. This must be made clear in the first instance. To put it differently, those persecuting and maltreating the hijabites are not only violators of the constitution, but also enemies of humanity.
Cases of how female Muslims adorning the hijab were terrorized, persecuted and discriminated against abound in the public space; though downplayed by the mainstream media. Even, young girls at tender age are not let out in this barbaric trip. They are mostly the victims of this endless animosity for the hijab. From Lagos to Ogun to Osun and other states in Nigeria, female secondary school students donning the hijab had been physically assaulted and psychologically traumatized by overzealous principals and teachers in flagrant disregard for the grundnorm of the land allowing them to do so.
The case of a nine-year-old girl who was molested by her principal in Ogun state for donning the hijab is of important note here. In what has become a routine activity, a principal in Lagos state also harassed five female Muslim students for the same offence. It should not be forgotten so soon that some female Muslim students of the University of Ibadan International School were also caged in the library, and subsequently sent out by their principal for the same offence. Amasa Firdausa was, in the same vein, boycotted from the call to bar ceremony for this same offence. An overzealous doctor also harassed some nurses in Osun state for donning the hijab. Of recent, a corper was also discriminated against for donning the hijab. The list is endless.
In most cases, what these fanatical and bigoted persons put up as defense for their ferocious act is that the hijab is not part of the uniform to be donned according to the extant law of schools, professions or organizations. Then I ask: is there any law superior to the constitution that had granted the freedom of religion to everyone? Are these overenthusiastic principals, teachers and professionals not lettered enough to understand the information contained in the first page of the Nigerian constitution? “That any law that is not consistent with the constitution shall be declared NULL AND VOID”. Needless to say that there is an injunction in an appellate court that ruled in favour of the hijab. If anything, it shows that these people either do not have access to the constitution or are not literate enough to understand the message in the first page of the constitution. But if they do not fall in these two categories, it speaks a lot to their unlimited hatred for the hijab.
Some would argue that hijab is a way of colonizing the females and denying them freedom to show what God has bestowed upon them; thereby making it difficult for them to get marital partners. I will also like to ask in this instance if freedom or civilization now mean walking half-clothed or naked all over the place. If anything, it is a descent into the period of pre-civilization of yesteryears where man is barely clothed. Moreover, no substantial literature or existing research had been able to establish significant relationship between the hijab and not getting marriage partners. The fact is that those who don the hijab enjoy lasting marriage than the half-clothed folks.
In fact, this illogicality has graduated to the level of saying that hijab has relationship with the intelligence of its users. This is another lie from the pit of hell. Female Muslims adorning the hijab had done — and continue to do – us proud in all walks of life. The youngest doctor in Nigeria adorns the hijab; the best graduating student of Uniosun in 2018 dons the hijab; we have hijabites as doctors, lawyers, teachers, journalists, engineers and whatnot. What else do naysayers want?
Some of them will steer off logic by asserting in blissful ignorance or astounding acrimony that the hijab is an attempt to Islamize Nigeria. This is the dullest of all arguments put forth by these bigots. People had been donning hijab since the pre-colonial Nigeria, why does Nigeria remains unislamised? Advanced worlds allow for the use of hijab in all sectors, why have they not been Islamized. Indeed, the hatred for hijab is the height of stupidity. Our females that had embraced this spiritual garment should not be cajoled!
Abdullah is of the better by far University of Ilorin.