By Kamoru Sodiq
In the Nigerian law school, the story of nudity and impossibility is as old as the institution itself. Not content with the monstrous tradition of not allowing hijabites to be called to bar, the young Amasa Firdaus from the Better by far University picked the gauntlet to give a fatal blow to the almighty convention. She refused every attempts to compromise. She was offered to choose between tradition and faith. Firdaus didn’t blink an eye. She put tradition to where it belongs; past. She stood firm to give voice to the voiceless. She is now prepared to see others walk free forever.
“Meanwhile sources at the ICC stated that before the ceremonies were to begin, all Muslims were respectfully asked to remove their hijabs prior to entering the hall. This request was complied with by all the Muslims present except Amasa Firdaus who vehemently refused to remove hers. In the process of her protest and despite entreaties made to her by other Muslims she was denied entry into the hall by the Body of Benchers… She reiterated that even at gun point she would never remove her hijab…” (Culled from a Nigerian law Blogsite). This is the main gist. Before we know it, hell was let loose.
Before going into details, let me make a very crucial clarification. I can attest that our people here see with sentiment and primordial spectrum. We need to know that what is right is right irrespective of the victims. Freedom is universal no matter the line of the divides. It cut across board. However, I’m not out to determine the corpus of the case. I will leave that to the concerned bodies to show us the way. My thesis here is to celebrate the main dramatis personae, *Amasa Alijanna Firdaus*. A freedom fighter. A symbol of resoluteness and conviction.
For those of us who are not well versed in critical analysis. People have said so much for and against the issue. Many of those comments are distasteful. Some called her “the poor girl”. To some, she is a deviant lady. Others continue to throw tantrums and pebbles. In my opinion, I believe this incidence should serve a fertile ground to call for a review of in call to bar dress code rather than pulling down the whole institution of council of legal education or crying religious bias. Besides, we cannot completely separate religion from the instant case. That is the basis.
If we don’t want to live apart, we need to see strength in our diversity whenever things like this comes up. Open mindedness is key to get things resolved amicably in a multi society like ours. What do we make of a constitution that recognizes religion but rejects its symbols. It is illogical and contradiction. Identity is everything. Hijab is a strong identity of Islam. Any law made that fails to respect identity of its people is a pervasion of law. It will be observed most in breach than in compliance. This is the situation we find ourselves today. We are humans. We are all people of one identity or the other. No tradition is older than being human.
With profound respect, the rest of the Muslims sisters could be categorized as “let my people go.” True, Firdaus was not the only sister at the trial. Yet she found herself alone when it comes to conviction and firmness. Others defaulted and went with tradition. This is a big lesson for us that in the trial of life, we will carry our cross alone. If you want to stand for the right qualities, be prepared to stand alone. Contrary to what some people want us believe that her action is a show of defiance and non conformity. It is not true. She has never fallen short in conduct and character before. What she did is called *Istiqaamah* (uprightness).
Many of us will fall thunderously whenever Istiqaamah comes visiting. Whether we posses faith is not an empirical exercise. It is a test of will and tenacity. Our Istiqaamah will be tested one day as a believer. Perhaps, in the long, we will pass or fail. Firdaus has stepped on the great men shoe. She has crossed the Rubicon and remain gallant. This is a trying time for all lovers of freedom and faith to make their voice count or bury their heads in shame. The trigger is pulled already. We have numerous standing figures past and present who have made giant strides in this direction. They stood against abnormality when it seems foolish to do so. Today, they go about with standing ovation.
On a frank note, the islamic ummah in Nigeria here is too weak and divided. I came across a comment online that tells it best. It reads: ” giving all these publicity gives the impression that the ummah is busied over “petty” things. By petty, I mean the hijab issue is among 1 out of 1000 things the Ummah is denied of… This publicity shows the ummah is very weak to the extent we will need every other person support even in order to profess our Iman. It gives me headache when this thing happens.” It is an hard talk. Until we are ready to come together and fight our common enemy, nothing will change.
As a student of law, the issue for determination in the case at hand is a very simple one. It is the centuries old in-fighting between the two arguments of “law as it is” and law “as it ought to be.” Both sides have their strengths and weaknesses. We have the Naturalist. We have the Positivist. The major conundrum remain in how and when to draw the line of convergence and agreement. It is on this basis that public policy is needed to settle the scores. Trouble is, the Nigerian legal system is highly mechanical and positive. Heaven may fall, they care less. The best they will say is “my hands are tied.” Problem!
Nigeria is a sick nation. Every golden opportunity to make progressive amendment and take a walk out of our self imposed underdevelopment is met with bricks and stiff resistance. There are so many unresolved national issues pending today. Our various institutions are busy managing nothing but they are eating everything including our future. We should stop all this practice of capitalism without capital. Burning cases like *Dasukigate, Sarakigate, Mainagate, grasscutter saga* are now story of national disappointment and disgrace. I hope this case of Firdaus will not end up on the pages of newspaper and the court of public opinion.
We are in the era of change mantra. It is time our legal system embraces review and respects our diversity if our country wants to walk the way of great nation. We are laughing stock already in the comity of states. We need eagles like Amasa Firdaus who can fly. We must appreciate her for this thankless sacrifice. She has given us another rare opportunity to go back to discussion table and stop the hypocrisy of forming big on top nothing.
Humans are measurement of all things. We made the laws and not the other way round. If our laws are archaic, misfit and insensitive, we will all continue to get our fingers burnt every now and then. Whether Nigeria is ready to work or not. It is our noble duty to push her. Thanks Firdaus for the push. The gain is left for us to sustain it or loose it. Indeed, in Amasa Alijanna Firdaus we found the hope of new Nigeria. Firdaus, a figment of inspiration. Who says she is not smart?