… despite graduating with second class lower at the University
Says, I never thought the news of my first class would generate publicity
… No intimidation faced for using hijab. It rather made me more popular
Mariam Odunayo, an hijab-wearing Muslimah and mother of two, has written her name in gold as she graduated with a First Class degree at the October 2019 bar final exams result released by the Council of Legal Education of the Nigerian Law School.
Mariam’s husband, Nurudeen Temitola Yusuf, broke the news on his social media handle on Wednesday, saying, “Alliamdullilah! Congratulations to our Household as my wife, Mariam Odunayo Arole made a first class at the just concluded Bar Finals of the Nigerian Law School.”
While thanking Allah for the feat, Temilola Yusuf, who is himself also a lawyer, appreciated Firdaus Amasa, whose successful hijab battle with the Council of Legal Education last year, paved the way for his Hijab-wearing wife and other Muslimahs at the Law School.
“We are grateful to Allah (SWT) for the feat recorded. Thanks to #AmasaFridaus who fought the battle for our Muslim Sisters to be called to the Nigerian Bar with the Hijab. How would it have been if my wife will be called ‘Naked’?,” he added.
Barrister Mariam, who finished from the Lagos campus of the Nigerian Law school, later took to social media to pen down her thoughts with a powerful tribute, titled, ‘Delay is not denial!’, dedicated to her dad, husband, children (Yaseer and Yaqeen), friends and family members.
She will be called to bar on Thursday, November 28, 2019 alongside other successful candidates, including Barrister Zaynab Abdur-Razaq and Heekmah As-Sideeq, who also participated in the 2018/2019 academic session.
In an exclusive interview with Muslim News, the graduate of Law at the Lagos State University (LASU), who graduated with a 2.2 (second class, lower division) gave thanks to Allah, saying, “Alhamdulilah Robbil Alamin. I am grateful to Allah. It’s elating I never thought it will generate such publicity.”
According to her, “When I was preparing to go to Law school in 2016. The unexpected happened. Yaqeen was conceived, a year after I gave birth to his brother, Yaseer in 2015 while I was in my final year.
“I had an aim to ace bar part 2 but Allah had another plan. I had to defer going till when I had weaned him. Then the travelling opportunity came, instead of staying at home feeling bad. This gave birth to ‘Delay isn’t Denial!,” she added.
The former Vice Chancellor at the Lord Denning Chambers revealed that she graduated with 2.2 (second class lower division) at the University even though she thought she could finish with 2.1 (second class upper).
She said, “Although back then I thought I could get a 2.1 at the least but circumstances deprived me. Besides, the method in Law school was different. In the University, you need to write stories to show you know what you are writing.
“For me, I rarely write beyond my comprehension. Besides, I learnt after my graduation the style that suits me in reading. And at the Orientation Programme, we were informed of not wasting time in answering questions,” she added.
Speaking on the strategy that worked for her at Law School, she said, “My predecessors informed me, especially my husband who is also a lawyer who went to the same campus, on the tricks of successfully scaling the hurdle which all worked for me. I read everyday despite our schedule which was hectic. And gave equal attention to all my courses and no course is better than the other. I followed the routine judiciously. And finally no reading extraneous materials. Not trying to prove _’I too know’,then, prayer and keeping calm in the face of pressure.”
The mother of two noted that she didn’t face much challenge on account of her Hijab, saying that her predecessor, Firdaus Amasa’s hijab success story made it easy for her and other Muslimahs in the use of Hijab.
“However some staff usually feel intimidated by my hijab. I didn’t feel bothered about any bureaucracy that could have arisen. The hijab rather made me well known in class as Hajia of Group 5. Some knew my first name”.
“I have many stories. From the first day of snapping of pictures, where we thought we had to show our ears until one of us made enquiries and asked. It was then we were told that it was only in our campus that this happens.
“I used my presence as an hijabi to change things. My seat mates began to like the hijab and completely fell in love with Muslims. Some of them were from the South-South and South-Eastern parts of Nigeria with little knowledge and distorted image of the religion,” she said.
The Ikorodu, Lagos born Muslimah appreciated her dad for his support and being an evergreen inspiration to her success. She said, “It was through his training I became interested in Law. I imbibed a reading culture way back from when I was 6 years old. Thank you dad!”.
She did not end the tribute without sending loving messages to her lovely husband.
She wrote, “To my husband, ‘optikoko’, Optimist-Nurudeen Temilola Yusuf, for the challenge that I will surpass you and bigbowl. For your support while I was away. Law school wanted to cause kasala. People never knew I was married with kids because I was always in my group meetings or mosque.
“When I was scared, you asked me to be calm. That the beginning of failure in law school is fear and sleepless nights. Even when I was cranky, out of frustration, he was understanding. Although no one is perfect. Thank you dear.
“To my kids, I love you all. You were my inspiration. I wanted to make you proud and Allah did it. For the days I was away, your resilience was at the back of my mind.
“My friends in school knew the masjid (mosque) was my sanctuary. It was because of my children I was trying to do it once and for all. Now it’s a done deal. Yaqeen you need a special shout out for been the sabab for delaying law school till now.
“To my brother-in-law, Abdul hafeez Nurudeen, you were the uncle, friend, teacher my kids needed during my time in Law school thank you.
“To my Grand Uncle, Adeniji Raji, your support by way of hosting me in your home whenever I wanted to run away from distractions in school and home. Food boku, money nko. I could say I was rich in law school from your purse and my dad’s.
“To my surviving uncles, who are lawyers, Mr Adegbola Arole and Owolabi Arole, Alubarikaloju I.O Arole who was the first lawyer in our family, I wanted to tow your path by going to study in Sokoto, but been a daddy’s pet.
“To my siblings and Mum, Mustapha Arole, Muhammad Arole, Kuburat Arole, I love you all. Thanks for your support financially, psychologically. My parents-in-law, Mr and Mrs Nurudeen, thanks for been parents to me and my husband.
“To my Class of 2011-2016, you all led the way to this. To my friends in Lasulaws, Nigerian Law School Lagos, Anifowoshe Misturah, Hikmat Motunrayo As-sideeq, love you all. My reading group Shittu Mariam Ajoke, Enesi Sherifah and Abusufyan, SAS, Ademola Adekunbi.
“To my support team, Adeola Lateefah Mustapha, Olatunbosun Whosfat, Basirat Raji, AbdulKareem Lateef ah and my other friends. If I mention all names ground go full. I say Thank you! Jazakumullahu khairan.” Mariam Odunayo Nurudeen-Arole Esq,” she added.