▪︎ Hijab, a fundamental right that cannot be taken – Adetola-Kazeem
▪︎Don’t trade divine obligations for worldly gain – Muse-Sadeeq
▪︎ Challenges of using Hijab in Nigeria – Alli-Oluwafuyi, Rabiu relate
▪︎ Steps we would take to tame Hijab assault – Orolu-Balogun
One of Nigeria’s leading faith-based organisations, Hijab Rights Advocacy Initiative (HRAI) has successfully organised her first virtual conference, with the theme, ‘In Defence of Hijab’.
The conference, held on Saturday, August 8, 10am (Nigerian time); saw in attendance over 400 participants (on Zoom and the official Facebook page of the organisation).
Moderated by Ms. Maryam Busari and Ms. Rukayat Saadu, the conference was geared towards finding lasting solutions to the continuous harassment of and discrimination against Hijab users in Nigeria.
It was a gathering of intellectuals who engaged in brainstorming sessions which had Barrister Ahmad Adetola-Kazeem, Esq and Partner, Banwo & Ighodalo, Azeezah Muse-Sadiq, as guest speakers.
The virtual conference which lasted for more than three hours, also had the proprietor, The Tenets Schools, Alhaja Monsurat Alli-Oluwafuyi and Vice-Principal, Vanguards Academy, Hajiah Basirat Rabiu, as discussants as well.
Hijab, a fundamental right that cannot be denied – Adetola-Kazeem
In his presentation, the Managing Partner, Adetola-Kazeem LP, Barrister Ahmad Adetola-Kazeem, declared that the use of Hijab is a fundamental right enshrined in the Nigerian constitution, stating that on no account should it be trampled upon.
The Medical/Health law expert took the audience through the provisions of the 1999 Nigerian constitution which contains the fundamental rights, which according to him, “are to enhance human dignity and liberty”.
He urged Muslims to familiarize themselves with the constitution of the land, saying ignorance of one’s rights at times paves way for exploitation.
The Managing Partner, Adetola-Kazeem LP decried the rate at which these fundamental rights, specifically the right to freedom of religion are violated in Nigeria, as he rolled out court rulings that have upheld the right to use the Hijab in Nigeria.
Giving an explanation of the challenges facing the rights enforcement in Nigeria, he enthused: “Generally speaking, the challenges militating against the effective enforcement of fundamental rights in Nigeria are flagrant disrespect for court orders by government officials and institutions, judicial corruption, illiteracy, poverty, intolerance, bigotry, delay in trial and appeals, among others.”
The legal luminary also clarified that no other law or signing of oath in Nigeria can nullify the use of the Hijab, citing the cases of Anthony Vs Elemona and AG Ondo State Vs AG Ekiti State.
Speaking on solutions to challenges of Hijab harassment, he encouraged Muslim women to know their rights, be resolute and have the right contact details to share their problems with.
He also warned that Muslims be courteous in their approach as it could go a long way in mutual understanding and restoring their rights, while seeing legal action as the last resort.
“The solutions I have proffered to these cases of discrimination are: know your rights; be resolute like Amasa Firdausa; know who to talk to; have the contact details of organisations like MULAN, MURIC, MSSN, HRAI, others; be courteous in your approach, always report to superior officers as junior ones can be overzealous; and be prayerful,” he said.
Don’t trade divine obligations for worldly gain – Muse-Sadeeq
On her part, Barrister Azeezat Muse-Sadeeq, who spoke on, ‘Hijab in the Corporate World’, warned that Muslims should not trade their religious obligations for material gains, noting that success comes from Allah alone.
The legal expert has a detailed experience of the corporate world, given that she works for a big law firm in Nigeria, Banwo & Ighodalo.
Muse-Sadeeq shared her Hijab story with the audience, vis-a-vis the struggles and triumphs, noting that it has not been all rosy for her donning the Hijab.
“The Hijab is an act of subservience to Allah apart from the fact that it covers our body. I have always been using the Hijab, and I had faced a lot of challenges along the line. From my school days through the law school to work place, I’ve had many issues to contend with, and was almost discouraged.
The Hijab hero recounted how the controversies surrounding the Hijab almost deprived her of attending the law school, while opting to choose a non-practicing career with her law degree, just as she struggled before securing a job with a law firm.
She also said that the Hijab discrimination explains why she refrained from appearing for court sessions, adding that her gown was only worn for the Call to Bar ceremonies.
“In corporate world, Muslims, especially women will face several challenges. It is important that they know how to manage the situation and tackle these challenges. Most of these challenges are borne out of ignorance, binary categorization of Muslim women, viewing Hijab as a symbol of extremism, threat to Western culture and above all, hypocrisy.
“Therefore, Muslims must be well prepared for these challenges before going into the corporate world. Male colleagues and clients would offer hand shakes. There is going to be a lot of parties against the ethics of Islam. It is important that Muslims know how to react when these occur so that they can get a proper work-faith balance.
“Above all, we should know that our allegiance as Muslims is to Allah. We are also Muslims before anything else. Success is determined by Allah; and He alone should be pleased,” she noted.
During the discussion session monitored by Muslim News, Alhaja Monsurat Alli-Oluwafuyi, Proprietor, The Tenets Schools, Ikorodu, spoke about the challenges children face in the hands of their parents when trying to don the Hijab.
She quoted copiously from the Holy Qur’an on the need for children to obey their parents, urging them to respectfully disagree with them when their orders contravene those of Allah.
The experienced educationist advised Hijab users to be above par, saying they represent Islam and the Muslims wherever they go.
Alli-Oluwafuyi called on parents to allow their children express their God-given rights, affirming that the Hijab is a compulsory religious requirement that attracts honor and respect for its users.
On her part, Hajiah Basirat Rabiu, Vice-Principal, Vanguards Academy, Ogun State, addressed the disagreements and challenges that arise between the parents and children in donning the Hijab.
The niqabi noted that parents must be good role models for their children in dressing, while also advising that they see the roots of the matter in the case of children who violate the Hijab.
Rabiu pointed out that so many factors are responsible for the nonacceptance of the Hijab by children, adding that parents should know the real problem for easy solution and necessary action.
Steps we would be taking to tame Hijab assault – Orolu-Balogun
Earlier in her welcome address, the Executive Director of the HRAI, Hajiah Mutiat Orolu-Balogun, noted that Muslims cannot continue to sit amid stories of discrimination and harassment against the Hijabis, adding that proactive steps must be taken in fight against Hijabophobia.
Hajiah Orolu-Balogun said the group was founded in 2016 to specifically address the incessant Hijab harassment especially in Nigerian schools, stating that relative successes had been recorded within the short period of its existence.
According to her, The HRAI is an advocacy group consisting of Muslim women from all walks of life, drawn from various Islamic organisations in Nigeria. The group liaises with different agencies and organisations, both in the public and private sectors in defense of Hijab rights.
“We also have various programmes for Muslim women through which we educate them on the use of Hijab. Within the short period of our existence, we’ve recorded a number of successes,” she said.
The Barrister also hinted that the conference, the first of it’s kind, was basically to educate Muslims on steps to take when faced with issues of Hijab discrimination and harassment, while thanking the speakers and audience for gracing the occasion.
By Rasheed Abubakar and Abdullah Abdulganiy