Today is February 1, 2021 and the 9th Anniversary of the World Hijab Day. When Nazma Khan; a resident of New York birthed this idea in 2013, it was aimed at creating awareness about the use of the hijab and clarifying the misconceived thoughts about the Hijabis (Hijab-wearing Muslim women). We all know the level of discrimination that our noble women face in different sections of the society.
Some innocent sisters have been brutally stabbed, murdered and ridiculed because of their choice to cover themselves in line with the teachings of their religion. We don’t need to visit France and Germany to agree with this fact.
Amidst the various discriminations against the use of the hijab, some countries and climes have outlived this barbaric trait and have come to terms with the fact that, Muslims are members of the society who also have unfettered rights to practice their religion without infringing on the rights of others. If some people choose to ‘dress to kill’, those who are robed in their religious attires should not be killed!
In the middle of this struggle to ensure that the hijab gains credence and Muslim ladies do not face discrimination because of their dressing, it has become a yearly event to set aside a day (Feb. 1) to further enlighten and engage the Public on the importance of the hijab, the moral security that comes with it and the comfort enjoyed by Hijabis. We have various Muslims and non-Muslim Organizations that take part in this annual campaign. This campaign is just an extension of their daily awareness that take place all year long.
However, these people who seek nothing but to earn the pleasure of their Lord, promote moral uprightness and public acceptance of the hijab have become subject of attack from a section of the society. I am talking about our Muslim brothers who see this event (World Hijab Day) as a contravention of Islamic ethics and perceive the whole idea as unislamic. They justify their claims by saying; It is not part of the practice of the “Salafs” and therefore; it is an innovation, it exposes the Muslim women to immorality, Muslim ladies dance around all in the name of demonstrations, the awareness which sometimes involve rallies is haram in Islam. All of these, I have heard them directly and at every circle where it is mentioned; I engage those who share that view ethically. Islam isn’t a religion of emotions but a knowledge-based religion and until we don’t have Islamic scholars again would ignorance be allowed to thrive.
I have decided to put down this response as a contribution to the advocacy and awareness in support of the hijab struggle. I want them to be steadfast in the cause of ensuring that the hijab-wearing Muslims are protected and safeguarded from public assault. May Allah reward them for their commitments.
Firstly, on the issue of innovation, the antagonists justify their claims by saying; “you don’t come up with an annual event or festival (Eid) outside the 3 prescribed festivals in Islam (Jummu’ah, Eidul Fitr and Eidul Adha).” The simple response to this is that, world Hijab day is not a festival of feast and merriment. It is an annual awareness day and this is not outside the scope of what Islam permits for us when there are no textual authorities that negate such. This simply falls under the ‘Mu’amala’ aspect of Islamic Law which enjoys permissibility as the fundamental rule.
Additionally, the awareness should be understood as a means of da’wah and Just as Islamic scholars have made us understand that the means of calling to the path of Islam (Usloobud Da’wah) can be innovative, we see the World Hijab Day as a permissible act in Islam. Just as we now have various online lectures, periodic seminars and symposiums, annual conferences and Qur’anic graduation ceremonies, World Hijab Day should be accommodated in that Category. A deep study of the concept of Usloob da’wah (means of calling to the path of Islam) alongside the understanding of Q 87 V 9 which says; “so, remind, where reminding is beneficial”.
Secondly, they claim that the awareness which comes in form of rallies and demonstrations is against the teachings of Islam in the sense that, we don’t go out expressing our grievances publicly or against the government. This argument has received several responses from scholars who support the permissibility of protests and demonstrations in Islam. I equally have two articles written on that. Let me just remind our brothers and sisters that, WHD is an awareness, which is not exclusive to the government. It is an awareness to bring every member of the society to sanity and put the unjust fellows to check.
Tariq bin Shihab narrated that a man asked the prophet: “Which kind of jihad is best”? He said: “The best jihad is the word of justice in front of the oppressive ruler” (Reported by An-Nasai). In Suratu Nisaai v 75, Allah called to Jihad (striving in the cause of Allah) by saying; “And what reason have you that you should not fight in the cause of Allah and of the weak among the men, the women and children, those who say; Our Lord! Cause us to go forth from this town, whose people are oppressors and give us from You, a guardian and give us a helper from You”. Our women have become weak and what is within our limit is to agitate and advocate for their rights as a form of jihad.
Thirdly, I was shocked when I heard someone say; those who demonstrate on World Hijab Day dance about and display their nudity all in the name of advocating for hijab rights. I only came to the conclusion that “Man is an enemy of what he is ignorant of” and many people allow their emotions to override their conscious mind when they don’t agree with a concept. The response that needs to be given here is that, it is ironical for one to advocate for something and go against it publicly. It will therefore be illogical to jump to that conclusion that they seize that opportunity to dance around. Let’s be sincere and thoughtful in our criticism and not force our views on others with biased sentiments.
Furthermore, they claim that it exposes the Muslim women to an unsecured atmosphere and danger. Well, they also would have read in pages of the history of Islam that women also participated in the expeditions that took place during the time of the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be Upon Him). We only need to advise our women that they should be very peaceful and straightforward in their demands.
Protecting the demonstrators is also an obligation of other members of the society which does not exclude the men but doesn’t give them a passcode to intermingle.
Finally, when events like this happen, we need to guide ourselves on what to do and what should be avoided. I will like to advice our women to observe the following guidelines in marking the annual world Hijab Day;
They should be very peaceful in their demonstrations, rallies and agitations. All forms of violence must be shunned.
They should shroud themselves in the prescribed form of dressing according to the sharia’ah in their daily life and when they go out for WHD demostrations.
The nature and situation of every locality and society will predict the best form of awareness.
Symposiums, conferences, Press Address, lectures, engaging govt. officials, articles and publications should also be considered as forms of awareness.
When demonstrations and rallies are the means adopted, there should be leaders and proper coordination.
Lawmakers should also support this cause by making legislations that will further strengthen the right to religion of every member of the society
Those who do not agree with the idea of WHD awareness should not fail to lend a voice to the propagation of the use of the hjab. This is a matter that calls for collective effort and together we can help establish the ruling of Allah on female dressing.
Abdullahi Haroon “Akewshola”
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