Standard Bearers Islamic Organisation (SBIO) has called for respect of the fundamental human rights enshrined in the constitution and put an end to the lingering attacks and hatred against Hijab in the country.
The Osun State Branch of the group noted that understanding the multireligious nature of Nigeria should be a source of strength and rights should be granted promptly without agitation.
In its #WHD2021 press statement signed by its Female Coordinator, Hajia Rahmat Yusuf, the group emphasised that Islam is not the only religion that encourages modesty and covering of the head for females, but it is entrenched in all the Abrahamaic faith and other religions.
She further called for support and mutual love for believers to stand firm on modesty and continuous work towards achieving a more peaceful coexistence in Nigeria.
Read full Press Statement >>>
Gentlemen of the press,
It is another time of the year, when the question of Hijab takes the front burner amongst Muslims and non-Muslims alike. It is pertinent to discuss how far we have gone on the Hijab questions in Nigeria, especially South-West Nigeria, the founding Fathers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in their wisdom, have enshrined the freedom of religion in the constitution for harmonious well-being of all citizens. Section 38 (1) of the 1999 Constituton (as Amended) support the right of every citizen of this country to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
While not much of a fracas has been heard in the Northern region of Nigeria on the issue of Hijaab, same cannot be said of the Southern region, especially South-West Nigeria.
CONTINUOUS CASES OF HIJAB PERSECUTION
Many students of Secondary Schools continue to be denied the use of Hijab on their School Uniform, despite several court cases that have affirmed that right. The case, CA/L/135/15 between Lagos State Government, Miss Asiyat Abdul Kareem through her father, Miss Moriam Oyeniyi and Muslim Students Society of Nigeria. The full panel of the Court of Appeal also affirmed this right on July 21,2016 when the Lagos State Government lost at that court. As far back as 18th June, 2009 Court of Appeal Ilorin Division in the case between The Provost, Kwara State College of Education, Ilorin& 2 ORS VS Baashirat Saliu & 2 ORS Appeal No CA/IL/49/2006 also affirmed the inalienable right of the Muslim Girl Child to the hijaab. It said “The use of veil by the respondents, therefore qualifies as a fundamental human right under section 38 (1) of the Constitution”. Yet, these young female Muslims of ours remain victims of psychological and physical torture meted out by several Secondary School authorities across the region.
There are lots of documented cases of our female Muslim students being denied entry into the School , given corporal punishments, mocked publicly on School assemblies and in class-rooms, all because of the Hijaab adorned by these young pious female Muslims.
HIJAB QUESTION NOT LIMITED TO SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS
This persecution is not limited to these young minds. Our public space in the South-West is filled with much hatred and animosity towards the identity the Hijaab portrays. Majority of our Schools of Nursing still deny Nursing students their rights despite existing circular to that effect. This circular dated February 11, 2002 reference number N&MCN/CMF/721/1/3 was supposed to put the hijaab question to rest , however, many Schools of Nursing deny the use of hijaab. Indeed, female Muslims often have to remove their Hijab and any Islamic Identity to go for Nursing School interviews to stand a chance of being admitted in these institutions that are being run with public funds! Those who find their way in are continuously subjected to harassment throughout their stay in School. Numerous cases abound.
Many employers still find it difficult to employ qualified ‘Hijabites’ in their places of work. It is bad enough in private institutions but many of our Muslim sisters are discriminated against for employment in public institutions , even that of the Federal Government.
BEYOND THE ISSUE OF LAW
The celebrated case of Firdaws Amasa, the young Law graduate who was denied her call to bar because of the Hijaab, tested the ‘freedom of religion’ enshrined in our constitution but the Law held firm. The verdict was unequivocal. The denial was an abuse of her rights, therefore, null and void. From the day Firdaws stood her ground with the Law, Muslimahs in the Legal profession need not feel humiliated on their happy day of being called to bar. But for how long had that illegality been carried out in our Law Schools?!
With this, we can say this is beyond the Law. it has to do with our level of tolerance for each other, our ability to accommodate divergent views and opinions, to understand that we will not all belong to the same Faith and the need to accept others who differ, with respect.
A CALL TO COMMON UNDERSTANDING
The Hijab is a commandment of Allah, the Most High (quote Qur’an verse). A Muslim woman appears not in public but with her Hijab. Even in private, if those not included by the injunctions of Allah in the Qur’an are present, she appears with her Hijab.
We should understand that it is not like any other apparel. They do not put it on just because they want to look different but out of obedience to the commandment of Allah, the Creator of all that exists. The Hijab is the identity of the Muslim woman, it is her honor, it is her pride, she is not complete in public without it. We crave for understanding from all and sundry.
OUR ABRAHAMAIC FAITH ENCOURAGES MODESTY
Not only Islam encourages modesty and covering of the head for females. Our Catholic sisters are in this habit as well. There are Biblical verses that encourage females to cover their heads. Generally, modesty amongst females is entrenched in the Abrahamaic faith. We call for support, camaraderie and mutual love for believers to stand firm on modesty.
NIGERIA BELONGS TO US ALL
Our Country is a multireligious society. This can actually be a strength, but we need to understand our differences to harness it. We all belong here. Our happiness depends on each other. Our society will grow in unity, love and prosperity if we recognize each other’s rights and give it promptly without agitation. Disunity, hatred and mutual suspicion pervade in society where rights -human rights- are denied.
As we use this opportunity of World Hijab Day to remind ourselves the varying issues around the apparel of faith and modesty – The Hijaab, we enjoin us all to respect each other’s right and continue to work towards a more peaceful coexistence in Nigeria. We can find unity in our diversity. Long live Nigeria!
As-salaamu alaykum wa rahmatullaah wa barakaatuh.
Standard Bearers Islamic Organization, Osun State Branch.
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