– The story behind the niqab ban billboards
The Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN), Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State has exonerated the University Imam, Prof. Idris Ayinde, saying that the ban on Niqab (veil) is a directive of the University Senate and not the respected Imam.
The Muslim students body was reacting to the allegation that the Imam defended “gatekeepers who instructed a Muslim alumnus that visited the school for personal reasons to take off her Niqab before entering the school premises”.
The report, which has sparked controversies among Muslim netizens also alleged that Prof. Ayinde, a lecturer of the institution’s Department of Agricultural Economics said, “the use of Niqob in the institution is banned, citing that it is not a fundamental part of Islam.”
In a statement jointly signed by Olaiya Abdulmalik, Ameer; Shittu Fadlullah, Secretary; and Yunus Abideen, Public Relations Officer, the MSSN said, “At this juncture, we find it, as a doctrine of necessity to debunk the fake information making the rounds on social media, stating that our esteemed father, the University Imam, Professor Idris Ayinde ‘banned the use of Niqab'”.
According the statement, “We’d like to categorically state that the ban on the
use of Niqab on campus, is a directive of the Senate of the University.”
The society urged people to always verify whatever news they come across before propagating it.
Noting that the Niqab is an expression of Islamic religion, which they have fundamental right to use, FUNAAB MSSN said they remain committed to seeing the Senate redress their abnormal directive, while suing for calm and peace among the Muslim community.
FUNAAB Niqab ban, how it all started
The news of the ban on Niqab first hit the airwaves in 2017, when the school authority erected giant billboards at the school gate and other strategic locations within the premises, grouping the Muslim women veil alongside tinted glasses, motorcycle (okada), trucks as banned items, under security threat.
The billboards, issued by the office of Students Affairs sparked uproar from Muslims both within and outside the University environment, as many faulted the ban, saying Niqab is not a security threat, but fundamental rights of every willing Muslim lady.
Muslim News findings revealed that the institution eventually pulled down the billboard after several condemnations, only to erect another set of billboards few days later where it categorised the Niqab alongside crazy jeans, mini-skirts and chest-exposing tops as “immoral and lousy dressing”
Analysts and Hijab advocates criticised the school authority’s decision, saying that the new ban (as far back as 2017) showed that the authorities of FUNAAB are obviously confused.
“They don’t seem to understand what they are doing. We faulted them for categorising Niqab under security threat. We complained. When we thought they would adjust, they did the worst by grouping it under indecent dressing. How can Niqab be an indecent dressing?”, Social media activist, Ismail Kamal asked.
No much information has been heard about the ban on Niqab in the Institution until last week, when the media (not Muslim News) quoted the Prof. Ayinde saying that “the use of Niqab in the institution is banned, citing that it is not a fundamental part of Islam.”
The Muslim students body of the institution weighed in, saying the action of the security personnel was dictated by an unbefitting description of the Niqab as ‘lousy and immoral’ by the university authorities.
“The university management in an unbefitting manner described the typical Islamic dress of a veiled Muslim female as LOUSY/IMMORAL (Inna liLah wa inna ilayhi roj’un) in a signpost erected at the university gate, which remains there, as at the point of writing this report,” the statement read.
It explained that the signpost, which has a long history and was mounted at the school gate and several other strategic places within the school premises had at some point been removed after it was greeted with criticisms by the Muslim community.
“Since the bigotry is institutionalized, even changes in leadership baton is incapable of deterring it. The billboard in its descriptions condemned all forms of societal indecencies and immoralities and put the picture of the typical Islamic dress code of a veiled Muslim female as among them. It carried a ‘banned’ tag and also states clearly, beneath, that ‘FUNAAB detests LOUSY/IMMORAL dressing’.
“A lot of us have translated and have begun spreading to the effect that the University meant that their abrasive description is what a Muslim lady represents, and, since this is what the religion of Islam has legislated, that, even the school means Islam is lousy and immoral. It is that the dressing of Muslim ladies, which is an expression of religion in a full-fledged manner, is regarded as LOUSY/IMMORAL by the institution,” according to the statement.
At FUNAAB, lectures are fixed during Juma’at….
Presenting its account of the incident that had generated reactions among Muslims, FUNAAB MSSN noted that its Ameer actually received a distress call on the matter and did visit the scene to intervene without positive result.
“We know that the public has been yearning for an official statement clearing the air on the news making rounds on the media over the entrance denial meted by a security personnel at the school gate to a veiled Muslim sister (Niqabiy). Here it is:
“At about 11:30am on Thursday, 25th November 2021, the Ameer received a distress call from a student, stating that a veiled Muslim sister had been denied entrance into the school premises on the basis that the school management had placed a ban on the use of Niqab on campus by students, staff and visitors.
“Despite an attempt at mediation by the Ameer and a number of other Muslims who were present, the security personnel vehemently declined. The sister, owing to the official engagements which necessitated her coming to the school premises, had to reluctantly remove her veil before she was allowed in. Such a humiliating moment for the Muslim Ummah,” FUNAAB MSSN stated.
“This is one of several instances of infringement of rights of Muslim students in the University environment. In furtherance, the following instances bear credence to the above: A. The unrelenting and remorseless violation of the right of Muslim students to worship, particularly the Friday Juma’at prayers through illegitimate lectures, tests, examinations and practical schedules between 1pm – 2pm, which is statutorily the University’s break period. B. What about a supposed practical session/lecture turned into a Christian evangelism session in a class which consists of an appreciable number of students from both faiths?”.
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