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Ibn Abdillah As-sudaisiy Al-IIoori

The hijāb debate in Kwara State and the silence of "human rights activists" in Nigeria is a threat to the doctrine of universality of human rights. By the provisions of the Universal Human Rights Declaration of 1948, Human Rights are universal in that they are meant to apply to all manners of people regardless of their status in the society. As George Ayyittey noted, human rights are inalienable, indivisible and interrelated. The inalienability of Human Rights lies in the fact that they are inherent in every human being and cannot be taken away at any point in time except in some specific exceptional situations based on the provisions of the law. 

Anyone who is keen about the global debate on hijāb, especially as it relates to Leyla Sahin's case in Turkey will know bigotry has no gain. In that case, Judge Tulkens held in a dissenting judgment that based on Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the freedom of religion is not merely to have a religion (the internal conviction) but to manifest the religion (the expression of that conviction). While dismissing the lame argument advanced by the Respondent to blackmail and link Leyla with extremism, Judge Tulkens, a non-Muslim further said while everyone is aware of the need to prevent radical Islamism, merely wearing the hijāb cannot be associated with fundamentalism and it is vital to distinguish between those who wear the hijāb and “extremists” who seek to impose the hijāb on non-Muslims. She added that not all women who wear the hijāb are fundamentalists and there is nothing to suggest that the applicant (Leyla Sahin) is one.

It is imperative to trace the historical genesis of the ongoing crisis on hijāb in Kwara Stats. The truth is that the Muslims, especially in the Northern Nigeria were not illiterates before colonialism. There were learned people and their official language was Arabic. The leaders established a model of an Islāmic state with sophisticated judicial, economic, social and spiritual systems. 

The region enjoyed peace and tranquility until the arrival of the colonialists. They were not without their mission to christianize the entire country and they succeed to large extent before eyes became open. Many Muslim children who went to school were converted and those who were not converted didn't return with their senses. You will see many bearing Muslim names without Islām. All the evils we have in our societies today are based on viruses contacted from those schools. They didn't see any harm in marrying disbelievers. They spread viruses like drinking, smoking, courtship, dating, feminism, modernism, reception during marriage events and so on.

This perhaps was what made some of our forefathers to stand against the so called western education in the first place. The damage done by those schools to our religion was unquantifiable. But Sheikh Muhammad Kamaludeen Al-Adabiy رحمه الله and those who shared his foresight insisted that Muslim children would go to school, but the schools would be established under the Arabic institutions. This was what gave birth to Islāmic missionary schools in Ilorin and some parts of Yorubaland. The likes of Ansaru ud Deen and Nawair us Deen probably started before Ansarul Islām. This was what saved many of our parents and us too by extention from their evil plots. 

The mission of the Christian Missionaries anywhere they establish schools and churches is to conquer the host communities religiously, socially and economically. The case of Ilorin is not an exception. They have always been trying to christianize us in many ways. They succeeded in some aspects and failed woefully in many regard. It is a form of exaggeration for anyone to say he can count thousands of Ilorin indigens who are Christians. 

They had a grand plan to infiltrate us the way they did in many Yoruba communities whereby you will find Christians and Muslims in almost equal proportion in the same family. They didn't succeed in this regard in Ilorin. The resistance is very strong. They are only able to lure the glaringly ignorant ones whose foundation of Islām are nothing to write home about. This is a great disappointment for them. So, all the frustrations regarding hijāb of Muslim students in public schools hitherto owned by the missionaries have their genesis in the failed attempts to conquer us completely. 

I cannot forget a time when they will send preachers to the nooks and crannies of Ilorin for evangelism. There were equally several attempts to invade Oke-Male area with their Palm Sunday annual processions. The security of the community was compromised on many occasions in this light. This is where our level of condonance in the name of religious tolerance has landed us. They have now surrounded us with Churches in almost every parts of the Community that we used to call "eyin ilu" (surburb). Some people were deceived and lured successfully. Allāh guides whoever He wishes, and He changes the mind of whoever He wishes. It is important for us to keep learning our religion properly in order not to exchange gold with plaited gold. The only acceptable religion in sight of Allāh is Islām. But if a Muslim is ignorant and nonchalant about his Deen, it will be easy for him to be deceived with lies and fake miracles.

When we want to degrade ourselves, we say their schools are better than our's. The truth is that we have friends who attended Muslim and community schools then and they were far better than us in academics, even though we might be speaking better English. They are highly overrated because we taught education is just about speaking English. At the end of the day, everyone is able to communicate to an extent. While I believe in the need for us to improve and develop our Muslim and community schools, sometimes, it is not about the institution, it depends largely on individuals. 

But ultimately, going to where one's faith will be jeopardised is very dangerous and not the best. Take your kids to where their faith will be adequately protected while not compromising standard. The hereafter is more important. Allāh will put barakah in whatever they learn. It was Allāh who saved us. They nearly snatched us. Even by the word "mission", you will know that they have a mission and they have been executing it since before we now begin to wake up. Even when we got to the unity schools, they have all their agents stationed there. If not for MSSN and some home training, we would have been snatched.

After flipping through the purported 3rd July, 1972 Address of the Former Governor of Kwara State, Col. D. L. Bamigboye stating that there wasn't yet a take-over of the "missionary" schools in Kwara State, I am sure they must have presented the said Address as part of their evidences in the High Court and Court of Appeal, yet they lost at both stages against the State Government. Apart from these judgments in favour of the State Government on ownership of the schools, we have High Court and Court Appeal judgements on the right of hijāb. So, why are they taking laws into their hands? They should go to Supreme Court, and obtain a stay of execution pending their appeal if at all they think they have a case. 

In the lead judgment delivered by Saidu Tanko Husseini, JCA in the case of Incorporated Trustees of CAN and Ors v. Kwara State Government and Ors (CA/IL/108/2016) on Thursday, 20th September, 2019, the Court of Appeal said and I quote verbatim:

The submission made on behalf of the appellants that section 38(3) of the Constitution allow them or give them the exclusive right to make Christianity the only norm in the schools under focus is only wishful thinking. Such is not tenable in a heterogenous set-up such as the schools under focus where students and pupils alike do not belong to the same religious community or denomination. Students and pupils of those schools came from different backgrounds and so there is no semblance of homogeneity amongst theses students as to permit the imposition of the practice, the appellants have in mind over those schools. In Esabunor v. Faweya (2008) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1102) 794, 870, the court held that every student must be given the right to choose the course of his/her life fashioned on what he/she believes in and reserve the right not to be coerced into acting contrary to one’s religious beliefs. There is no evidence on the printed record that the1st – 3rd respondents have coerced the appellants or students of the schools in focus into acting contrary to their religious beliefs.

Then, what is more soothing about the judgment is the concurrent opinion of the learned B. M Ugo JCA, a Christian in the panel who remarked thus:

My learned brother, Saidu Tanko Husaini, JCA, availed me his very well reasoned leading judgment in this appeal. I am in complete agreement with his Lordship’s reasoning and conclusion on everyi issue I have nothing useful to add and here adopt his judgment as mine. I also dismiss the appeal and affirm the judgment of the trial Judge.

All forms of bigotry has no gain. They lead to chaos and anarchy. Islām has taught us to speak the truth even if it is against us. The fact that someone is not of the same religion or ethic group with you doesn't mean you shouldn't say the truth. Your hatred for someone should not lead you to injustice against him. 

Up till now, most of our media organizations and so called human rights groups are still quiet or saying something else entirely. Their hypocrisy has been exposed beyond bounds. I commend TVC for seeking clarification and supporting the truth.

The action of the so called missionary schools stopping Muslim students from wearing hijāb in public schools funded with tax payers money in a state dominated by Muslims despite series of court court  decisions and without any notice of appeal is not only wicked, it is a peak of lawlessness in our society. Even if approach the Supreme Court and it rules in their favour that they own the schools, that doesn't still give them the audacity to tamper with the right of Muslim students in those schools. In as much as they have Muslim students in those school, they have their right to wear hijāb. 

The issue of hijāb has to do with a fundamental Human Right guaranteed by S. 38 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). It is unstoppable even at the global stage, let alone national or local levels. If we can convince the Council of Legal Education (Nigerian Law School) and Body of Benchers on the right of hijāb in public institutions in relation to Firdausi's case, then who are the so called missionaries? 

In the case of Bashirat Saliu and Ors v. Kwara State College of Education, Ilorin, the State High Court while giving judgement in favour of the applicant said the fundamental rights granted by the constitution could only be limited by the constitution and not by mere school regulation. The Court further held that the prohibition of the veil by the respondents (Kwara State College of Education) could not be brought within the permitted limits to freedom of religion stipulated under section 45 of the Constitution. 

When the matter got to the Court of Appeal, all the issues formulated were ruled in favour of the respondent. Mukhtar JCA said inter alia:

“The lower courts order directing the appellants to restore the respondents to their classrooms like other students is directly linked with the alleged violation of the respondents' fundamental right to freedom of religion. The entire proceedings for the enforcement of fundamental right would tantamount to a complete sham or nonsense if the respondents at the end of the day stand to suffer the consequences of the alleged violation. The order made by the lower court that the respondents be restored to their classrooms was not only necessary but also secures and enhances the enforcement of the respondents' fundamental right. I am unable to fault the decision made by the lower court on the 8th May 2006. This court has no business tempering with that decision. The last issue is similarly resolved against the appellants”

So, by virtue of my research on Human Rights and Hijāb Cases in Nigeria, I submit that the agitations of the so called missionaries are dead on arrival. There are several Court decisions upholding right of hijāb within and outside Nigeria. Just as Allāh said, the Kuffār will never be pleased with you until you are ready to follow their path. They will not be pleased with you except you are ready to compromise your faith. 

Meanwhile, our glory in Ilorin, is in following and adhering to the Sunnah and the Path of the Companions رضي الله عنهم because this is what Islām truly represents. Those who ought to stand for us in this trying time are busy chasing money at naming ceremonies and fidau. The humiliation that we are now facing is as a result of fighting Sunnah, promoting bid'ah of different kinds and imitating the Kuffār in almost everything we are doing. An example of this was when Mudir Markaz attacked this same hijāb openly in many of his faulty comments. Who did we see? We also have many parents attacking their children for wearing the proper hijāb and adhering to Sunnah. 

The only solution that we have is to return back to the foundations of our Deen ('aqeedah and Sunnah). Ibn 'Umar reported that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

 إِذَا تَبَايَعْتُمْ بِالْعِينَةِ وَأَخَذْتُمْ أَذْنَابَ الْبَقَرِ وَرَضِيتُمْ بِالزَّرْعِ وَتَرَكْتُمُ الْجِهَادَ سَلَّطَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْكُمْ ذُلاًّ لاَ يَنْزِعُهُ حَتَّى تَرْجِعُوا إِلَى دِينِكُمْ

I heard the Messenger of Allah, (ﷺ) say: When you enter into the inah transaction, hold the tails of oxen, are pleased with agriculture, and give up conducting jihad (struggle in the way of Allah). Allah will make disgrace prevail over you, and will not withdraw it until you return to your original religion. (Reported by Abu Dawūd and authentic according to Al-Albaani)

We need to know and understand that the proper hijāb is the full hijāb (khimār) and there is no compromise on it in Sha Allāh. But every religious effort is a gradual process. A sister who wears full hijab today probably started with a headscarf, then pashmina, then knee hijāb. If some people tell you their journey in life and where they are coming from, you will be patient when admonishing them. 

We need to begin to appreciate people's efforts, encourage them and pray for them to do better things. For instance, if a woman wraps a non transparent pashmina with a spacious garment (not tightening one), her appearance is better than that of the beret (cap) users or those who don't even cover their heads at all. But she can get better by using full hijāb and even niqāb in Sha Allāh. A Muslim woman should not stop striving till she achieves this feat. May Allāh make it easy for our women to use the proper hijāb as enshrined in the Qur'ān and Sunnah.

In conclusion, in every trial, there are always lessons and benefits. Perhaps, one of the benefits of the ongoing hijāb crisis in Ilorin could be that every Muslim home would adopt full hijāb (or even niqāb) for their wives and female children anytime they step out and in the presence of strangers. 

As we unite to reject and fight discrimination against hijāb in our Secondary Schools, henceforth, we should not be hearing of any case of victimization of wives and female children by husbands and parents respectively on account of choosing to wear the hijāb. If you are with us on this struggle and you still allow your wife and children to dress to kill or go out without the prescribed hijāb, you need to seek more knowledge of Islām (Sunnah) and act accordingly. May Allāh make it easy.

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