World Hijab Day: Seeking Legal Protection For Muslim Women’s Identity

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One attribute that every Muslim woman is known with is the wearing of the Hijab. It is an identity, it is their pride. This is the reason   Coalition of Nigerian Muslim Women called for freedom be given to Muslim women who choose to wear hijab. CHIBUNMA UKWU writes

Recently, the maiden World Hijab Day was celebrated. It was an occasion that drew the presence of Islamic women of calibre who gathered to promote the wearing of Hijab by Muslim women.
The event which held in Abuja by the centered on the focus, My Hijab, My Pride.
Presenting the keynote address, the wife of the Vice President, Hajiya  Amina Namadi Sambo remarked that Hijab is not only the identity of the Muslim woman but also an obedience to Allah who cautioned women against revealing their bodies except hands and wrists.
Speaking further, she expressed satisfaction at efforts being made by Muslim women to promote Islamic identity and cultures. She said,
“I am pleased to note that more and more Muslim women are working to sensitize and promote Islamic identity and culture in this globalised world of today where new media technologies have revolutionalised our world. ”
Explaining how new technologies such as internet and cable television have promoted western culture; she observed that their tradition has had negative effects on Islamic dress sense than good. She therefore encouraged Muslim women especially the youths to maintain Islamic dressing which she said is important.
“The subject of Islamic dressing is important for all Muslim women especially the youths who today are faced with peer pressure within their communities. Some mode of dressings in the name of fashion are indecent, indiscipline and immoral.

These are against the Islamic injunctions as contained in the Holy Qur’an and hadiths, which specifically enjoin women and girls to dress in a way that covers their nakedness, thereby promoting chastity. ”

Giving more enlightenment on the essence of the hijab, the national president of Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria (Fomwan), Hajiya Amina Omoti said that the wearing of Hijab entails more than being fashionable alone as is usually seen.

According to her, some people although are aware of the importance of Hijab among the Muslim women have ill- perception about it.

This she said contributes to the celebration of the maiden World Hijab Day. It equally serves a forum to let the world know that wearing Hijab is not just a physical thing. She said,
“The hijab that we are wearing is not just a physical thing and we are not just wearing it as fashion but to carry out the injunction of the Almighty Allah to be able to create awareness more. People know that we wear hijab but we also want to let them know why we wear this Hijab and to correct this ill- perception of people wearing Hijab. That is the reason of celebrating this day.”
However, she lamented some of the challenges most women are faced with in their efforts to show off their identity through the wearing of hijab.
“There have been lots of challenges Muslim women are facing for wearing Hijab and we have cited a lot. There have been several cases of women at the offices being harassed to remove their hijab either for picture taking or any other reason. When you remove your hijab, it means that your identity has been altered.  So we want the people in authority to know that we are clamoring for freedom to wear our hijab freely.”
She also noted the freedom given by Nigerian constitution for the free practices of Religion and said, that allowing Muslim women to wear Hhijabs as instructed by their Religion should not be an exceptional case.
“In this country, we have the freedom to practice whatever religion that we belong to. The 1999 constitution, section 38 of it says that we are free to practice our Rreligion and to manifest it. To practice our Religion is to be practical about it which includes wearing the dressing that your religion permits.  Based on this, wearing of Hijab should be allowed by any sector of the society in this country.”

In same vein, the national vice president, Fomwan, Hajiya Rahamadu Musa acknowledged that legal actions will be taken on any Nigerian who oppresses any Muslim woman wearing Hijab. This she noted is because of the many cases of oppression recorded against Muslim women folks wearing Hijab.
“A lot of our children are being molested in schools over wearing of hijab. We can still remember the case that happened recently in Lagos where one of our daughters was being beaten in her attempt to be wearing Hijab. It also happened again in Edo State, where Muslims are oppressed because they are wearing Hijab so we want the whole world to know that we have our freedom as Muslim women to wear what our religion permits and we have that freedom backed up in the constitution.  And as such, we want to be given that freedom. Any Muslim woman that chose to appear as a total Muslim should be allowed to do it.”

For anybody that may want to oppress any Muslim woman or youth wearing hijab, Hajiya Musa assured that legal actions would be taken against such a fellow. She said,
“Actually we are not forcing every Muslim woman to wear hijab, but those that choose to wear it on their own should be given the fundamental human rights to do it. As a Muslim we do not choose part of laws and leave the others so we are going to demand for our rights from the Fundamental Human Rights commission so they will let us know if as Muslims, we can wear Hijab and go to schools, offices etc.
Thus, when this is established, every Muslim woman that chooses to wear her hijab will be given their rights to do it whereas those that do not want to wear it should not be forced.  All we want is to be given freedom to appear as Muslim women. And by God’s grace, we are going to push for a legal right to back up this after this program so that anybody that oppresses a Muslim woman wearing Hijab will have legal laws taken against him.”
On the importance of Hijab to the society, Hajiya Sambo acknowledged that Hijab helps to protect women from abuse and disrespect.

“One of the essence of Hijab is that it protects women  from abuse and disrespect. This particularly includes various forms of sexual abuse and harassment which are prevalent I societies in which few women cover thus, Hijab  sends a signal to men that the wearer is a modest and chaste woman who should not be harassed.”
Also, Hajiya Omoti noted that it helps to curb crime as well as other vices in the society. When you wear your Hijab, people are afraid to talk to you thereby you create peace. So women should be tolerated for what they are doing. It is their choice and should be allowed especially when it is their Religion.

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