When people perceive that there is a war against them which they
cannot run away from, they fights back. Even if the war doesn’t exist
in real world, may be an imaginary war which is only manifest in the
mind of the dreamer, sometimes, dreamers bring their imaginary war
defense into reality through creation of a real enemy. In the real
world, they will engage the perceived enemy, watched every of his
move, fault every of his action, link every action to themselves
through imaginary conspiracy theory and on that basis, mobilize
support for physical engagement.
Through this practice, many insurgent and terrorist organization
strive. They exploit certain wrong actions of government to build
movement around themselves to carryout certain actions, though in
reality, not to advance interest of their recruit. But when the
recruits are in, its hard to go out.
Recently, a Lagos High Court in Ikeja upheld the ban of Hijab by the
Lagos State Government prohibiting the wearing of Muslim scarf or
hijab, in government owned primary and secondary schools. The
judgement was delivered by Justice Grace Onyeabo in Lagos. The judge,
neglected numerous arguments presented to her during the about
two-year case that sections of the Nigerian constitution and
international laws guaranteed the freedom of religion, thoughts and
conscience. She went ahead to deliberately delivered a flawed
Before approaching the court for justice, Muslim students had
severally been assaulted and harassed by some teachers and principals
for no offense, other than being modest in dressing as required by
their religion. One of the scenarios of harassment was that on
February 5, 2013, Aisha, a JSS II student of Kadara Junior High
School, Ebute Metta was flogged forty three (43) strokes of cane on
the assembly ground by her principal, Mrs. E.C Ukpaka, because Aisha
did not remove her Hijab after coming out of Islamic Religious
Knowledge class, where it is ordinarily permitted to adorn Hijab.
As a result of this harassment and several others,scores of Muslim
Students stormed the office of the then Lagos State Governor,
Babatunde Fashola to protest the alleged banning of Muslim students
from wearing Hijab in public schools. The protesters, led by Assistant
-General Secretary, Muslim Students Society (MSS), Zhikirul-lahi
Sulaiman, brandished placards with inscriptions including ‘Hijab is
our right”, “Stop this Hijabophobia”.
In seeking a peaceful route to the restoration of the rights of
Muslism students to use hijab as guaranteed by the Nigerian
constitution and universal declaration of human rights, the students
went to court to seek justice, but unfortunately, even a law court
judge seems to lack adequate understanding of human right law,as this
flaws clearly manifest in her incoherent judgement.
First, let me join millions of Muslims in Lagos and Nigeria to state
categorically that, no legal document has prevented Muslim women from
wearing hijab if they so desire. It is however regrettable to note
that, the same country that said woman have a right to dress however
they want including dressing indecently by exposing all parts of their
body is now placing a ban on Muslim women who choose to wear hijab to
cover their body. How else can injustice and double standard manifest?
It must be noted that, dress code is part of that overall teaching of
Islam. There are two verses in the Qur’an in which Almighty Allah
talks about the issue of decency.
In Chapter 24 known as an-Nur (the Light), in verse 30, Allah
commanded Prophet Muhammad as follows:
“Say to the believing men that: they should cast down their glances
and guard their private parts (by being chaste). This is better for
This is a command to Muslim men that they should not lustfully look at
women (other than their own wives); and in order to prevent any
possibility of temptation, they are required to cast their glances
downwards. This is known as “hijab of the eyes”.
Then in the next verse, Allah commanded the Prophet to address the women:
“Say to the believing women that: they should cast down their glances
and guard their private parts (by being chaste)…”
This is a similar command as given to the men in the previous verse
regarding “hijab of the eyes”.
This hijab of eyes is similar to the teaching of Jesus where he says,
“You have heard that it was said by them of old time, you shall not
commit adultery. But I say unto you, That whosoever looks on a woman
to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his
So if you see a Muslim casting his/her eyes downwards when he/she is
talking to a member of opposite sex, this should not be considered as
rude or an indication of lack of confidence — he/she is just abiding
by the Qur’anic as well as Biblical teaching.
After “hijab of the eyes” came the order describing the dress code for women:
“…and not display their beauty except what is apparent, and they
should place their veil over their bosoms…”
According to the commentators of the Qur’an, the women of Medina in
the pre-Islamic era used to put their veil over the head with the two
ends tucked behind and tied at the back of the neck, in the process
exposing their ears and neck. By saying that, “place the veil over the
bosoms,” Almighty Allah ordered the women to let the two ends of their
headgear extend onto their bosoms so that they conceal their ears, the
neck, and the upper part of the bosom also.
Finally. the verse goes on to give the list of the mahram – male
family members in whose presence the hijab is not required, such as
the husband, the father, the father-in-law, the son(s), and others.
In view of this, denying Muslim students their constitutional rights
of adhering to the tenate of their religion is not only a glaring
violation, but it is also a call for public disobedience as it is
against the Islamic teaching for women to desist from wearing their
hijab. Muslim children are brought up with this practice so they could
grow up, adhering to and observing ten-ate of their religion as
provided for in the constitution.
The schools are for the public, financed with tax payers funds which
include Muslims, there is no way Muslims can be prevented from
attending the school they finance, neither should they be denied the
right to dress decently with hijab as required by their religion. They
are not asking other students from other religion to wear hijab, they
are wearing it by themselves.
A social commentator, Abdulsalam Abdulrahman while reacting to an
article on the social media noted that, it is high time we realized
that depriving Muslims of their religious rights is a continuous
invitation of terrorism in the world, as every true Muslim on earth
must always fight in the course of Allah to defend every aspect of his
or her faith. For peace and unity to remain in this nation, we just
have to be religious sensitive and tolerant without being bais or
Research had shown that, acts characterized as terrorism in nature can
occur both in conflict and peace-time. They may constitute crimes in
domestic and international law, and they are motivated by a complex
milieu of reasons and ideals. Their characterization can also depend
upon the person or institution using the label and may even change
over time. To give two important examples, the list of most wanted
terrorists kept by the United States of America featured, at one time,
Yasser Arafat and Nelson Mandela. These two personalities were
subsequently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
It should be noted that, If either of these two personalities were
killed when their status remain designated as terrorists, the world
wouldn’t celebrate them like it is doing today, neither would the
world see their peaceful nature worthy of them being awarded the noble
peace prize. Rather, they may remain in the dark side of history for
the same reason they are being celebrated today. This goes to justify
the saying that, one man terrorist, is another man’s freedom fighter.
Today, Mandela died a hero for the same reason he was designated as terrorist.
For the purpose of emphasis, the Lagos state government must know
that, any attempt to deny Muslim students a right to their hijab is
an invitation to unrest, as millions of Muslims across Lagos and
Nigeria would not only resist such a violation of religious right as
guaranteed by UDHR and Nigerian Constitution,but would never rest
until it is restored.
Let it be noted again that, while some people like this writer might
go about the struggle to restore the rights of Muslims peacefully and
intellectually, lesson of history had shown that, others may employ
whatever means they deem necessary which include violence.
By definition, terrorism is the unlawful use or threat of violence
against persons or property to further political or social objectives.
It is usually intended to intimidate or coerce a government,
individual or groups, to modify their behavior or politics. Ideology
is the most important feature of terrorism. This distinguishes it from
other criminal acts or conduct during armed conflict. In contrast, the
primary motivation of terrorists is altruistic, motivated by a higher
cause or ideology that is greater than his or her personal impulses or
gains. A terrorist acts for the furtherance of an external cause,
whether it be a localized secessionist movement or global jihad, and
for the benefit this has to both the cause and the people of it.
Terrorist’s commitment to his ideology is unbending. It has been
observed that, there is no room for negotiation or compromise. Those
refereed to as terrorist holds onto an unbreakable idea or passion.
This indestructible passion is what drives the individual into
Denying Muslim students a right to their hijab is offensive, it is
also considered an abuse against the fundamental rights of every
Muslim child, something that might spark unrest and push some people
into resistance, either openly or secretly. The Lagos state government
is asking Muslim students to choose between their religion and their
school, without giving similar conditions to adherent of other faiths.
But the spirit of the Nigerian constitution doesn’t create such a
Some scholars have suggested that one of the main causes of terrorism
is economic deprivation- that it is rooted in poverty and
within-country inequality. Others have added that monetary incentives
and religious indoctrination are used by terrorists as veritable tools
where poverty and ignorance have taken roots. Groups which use
oppression as an excuse for terrorism believe their fundamental rights
are being violated by government and justice must be pursued at all
A public commentator, barrister Abdulsalam Abdulfatah Liberty
maintained that,such demand for hijab, so cardinal to religion of
Islam is a fundamental right of Muslims; such is the spirit of our law
nevertheless the judgment of Lagos State High Court, this we are
convinced is a right base on the letter of the 1999 Constitution of
Nigeria (as amended) in section 38 (1).
“Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and
religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and
freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in
private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship,
teaching, practice and observance.”
The Constitution of Nigeria and the Quran on this issue represent a
coherent legal networking when sec. 38 CFRN preserves the Surah Al-Nur
verse 31, Surah Asab verse 59, and other verses of Quran and Hadith
that mandate HIJAB for Muslims girls/ woman.
Even in the UK or US where Christians are the majority, Muslims
students are allowed to wear hijabs because its their right. We
shouldn’t unjustly deny certain group of people their right for no
just reason like it is being done in Lagos.
I therefore call on the Lagos state government under the leadership of
the new Governor, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode to immediately reverse that law
banning use of hijab by Muslim students in Lagos state public schools.
Abdulrazaq O Hamzat is a peace and conflict resolution expert and can
be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org
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