By Abdulwasi’i Ilyas
If the University of Lagos permits female Muslim students to wear the veil; hijab, on campus, and does not prohibit the male students to don big beards and caps, then in the spirit of fairness and equity Christians must not only be given the freedom to act in the same light, fellowship bodies will have to enforce the wearing of choir robes and garments on campus.
Donning hijab in Muslim theology is a fundamental obligation, not an attempt to propagate religion, as far as we know. Failure to wear one when within view range of men with no familial ties amounts to sinning.
I have not had the privilege to behold my friends wear a Christian garment as an exigency of their faith even when amidst discussions and casual meetings they beg leave to attend to church calls. This is why the news of the warning from the Youth wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Osun state to the Government of that state to reverse the order permitting the use of Hijab in public schools or they will order Christian students to don their garments, came to me as another attempt by some of us to blow issues out of proportion and polarize already fragile communal existence along religious lines.
There is the standpoint that the use of hijab undermine security. This comes as relatable in the face of female suicide bombers concealing explosive devices underneath their hijabs.
On the purported ban by the federal government last year, Okey Wali, the President of the NBA had this to say, “Wearing of Hijab by the female Muslim faithful has religious as well as cultural meaning, and nobody can take away that right from them. “The security agencies should find lasting solutions to the country’s security challenges rather than place a ban on wearing of Hijab as that is an easy way out,” https://www.naij.com/70816.html
what spiritual value accrues to a Christian for wearing robes or garments in an ‘unscriptural’ response to the Muslim wearing of hijab. We still have an arduous lesson to undertake in religious tolerance.
Shortly after checking in on a hotel somewhere in Kaduna, once, the receptionist was behind my door to query if I would need a warmer or a heater for the night. This was during the hottest time of the year in that state. I thanked him for his kindness and dismissed his gesture with a mere wave of hand. That was his way of acquiring customers for his hijab-wearing clients hanging around the hotel vicinity in anxious anticipation for men willing to mount them all night for a mere competence in the face of the TSA and other economic crunches of the APC government, developments which had dealt serious blows on the quantity and quality of patronage coming their way. People wear hijab for various objects, none of which is the propagation of Islam.
Osun state had gone the Lagos way, by banning the use of hijab in public primary and secondary schools. Muslims there waited three months in a court process before unlike Lagos-where the ban was upheld in the high court- the judgment lifting the ban finally came their way.
The Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, distanced himself from the court ruling, positing that the judiciary being an independent arm of Government, is not subject to his influence. The Christian community wouldn’t have any of that. As far as they know the state and the country at large are beset by demonic forces, the need therefore for rigorous prayers. They are telling the man to face the business for which he was elected and avoid plunging the state into a religious crisis.
For all the CAN cares Mr. Rauf is behind the court ruling. Self help is the way they will have to resort to alongside prayers. They gave their own parallel order that Christian students should wear robes: male and female inclusive. I wonder what reaction that will elicit from male Muslim students appearing on nothing besides their regular uniforms.
They appear braced up for a showdown with the Governor who declared that students who heed the order of the Christian body shall be sent away from school.
This matter and all its likes brings to ridicule our claims of being tolerant of each others faith and our allegiance to the fundamental human right to freedom of religion really questionable.