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Female muslims shutdown Lagos for World Hijab Day

– Happenstances from the 3-hour walk

+ ‘We’ll never rest until we get justice on hijab’ – MSSN

Nigerian muslims, on Sunday, February 1, 2015, joined others from over 116 countries across the world to mark the third edition of World Hijab Day amidst high expectations.

In Lagos, Southwest, Nigeria, thousands of female muslims, especially from higher institutions, gathered at Maryland, for the walk. Also in attendance were secondary school students, from Walkway College, Al-Alim College, Wesley Girls, Eletu Odibo High School, among others, beautiful in their school uniform and hijab.

Their mothers were not left out of this historic moment. After all, they are also clamouring for the use of hijab in Lagos public schools. The presence of Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN), the women wing of Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, and Al-Mu’minaat (the Believing Women Association) members boasted the morale of the participants.

Before the great procession finally kicked off by 8:42 am, the amir (president) of the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN), Lagos State Area Unit, who is also the convener, Engr. Kaamil Kalejaiye addressed the crowd of over two thousand as observed by ENCOMIUM Weekly, to declare the walk open.

The World Hijab Day (WHD) was a well organized procession manned by Maryland Youth and Protocol officers, the security wing of the society. Police details were also present to ensure that the procession was peaceful. During the trek from the Complex at Maryland to the popular Freedom Park, Ojota, Lagos, the participants were seen chanting adhkar (supplications).

Their big and bold banners had inspiring messages about hijab words that attracted passersby and commuters. Some of them read, We are covered by choice not by force, Join the movement. Better Awareness. Greater understanding. Peaceful world, Hijab is my choice not compulsion. Hijab is my Choice. Hijab is my constitutional right. Hijab is my life. Hijab is my culture, among others.

They became the cynosure of all eyes on the busy Lagos-Ikorodu express road. That gave them the opportunity to share handbills as they continued chanting motivational choruses that gingered them until they got to the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park. The walk lasted more than an hour.

WE’LL NEVER REST UNTIL WE GET  JUSTICE ON HIJAB” – MSSN

Addressing the mamooth crowd, Amira (Female President) of MSSN, Lagos Area Unit, Hajia Hafsah Badru, who described hijab as a walking billboard of Islam, noted that the theme, Covered by Choice was carefully chosen to make the world know that it was the will and choice of Muslim women to wear hijab.”

She said: “We are gathered here today in commemoration of a day globally set aside to mark what we regard as our Pride, the hijab. As I speak right now, the World Hijab Day is being celebrated in more than 116 countries of the world and over 1,000,000 places across the globe.

World Hijab Day was suggested by Nazma Khan, a Bangladesh lady in New York in 2013. The day came into being recognized by millions of muslim women who chose to wear the hijab and live a life of modesty. The day is also to foster religious tolerance and understanding by inviting women (muslims/non-muslims) to experience the hijab for one day.

‎”For many who think the hijab is a symbol of oppression and segregation, it is not. You will only subject us to oppression by denying us the usage. We chose to wear it, we love it. This event hopes to neutralise some of the controversies on why muslim women choose to wear the hijab and opening up pathways to understanding the concept of hijab.

A righteous and modest woman is the pillar, cornerstone and foundation of any society because of her role in the family. But how can a woman get the best comfort in this world. How can she be successful, impactful, true to her femininity, honoured and loved when her right to dignity is threatened. What Islam has established is not a restriction the freedom of women but a firm protection for her from falling to the lowest level of humility.

“It pains that women who have dedicated themselves to ensuring morality and modesty are the ones being punished, those who have chosen the part of immorality go scot-free. I won’t stop being worried, sometimes weep when I remember how some female muslims were flogged and molested for using hijab.

I am sorry to say without regret that, our government, certain individuals, corporate organisations are unfair, partial and unnecessarily aggressive when it comes to us practising that part of our religion (wearing hijab). They should please live and let us live. You don’t necessarily (but preferably) need to be a muslim to respect muslims.

Speaking on the legal tussle between the society and Lagos State government over ban of hijab in public schools, Hajia Hafsoh said: “We will never rest till we get justice. The Ikeja High Court that we approached for judgement in favour of hijab ruled against it claiming the secular nature of Lagos State and Nigeria as a whole would not permit that. We have appealed the case and no matter what they do, they cannot frustrate us. We will continue to be law abiding and ensure that we see the case to a successful end, Insha Allah.”

“ALLOW OUR CHILDREN USE HIJAB IN SCHOOLS”, FOMWAN Appeals to Fashola

Highlighting the significance of hijab, Alhaja Rahmatallahi Olaniyan, The Naibatul Amirah, Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN) emphasized that hijab is a regalia of dignity and a commandment of Allah as stated in his glorious book, Quran.

In an interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly, Hajia Rahmatallahi stressed the need for parents to teach their children the significance of hijab at home. She said muslim parents should continue to sensitize their children on the use of hijab, adding with the turn out (at the procession), “I’m rest assured that when we are no more, our children will carry on the legacy of Islam.”

Alhaja Fatimah therefore appealed to governor of Lagos state, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola to allow the use of hijab by muslim pupils in secondary schools in the state.

She said, “We mothers are on our knees, allow hijab for our children. It’s an injunction from Allah our Creator. The battle we are facing, Insha Allah, we are going to win. To you our children, when you are allowed to use hijab don’t use it to abuse Islam. Use it to propagate Islam.”

“WE WANT AN END TO HARASSMENT AND VICTIMIZATION OF MUSLIM WOMEN ON HIJAB”, Al-Mu’minaat

Amirah, Al-Mu’munaat Organization, Hajia Aisha Ilyas expressed satisfaction over the conduct of female muslims during the procession, calling on the Federal Government and Governor Babatunde Fashola to expedite action in putting an end to victimisation and daily harassment of female Muslims in hijab.

She said, “The harassments at places of data capturing and biometrics, at commercial banks,when we go for verification number, drivers licence at Federal Road Safety Commission, international passport at Nigeria Immigration Service and passport for national identity card at the NIMC have become a daily affair for muslim women. We want a stop to all these.”

CHRISTIANS ALSO SHOW SUPPORT FOR WORLD HIJAB DAY

Other distinguished personalities spoke on the importance of World Hijab Day, and everyone was impressed when a christian and reporter from Radio Nigeria, Mrs. Ruth Akinwunmi-King mounted the podium in a hijab and shouted takbir, Allah is Great. She said she just wanted to show her solidarity for muslim ladies.

Ruth Akinwunmi-King was one of the non-muslims who wore the hijab on that day. “The hijab is not a sin,it is just for women to look modest”, Ruth reiterated in her speech.

Another christian, Gbadamosi Ayomide from Osun State University also spoke on the World Hijab Day. According to her, “I look beautifully good in it. It is cool. It gives you a distinct look. I respect those that use it because it takes a lot of courage to identify with your religion as part of your person.”

Omotosho Temilade is a 500L Law student. She aired her feelings about hijab: “I look different. I look nice and people appreciate me. It’s not bad to use it and it adds to my beauty. I don’t feel hot at all.

HOW THE EVENT ENDED

Everybody wanted to talk. The expression showed they had a nice time. Students from various institutions also aired their views on the rejection of the hijab and pleaded with government to allow their younger ones use hijab in secondary schools. By 11:30am, the procession ended.

THE ORIGIN OF WORLD HIJAB DAY

World Hijab Day is an annual event that takes place on February 1. The very first World Hijab Day was celebrated in 2013. Founded by Nazma Khan, a Bangladesh lady in New York, it’s a worldwide event that encourages muslim and non-Muslim women to wear hijab and experience life of a hijabi woman.

This event showcases freedom and traditional aspect of hijab to women of the 116 participating countries worldwide.  World Hijab Day is a way for the non-hijabi woman to experience hijab from the other side.

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