The choice of whether to wear a hijab, the head scarf covering the hair, carries great religious, political and cultural weight for Muslim women especially in Nigeria where there are copious records of discrimination. It is a personal decision, but the overriding commandment of God to do so irrespective of whether you are in a multi-religious and cultural society, in school or workplace cannot be compromised.
It has to be worn if you must go out of your bedroom. That is the divine arrangement for women and that is Islam. In 2019, our girls have had multiple cases of abuse and discriminations just because they chose to express themselves as Muslims.
They have told them to either choose between their education/career or their faith. It is that bad for a society with litany of scholars, learned and intelligent people. While some bigots have chosen to go gaga, the leaders who supposed to maintain peace have chosen to be silent. But never mind, they will continue to fester in their attacks and we will continue to rise above them in all ramifications. Allah will guide, guard His revelation, His religion, and His true servants and He will save us from this unwarranted backlash.
If you read Suratul Hijri, you will find that the Surah has short, inspiring verses that pump energy and faith into your heart by reminding you of the things Allah has taken care of. The Surah invites you to ponder on the creation of Allah and look at the majesty and beauty in it. It also reminds you to trust Him in all affairs, and not get intimidated by the plotting and evil of the wrongdoers, because Allah is on your side. My dear sisters, put on your hijab, express yourself as Muslims wherever you go. Take up the gauntlet, be ready for the challenge and assert your right to practice your religion. It is your fundamental and inalienable right. Do not be shy, practice your religion as ordained by Allah, let no one intimidate you. Allah is there for you.
There is one particular verse between 94 and 96, it was revealed when the Prophet was commanded to take his message to the public after three years of giving da‘wah in secret:
“So proclaim openly what you have been commanded [to say], and ignore the idolaters. We are enough for you against all those who ridicule your message” (Al-Hijr 94-95)
To them, the public places are where they show their nakedness, with all manners of wears exposing what God designed to be strictly private. Some of the bonehead among them rationalise the naked dressing as Western civilisation. Indeed, a western civilisation where civilised logic never prevails.
They failed to connect with people like James Baldwin, an American novelist, playwright, and social critic who said “Nakedness has no colour, this can come as news only to those who have never covered, or been covered by, another naked human being.” People like James Innocent Blood with the idea that absolute nakedness was said. “There are two types of people who will enter the Hell-fire, whom I have not (as yet) seen: People having whips similar to ox-tails with which they will beat people, and (secondly) women who will be dressed yet appear to be naked.
They will seduce men and be inclined towards them. Their heads will be like the swaying humps of bacterial camels. They will neither enter paradise, nor smell its fragrance, even though its fragrance can be smelt from such and such distance.” (Sahih Muslim, no. 2128). I have not found the culture of dressing better than what Islam offers for women. It strictly makes private what should be private, approbate modest appearance but repudiate extravagance in all ramification.
Let us celebrate our culture of modest dressing, let us celebrate our hijab as Muslim ladies in line with the divine injunction. The notion of fashion is not antithetical to Islam. Dress well, appear modestly, but just don’t be extravagant. If you are a fashionista, Islamic modest dressing comes in various ways with sinless fluidity that allows you appear chastely. Facing the Kaaba will pay more attention to Muslim fashion; in fact, we will soon begin a Faith&Style stuff, to encourage our Muslim women to dress in the real culture of Islam.