Bada Yusuf Amoo
Modesty could be relative in this age of post modernism but irrespective of the circumstances of meaning, Hijab is a symbol of modestywhich every sane Muslim would not reject. Irrespective of historical debates that surround the acceptance of Hijab as part of Islam from contemporary Islamic scholars, their interpretation of the Qur’an in respect to Hijab and other issues. The fact is that Islam recommends that women should cover the naked parts of their body and Hijab, (all its types) fit in this moral indulgence.
Hijab can refer to any head, face, or body covering worn by Muslim women that conform to a certain standard of modesty. The Qur’an defines modesty and the clearest verse of the Qur’an on the requirement of modesty is Qur’an 24:30-31, telling women to draw their Khimar over their bosoms and whom they should reveal it to. “And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and do not display their private parts except what appears thereof, and let them wear their head-coverings over their bosoms, and not display their ornaments except to their…” While some scholars opine that the permitted areas of women’s body are the face, hands and legs; others are of the opinion that all parts of women are their private part
However, a liberalist Muslim scholar in Nigeria, Shirkh Habeebullah Adam (Al-Ilory) has once argued that Hijab in the Qur’an refers not only to women’s cloth but rather a spatial partition or curtain. It could be use literally as in the verse which refers to screen that separated Muhammad’s wives from visitors to his house (33:53), while in other cases the word denotes separation between deity and mortals (42:51), wrongdoers and righteous (7:46, 41:5), believers and unbelievers (17:45), and light from darkness (38:32). The fundamentalists insisted that the Jilbab (which is worn over the Khimar and covers the body from head to toe) worn today is the same garment mentioned in the Qur’an, citing Hadith such as Sahih al-Bukhari 7:65:375, Sahih Muslim 8:3334, Abu Dawud 32:4090 among others.
Irrespective of the differences of the scholars, Islam does not recommend one scholars view as supreme over the other as some of these scholars may claim. The Qur’an 32:24-25 states that “And We made them Imams to guide by Our command when they were patient, and they were certain of Our communications. Surely your Lord will judge between them on the day of resurrection concerning wherein they differ.” Rather, Allah does not impose upon any soul a duty except to the extent of its ability…” (Qur’an 2:286). Habeebullah in one of his lectures therefore argue that Islam is the only religion in which no one needs any ladder to get to his/her Lord. This from my own perspective means that every Muslim is expected to seek knowledge of his/her Lord and practice the religion in respect to its basic principles which are clearly stated in the Qur’an to the best of his/her ability without condemning another.
In Nigeria today, some non Muslims sees Hijab as a threat to their existence as any advocacy for it uses generate heated arguments in the country which is not suppose to be. This is as a result that the constitution that brought Nigeria into being did not considered Islam into its provision and because Muslims were late to accept western education, the standing rule then pose a big threat to Muslims who tend to express their modesty in accordance to their religion. One fact no Nigerian can deny is that Muslims women were the only one that would tend to wear their Hijabs and advocates for its acceptance. The silence that follows the case of Amasa Firdaus is a case study.
While some non Muslims argue that Hijab is an imposition that the women carry from their early stage of growth and some say its agitation is a way of Islamizing the country. The question for the former is that why would anyone decide to wear cloth for his/her child in the first place? Why can’t we allow our baby to grow and realize that people wear cloth? Why do we have to impose our beliefs that people should wear cloth on our children and not let them grow to realize it by themselves? These therefore should inform us that imposition of believe system, morality and modesty are essential feature of human nature and the best way to peaceful coexistence is to respect individual’s point of view in their relations as long as it does not threaten the existence of others. Most especially when such belief system becomes that of a group and such group cannot be argue to be minority in the society. For the latter, I will like them to go back to our History as a country. The foundational provision that brought Nigeria into existence was modeled on a particular religion differs to Islam, except those that tend to be inhuman would dispute this fact.
Finally, humanism is a system of regarding fellow human being as thinking being. As I will implore my fellow Muslims to rejoice, preach peace and love, and desists from any act that could abuse or injure humanity because “Surely those who believe and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve” (Qur’an 2:62). So also I will implore non Muslims to see their countrymen and women as thinking being, respect their belief and accept Hijab as the ultimate symbol of modesty in Islam and give room for its incorporation in Nigeria constitution.
Bada Yusuf Amoo
Public Affairs Commentator
Writing from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife