Man by nature is religious and always wish to acknowledge the Supreme Being or higher Intelligence. Religion being a way of life is no doubt very sensitive and volatile, for it tend to relate to the very emotional core of man. Some extremists even classified religion as the opium of masses.
Hence, attacking the core values of any religion is often taken as ‘playing with cobra’s head’. Its volatility, however, doesn’t make the religious-zone a no-go-area, it only needs to be cautiously treaded with open-mindedness, facts and logic with copious amount of equity and objectivity.
I have initially resisted the urge to join the wave of reactions that trailed the hijab judgments in Osun and Lagos since several brilliant contributions have been made, but I felt reeling out my own side of the brewing saga may add values to the discuss.
I was once a victim of religious intolerance in my elementary and secondary school days in Osun State. For instance, even as a Muslim from a Muslim dominant state like Osun, you dare not open your eyes while praying on the assembly ground and refusal to sing church-songs on assembly grounds is met with punishments.
The intolerance got to the crescendo when Muslim students were told in clear terms that, they could not choose Islamic Religious Studies (IRS) as a subject to be taught in schools (since there were no IRS teachers anyway) or to be registered for in WAEC. Only Christian Religious Studies (C.R.S) was authorised in public schools .
In those trying times, CAN (Osun chapter) was like the colonial masters with their jackboots upon our fragile necks. No Muslim ever raised issues of evangelising, Christianising or “baptising the state”.
We did cry wolf but, believe me, we had no voice and we enjoyed no sympathy from education authorities. We simply accepted our fate as ‘the haplessly oppressed’ and moved on with our lives. This goes to say that I have been part and parcel of the system. So, I speak from the source.
In recent time, the ground-breaking judgement of the Osun State High Court affirmed the permissibility and enforceability of the use of hijab by the female Muslim students in primary and secondary schools, as entrenched under the fundamental human rights to freedom, religion, and justice.
With the judgment, the judiciary proved itself yet again, as the last real hope of common man!
Following the pronouncement, the third party in the case (CAN, Osun chapter) condemned the judiciary for daring to stand on the side of the law. It cast aspersions on the state government, beat the drums of war and called to anarchy and restiveness.
CAN through the unwholesome intervention inadvertently provides the highest form of intolerance and illegality in this modern age! And in clear contravention to the law of the land, issued a directive to Christian students to, in protest against the Hijab judgement, wear church and choir garments to school.
Interestingly, when the same court ruled against hijab in Lagos state, instead of towing the path of illegality, Muslims honourably and politely approached the appellate court for a redress; before it eventually got justice. A long overdue justice I must add!
So, why is CAN (Osun chapter) causing confusion and commotion in the state! Are they afraid of facing the court or the law of the land?
Without mincing words, CAN remains a symbol of neo-colonialism, reminiscent of the dark-age when no regards were given to the locals, their values and their culture.
Every discerning mind and right-thinking individual knows religion and its sacredness should not be dragged in the mud, particularly in the name of preserving stinking egos and longstanding overlords. Else, what on earth would have been the reason for CAN to bring to the fore the wearing of church garments to school? Even in Christendom, how many adherents wear the so-called church garments to services, let alone public places!
The universal applicability of church garments presents incongruous disparity. While church presents a perfect porridge of conservatives, liberals and hyper liberals that do attend church service half-naked, no hijab-adorning Muslim lady attends Islamic gatherings (and perhaps non-Islamic ones alike) without head covering (hijab or at least scarf).
One, therefore, finds it funny as CAN seeks to demonise Muslims faithful with the worn out Islamisation cliché. Barring any religious debacle between Muslims and Christians, the next hit-song that awash the media and fill up the air-waive is: “they want to Islamise the state”.
For posterity sake, this blame-game and orchestrations must be shown the exit-door. Let us all learn to be objective, progressive and patriotic in our dictions and actions as well as inactions like the ever-audacious justices of the Osun High Court and Lagos Appeal Court.
Although, the literacy legacy of Christian missionaries in our land cannot be over-emphasized, the drum-beat has since changed inevitably, the dance-steps should naturally be in tandem with the drum beats. Hence, a chaos of beats and drums is not created.
The days of missionaries school is now a tortoise tale. The days of Obafemi Awolowo as the Premier of Western Region when free-education was exclusively preserved for Christians has also vanished into thin air. Same way the era of CAN rodomontading will never again see the light of the day!
I dare say the utmost concern of CAN (Osun chapter) should rather be about the overwhelming spate of immoralities and indecencies among its shepherds instead of its needless meddlesomeness in, and public show of shame on the use of hijab. CAN should learn to subscribe to the force of logic rather than the logic of force.
Most importantly, it should stop being hypocritical by attempting to be holier than the Pope who recently advocated hijab in France, or pretending to be Sainter than the Virgin Mary who covered her head according to even biblical stories and incidentally still does so in the supposed pictures of her that some Christians are seen to carry and/display around them. That indeed will not only be ridiculous but also be foolhardy!
Meanwhile, some have asked right groups like Muslim Rights Concern and other leading lights in the struggle: “when will you be satisfied?”
The simple reply is: we can never be satisfied as long as a Muslim remains a victim of surreptitious terrorism in the name of evangelism or religious tolerance rather than religious understanding or accommodation. Muslims can never be satisfied as long as their children are stripped off their personality and robbed of their dignity!
No, no, we are not satisfied and we shall not be satisfied until justice rolls down like water and righteousness flows like mighty stream.
God bless Nigeria
By Kamoru Sodiq is a member of TRNG Writers Club