Of Aishas and the Hijab By Rasheed Abubakar 

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The appointment of Mrs Aisha Ahmad as a Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over the weekend by President Muhammadu Buhari sparked uproar from some elements who questioned her professional qualifications for the apex bank job.
Social media was awash with allegations that she was ‘hurriedly’ promoted from the position of the Deputy General Manager, Consumer Banking and Privilege (Wealth) to the position of the Executive Director of Diamond Bank Plc in order to meet the requirements as a substantive candidate to replace the outgone Deputy Governor, Dr Sarah Alade, who retired as Deputy Governor (Economic Policy) in March, 2017.
There was also an allegation that the mother of two – who will be 41 on October 26 – is ‘too young for the post’. Findings later revealed there is no specified age limit or benchmark; and according to the CBN 2017 Act, the offices of the Governor and the Deputy Governors of the CBN are not meant for only the Executive Directors (EDs) of banks, but persons with recognised financial experience.
The above fact have eventually put an end to, at least for now, the controversies surrounding the appointment of Mrs Ahmad, a Muslim Nigerian of Nupe extraction and the wife of Abdallah Ahmad, a retired Brigadier-General.
However, there were mixed reactions within the ranks of “liberal” Muslim netizens who see nothing wrong with Mrs Ahmad not wearing the Hijab (Muslim headscarf) and those with opposing views, who did not only criticise but also condemned her Hijab-less mode of dressing. She appears entirely without the Hijab in almost all her pictures available online at the moment, except one in which she put on a blue female cap.
In the defence of Mrs Ahmad (the daughter of Alhaji Umaru Ndanusa, the former Chairman Peugeot Nigeria Limited), her fans on social media vented their anger on the Northern religious institutions, which they alleged were built on ‘hypocrisy’. They said, among others, that those who lie, cheat and indulge in shameful acts are often celebrated because they adorn the religious robes and observe spiritual duties in the open, but those who choose to do otherwise – like Mrs Aisha – become subjects of ridicule even if their private lives are perfect. Of course, this position may look factual and logical, but the truth is; they also committed the same act of hypocrisy by concealing the truth about Allah’s commandments on the Hijab.
Evidently, there are many Mrs Ahmads among today’s Muslims in public places such as schools, banks, government and private establishments who do not give a damn to the wearing of Hijab, be it long or short, even as they still profess Islam. There are also Muslims who regularly wear the Hijab, but will remove such on their Nikkah ceremonies or graduation events – this is particularly rampant in Northern Nigeria and among the elites. They wantonly display their ornaments, which include jewelries, arms, legs, chests as well as necks, and apply cosmetics, perfumes and other forms of beautification before non-mahram who are neither their husbands nor their family members.
Revealing these adornments (also known as At-tabarruj) is disobedience to Allah (SWT) and His Messenger (peace be upon him) as revealed by our Creator in the Noble Qur’an (33: 59 and 24: 30), and whoever disobeys Allah (SWT) and His Messenger (peace be upon him) has indeed harmed his or her soul. Allah (SWT) has warned; “It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him), he has indeed strain into a plain error.” – Q. 33: 36
Tabarruj is one of the attributes of the female inmates of hell fire. They are accursed because they are dressed yet naked. They carelessly flaunt their adornments and wear thin/short clothes for men to see such; albeit some do it ignorantly without knowledge, while others do it deliberately and whimsically out of pride.
It is therefore wrong for anyone, irrespective of his or her status, to justify the evil of At-tabarruj just because others get away with lies, cheats, murders, rapes and other evil acts. What is wrong is wrong. It does not befit a Muslim male and female to disobey Allah and His Messenger. The rapists, liars and the ones who abandon the Hijab should seek Allah’s forgiveness and retrace their steps.
For instance, in Q29: 45, Allah affirms: “Verily, the Salah (prayer) prevents from Al-Fahsha’ (immoral acts) and Al-Munkar (evil deeds) and the remembering (praising) of Allah is greater indeed”, yet some observers of Salah still commit evils. Should we then say they should stop praying because the Salah have no impact in their lives? Of course not! If they are sincere, the Salah will purify them till they become better persons. The scenario also applies to the Hijabis who commit sins and later seek Allah’s forgiveness. Their rewards are with Allah for they have obeyed Allah. They are indeed the successful ones.
Hence, there is nothing wrong if Muslims correct – not condemn – Mrs Aisha Ahmad and her likes (who throw away the symbols of their religion just because of mundane benefits or craze to be ‘fashionable’). Truth is, Mrs Ahmad is a role model to many Muslims who see her as an ambassador of Islam. Hence, it is not out of place to advise her to live up to her name; Aisha. This is in line with the authentic Hadith where the Prophet (peace be upon him) says: Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.” (Muslim)
No doubt, history will not forget how President Buhari retained a Christian CBN Governor (Godwin Emefiele) and a Muslim (Aisha Ahmad) as one of its Deputy Governors.
Of course, Mrs Aisha Ahmad is a Muslim but the question is: What kind of Muslim is she? Unfortunately, we live in a country where Muslims are careless about the Hijab and other religious practice or signage, despite being the second most religious country in the world. No one except the very few conscious Muslims (who are mostly branded as conservatives and hypocrites by the lazy but so-called moderate Muslims) would expect to see the traits of Aisha, the mother of the Believers and the wife of our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) in Mrs Aisha, the CBN Deputy Governor.
Does she not pray Salah? Obviously she is not going to observe Salah without her Hijab, which is one of the conditions for the acceptance of Salah for Muslim females and what distinguishes Muslim from non-Muslim females. If she puts on the Hijab during Salah, why not sustain it in her day-to-day dealings – after all, Islam is not limited to the four corners of the mosque. It is a complete way of life, which is the reason Allah (SWT) sent Prophet Muhammad to mankind with the right guidance.
Those who fail to correct and admonish her are hypocrites. They are part of the reasons why the victimisations against the Hijab in virtually all sectors still persist in Nigeria. Pathetically, Muslims who are supposed to use their offices to defend the Islamic dress code turn out to be the oppressors of their Muslim sisters.
Those influential and “elite” Muslims are part of the reasons for continuous assaults of Muslim Students, particularly in the SouthWest. Why? Many of their wives and children do not use the Hijab. How then do you expect them to support the innocent children who want to obey their Lord? While the Muslim lawyers keep on advocating for the Hijab at the Nigerian Law School, is it not surprising and disturbing that it was some of their Muslim colleagues that voted against the use of the Hijab? They prefer the outdated wig or the black cap to the Hijab. Is that not hypocrisy?
They want to be westerners and modernists and still be Muslims, even when the Britons have consigned the wigs to the waste bins of history. The development is similar to the unfortunate and unwholesome westernisation and modernisation that is radically transforming the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from the Land of Tawheed to one of the ‘beautiful tourist attractions’ in the world, where women will be allowed to wear bikinis at open luxury beach resorts.
Under the current King Salman’s regime, Saudi Arabia has also reviewed many of her strict fatawa (verdicts), which now allow women to travel abroad without mahrams. Sadly, the same Saudi law (not essentially Islamic) of ‘women cannot travel without mahram’ made many brilliant Nigerian Muslimahs but blind followers of Saudi’s state policy drop out of school years back. What would be their fate now that the Kingdom has made a dramatic reversal!
I leave you all with the words of Femi Owolade. Though a Christian, he summarizes the problem with the 21st century Muslims as thus:
“If we are to force Muslims to overlook the position of the Qur’an on modest and decent dressing just to please the western expectations of 2017, then by year 2050, if the western trend dictates that professional women walk to work in pants and bras, are Muslims expected to then change their stance again? Maybe by 2100, when humanity is totally fed up with clothing, and want to walk around completely naked like animals, western liberalism will once again coerce Muslims into revising their Holy Book to please their confused and ever changing state of mind”.
May Allah rectify our affairs and save us from the fitnah of Dajjal (Amin).
Rasheed Abubakar is a journalist and the author of “Hijab and the Nigerian Press”. Email: rawshield123@gmail.com
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