The Muslim Congress (TMC) on Thursday appealed to the Muslim communities to exercise utmost caution in reacting to the comments of President Muhammadu Buhari, during his maiden Presidential Media Chat, on a possible ban on hijab (female head covering).
This is contained in a press statement personally signed by the Amir (President) of the Congress, Dr Luqman AbdurRaheem and made available to The Renaissance in Lagos.
AbdurRaheem said that TMC, like other Islamic Organisations in Nigeria, was disturbed, shocked and offended by the “comments of Our Dear President, Muhammadu Buhari during the Presidential chat of Wednesday Dec. 30, that he may ban Hijab if the suicide mission and senseless bombing of the Boko Haram sect continues”.
The Congress wondered if this was the official New Year gift of Mr. President to the Nigerian Muslim Ummah because it came just two days to 2016?
“While calling for restraint, there is a need to react to the heat the statement has generated.
“For the educated and matured audience, the comments of Mr. President is very clear because, there is a big difference of space, time and legal capability between “I may ban Hijab” on one hand and “I will ban Hijab” on another.
“However, for the mischievous individuals looking for loophole to oppress Nigerian Muslims (Women and Girls), the presumption in the social media is that the President had concluded arrangement to ban Hijab; he is only perfecting the modalities.
“This type of comment thrives in a society where emotion is placed above reasoning and reality,” the Amir stated.
To mischievous group, AbdurRaheem, who is also a lecturer at the Yaba College of Technology, said that hijab predated Nigeria; it was an age old practice, which has come to stay.
“It is our logo, lifestyle and ethical treasure. To the perverted minds it may mean something else. Religion is good counsel, guided by this saying of the Prophet (Peace be upon him),”he added.
He said that the leadership of The Muslim Congress was humbled to the advise President Muhammadu Buhari to be weary of the Islamophobes and their Islamophobic agenda, which is strategically designed and packaged to stereotype and demonise Islam, its symbols and blame the Muslims as the specie that is the ‘PROBLEM’ of the world.
“The media, at the local and international levels, have been vehicles for selling the toxic product called Islamophobia. It is therefore not a surprise that the question was posed to PMB.
“We seek to inform the public that prior to the Boko Haram insurgency and till date, the Muslim Women and girls have been harassed in schools, offices, embassies, Passport Offices, NYSC camps, hospitals and public institutions for wearing Hijab.
“The comments of the President, during the presidential chat, may open a floodgate to further harassment of a segment of the electorates, who voted religiously and passionately for the APC-led government for the purpose of silencing Boko Haram. Why should the hunters be the hunted so soon?
AbdurRahman noted that in the Middle-East, where terrorism has assumed endemic dimension, the ruling political class never contemplated banning Hijab, because Hijab was not the cause but extremism, hopelessness and bad governance.
“Islam and Hijab predate what is called Nigeria; our parents have been using Hijab before colonialism; they continued its usage under colonialism and after independence in the modern Nigeria.
“It is therefore a mirage for an individual no matter how powerful to contemplate banning a fundamental religious symbol of worship in Islam. Even the erstwhile ruling party PDP never attempted such misguided strategy.
“The Muslims are not fools. We voted for change, is this how we shall be paid back! During campaign, APC never told us that one of its strategies for fighting Boko Haram and engendering an atmosphere of peace and development was banning hijab.
“If you ban hijab, you deny our mums, daughters and sisters their fundamental human right clearly articulated by the Nigerian constitution, which you swore to protect.
The TMC leader asked President Buhari to imagine the lopsidedness of the implementation and whether he intended to ask policemen, army or task forces to enforce the proposed hijab ban?
“Do you seek to issue circular on banning hijab to the ministries, agencies and parastatals to force the Muslim women in government offices to remove their hijabs, including the wife of Mr President, wives of the Muslim Governors and obviously the wife of the Communication Minister?
“Mr President, do you want to direct the universities, polytechnics and colleges of education to strip our girls and women naked?
The Congress leader wonder what would happened when Muslim women and girls refused to heed such illegal directives, whether they would be arrested and imprisoned.
he said that these ugly pictures were just few of the crisis-ridden scenarios that such ban of hijab would engender in Nigeria, adding that there were obviously serious crisis ahead if the ban is enforced.
For those who do not know or are poorly informed about Islam vis-à-vis the use of hijab, AbdurRaheem stated that the directive to wear hijab was divine and sacrosanct.
“No man, no matter how well-positioned in the society can upturn Allah’s instruction. Allah instructs:
“O you Children of Adam! We have bestowed on you raiment to cover your shame as well as to be an adornment to you. But the raiment of righteousness, that is the best. Such are among the Signs of Allah, that they may receive admonition.” (Quran 7:26)
“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, or their brothers’ sons or their sisters’ sons, or their women or the servants whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex…(Quran 24:31)
“O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go abroad). That will be better, so that they may be recognised and not annoyed. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.” (Quran 33:59)
According to him, the hijab directive from Allah is decisive. he noted that the fact that the Boko Haram members use hijab as a cover for their heinous crime is not enough justification to ban it. Rather, he said that the security methods, tactics and technologies should be upgraded to stem the antics of this evil group.
“In as much as the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria does not give the president the powers to ban eating, drinking, marriage and religion, he cannot ban hijab.
“Hijab is part of the dressing of a Muslim woman including the president’s wife and daughters. There was a time in Nigeria when HIV/AID reached an epidemic and pandemic dimension, yet the Presidency did not ban sex.
“Nigerians suffer untold hardship on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway when a popular religious group organizes its programme, yet there was no ban, rather the untold hardship is being managed. Armed robbers are presently using military uniforms to purse their cause, yet there was no ban on military uniform.
“The message we seek to pass to those with sound intellect is that you manage your head ache; you don’t cut off or blow up your head,” the Congress stated.
It urge President Buhari to be focused in the battle against Boko Haram sect, militants, corrupt Nigerians, bigots, arsonists and refuse to be distracted and misguided into taking a decision that will pitch the Muslims against him, his party and his government under the pretext that hijab is a kind of dress that will not allow security personnel to be sure of people identities.
He said the government should invest in modern security equipment and body scanners, rather than molesting the Muslim women.
“Muslims are not terrorists; evil-minder people only exploit our symbols. Are we to be blamed?” he further stated.