What Is In A Hijab?

There was an argument online. A guy with a sense of mischief dug out the photo and video of a girl into the business of nudity. On her head sat a Hijab covering her hair, neck and all other parts that could provoke a rapist. She claimed to be of the Islamic religion and from the northern part of the country. The part with more people playing the role of defenders of the true God in Paradise. She was being interviewed before the actual shooting and the fun seekers who followed up claimed she did well in the latter section. The dude who made the post was trying to pass a message. He was trying to show that a Hijab on the hair, or even an extension veiling the face, does not constitute positive morality or any sign of decency. His supporters agreed but while his opponents, three other male handles, agreed she is not decent or worthy to be called Muslim, they found it hard to see the moral neutrality and incapacity of the Hijab. They argued that the Hijab is inherently holy and whoever dons it and commits desecration only succeeded in tarnishing the good image of that piece of cloth. The Hijab was defined as a holy protection that adds dignity to the female and without it a Muslim woman does not respect the faith.

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Last week, there was pandemonium in the country. A Muslim lady, who passed through the law school, found it hard to don the wig on the day she was supposed to be called to bar and she got rejected. The debaters in the first story above, who claimed the Hijab does not define a Muslim, argued that it is an insult to her fundamental human right and faith to throw her out for failing to fall in line. They argued that every person have the right to dress how they deem fit and that the Hijab, a property of the Muslim female, must be respected to avoid chaos. Some members of the same faith, on a reasonable side, joined other rational thinkers of different faith in condemning her showmanship. She has been in the law arena studying and mastering the course for five years but when it was time for induction into the shrine of the field, she acted out something that looks like a script you would find among the worst directors in Nollywood. They asked when she acquired this new level of consciousness, adding that Islam prescribes caution in studying man-made law. Many great persons with deep seated love for the religion passed through this stage and no similar argument ensued. The President, a very religious man, have a daughter who passed through same system but that was not heard of, they argued. So they asked, who the hell is this girl and what does she intend to achieve?

Hijab is an Arabic word meaning ‘decent dressing’. The covering of the head, the wearing of long gowns to cover the legs and the wearing of complete veils over the face, are examples. The weather is usually damned. The crazy thing is that these modes of dressing are not even decent enough to some men. The man is usually the moral compass in this case. He decides what is decent and what is not. Under a hot sun, he can decide to put on a singlet and cool off and he wouldn’t tolerate lust from any female who appreciates that hairy chest and muscles. He wouldn’t tolerate sexual misbehavior from the woman moved by his bare body but a little sign of nudity from a female warrants castration. He decides what is decent for the woman and for himself. Even a full blown gown is not good enough if he says it is not good enough. A face that is too pretty could be accused of seduction and tortured on account of making the chauvinist lust. A lady seen on skimpy dress is considered indecent and often accused, in typical manner, of responsible for any rapist that pounced on her. Some ladies have reported cases of mass brutality for simply wearing what one pedophile considers indecent. Because it is very difficult to challenge something that seem to have a religious origin, people are always afraid of cross examining those values that could trigger religious chaos. But this is not the argument I am trying to make.

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What is in a Hijab? What is so special about the Hijab that a person could trade something so important, something they pursued for five years, for it? What really is in a Hijab? Why do Catholic Reverend Sisters wear the Hijab too? A Hijab is simply a clothing material worn to identify with a religion or faith or doctrine. Often misconstrued to qualify members of the faith of respect and goodness even though there are many evidences to the contrary. What could convince a person to starve themselves of specific privileges simply because they were denied the rights to wear a garment in a secular gathering with a dress code? If wearing the Hijab defines who a true Muslim is then that girl who wears the Hijab and involves in nude videos is qualified to be one. If wearing a Hijab defines Islam then you can even insult the faith wearing the garment but still be regarded as a good Muslim. You can be a monster, but as long as you are putting on this ‘decent dressing’ you are safe and doing nothing against the faith. That is not the case because the Hijab is just an identity. It is just an easier way to identify the faith a lady claims to adhere to. The Catholic Church has reverend sisters who also wear the Hijab and this has made it easy to identify them wherever you see them. You don’t have to ask any further question when you see them on that dress. That is what is in a Hijab. Identity. Simple. Not morality.

This is why we say that the man who dressed in Isi-Agu is from(or trying to look like the people) the southeast of Nigeria. This is why it is easy to agree that that person who dressed in Ashoke is Yoruba(or trying to look like a Yoruba). This is why it is easy to call the man in Babban Riga a Northerner(or copying them). When it comes to tribal attires we see things clearly. We see that putting on the clothes and attires of a particular tribe is Nigeria is not enough to assume you are a true son of that tribe. We don’t suggest that the men who dress in local attires are representing their tribe well or good enough to be called thoroughbreds. We only see Identity in the picture. We’ve also seen that in Nigeria, the worst thieves are not the ones we love to describe as badly dressed but the ones on suit. The ones with ties, sitting in a quiet area and deleting the destiny of different people with just a pen. The point here is, we have seen enough evidence to know that clothes are simply means of identification and have no weight on anyone’s moral compass or goodwill. We have seen so much examples around to know that an attire is just an attire and nothing more. We’ve seen that both thieves and good men dress alike. We’ve seen a lot but once it comes to religion, we make the clothe about the religion and not about the wearers taste. When the wearer is told to put it off because the weather is bad or the environment not conducive, he or she plays the religious card.

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It becomes worrisome when same person who will go to a bank interview wearing a suit, because he knows it is the identify of bankers, tells you anyone can put on a Hijab in place of a law outfit. The legal body, like the religious institution that sanctioned that attire, is also an institution. It is, in a democracy, as important as any other sector of the country’s system. You can’t walk into an oil rig wearing a Hijab simply because it is your idea of decent dressing. You don’t go into a swimming contest wearing one because you want to stick to the dictates of your religion. You can’t walk into the work space of the radiologist wearing it either when you know the implications. You simply have to choose a different career path. That is why the law school sent her out. There is human rights but your human rights ends where another’s begin. Human rights doesn’t permit one man to decide how another man runs his own home. You can abominate Bikini in your home and have the power to walk out anyone who disobeys you, but you can’t walk into a neighbor’s place and punish his wife for putting on one. You just have to leave the place. That is commonsense. The Nigerian Bar Association have a dress code and people who know better, the SANs and Barristers that passed through the process, know it is not a big deal to subscribe to it.

This law dress code for induction is worn for the same reason the Hijab is worn today. It is a simple way to identify who is a lawyer in the system and to help coordination. It doesn’t mean you are a good lawyer or have succeeded in the law business but that you are one of those people we can look for in matters of legality. It plays the identity role and allowing anybody to dress differently will give aid to persons of other religions and body to demand equity. And they wouldn’t be wrong in their demand and that will get us a madhouse. Nigeria also claims to be a secular state and any attempt to give preference to the dressing of one group is an invitation to trouble. That’s commonsense. If you can’t dress like others in the law profession you should just stay away from the profession. This is a secular country, or claims to, and no sympathy should be granted the student that started this madness. Some groups are already calling it a human right and not a religious right without considering the limit of human rights. Imagine the chaos that will ensue from permitting worshippers damn the system. The Muslims don Hijabs, the Catholic faithfuls wear large rosaries, the worshippers at the Lord’s Chosen put on their aprons, the son of that Voodoo Priest ties wrapper and holds his tools, etc. That’d be madness.

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Only the lady in knows her motive. I think she is either naive or purposely looking for trouble or popularity. She didn’t challenge this in the five years she spent in school but choose the last day to pass the massage. She must have watched other Muslim ladies pass through the system and could have decided if she is ready to be deprived of that one day off the Hijab. She must have seen photos of highly religious persons that came before her and decided on what to do. This is indicative of either deep seated confusion and ignorance or great master plan to achieve something more. What exactly, I don’t know. If she genuinely thinks leaving her hair one day partially covered(the wig covers the hair too) makes her unholy and open to sin then she doesn’t understand both what she studied and her faith. You can’t receive a lot of law education and still act against the law. It only happens when you don’t know what you studied or choose not to abide by it. If on the contrary, she claims to know what she studied but that its doctrines are against her faith, then she has committed evil against her faith by indulging in acts Islam abominates. It is like working in an abattoir where pork is killed and sold only to reject the meal when it is time for lunch. Ignorance is easily diagnosed as the ailment. She knows better though. I think she knows better.

About Poet 171 Articles
I am Rey Alaetuo, a conscious Poet and health care professional living in Owerri, Nigeria. I am an exponent of humanism and a vigilant Poet. I am deeply interested in the propagation of positive human values and behaviour.

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