A Choice ,A Right

“My major concern is the approval of Hijab so that every person coming behind me will be able to use it for the call to bar (ceremony).” Amasa Firdaus- Premium Times Much vitriol has been directed at her for standing up for her rights protected by the Nigerian constitution. For this, Amasa Firdaus, a law graduate of the University of Ilorin, Nigeria was denied entry into the Call to bar ceremony. It is ironic that a country with a significant Muslim population still has Islamophobia. However this is in a wider background of rife religious intolerance with secularity being used as a smokescreen often used to discriminate against other religions. In addition, it is another example of disregard for the rights of women. While the support of Muslim leaders is appreciated, more needs to be done, especially by those in the top echelons of the legal profession. The ignorance being displayed by some Muslims when such matters arise highlights the problems facing our religious education. It would have been great if the other Muslim barristers stood with Firdaus. It was indeed difficult and would have taken lots of courage but might have brought about swift resolution. One also wonders why this was kept in obscurity until now. The much-touted clamour for unity should be for matters like this and not to accept innovations in our Deen.

US Army National Guard officer Saudat Al-Maroof-Bakare faced a similar struggle and she secured her rights. Women in different fields like Ginella Massa, Ibtihaj Muhammed, Kadra Muhamed, Amal Chammout, Sultan Tafadar and Raffia Arshad have shown that the hijab does not diminish professional ability. Firdaus also brings to mind all the men and women who fought slavery, segregation and other forms of discrimination…. all of which were legal at the time. She is following in the footsteps of Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Doss whose sacrifice have helped countless others after them. Like them, she will be criticized and insulted and told to let it go, asked why she chose that line of action and will be left to bear the consequences. Like them, I hope she goes down in history as a change maker. Like many Nigerian Muslim women who observe the hijab, I have faced many instances of anti-hijab sentiment and policies. I will share a couple of them. During my general practice rotation in medical school, we were posted to private hospitals. When I showed up at mine, I was told in a derisive tone that ‘this’ (the HR lady pointed at my hijab) will not be allowed. I told her ‘this’ is called a hijab and is part of my identity. It had never disturbed my training. I was hurt, disturbed and felt like I had to choose between my faith and my medical education both of which were very important to me. At the time, I was a volunteer at an international organization here in Nigeria. Prior to that I had lived in the UK and in both settings had never been told to remove my hijab for work, school, services or any other reason. My choice was respected and accepted. To make the situation even more incongrous, a non-Muslim relative of mine owned an excellent hospital and some of the nurses wore hijab with their uniform. I went back to school with my colleague (who was not wearing a hijab). I made enquiries about the marks for the rotation so I could plan how to make a passing grade if I had to forfeit it. After I explained how important my hijab was, she was supportive and I appreciated her for this. Most importantly, my family, like Firdaus’s were on my side throughout the episode. I did not expect the reaction of my lecturers. They made an announcement in class that any discrimination faced by any of us should be reported and such hospitals would subsequently be excluded from the rotation. My colleague and I were then posted to other hospitals. I ended up under the tutelage of a medical director who made the experience memorable and beneficial to my career. My colleague also enjoyed her new place. Contrary to what many of the social media comments say, there are numerous Muslim women who practice medicine with their hijabs including surgeons who wear sterile hijabs with their scrubs in theatre.

Recently at NYSC camp, an official tried to humiliate me by pointing derisively at my hijab and saying in front of hundreds of fellow corps members that she was not going to accept this dressing at parades. I smiled and did not engage her because I knew she was wrong. Thankfully, many Muslim women wore their hijab and completed the compulsory youth service orientation with no incident. I tell my story because Firdaus needs to know she is not alone. Her actions have shown the enormous task we have as Nigerians to eschew hatred and intolerance. Peaceful coexistence can work and is what we need to achieve development.

To those who still think she was wrong, I ask that you watch the movie Hacksaw Ridge and google Pfc Desmond Doss, the Conscientious Objector. #istandwithAmasa #AmasaFirdaus

LINKS

Interview with Amasa Firdaus: https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/252618-hijab-controversy-affected-law-graduate-amasa-firdaus-speaks.html

Nigerian-born US soldier with a similar experience. http://legendlens.com/fridausa-amasa-vs-nigeria-law-school-nigeria-lawyer-shares-wifes-experiences-in-us-military-training-school/

Opinion by Ashraf Akintola: http://legendlens.com/fridausa-amasa-vs-nigeria-law-school-is-she-the-only-one-by-ashraf-akintola/ Analysis of Nigerian laws allowing Hijab: http://legendlens.com/prohibition-of-the-use-of-hijab-veil-in-some-public-institutions-what-is-the-position-of-the-law-by-o-g-chukkol/

UN Petition: https://www.change.org/p/united-nations-stop-the-religious-bias-against-hijab-in-the-nigerian-law-profession?recruiter=210341501&utm_source=share_petition&utm_campaign=share_page&utm_medium=whatsapp

A critical look at neo-colonialism in the profession. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/its-been-50-years-since-britain-left-why-are-so-many-african-judges-still-wearing-wigs/2017/09/14/6dc03b50-7ea6-40f8-9481-7f034498a790_story.html BBC article http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-42371525 Nigerian Bar Association President: http://www.lawyard.ng/justiceforfirdaus-argument-over-hijab-needless-we-will-address-it-nba-president/?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=socialnetwork#JusticeForFirdaus

Al-Jazeera article http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/12/nigerian-law-graduate-denied-call-bar-hijab-171216084329791.html

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My January 2018 TBR

I want to read them all but I have only an ebook of Men without Women by Haruki Murakami.

I am expecting the first three from a special person. She has been an amazing soul from the first day I met her. I can’t wait for our kids to play together. Don’t worry, you would get to know her in my subsequent blog posts.

Okay so far I hope number 2 arrives so I can join @theguywiththebook in his group read. I hope @sumaiyya.books would be there too.

That leaves me with Into the Water by Paula Hawkins, The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas and I Am Never Talking to White People About Race. Hope to get all of these books before the month runs out. (being a booklover is so capital intensive!)

This seven came out of a very long list of amazing books i made with help from @hassanah_t and @bookminimalist

I guess I have to take them small small.

I will be writing about how each of these books have been on my mind for a while now. Some of them made the @goodreads list of 2017 best books. I look forward to reading all of them.

Now tell me, what is special about these books to you you interested in a co-read?
Feel free to share and comment.

-Oumissa

Book Review 1222 :Anne Holt

A train crashes and derails following a storm in the Norwegian mountains.
The passengers find refuge in a hotel close by. As the hours turn into days, a couple of them turn up dead.
A wheelchair-bound former detective has to contribute her skills and intuition to get to the root of the matter.
********

First Scandinavian read. Brought back memories of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express.

The translation was obvious from the first few pages. The sentences were strung together differently. It still retained enough dark humour , sarcasm and emotion to make the mystery and suspense easier to bear.

In small sections, the author veers off for fleeting insights about family, politics, disability, religion and sexuality.

Like the storm , the book seemed to be going on forever but eventually picks up pace an d culminates in a haha! moment.

However, the ending after the ending left no clues, no answer , no closure! So confusing.

Fun fact- the author is a former Minister of Norway.

Kindly share your experiences with this book.

Review : SMD November Tijaarah Tea

The last edition held a lot of promise and did not disappoint. The ambience of the venue created a relaxing yet focused mood for participants.

First up was an interactive session by Sis Fatimah Aiyegbajeje about the conduct of business according to the Shariah (Islamic Law). Several interesting topics were addressed. The good grasp and delivery of the speaker made it difficult to wrap up. She left everyone better poised to make their business comply more with halal principles.

And then it was time for tea! The rich taste of the hibiscus blend and the soft cake with sweet toppings kept palates busy for several minutes.

Next up was the highly charged talk on e-commerce by the guru Gbemmy Oyekan-Fasasi. In her characteristic vibrant way, she demonstrated how to navigate the online marketing maze many entrepreneurs struggle with. Her session left everyone present with renewed drive towards giving IT a bigger role in running an enterprise.

Lunch was the steaming hot Nigerian delicacy of Amala and ewedu. It was delicious and made without artificial seasoning. Culinary expert and convener of the tea, shared more valuable tips.

The last session was chaired by Mr Happy of CitiNG who patiently emphasised the importance of having a website. For many Nigerian start-ups, owning one is often difficult due to the problems of high cost, lack of flexibility, design hitches among others. Thus a company providing solutions in this area is welcome.

Alongside the sessions was new addition to the programme. @haniesyogurt, @teefahsensemble @smd all had their beautiful products on display at the Souq.

It was a great delight to meet the phenomenal @kifayahmompreneur , and a blessing to reconnect with friends who are lovely sisters contributing their quota to society. It is hoped that more Muslimah-owned businesses are strengthened with this initiative in future.

Oumissa

October Tijaarah Tea by SMD

Mixed salad. One of the five courses.

If you attended previous editions or at least read reviews, then you have an idea what to expect with the just concluded one. It was the first one to be held at the SMD Place; a thoughtfully and aesthetically designed space.

The opportunity to learn the principles guiding business in Islam, network with active Muslimah-preneurs, being taught valuable lessons ladies seasoned in business is indeed unique. Did I mention the five -course delicious meal which was prepared sans artificial seasoning? It was indeed great value for money.

The introduction part was fun! Sisters got to know each other through their professions and businesses. It is amazing how many different ways the attendees are impacting society. Old acquaintances reconnected and new ones were made.

Next up was a lesson by Sister Rofia Olaniyan explaining the Shar’i rulings on contemporary forms of business. Many grey areas were clarified because keeping it halal is so crucial.

Then came Hajia Nurat Atoba, the MD of BT Ventures Ltd. In a very captivating manner, she shared practicable ways to succeed as a woman both in the home and at work. There were countless gems to select from her wealth of experience and success in running a successful business alongside demanding roles as wife and mother.

SMD still had more in store. Mrs Gbemmy Oyekan-Fasasi the e-commerce guru charged the cozy atmosphere with awe-inspiring tips on running a lucrative online business. The level of motivation was off the charts. It is safe to say, no one expected to be so serenaded.

Mrs Sharifah Yunus-Olokodana (culinary artist and the brain behind SMD) shared illuminating lessons from her business journey. As always, they were priceless.

In all, it was a great way for this unique group of women to spend Independence Day- working towards being more economically viable and by extension, productive citizens.

P.S. If you haven’t already signed up for the next edition, kindly send a DM for more details.

ACHIEVING ZERO HUNGER

It is World Food Day 2017.

The reality of human nutrition today is a picture of stark contrast. On the one hand is food waste with food insecurity on the other. These and the few in between exist in all countries only with different levels. The smouldering embers of conflict old and new has worsened this problem. Many farmers reside in the rural areas where land is often abundant but security is less sophisticated than in the urban centres. Generally, in the absence of peace, services break down and everyone flees to safety. Stores become depleted, farmlands are ransacked, livestock are abandoned or killed and the once bountiful acres turn to a desolate landscape. This is played out numerous times as evident by the current refugee crisis described as the worst since World War II.

OumissaInspire

Goal #2 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is Zero Hunger. Of course this can only be achieved in sync with the other  sixteen goals. It is hoped that by 2030, we would all achieve our aim of making this planet a better place. If you want to make a difference in this regard, join me at @mystreetkitchen (Siddiqah NGO) and @thenigerianchildinitiative  (TNCI) two of several Nigerian NGOs doing great work in this area.

I do appreciate every other individual and organization working tirelessly to make sure people do not hungry in a world that wastes so much of the food it produces.The following steps are a good places to start.

  • Eschewing violence,push for peaceful resolution of conflicts.
  • Eating whole and natural foods will boost physical and mental health. Malnutrition has greatly stunted the growth and development of millions of children. This predisposes them to preventable diseases thus increasing under -five mortality.
  • Sharing extra food with people around us instead of throwing it in the bin. Wasting good food is absurd but most of us are guilty of it in one way or the other.
  • Encouraging agriculture via investment, provision of infrastructure,growing our own food and supporting farmers. There is so much benefit and potential in it. Beyond providing our food, it can be a huge source of sustainable revenue that will ensure  wider societal development.

Together, we can achieve food security for all.

Oumissa

 

 

 

 

Be Grateful


Too often we value those things we do not have. We focus more on the amazing things going on in other people’s lives but not in ours. Yet in no matter situation we may find ourselves, chances are we have got treasures we have either chosen to ignore or haven’t yet discovered.
This is so important for our mental, spiritual and by extension, physical well being. Replace that sulk with a smile. Look inwards and be amazed at what you find.

To make it even resonate better, get out your stationery and make a list of all the good things you have. For this earth and all the beautiful creation, being alive in itself, freedom,health, good hair, good skin, spouse, children, a bed to sleep on, clothes, food…..some of these are gifts millions do not have and yet we find them leading happy lives. 
In all, no one has everything. We are meant to partner in goodness and make each other better. We should not flaunt our possessions to sadden others. Neither should we gawk at the blessings of others forgetting ours.
Do not place too much happiness on material things. With the sheer volume of edited images on the net we are bombarded with today, this may seem impossible. But you see, we should take charge of more things in our lives and thus make conscious efforts to do self-reflection. That rich person on earth may have none of the Akhirah and the outwardly poor one already has a great abode. Let us be more concerned with our standing before Allah ( SWT).
We should strive to enjoy the most of every moment and opportunity. Yes we may not have what we want yet but we keep on working towards our goals and not being knocked down by challenges. Who are we if not the #PeopleofAlhamdulillah?
For more, check previous posts on this blog  in the #TheRamadhanBaby series 
Have a most amazing Jumu’ah. There are many checklists circulating. Make sure to make the most out of it.
OumissaInspire

Lagos,Nigeria

13:04

Friday 04 August 2017

Jumu’ah 11 Dhul Qadah 1438AH