“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
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
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.
What did I do today?
We all should have more days that give that deep sense of satisfaction. The good feeling that comes with investing in yourself and getting good value for your money. I was blessed to have such a day today.
It was at the SMD Tijaarah Tea for Muslim women entrepreneurs(Muslimahpreneurs) organized by @sherrys_Mamas_Delight
First we had to introduce ourselves and businesses, then renew intentions to dedicate it all to Allah (the Enricher). I liked that the setting was relaxed and so it was easy to get comfortable. Factors like age, success and profession posed no barriers. This facilitated learning from one another.
There was so much to learn! The lady behind SMD – Shariifah Yunus, a culinary artist and instructor, gave a passionate talk about her experience as a Muslim woman starting and running a business, confidence, positioning, advertising and lots more.
Next up was the session by Ameenah Imran, a seasoned and dedicated student of the deen, who took us through transactions that are forbidden in Islam. Making sure our business is based on halal (lawful) is very important. We also learnt about permissible transactions, putting Allah first and of course I was motivated to take learning about rulings and other fields of knowledge in Islam more seriously.
The last talk was about product photography by the creative Roqeebah Olaoniye- editor, photographer and legal consultant ( @roqeebah). She patiently coached with practical demonstartions us on how to get the best of apps and photos to sell our products and services. It was such a trove of treasures!
In between , we had breaks for Salah( prayers). Question and answer, with interactive sessions shed more light on issues. Ideas were flying about ready to be caught by the open-minded. Tea and lunch were welcome treats, all made with SMD natural tea and spices. The tea, burger and Ofada tasted so good. You should try cooking with them too.
I am glad to have made the acquaintance of business owners and budding entrepreneurs whose interests ranged from crafts, health, travel services to food businesses.
Supporting each other in growth and development was a priceless lesson. As women, we should build each other. And as Muslim women, we must treat each other with honour accorded to sisters.
In all, I met new people, reconnected with old friends and took away a zeal to run a successful business enterprise.
The àmì on the author’s name made me translate the title into Yoruba subconsciously and there! I got a loose idea of what the book was centred on – Àbíkú.
However , nothing prepares you for the twists and turns, the suspense and carefully woven tapestry of this work, the ending that is as unexpected as it is beautiful. All of this makes Stay With Me such a fantastic piece.
The plot mirrors common but rarely discussed experiences. In it, you are made to feel the pressure, frustration and all other emotions of a childless couple in 80’s South West Nigeria.
You feel the pain of betrayal, the rawness of deception, the calculation and misguided love in the ties connecting Akin and Yejide to Funmi, Dotun, Moomi and other characters. Witnessing the darkest side of each’s persona still does not make you judge them. Such is the candour of Ayòbámi’s presentation.
Perhaps what made this book so striking is the familiarity of the setting.
It is amazing how the author manages to incorporate so many themes in a concise and enjoyable read. Among them are life in Nigeria’s military era; escaping poverty to middle class through education; retaining core aspects of cultural heritage nonetheless; dedication and sacrifice of mothers; sickle cell disease and mental health.
It provides insight into the overwhelming importance placed on having biological children, how this leads to desperation, unforseen circumstances and uncontrollable consequences that defy best laid plans. Societal expectations are seen to be more stringent on women. Even self-proclaimed feminists are not spared.
P.S I would love to know more about Akin. For me, he was the most layered and interesting character.
There is an elephant in the room we need to talk about. Our treatment of women. Yes,our.
We all have something to do in improving the lives of women. Men get called out for ill treatment (not nearly as frequently as they should) but we often ignore the roles some women play in entrenching this scourge.
Since this is a big issue that is ongoing, let’s restrict this post to particular problems associated with Ramadhan.
When you single out daughters and sisters for all the housework and forget that they are fasting too, you are not being a good Muslim. Especially for some households where women must work so the family can survive. The Prophet(peace be upon him) enjoined us to make life easy for others and not difficult.
Many female relatives already take it as their roles without question to serve their family and generally manage the home. Most times, this is a thankless task. More acutely felt when these same chores are well paid for and much more appreciated when they are sourced commercially or come from others outside the home.
Please don’t treat your wives and other women in your family like slaves. Infact, in the 7th century when slavery was widespread in almost every land on earth,our Prophet (peace be upon him) led by example and treated them with kindness and fairness and made manumission(setting free) an act of Ibaadah. Many former slaves went on to take on great roles in Islamic history. A notable one we are familiar with is the first muadhin- Abyssinian companion Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him). “Even if you dislike her, be good to her”
Imagine how some men treat their womenfolk. You shout at them because Iftar is not ready, you pressure them to make feasts and do not care to get them help.
Say dhikr with her. Recall the hadithwhere the Prophet taught his daughter words of temembrance ehrn she came To ask him for a servant to ease her strain. Tell her nice words of encouragement and appreciation and please do not complain when she has gone to great lengths to get things done. Give her excuses e.g she couldn’t taste it as she is fasting too.
Let us stop demanding for perfection from only one half of our society. Boys and girls should be taught to be so good at their different but equally important roles so they grow up to become men and women that complement each other.
Don’t you think she would like to break her fast on time too? Some husbands would not release housekeeping funds on time or plan ahead with whatever income they have. Why not make things easier? Plan together. Allah has made you a leader not a tyrant. Be just and you would get that respect,love and appreciation easily. Communicate with them. Discuss ways to improve on the faults you may have noticed without being vindictive. Don’t allow them miss Salah because they are serving you. Even in heated situations try and be the mature one. When it’s all settled, this is the person that shines.
The Prophet used to wake his family for Tahajjud. Nowadays we wake our family to cook elaborate Sahurs and have them jostle to get a bite and meet Fajr by the hairs. Make it easier for them to partake in Tarawih, Quran recitation etc. Ramadhan is already a very difficult time for many women. Don’t be a burden.
To my sisters in Iman, keep going strong. Don’t stop learning new and effective ways to conserve time, energy and other resources. As you juggle Ibaadah, work, school, illness, travel,childbirth, periods, caring for the children, sick relatives, old parents, neighbours, etc this special month, may Allah ease your affairs.
Let’s help each other achieve goodness in this world and be partners in Jannah.