I read Farook Kperogi’s brilliant (as usual) piece, ‘Hijab As Red Meat Of Bigotry’, and while he made some very compelling arguments, there were one or two things I disagreed with.
Professor Kperogi says, it is not unreasonable for Muslims to wear hijabs at Christians schools, since they are now state funded.
That is arguable. Very much so. But even if Christians concede that point, then that liberality cannot begin and end with Muslims wearing hijabs. If we must be liberal, then our liberality must be total.
Not all Nigerians are Christians or Muslims. African Traditional Religion adherents, Eckankar, Grail Message, Celestial and Cherubim and Seraphim should also be allowed to wear their religious attires, if they so choose.
But doing so will just cause further confusion and turn Kwara to the biblical Tower of Babel.
The truth is that the school uniforms or dress code the missionaries put in place was ideal, for the simple reason that it was religiously neutral.
Even in Saudi Arabia, the hijab is no longer required wearing. Does Nigeria and Kwara want to be more Muslim than the custodians of Islam?
Below is an excerpt from an interview Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia granted to CBS on March 18, 2018. My readers can Google that interview. I enjoy being fact checked. I deal in facts.
“The decision is entirely left for women to decide what type of decent and respectful attire she chooses to wear.”
There are certain things that make you a Muslim. You must believe in the one God, Allah (SWT) and his prophet, Mohammed (SAW), and the holy book, and the prophets contained therein. I do not know that you have to be a Hijab wearer to be a true Muslim.
Nigeria is a secular state. All schools ought to wear a religiously neutral school uniform. However, IF you must introduce religion, you can’t do it for just one religion alone, otherwise you make that religion superior. Every religion, Christian, Muslim, Traditional African, Eckankar, The Grail Message, etc should be accommodated.
I believe in religious coexistence. However, what is happening in Kwara is not religious coexistence. It is religious dominance.
Professor Kperogi talked about court judgments. There are a multiplicity of court judgments on the issue of Nigeria being a secular state. And true secularity means the neutrality of religion in state policy. And insisting on hijab for schools is not neutrality. We are either a secular nation, or we are a multi-religious nation.
And if we choose to go the route of multi-religiosity, let us remember that most multi-religious nations end up splitting. Often with much bloodshed.
I have argued (and been insulted by Christians) when I said Arabic on the Naira note and Nigerian Army emblem is not a religious matter, but a cultural matter, because many Muslim Northerners cannot read or write in English and can only read or write in Ajami or Arabic. It is therefore wrong to impose a foreign language that they cannot understand on them. I support Arabic on our currency and army emblem.
However, the same cannot be said for the hijab. By forcing these schools to allow them, Kwara and any other copy cat state is doing a great harm to the secularity that holds Nigeria together. This is a Pandora’s Box that portends great evil and should best be left unopened.
These schools were forcefully taken over by the military government. The missionaries did not hand them over willingly. They were funding these schools. They did not beg the government for funds.
Insisting that Muslim students who CHOOSE to attend these Christians schools must be allowed to wear their hijabs is like insisting that a visitor to your house must be allowed to do as he or she pleases. Never. If you visit me, I cannot adapt to you. You must adapt to me because you are a visitor. If you insist that I adapt to you, then you are no longer a visitor. You are a conqueror.
Gospeller. Deep Thinker. #1 Bestselling author of Facts Versus Fiction: The True Story of the Jonathan Years. Avid traveller. Hollywood Magazine Film Festival Humanitarian of the Year, 2019.