Amasa Firdaus, the Nigeria Law School graduate who was refused her call to bar for failing to remove her hijab, said that her defiance was to challenge the status quo.
The incident, which took place at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, has generated intense debate on the internet.
The University of Ilorin graduate, who has been asked by the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN) not to speak on the controversy, told TheCable that she intentionally wore the hijab in a bid to challenge the status quo.
Asked why she did not wait to be called to bar before embarking on the campaign, she said those who have removed their hijabs in the past did nothing to change the situation.
Firdaus told TheCable that there is no law preventing female Muslim lawyers from wearing hijabs, adding that the restriction is a mere convention.
“Actually there are no rules preventing us from wearing hijabs. They just call it convention that the British gave to us and we have to stick to it,” Firdaus told TheCable.
“I used them. They complained [during] my first [law] dinner. That is how they do on every campus. You don’t wear hijab for dinner but I did. I chose Abuja because I know they were a little lenient.
“People have been removing their hijab over the years. What have those people who have removed it done?”
Speaking on the incident, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Abubakar Mahmoud, assured Nigerians that the association would look into the situation.
“UK based Nigerian lawyer recognised for promoting diversity in the legal profession,” Mahmoud tweeted, posting a photo of Olufunke Abimbola, who was recently recognised by Queen Elizabeth II for her contributions to promoting diversity in the legal profession.
“The NBA will embrace diversity and tolerance in the Nigerian legal profession,” Mahmoud continued, adding that “the Hijab issue will be addressed.”
He also tweeted a photo of his daughter, Zubaida, who also wore a hijab, being admitted to the New York Bar earlier this year.
…my daughter ‘ll attend 2018 call to bar in hijab – Aliagan
A fresh graduate of University of Ilorin (Unilorin) has vowed to put her hijab on when call to bar in 2018.
The lady, Laylah Al-Mubarakah is the daughter of a Unilorin lecturer, Alhaji Abubakar Aliagan. Her father has given her the go ahead to wear her hijab when called to bar in 2018 even if he is dead before then.
Laylah had written on the case of Firdaus in her blog and after her father read her submission on the topic, he took to his Facebook account to give his daughter his 100 per cent to go to her call to bar ceremony in hijab.
Using the name Imam Ali-Agan Facebook, Laylah’s father went further to tell her that even if he is alive or dead, his daughter should go ahead with her plan.
Aliagan described the incident as an injustice to all Muslims calling on the affluent in the society to rise up to the challenge.
“ALLAHU AKBAR………… Firdaus Amasa is a daughter of a dear friend. She was not called to bar because she was adamant on her Islamic mode of dress. She was a year ahead of my daughter at the Faculty of law, University of Ilorin. When her courageous father, Mallam Oba Amasa, came to my house to break the news to me, my only regret is that Firdaus was left alone in this struggle. How I wish my daughter is there this year to stand behind her. Whether this matter is settled amicably in the court or not, my daughter, LAYLAH AL-MUBARAKÀH, has vowed to be the next victim. She wrote the following lines in her blog… Reading the news that our courageous sister, Amasa Al jannah Firdaos was not called to the Nigerian bar because she refused to remove her hijab brought tears to my eyes. Is Firdaos the only Muslim lawyer out there? Others should have joined her. I wish there were more Muslim females like her. To some, you may think what she has done is rebellious.
But to me it is courageous and she has maintained her stand as a Muslim. Imagine this, girl has been brought up in the way ordained by Allah right from her birth, she has been wearing the hijab from then, She has never for once remove her hijab just for the sake of being called to bar she has to remove it. Removing the Hijab is being naked.
I have been asked several times that will I remove my hijab when I am to be called to Nigerian Bar? I always answer that I don’t know. But Now, I have my answer, Amasa Al jannah Firdaos has provided the answer. The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria particularly Chapter 4, Section 38 (1) of the 1999 constitution and Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Right, provide.
“Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.”
“Is denying her entrance in to the hall because she is wearing the hijab not an infringement on her right to practise her religion?
“To Firdaos, you were our Ameerah in National Association of Muslim Law Students Unilorin Chapter and you led us well, when you were the Ameerah, through your humility and selflessness you inspired me to be like you. Now you have laid the foundation to justice and I pray and hope your efforts will be acknowledged. I celebrate you and to me you are a Legend.”
…Sultan blasts Nigerian Law School
Sultan of Sokoto, Dr. Mohammad Sa’ad Abubakar III has reacted to the raging controversy over hijab.
He decried the controversy, stating that hijab simply meant decent dressing for Muslim women and was part and parcel of Islam.
Speaking in Lagos on Saturday during the fifth National Convention of Muslim Public Affairs Centre (MPAC), Abubakar stressed that Muslims were peace loving, therefore, should be allowed to practice their religion as stipulated by Allah and as contained in the traditions of Prophet Mohammad.
Represented by a member of NSCIA and Wazirin of Katsina, Prof. Sanni Abubakar Lugga, the Sultan said hijab was not only a mode of dressing in Islam only but was also an accepted mode of dressing in Christianity and Judaism.
He further asked why the Law School would stop a sister from wearing hijab wondering if the legal school was higher than National Judicial Council(NJC).
He said, “His eminence wonders while hijab has now become a controversial issue. Hijab simply means decent dressing by the females. So why should decent dressing be a problem? The hijab is just an Arabic word. In English it means decent dressing.
“His Eminence has asked Nigerians to reflect and see that this is not only an Islamic mode of dressing but a Christian mode of dressing. It is also a Judaism mode of dressing and it is a dressing for every decent woman. It is a dressing for any woman who wants to preserve her chastity in public.
“Secondly, in Nigerian constitution it is absolutely clear. Why should Nigerian Muslims be molested and even denied their own right? The Appeal Court ruling in Ilorin is there, the Appeal Court in Lagos and also the High Court all delivered judgement in favour of Hijab.
“Justice Alooma, the former CJN, Justice Bukalchuwa and other Senior Justices in Nigeria wear their Hijab and then the wig on top of it. The NJC, the Highest body in the judiciary has not said, ‘no, they should stop’ which means the Nigerian constitution allows the Hijab, the Nigerian Courts through these three judgements have allowed the hijab and the NJC through these senior judges has allowed the hijab.
“Why will a legal school refuse our sister’s induction into the judiciary simply because she is wearing hijab? Is the law school saying they are above the NJC, they are above the Nigerian constitution, they are above these three senior courts?”
… FOMWAN meets barred student
The National Amirah of the Federation of Muslim Women’s Associations in Nigeria (FOMWAN), Hajia Halima Jibril has in a fact-finding mission, met with the law student, Firdaus Amasa Abdulsalam who was barred this week from Call to Bar ceremony due to her refusal to remove the mini hijab.
While receiving the embattled student, Hajia Halima said the Muslim Ummah in the country will ensure her study of the law profession shall not be in vain. In emotion laden message, the FOMWAN leader said the incident called the Muslim Ummah to action, to seek redress and at the same time ensure adherence to the rule of law.
Hajia Halima who was accompanied by the leadership of Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria (MULAN) said injustice done to one is injustice done to all.
While thanking the FCT Chapter of MULAN led by Barr. Adams Oloriaje, the FOMWAN Amirah appreciated the body for rallying round the cause of Firdaus.
She however appealed to the body of Benchers to re-appraise the issue with a view to an equitable settlement that gives the ordinary Nigerian confidence that their right to practice their chosen religion will be protected.