World Hijab Day: Nigerian Muslim women lament about workplace, schools discriminations


By Ismail Auwal & Salim Yunusa

Muslims all over the world have on Monday celebrated the World Hijab Day. The annual event, which was established by Nazma Khan, a Bangladeshi-American woman, has attracted several commentaries across the globe.

This day is now recognized internationally by carrying out events that are geared toward fostering religious tolerance, and opening frontiers for learning about the struggles of women who choose to wear a hijab.

Hijab is an integral part of the three monotheistic religions, namely Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

However, in today’s society, Islamophobia has pushed many non-Muslims into believing that the Muslim women wearing Hijab are oppressed.

There is also an aspect of discriminations faced by the Hijab-wearing Muslims globally. In Nigeria too, Muslim women that wear the Hijab aren’t spared from the discriminations in the workplace, schools and offices.

The issue of getting Hijab a recognition has been an aged struggle for identity by the Muslim women in Nigeria. In fact, in some instances, it has stirred a lot of controversies on social media space.

A particular win for the Hijab struggle recently, was when a University of Ilorin law graduate, Firdaus Amosa, was called to bar in her Hijab, several months after she was first denied such privilege in 2017.

Firdaus had objected against removing her hijab to be called to bar, which she claimed was an infringement of her human rights to practice her religion. She paid the prize when she was denied getting inducted as a barrister by the authorities. The denial incident created a storm, which culminated with an approval for Muslim women lawyers to wear only a shoulder-length Hijab during the induction ceremony.

This year, several women came forward to share their experiences and perspectives with Sahelian Times.

Mujidah Ajibola, a development expert in Abuja, said the World Hijab Day is a day that should be celebrated not like Eid or Juma’at but a form of celebration to increase awareness among non-Muslim communities.

“We have a lot of issue around Islamophobia both the very apparent ones and the ones that are subtle. Even for us in Abuja, we encounter such challenges,” she said about her experience.

She explained that the challenges faced by women are very pronounced in law schools and schools of nursing. “We had an issue where a nursing student almost got her admission rejected because she wore Hijab.”

“We have had issues where students were not allowed to write exams in Lagos because they were wearing on Hijab.”

“We need to raise awareness and tell people we are beautiful in Hijab. We need to tell people that we are not oppressed like they think we are,” she asserted.

“I have been in a place where people say we (Muslims) use Hijab to cover our brains, can you imagine!”

“I have myself in a situation whereby a nurse said I did not get what she said because I am wearing Hijab, and I am only wearing Hijab?,” queried Mujidat.


Aysha Mahmoud a lecturer with Federal University Dutse said that “A day like this should be used to encourage women to wear Hijab and experience it, and to enlighten some of the Muslim sisters that view it as a symbol of oppressive.”

Maryam Salman, a journalist with HumAngle said “Standards of decency need not be the same, they only need to be mutually respected. Why then does my Hijab intimidate you?
To you My Hijab is a piece of clothing and a symbol of extremism, I’ll say this once; My Hijab is an order from my Lord.

It’s my shade, my armour, it covers my head and not my brain.
A Muslim woman’s choice of the Hijab is her right, We the world’s people agreed to this at the UN, so respect it when it concerns me please!!”



Zainab Jumare, a newscaster with Kaduna State, says “Oppression to me, is telling me to remove my Hijab. I am always thankful to Allah that I feel comfortable when covered and uncomfortable when I think I am not covered enough. For me, the Hijab is Freedom in every sense.”

Hijab is not just a fabric or piece of clothing worn by the Muslim woman; it is a symbol of freedom, faith, willpower and choice to many and it has come to stay.




“Hijab does not mean that you are not like other Women. It means that you choose to save yourself from other social evils.

She added that, “Hijab provides a sense of security to a woman. It increases her confidence because she knows that she is well covered and can move around easily in areas which are congregated by male counterparts.”




Halima Jibril from Kogi State Opined that Contrary to what some think of the Hijab, about being a form of oppression, no it is not an oppression to the Muslim women, it is rather securing for us a code of conduct to help live our lives in ways that is acceptable by Allah.







Star Zahra Okpeh said The thing about the Hijab for us Muslims is that it is a symbol of modesty and when a woman is covered, she is able to suppress the overwhelming feeling of vanity that floods around the world in search of appraisal and admiration.








Faydah Yahya, a businesswoman and Engr from Abuja says “My hijab, My Culture. My hijab, my pride. My hijab, my identity. It neither hinders my progress nor does it alter my dreams. Nothing makes me happier than being a successful all cladded Muslimah.I cover myself because it’s my identity.”

“I cover myself because I was instructed to do so and each time I cover, I say to myself “the hijab doesn’t hinder me from being who I am and who I wish to be”.The hijab for me is an identity. My hijab, my pride.”



Maryam Ango a resident of Niger State, said that “we all know hijab is a must(obligation) to us, but you know due to our negligence and the kind of world we’re living in, which we took civilization and hold on to, we’ve taken a step ahead and left the hijab aside(though some of us are trying)”

“The hijab is more than a simple cloth, with hijab you’re more comfortable and even safer.”

Ango added that, “Must of us want to be fully covered with the hijab but due to our environment, one just have to dress decent and life goes on.”

“As today is the world hijab day, we’re celebrating it wholeheartedly and praying may the almighty give us the ability to put up to it”.



Hafsa Galadanchi, a final year Law Student in Bayero University Kano said “ “People think less of Hijabites, I mean it always makes the headlines whenever a hijabi bags an appointment, position or honour.”

“They think Women in Hijab are dumb and naive. Alhamdulillah as we’ve must’ve proven so far, Hijabite are as much “civilised and liberal” women as any other, we just choose Akhira over Duniya!”



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