Written By Saeed Hamid Jallo
For years now we have been raising issues about the hijab in Ghana. We have lobbied, gone into serious advocacy and activism all in our quest to see the hijab duly recognized in our state and private institutions. We have spent our time, energy and resources on this legitimate mission but all have fallen on deaf ears.
We have encountered many obstacles in this noble cause both from within and without. Our own community of Muslims are on record to have said we are fighting a losing battle. They claim that Ghana is a secular state and therefore could not allow for the hijab to be observed in workplaces and academic institutions. Some leadership even had the courage to distance themselves from the peaceful demonstration organized by the Muslim community of the Western Region.
The immediate positive response from the government of the day could not guarantee adherence to the constitutional provision that called for freedom of worship and manifesting of that freedom. The communique by some ministries all could not have any meaningful effect, admittedly some institutions are tolerating the hijab, but not without insinuations and insults to their Muslim subordinates.
Days in and out our offices are inundated with calls from ladies both married and unmarried asking for direction on what to do under this unfortunate circumstance, some of these calls even come from the husbands of these ladies who are frustrated in seeing their wives bare-headed in public. They are wondering why Muslim leadership is not doing much in solving this issue once and for all. But who are the leaders? Leadership is you and I.
Unfortunately, these institutional heads do not have any solid reasons for preventing the wearing of the hijab. So the real issue according to us is their hatred for it. They just hate the hijab.
Some of the question that always beat my mind is; what at all is wrong with the hijab and in what way would its wearing affect the institution or its membership? The issue is sheer dislike of the hijab and nothing else.
What prompted this piece today is this; when I was in my room watching the swearing-in ceremony of our president Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo on the television something crossed my view and I had to sit up. When the Chief Justice and her entourage were entering I saw all of them attractively covered. Both the men and women of the bench were in their beautiful ‘hijabs’ and filed pass to take their seats. The only difference is that theirs is not referred to as hijab, but wig.
However, the wigs are almost identical with the hijabs being worn by Muslim ladies since it covered from their heads to the shoulders. I daresay they were even better covered than many of our Muslim ladies and it does not in any way hinder their productivity.
I believe that since the wig is accepted as a standard costume for our eminent judges the hijab could also be accepted as costume for the Ghanaian Muslim lady. Our wives, sisters and daughters must also be allowed to observe the hijab and not to be victimized for doing so. Muslim nurses, doctors, lawyers and all public sector employees must have the liberty to cover and go about their normal duties without let or hindrance.
The hijab in schools and workplaces can never hurt anyone, therefore we call on authorities to respect the constitution of Ghana and allow our women to go about their duties in dignity.
My question to Muslims is, after condemning our demonstration and taking the matter to the National Peace Council what has come out of the issue? I am just asking…….and who will help with the answer?
In shaa Allah I will come again