The Hijab, The Veil And The Denial Of The Ghanaian Muslim Women's "wardrobe Freedom" At Workplaces
Fellow Ghanaians, believe it or not, in the high court of the hawks the chicken has never been declared innocent even if it deserves justice. Likewise, in our human (Ghanaian) societies the minority groups have always been harassed, suppressed, and even oppressed leading to their depression sometimes.
Why is it that, some Ghanaian women, within the ambit of the law, can only have to be paid if they expose their "love buttons" including their chubby, curvy and heavy butts to the whole wide world in video songs and yet no feminist is complaining about it, but women who also choose to cover their bodies are accused of evil in our society? In a society where gossip has never been in short supply, it is normal to find many tongues wagging about persons, or about an issue. Accusatory fingers pointing at such persons who choose to embrace a certain culture that is though legal but alien to the mainstream society they find themselves in is normal. But it is absolutely abnormal when their rights and freedoms are being restricted by other members of that same society with different worldview from theirs.
According to one of the numerous Law Definitions, specifically, from the Duhaime’s Law Dictionary in particular: “A lost nation is not one which lacks a ruler, but one that lacks law. Distortion of law does not mean there is no law. It means there is law but it is not applicable”
Whether we pretend to realize it or not, it is increasingly becoming obvious that some aspects of our democracy appear to be dysfunctional in this country, and the constitution is virtually under a serious mockery by some Ghanaians who do not only openly hate others for their way of life they choose to live in a rather multiparty democratic republican dispensation, but have the audacity to restrict and frustrate them.
Chapter 5, Article 12, Clause
(2) of the 1992 constitution of our dear country states that "Every person in Ghana, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinion, colour, religion, creed or gender shall be entitled to the fundamental human rights and freedoms of the individual contained in this
Chapter but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for
the public interest."
And just below these Article and Clause in the same chapter, Article 14 Clause 5 that states that "A person who is unlawfully arrested, restricted or detained by any other person shall be entitled to compensation from that other person."
Therefore, it is an offense and forbidden, not by Sharia law but by our own law books we wrote and agreed to obey, to "restrict or detain" anyone because of their "race, place of origin, political
opinion, colour, religion, creed or gender".
However, because of religious jingoism and bigotry or just disregard of moral values, some ignorant or misinformed Ghanaians who deliberately turn a blind eye to the provisions of the constitution, have decided to restrict veil and Hijab wearing Muslim women in government or public offices. Some Muslim women in Ghana are being subjected to daily "naming and shaming" by some misguided and uninformed religious "Crusaders" and bigots because of their religious beliefs.
I still find it difficult rubbing my brain around this delicate but dangerous issue that is very capable of replicating and duplicating Boko Haram in Ghana if mature, responsible, and just leaders across the divide: Christians, Muslims, and African Traditional Religious practitioners do not rise from their reluctance to curb a rather gaping sore. If these haters of other people's culture are not reminded that Ghana does not belong to a particular group of people alone and for whose culture we must all embrace, and that, holding on to one's chosen culture is not a crime as the constitution puts it in Article Twelve (12) Clause Two (2). Otherwise disgruntled and discriminated against groups could be pushed to the brink.
No culture is too superior that others must abandon theirs and embrace it per the provisions of our constitution. Nonetheless, there has been a clash of civilization between the West and the East. According to Samuel Huntington, quoted by Hon. Mustapha Abdul Hamid in his dissertation about Christian-Muslim relations in Ghana, said
“the underlying problem for the west is not Islamic fundamentalism.
It is Islam, a different civilisation whose people are convinced of
the superiority of their culture...The problem for Islam is not the
CIA or the U.S Department of Defense. It is the West, a different civilisation whose people are convinced of the universality of their culture...These are the basic ingredients that fuel conflict
between Islam and the West.”
So, there's enough evidence that Ghanaians who are inclined toward either of these civilizations may be suspicious of each other. But in an agreed multicultural society like Ghana, we are guaranteed freedom of association.
In any case, Ghanaians who decide to choose an "inferior" culture must not be coerced to accept a "superior" culture by way of dressing, dancing, eating, etc. That's the beauty of democracy, the rule of law, both of which collectively guarantee multiculturalism, and pluralism of ideologies within the parameters of the law among peoples of divergent views in the same jurisdiction.
Aside the constitutional entrenchment of these fundamental human rights in our constitution, Ghanaians are blessed with three major religious bodies whose beliefs are not that far from one another. Islam, Christianity, African Traditional Religion, all enjoin decency, patience, integrity, trustworthiness, truthfulness, justice, care for others reflected in our usually Ghanaian hospitality. In fact, the Golden Rule in Christianity is expressed in a different way in Islam. Thus, the Prophet Muhammad (saw) is reported to have said: "None of you truly believe until he loves for his neighbor what he loves for himself". The same thing as "Do unto others as you want them do unto you." Mahatma Gandhi confirmed this when he said that Islam and Christianity and Hinduism came from one saw.
Ways by which each of these three religions express these priceless and timeless values may differ, but the ultimate goal is to reach the same destination of protecting the shame of the society and the world in general.
Christianity which is an offshoot of Judaism even long after the Master Jesus Christ left the earth, is a sister religion to Islam. As a result, all the three religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) have their origins from Abraham. Hence, their practices should not differ.
That's why if you read in the Book of Matthew chapter 26:36 Jesus fell on his face to pray and in Quran 53:62 enjoins Muslims to fall on their faces to pray.
Furthermore, in Matthew 19 verse 16, Jesus speaks about salvation responding to a man who asked him about what to do in order to enter heaven, by saying that "those who do the will of God" in Heaven shall enter heaven. Anybody who does the will of God is called "Muslim" and "Mushlim" in Arabic and Hebrew or Aramaic respectively. How would you call such a person in Akan? If the term "Christian" which had its origin from even the pagans, at the time of Christ, who conveniently labeled the disciples of Christ as Christians, also means "a person who does the will of God" and not that of the will of the Satan neither their own desires, then both the Muslim and the Christian are one.
Jesus also says in Matthew 7:21 that "not those who call me Lord, Lord, shall enter heaven; but those who do "the will of God" in heaven they shall enter heaven... " If Jesus was describing and addressing his disciples reminding them that praise singing his name Lord, Lord, without doing "the will of God" in heaven, shall not award them heaven, it means those of the disciples who heeded to this prophetic advice, really did the will of God. In Arabic they would have been called Muslims. If subsequent generations of Christians followed this admonition of Jesus and the earlier advised and admonished disciples, they are also doers of the will of God which in Arabic, is Muslims. Therefore, according to me, Christians are also Muslims.
Perhaps, the photograph of Jesus Christ's mother says it all: Mary is always in veil and Hijab in all her photographs. You wouldn't find and see any of her side boobs showing anywhere. You can't see any part of her thighs let alone "a map" of her private part designed by the dress she is wearing being too tight. Interestingly, Mary is supposed to be the role model of Christian women. But just like anybody, I am aware there's a new breed of Christians today, who have decided to concoct their own brand of Christianity where nothing is forbidden. When you visit the Church today you hardly identify these followers of Christ and his mother. Because, many of these "believers" are almost in bikinis to supposed houses of God presided by "men of God" many of whom take opportunity to fondle with some of the female congregants' genitalia.
When and how did these pious people of God sink this low?
Of course, the good and even the very good Christians who still stand by their values are there but they are few in number.
Perhaps, these group of "man made" Christians are those who are "terrorising" the veil and hijab wearing Muslim women who are only role modeling Mother Mary in the 21st century still.
The genuine Christians we are taught ooze love, generosity, and hate only for the sin and not the sinner. They are decent and hospitable. The Quran describes them (genuine Christians) in Quran 5:82 thus, "You will find the Jews and idolaters most excessive in hatred of those who believe; and the closest in love to the faithful are the people who say: "We are Christians," because there are priests and monks among them, and they are not arrogant".
Today, why would these people be nursing grudge against the Muslims and can now hate and even showcase arrogance by looking down upon the culture of others that is similar to theirs?
I don't believe Hijab haters are the Christians we know.
So, who are those chasing Muslim women out of public offices because they refuse to sell their nudity on credit to the lustful eyes of the 21st century man? I don't think the virtues loving Christians are doing that.
But who? The traditionalists?
A cursory look at the African traditional religious landscape would readily prompt an observer what the traditionalists also stand for as their values including what are espoused above. They are simply too pure as well to have engaged in chasing Muslim women home from their workplaces simply because they have decided not to parade their side boobs and curvy backside to the public but covered them in Hijab for only their husbands. So, I don't think our libation pouring friends in the African Traditional Religion have the effrontery to sidestep the constitution, and religious values, and go ahead to openly validate wrongdoing by asking Muslim women who have decided not to wear a trousers that allows everybody to determine the magnitude, latitude, longitude, and even the depth of their vaginas, to vacate their workplaces or maltreated.
So, who are these faceless and "religiousless" Ghanaians who see it fit to betray our constitution, spit on the face of their religious beliefs and values and even go on the railroaded binge to treat with contempt, other citizens of the country who don't dress like them?
Of course, there are other minority religious groups who are vociferous in the country. However, their number is quite negligible to have involved in this painful discriminations. So, who are behind these uncivilized, undemocratic and irreligious acts?
But you see, what those who maltreat hijab wearing Muslim women don't appreciate is that, it is not the women they are fighting and shaming. Neither are they fighting Muslims. It is Allah which Arabic spelling is the shape of the ear of every human being they are daring and fighting. The One Who created the universe from nothing, and Who allow the moon, the sun, and other heavenly bodies to float, each in an orbit, Quran 36:40.
He it is who send down iron from Heaven to the earth, Quran 57:25; Created seven layers of heavens upon each other with the earth having the same number of layers, Quran 67:3. They are fighting their Lord who created them from their mothers' wombs, formation upon formation in three veils of darkness in the womb,Quran 39:6. They are fighting the God who disjointed the heaven and the earth asunder when they were one unit, Quran 21:30. They are fighting the Lord who has created the universe and thereafter keeps expanding it perpetually, Quran 51:47. They are fighting their Lord who created the mountains as the earth's pegs to prevent the earth from shaking with them, Quran 78:7. They are fighting Allah who has inspired the bee to do the "bee dance" in order to produce honey, Quran 16:68. They are fighting Allah who created the ants to behave like humans (by talking), Quran 27:18. They are fighting the God who put invisible barrier between the two seas (one sweet and drinkable, and the other salty and not drinkable so that the huge ocean does not mix with the little drinkable water bodies we rely on for survival), Quran 55:19-20. They are fighting the God who causes and sends down rain, Quran 27:60
They are fighting Him Who has ordained mercy upon Himself to be merciful to His creation despite their multitudinous wrongdoing, Quran 6:12.
He is the Mighty, fully aware of what His creatures are doing.
Let maltreated hijab wearing Muslim sisters be patient and the Muslim community in general. Allah has always been with the patient ones.
That's why He admonished Muslims saying "So you who believe, have endurance in suffering, be patient and persevere, strengthen each other and be firm, and be pious and fear God that you may find success."
"Do men think they will get away by saying: "We believe," and will not be tried?
"We had tried those who were before them so that God knew who spoke the truth, and who were liars" Quran 29:2-3
Let every sister understand this is a trial from Allah, their Lord. Be strong.
Harassed veil and hijab wearing Muslim women must take solace in the following verse: "The unbelievers would haply like to wish that they had submitted (and become Muslim)." Quran 15:2.
May God Bless Ghana and bless her people with abundance of understanding and mercy toward each other.
The Writer, Iddrisu Abdul Hakeem, is a MasterCard Foundation Scholar (Alumnus) @ KNUST; Department of Religious Studies.
E-mail: [email protected]
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."