Asma’u Inuwa Yahaya: A first lady’s love for hijab

The religion of Islam does not permit Muslim women to go out, or appear in the public, without being clad in hijab. By description, the hijab is the head covering a woman wears in Islam.

Fundamentally, the hijab’s intention is to protect women from evil eyes. It is obligatory for Muslim women to wear it. As an Islamic attire, the hijab projects the true feminine beauty, while also preserving the dignity and integrity of Muslim women. The hijab also safeguards women from the lustful gazes of men, that are unrelated to them.

In fact, chapter 33, verse 59 of the Holy Quran states: “O Prophet! Ask your wives, daughters, and believing women to draw their cloaks over their bodies. In this way it is more likely that they will be recognised ˹as virtuous˺ and not be harassed. And Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful”.

Additionally, the hijab represents a woman’s submission to her Creator (Allah) and her connection with her faith (Islam). When a Muslim woman wears the hijab, she is obeying and submitting to Allah, her Lord. It is germane to aver that a woman who wears hijab liberates herself from the vain and selfish desire to show off her beauty, with the aim of competing with other women around her.

One core function of the hijab is to protect women from various forms of sexual abuse and harassment, which are now prevalent in our society. As a matter of fact, men often get conflicting signals and believe that women want their advances, by the way they reveal their bodies. But with the hijab, a strong signal is sent to perverts that the wearer is a modest and chaste woman, who should not be annoyed.

Regrettably, the hijab is one fashion accessory that the majority of our Muslim sisters, and unfortunately even those from the conservative northern part of the country, do not fancy wearing outside their homes. The case of Nigerian women and ladies from affluent backgrounds is even worse.

The hijab is what you will find in just one out of 1,000 Muslim sisters in the country. Amazingly, however, a woman, or better still, mother, whose social status is influential, is among the few dutifully adhering to the extant Islamic injunction on the usage of hijab. That woman and righteous mother is Hajiya Asma’u Inuwa Yahaya, the wife of Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe state.

This writer does not know Hajiya Asma’u Yahaya from Adam, but he has always known her – like many other people – to be an epitome of decency in the realm of Islamic fashion. The amiable, radiant and humble Gombe first lady always adorns herself in hijab, whenever she appears in a gathering.

Whether she is attending a public function and event (in her official capacity as Gombe first lady), Hajiya Asma’u Yahaya will not be seen in any other veil clothing, but in long hijabs. Last week, the Northern Governors’ Wife Forum, NGWF, held their quarterly meeting in Gombe, and as usual, Hajiya Asma’u stole the show – at least, for me.

Right from the period she received her colleagues (wives of other northern governors) at the airport, to a stakeholders’ meeting on substance abuse, to their courtesy visit on Alhaji Abubakar Shehu Abubakar III, the Emir of Gombe; and other events hosted during the NGWF’s meeting, Hajiya Asma’u was impressively resplendent in her flowing veils.

Anyone in doubt should just google her name, or search her name on social media, particularly Facebook. Meanwhile, Hajiya Asma’u’s love for the hijab is uncommon. It is as if she does not only enjoy immersing herself in the piece of Islamic fashion (in adherence to a divine commandment) but wants to illustrate that following Qur’anic laws and Sunnah (prophetic tradition) is sacrosanct for every Muslim who desires Allah’s mercy, both in this world and the next.

Aside from my better half, Hajiya Asma’u Yahaya is the other woman this writer – at the risk of being flirty – has a deep and sincere admiration for, due to her devout social life. Ever since I got to know about her distinct and modest sense of fashion, I have not ceased asking Allah to grant the NGWF chairperson His limitless bounties.

Privately, I have asked Allah to reward Hajiya Asma’u Yahaya for being one of His committed and pious servants. Likewise, I have also beseeched Allah to bless me with daughters whose piety – in all aspects of His religion – will even supplant that of the Gombe first lady.

But why do many of our Muslim sisters pay scant regard to the hijab? In the time we live, true Islamic knowledge is not what most Muslims are blessed with. And with a zero or poor understanding of their deen (religion), many people who call themselves Muslims now worship Allah and adhere to His commandments (following their whims).

The disregard to the Islamic rule on wearing hijab is partly due to how some Muslims view civilisation, as a concept. In our contemporary time, Muslim ladies or women who regularly use the hijab are regarded as uncivilised, local and uneducated. It is, however, a classic irony. Those who obey divine commandments are not uncivilised. They are even more wise, refined and polished than their accusers.

Some of them, like Hajiya Asma’u Inuwa Yahaya, are even high-flyers and inspirational role models in their society. It is certain that our Maker (Allah) will question us in the hereafter, about how we watched over what He blessed us with. Parents, who are therefore shirking in their responsibility of giving their children and wards sound upbringing, should wake up.

They should not condone their female children dressing irresponsibly, decadently and immorally. Wearing the hijab should also be a priority for their children. Our mothers, too, should also set a good example for their female children. They should not venture out of their homes without their veils.

Wearing the hijab has never, and will never, hinder a Muslim woman from becoming who she dreams of becoming in this life. It will also not affect whatever activities our sisters will engage in outside their homes, or at public fora. On the contrary, it is both rewarding and dignifying to be adorned in a hijab.

Hajiya Asma’u Inuwa Yahaya and her flowing hijabs are the focus of today’s column, because of the dignity the latter attracted the former. May Allah make the caring mother of all ‘Gombawas’ and other Muslim sisters accustomed to frequently using the hijab, to remain steadfast in that religious track.

Indeed, they are brilliant inspirations to the entire women folk in the country. This writer is just one among a million that admire their puritanical way of life. But Allah, their benevolent Creator, is the only one that truly appreciates them, and will reward them bountifully for being among His faithful servants.

Mahmud, deputy editor of PRNigeria, writes via [email protected]