The Sultan of Sokoto, and President-General, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, ?on Saturday weighed in on controversies on the use of hijab by Muslim women and girls in some parts of the country.
While urging government at all levels to treat Muslims fairly and see them as citizens protected by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Sultan affirmed that use of hijab is right of all Muslims.
Speaking at the opening ceremony the 2016 General Assembly and National Executive Committee meeting of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs held in Benin, Edo State, the Sultan noted that Muslims do not ask for special treatment, but “what is due to Muslims must be given to Muslims.”
“As Muslims, we want nothing but a very peaceful and stable Nigeria. As Muslims, we believe we must stay together as one big family as so desired by the Almighty Allah who put Nigeria together.
“As Muslims, we want to treat people equally, fairly and justly, equal justice to all of us. We are not asking for preference or special treatment for anybody.
“Government at all levels should treat Muslims fairly. What is due to Muslims must be given to Muslims. And when we are given what ?we should have, it is not a favour to us; it is our right.
“And we hold on to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that guarantees freedom of worship. That is why we do not disturb anybody who wants to go and worship the way he wants.”
“Nigeria is a multi-religious state, not a ?singular state. And being a multi-religious state, we must allow the various religions to go on. But we must not trample on each other’s right, which means I must be allowed to practice my religion the way I believe as ordered me by the Holy Quran and nothing else.
“So when we get this done, the issue of ?hijab and so many other things affecting Islam, I believe are our rights, not a privilege, unless the Constitution is changed,” the Sultan said.
He expressed concern over the tagging of some criminal elements across the world as Muslims, adding that such individuals should be addressed as “criminals or terrorists and not Muslims.”
He also emphasised the need for Nigerians to see Islam as a religion of peace committed to peaceful coexistence all over the world.
He said, “?Those bad people among us, like in other religions, we should pick them out and teach them the tenets of Islam. If they refuse to change, that is their own problem. We will meet with the creator on the judgement day.
“In any society, there are many terribly bad people, so many, who are not Muslims but carry out criminal activities with some Muslim organisations ?either in America, France and even in Nigeria.
“Those people doing negative things should be called criminals or terrorists but not Muslims. I’ve never heard of Christian terrorists.
“But we have heard of so many Christians or followers of other religions who committed heinous crimes against humanity. But they did not claim to do it for their religions and we did not hold them against their religions.”?
“I am very glad that about two weeks ago, the Pope made a very strong statement defending Islam as a religion of peace. That is (the) Pope, the leader of over two billion Catholics in the world. I think that is the message all of us should ?pick, whether we are Muslims, Christians or Jews or whatever.
“We must contribute to the peace of the nation. As Muslims, we are committed to the peace of this country, we are committed to the peaceful coexistence of this country. But we demand for our right always and our right must be given us.”