Thursday, April 15, 2021
Lagos, Nigeria

want to continue today on the topic, which I started last time titled "On Bended Knees for peace"

Today I want us to examine the question of hijab wearing by Muslim girls in Mission schools, which Government grants aid to.

I want to do three things in this broadcast; (i). I want to prove it that Christians have no reason to oppose wearing of hijab and they do not because Christian women themselves do not leave their heads uncovered while praying (ii). I want to relate with the Spirit of God how to resolve the disagreement (iii).I want to pray for Ilorin, our father the Emir, "Sheu" and the governor.

I never knew the depth of one statement made by Martin Luther King jnr, which says "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter" Precisely that has been the case with me since this problem started in Ilorin to the extent where some people lost blood. I groan but I hesitate to talk until God gives me a solution because religion has become a very sensitive and delicate matter for sometime now in Nigeria.

So I have been petitioning God for how the conflict can be resolved because no one can pretend or deny the fact that both the Muslims and the Christians suspect each other as trying to dominate the other. I thank God that He has shown me the way out concerning the hijab issue and I hope that the two sides will listen to the voice of God and our law makers too will listen before they worsen the matter.

But before this let me give some illustrations which relates to it for proper understanding of my view.

I have preached it in the past that after we get to heaven and if we are all asked to line behind our parents, we shall discover that it will eventually taper to just one line; whatever color; white , black, yellow or brown, American, Indian, African, Caribbean etc. Every one of us will find ourselves lining behind Adam & Eve. Many people will then weep after they discovered that someone who they have been unkind to, someone who they have stoned or murdered on earth on the basis of religion or race is after all not a far next of kin. They will then know better that truly we are all children of the same parents.

If we all came out from one house, then our activities; mode of worship, mode of dress, mode of talk etc is bound to be similar. But as we scatter across the globe, little, little deviation or variation is bound to set in, to accommodate weather and other things.

For instance, in the Old Testament of the Bible, we read of a festival called "The Feast of the 1st Fruit" (Deut.26:1-11). It is a religious offering to God, of the first agricultural produce. It was to create in the people, a heart of gratitude to God, who made the farm to yield and to instill in them to putting God first in everything they did.

Did we, in Yoruba and Igbo culture, have something similar? Of course, our forefathers (Yoruba) celebrated "god of the farm" (Orisa oko). It is not impossible that it is still done in certain places till today particularly in the Igbo land.

In the Jewish land, it was an offence for anyone to eat the new harvest until the festival of the first fruit was completed. In the Yoruba culture, the belief was that anyone who ate yam before the festival of 'god of the farm' (Orisa Oko) will die. This illustration is a good example indicating that we all came from the same source with same belief, same idea but which becomes modified from culture to culture as we spread on the face of the earth.

Hijab is an Arabic word, which translates to "barrier" intended to protect women from intrusion from men. Later it was extended to include "covering" or "veil" I hope my Moslem scholars will forgive me and not see me as intruding into their terrain. I mean no offence. But kindly put it at the back of your mind that by God's mercies I lived in Saudi Arabia for 171/2 years. I only want settlement and Jesus approves my action. He said "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God" (Matthew 5:9)

Let us go back to our history to see another similarity of the Arabic/Jewish tradition compared with Yoruba culture. In the traditional Yoruba wedding, the bride covers her head as she steps into her husband house, the very first day. She will cover her head and shoulder but gives sufficient space for her to be able to see. Her eyes are not covered. The compound women receive her, pour water on her feet and lead her inside. All these while, the groom leaves the house and stays in a neighbouring house. Compare this with when Rebekah saw Isaac (Ishaq or Isiaka) a far off and after she was told that the man was the bridegroom (the man she had been given in marriage), she covered her face with a veil (Gen.24 65).

It is the same meaning in the Whiteman culture. The bride wears a veil as she enters the Church for the wedding and the husband removes it after they have been pronounced husband and wife.

And when sometime ago, I listed the similarities in our religions in one of my past sermons, some people called for my head.

As it is in Islam so it is in the Bible, there is a code of dressing for both men and women. Christian women are advised not to leave their heads uncovered while praying, otherwise they should shave it. But since it is shameful for a woman to shave her hair, she must cover it. But there is another opening, which allows a woman to leave her hair uncovered and that is if she has long hair. Apostle Paul says that the long hair is her covering (1Cor.11). May be this is why the Western women leave their hair uncovered in the Church.

Men are not allowed to have a covering while praying in the Church. Apostle Paul saw it as disrespectful to God. This code differs with Islam a little bit, where men put up a cap during prayer. And even then, it is usually a small cap like that of the Pope. So it might be that Theologians on both sides do not see the small caps as real covering because the Jews also pray with the small caps on.

Therefore I can confirm that Christians have nothing against wearing of hijab nor do they hate the wearing of it. Moslem men and women enter the Church auditorium without hindrance whenever there is a function that warrants them to be there like wedding or funeral.

No one questions the women for wearing hijab during Church service. The Christian women themselves have a covering on their heads. Whenever one function or the other brings Moslem women to the Church, I see them frequently with their hijabs on. No one prevents them. Though Christian men do not wear cap inside the Church, yet Moslem men are never disturbed for wearing it whenever occasion warrants them to be there. The Moslem men who remove it do it on their own accord. This indicates that the Church is not in any way opposed to wearing of hijab nor hates it. They only want all the girls to be uniform while in their schools.

I have carefully been watching the sequence of events in every sphere of our lives in this country of recent and I am seeing that we are getting too divided on religious line. We quickly read meaning to everything the government does as either favouring the Christians or the Moslems. This is not only debarring our progress but can lead to war and religious war has been the most difficult to quench as people are more willing to fight war based on their religious inclination, particularly when told that if they die in religious war, there are lots of rewards for them in heaven. Certainly, this will get worse if we start to segregate these children on religious line right in their formative age. So I strongly suggest that the Senate stop its plan to legalize hijab for young students. By the time they get to the University, they can decide what is good for themselves.

I have in the past told a story of a sign post I saw sometimes ago, which reads "If you are not of a particular religion, do not come into this area"

This type of thing is strange to me. It was not so when I was growing up.

Listen to this other story:

The moment a friend paid for the land on which his house is situated in a suburb of Ilorin, the man who sold the land, told him promptly that he would not accept that he use the land for a Church building. That was in 1991. In 2011, this same friend acquired a bus and the name of his Church was inscribed on it. Promptly the traditional ruler himself with 6 others in the community visited him and gave him the route, which the bus should pass through, each time he would be going out or coming in. Though that arrangement is uncalled for as it bothered on excesses, for the sake of peace my friend abided and the community I believe likes and respects him just as he too does for them.

I have been pleading for the return of Boarding House in our Schools. Those of us who had such privilege think differently. And this is why we still relate as friends till today after many years.

I have spent a weekend holiday in the family house of a Moslem senior, at Idofian, yet I was the General Secretary of the Fellowship of Christian Students (FCS). All these will not have been possible if we had been segregated along religious line in our formative years.

The only possibility that can make such to occur is if when in future, we become politicians when religion wouldn't matter when conspiring to loot the commonwealth.

Beret is a head covering. I never saw it as a Christian dress. Soldiers, Policemen and others in security business wear it. But if this is not acceptable to the Muslims, it is ok by me. My Bible tells me that "---All things work together for good for them that love God---" (Romans 8:28). This incident will be good enough to return us to our tradition. We too have our traditional dresses before the arrival of the two religions. Let us fashion a uniform for the School girls and a head covering, which will be acceptable to both the Moslems and the Christians. I have seen some type of head cover, which both Moslem and Christian women wear, which no one can know whether the wearer is a Christian or a Moslem. Let us adapt one of such. I just do not want us to build in these school girls at such a tender age, a clearly visible faith based, segregation head cover. By the time they enter the University, they will have matured enough to wear what they like.

It is time to pray.

Father in the name of Jesus Christ, I approach you today to return peace to the city, Ilorin, where I have lived as a boy.

There are thousands of people like me who had lived in Ilorin as a boy.

And there are thousands of others whose parents and grandparents have migrated to Ilorin before they were born and they know no other place as their domicile other than Ilorin because it pleases you Father to make Ilorin the capital of Kwara state.

I am a witness to the time when we were not divided by religion, we mixed with ourselves irrespective of our different religion and we had tremendous peace.

Father, I pray that you return us to the previous time when we lived in peace. Let everyone think very deep of the consequences of their action.

There are those powerful, hard liner clerics who talk as if they are the next to God and we have been carried away with their religious zeal and smooth tongue and they are misleading the masses, whipping ember of discord among the two major religions.

They might have some selfish reasons for their doings, particularly financial, so I do not think they can repent but I pray that you turn their wisdom to foolishness.

I pray for your son, who in your wisdom, you have made the Emir of Ilorin.

I thank you Father for the opportunity you gave me to have made it possible for Him to welcome me in his palace some years ago.

He did not see me as Kafir.

I was fascinated and impressed with his simplicity, during the duration I was in his presence with the Baba who led me to him.

He did not make me feel as if I was in the presence of the Emir, with the way he cracked joke with me. I had to be on my guard not to lose my composure that I was in the presence of the number one citizen in the whole of the emirate. I knelt down while talking with him, promptly, he asked me to rise and take my seat. I was impressed.

Father my prayer is that you continue to give Baba, the wisdom to continue to lead the people he is reigning on.

He cannot do it by his wisdom, he needs your wisdom to be fair to all people of different faith in his domain.

You have made him the ruler of everyone, Moslems and Christians alike and even the traditional religionists, so help him to be able to take the right decision, as thousands of people presents to him thousands of advice.

I pray for our Governor too, that you give him all the wisdom he needs to govern the state. Please Father give him a spirit of discernment to be able to distinguish between good, profitable and unprofitable counsel. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Continued From Part 1