So much has been said and written about the deportation of some Nigeria female pilgrims from Saudi Arabia. While we can easily excuse non-Muslims for their lack of knowledge of the Islamic faith, rules and ethics, same cannot be done to Muslims who have allowed their unfounded national-pride and emotions becloud their common judgment.
The most shocking of comments was that of the renowned democracy activist Shehu Sani on his Facebook wall. He said:
Saudi detaining Nigerians. Israel deporting Black Africans. Vatican Italy shoving Nigerians back home. The simple message here is “oh yea Negro, go back to thy home, where thy God made thee and where thee belong”
Owing to the personality involved, this comment have been shared repeatedly all over Facebook, twitted and retwitter on twitter by gullible Muslims who do not grasp the import of the comment and Atheists who felt their point has been made.
Shehu Sani insinuated, with his comment, that the Nigeria female pilgrims detained and subsequently deported where so treated because of the colour of their skin. This was clearly and obviously not the case and this learned gentle man should have known better. In contrast to Shehu Sani assumptions, I read this morning an article written by Rinsola Abiola on the hajj deportation crisis and I could not help but wonder how correct this young blogger is and how wrong the learned and renowned Shehu Sani was.
It is a tragic reality today that most of these “Activists” that goes by the title “Muslim”, are in crisis of balancing their Islamic beliefs and their nationalistic activism. They fail to realise that as long as Islam is concern, there is just a thin line between racism, tribalism and nationalism. Blind allegiance to race or nationhood has no place in Islam. Allah clearly tells us in the Qur’an that He created us into nations and tribes so we may know ourselves. Nationalism, like tribalism and racism is not a cause to be championed.
Today, most so these “Activists” exist outside their communities, they stand alone because they do not represent Muslims and the non-Muslims are not particularly fond of them for obvious reasons.
Haven said that; allow me to reproduce the very well-articulated article by Rinsola Abiola:
The Prophet (SAW) said: “A woman should absolutely not travel unless she has a mahram with her.” A man stood up and said, “O Messenger of Allaah, I have enlisted in such-and-such a military campaign, and my wife has set out for Hajj.” He said, “Go and do Hajj with your wife” (al-Bukhaari, al-Fath, 3006).
Below is an excerpt from the website of the Saudi embassy;
- The Mahram should write his complete information on the application forms of his spouse and children or any relative with whom he is traveling. He should also provide copies of marriage or birth certificates; if these documents were issued outside the US, he should then provide copies translated and notarized by a certified translation office.
- All women are required to travel for Hajj with a Mahram. Proof of kinship must be submitted with the application form. Women over the age of forty-five (45) may travel without a Mahram with an organized group, They must, however submits a no objection letter from her husband, son or brother authorizing her to travel for Hajj with the named group. This letter should be notarized.”
I’m fully aware of how much disdain the green passport attracts in airports all over the world; but I can’t help but add that our penchant for bending – and often disregarding – the law is what we should blame for this one. By ‘this one’, I mean the deportation of female pilgrims from Saudi Arabia.
If the Prophet (SAW) could ask a man to accompany his wife instead of taking part in Jihad, who then are we to attempt to disregard this rule?
Sharia is Sharia; the law is the law. Muslim women are not to travel without mahrams (male relatives; father, brother, husband, paternal uncle, maternal uncle, father in law, mother’s husband or brother through radaa’ah..) who will guard, guide, protect, and care for them. I’ve come across a lot of feminist comments and would also like to ask those to kindly learn about Islam and what the requirements are, and of course the reasons for arriving at those requirements, and to refrain from making comments until they do. It’s not an ‘oppression’ technique; if anything, it just goes to show that women should be valued and not subjected to stress. Before aircrafts were made, the journey to Mecca was a long and stressful one indeed, during which anything could happen as many dangers were confronted on the way.
My opinion might not be particularly popular, but I still think our ‘system’ is to be blamed. The agents give women fake travelling companions in order to secure visas; we are used to getting things through crooked means, and we expect everybody else to put up with it. I’m still yet to imagine why anyone would intend to go on Hajj – pilgrimage for the sake of Allah, so that you may return purified and without sin – and still lay a dishonest ‘foundation’!
The lesson here isn’t that Nigerians are being victimized, the lesson is that until we stop being so dishonest and learn to abide by the law, we will continue to suffer humiliation at the hands of other peoples! Deporting them was a terrible thing to do, but perhaps if we had obeyed the laws as we ought to, it would not have happened.
Our women did not deserve to be caged like animals and treated like criminals, but I still do not blame anyone or anything apart from our system. National embarrassment has become an everyday thing – from South Africa (whose citizens had virtually no rights until very recently, whose representative had his plane barred from landing by a past Head of State), to Ghana (whose citizens fried puff-puff and mended shoes on our streets), Malaysia…the list is endless. If we are in this position today, it’s because we allowed it.
The reason for the persistent embarrassment cannot be ‘they are jealous of Nigeria’. If it’s happening at such a high frequency, perhaps it’s time to ask ‘what are Nigerians doing wrong?’ Ours is not the only African country in the world, or is it?
Many of us conduct ourselves in ways that would make even the most patient people lose their temper. This is bad for our image, but then, what exactly is left of that image?
Nigerians are sent back home from the UK in cargo planes! Go to Italy and you’ll find our women on the streets, go to the prisons in the UK, US, China, Malaysia, India, Brazil, and you’ll find a large chunk of ‘Nigerians in Diaspora’ therein. Na only we?
It’s true that many of us are doing remarkably well on university campuses and in science laboratories, and even in Hollywood and on the political field, but for every model Nigerian, there are at least two criminals. Something needs to be done, and something needs to be done fast.
Asking the Federal Government to deport their representatives here is akin to saying ‘Nigerians must not be cautioned against doing something wrong’. We need to respect other peoples’ laws; it’s their country after all.
I deeply resent the insinuations some people are making about the character of those women, and this is because I know that there are bad eggs, but Nigerian women are nowhere near as terrible as people make them out to be.
There’s a need to educate ourselves, and indeed others, on the requirements for Hajj properly. Now is not the time to huff and puff and threaten to blow the house down. It’s sad, but the deed is done.
Claiming that we were not informed of the requirement is an admission of negligence at best. Every Muslim should know this.
Boycotting Hajj will do none of us any good; we are not going on pilgrimage to please anyone, we are doing it for the sake of Allah. We should endeavor to do it right. Rinsola Abiola