© Muhammad Haniff Hassan, February 2002
The uproar over Fateha.com has cooled somewhat and will hopefully pass soon. One of the issues that was closely linked with Fateha.com is the use of hijab in schools. This is certainly not the first time that this issue has been brought to the attention of the government or the Muslim community, as it was last brought to the forefront during the issue of compulsory education.
Just as it did then, discussions on hijab has not shown as much progress as the Muslim community would have liked to see. In fact, much to the disappointment of the Muslim community, it died off rather abruptly.
We are confident that every sincere Muslim accepts that hijab is an obligation in Islam and hope that our Muslimah students will be able to fulfill out this obligation without prejudice. Hence legitimising hijab in schools is a noble effort that must continue.
Futurists have predicted that one of many major trends in the 21st Century will be the increase in Islamic consciousness among Muslims. Hence we now hear theories about the Clash of the Civilisations and the Age of Muslim Wars (Newsweek, Special Edition, Dec 2001 – Feb 2002).
Given such a scenario, it is unlikely that the issue of hijab in Singapore will die off. For Muslims, it is an effort that has started and will continue. However, the objective has to be achieved with due consideration of the sensitivities of the non-Muslim community and our national interest.
The setback that the muslim community faces on the hijab issue should not stop us or stifle our creativity in finding a solution. Instead, it should be a fertilizer that will spur future efforts.
It seems appropriate at this juncture to reflect on Rasulullah’s experience in Taif. While trying to share the message of Islam to the community leaders there, he was turned away very harshly. What did he do when his efforts were rejected? He turned to Allah in his distress – dismayed at weakness of his efforts and strategy. Despite his disappointment, he did not stop his efforts at da’wah so much so that Allah granted him an alternative that was better than Taif – Madinah.
This is also how the muslim community should deal with the impasse we seem to be in when it comes to the issue of hijab.
1. We should make the effort to reflect on our da’wah strategies and correct our weaknesses. We should never blame others for our own failure.
2. Allah taala should be our confidant. We should hold firm to Allah’s promise that there is a hikmah in everything that happens.
3. Be assured that those who strive for Allah will succeed. Just as a person who is on the right road will reach his destination eventually, we must be confident that we will reach the end. It is only a question of “when” we will get there.
Coming back to the issue at hand, while we may disagree with the approach of Fateha.com or Zulfikar in this matter, we should not isolate him or deny that he and the group as part of the muslim community. Should we not come out and correct the mistake.
Rasulullah s.a.w has said, “Help you brother who transgresses and is oppressed.” When asked how one can help a person who transgresses, his response was, “to bring him back to the right path.”
On this basis, we come out and correct the mistake.
Let’s accept that we are all not immune to mistakes and even that those who transgress could be among our brothers. However when we are in the wrong we should admit our mistakes, repent and correct ourselves.
It is important that Zulfikar, Fateha.com and the muslim community not to burn bridges but to move on and jointly continue the da’wah works with better strategies for better results.