It was seven days since Kafayah first set eyes on her pretty little angel and incidentally, it was the naming day. I woke up unprepared. The previous day had left me indecisive about what to wear so I decided to sleep over it. As I lay on my velvet mattress feeling so lazy, my eyes did a quick rummage around the room. Then, I finally got an idea as my sight became glued to the fine half tan khimar I had hung on the wardrobe two nights before. The Khimar was never part of my dressing, but I decided to try one when its sight on pretty sisters on campus became inspiring. The Naming was just a perfect occasion to wear it.

Stepping out of my room into the living room, I was dressed in a red maxi gown which was complemented by a red underscarf and the long tan Khimar. I had shiny gold bangles on both wrists and a tiny gold ring which I wore on my index finger. I gently got my atmosphere shoes down the shoe rack and my little red purse, from the center table. My aunt’s eyes were all over me. I certainly knew that look but pretended, raising my brows as if to ask her what was wrong with my dressing. Her simple reply was, “O fine, O jo awon iyawo hausa olowo yen”, (meaning I looked as gorgeous as a wealthy Hausa man’s wife). I beamed with pleasure as her remark brought out the little ‘compliment lover’ girl in me. Since it was my tradition to bid the kids goodbye by kissing them before leaving the house, it wasn’t an exception that day and as I planted the last one on my little niece’s cheeks, I made for the streets.

I didn’t know the direction of the venue as I wasn’t so conversant with the ins and outs of Ilorin. So, I had to go join my friends at the University Park to collectively get a cab. They all commented about how elegant I looked except for one who only commented on the hump my hair had made under the hijab. She changed my mood for bad immediately as I tried to ignore her silly comment. But she continued, “Wardah, I’m not saying the khimar is not fine. But it’s not supposed to be for fashion”

“Who says it’s for fashion? Please don’t annoy me this morning”. I replied angrily

“It’s very obvious. You’re always wearing this camel hump on your head. Don’t you know that it draws attention?”

“Why won’t you just be quiet? Didn’t anyone see this hump before I started wearing the hijab? This is my favourite hairstyle and the hijab won’t take it away from me. Perhaps, “actions shall be judged according to intention”. I don’t intend to draw any attention to myself.”

“Wallahi! I know it’s not your intention to draw attention to yourself. But sometimes, good or even neutral intention engenders bad blood.”

“Leave me alone! What is not expressly prohibited is permitted. You don’t even have any authority for what you are saying.”

“Of course I do! The Prophet (SAW) said that there are two types of  people of Hell that He had not seen: people with whips like the tails of oxen, with which they beat the people, and women who are dressed yet still appear naked, who are inclined to evil and make their husbands incline towards it also. Their heads are like the humps of camels, leaning to one side. They will not enter Paradise, or even smell its scent, although its scent can be discerned from such-and-such a distance.”

“Oh! Oh! Women who are dressed but appear naked and are inclined towards evil, whose heads are like the humps of camel leaning to one side? You think I fit into this description? Do you even know what that camel hump means? If I were an Arab woman with a very lengthy hair, how would you have expected me to pack my hair?”

“But you are not an Arab woman and you have alternatives…….”

“Cut the crap and end the whole thing. It’s very annoying. If your hair were as long as mine, we would be in the same shoes.”

That was it. That was the brickbat that conceived the prevailing silence in the cab. The rest of the girls who were initially on my side were now obviously annoyed with me. I felt bad for letting my anger take over me to that extent. Even when they brought up a fresh topic, I couldn’t comfortably contribute to it. I had inadvertently hurt my dear friend by indirectly telling her that she was envious of me. I tactically brought out my phone, plugged in the earpiece and glued it to my ears, allowing myself to be transported to an atmosphere of melodious Qur’an recitation. I ended up being on my own till the cab made a sudden halt at the venue.

Seven months later, the whole campaign about putting an end to the wearing of camel hump was all over the air across countries. I hardly logged on to any gender specific Islamic website without being welcomed by this heartbreaking campaign. I tried as much as possible to find a single valid argument against this campaign, but all efforts proved unproductive. The question I then asked my frustrated self was “What’s this fuss about camel hump?” I simply couldn’t get an answer to it. Much as it seemed difficult for me to stop, the inner voice in me kept reminding me that I can sacrifice anything for the sake of Allah. But then, how was I sure that this is what Allah wants? The answer I got from that voice is “Leave what is in doubt. This is an antidote from the Prophet (SAW).” So I could do nothing but heave a choice-less sigh of defeat as I told myself hands-off.

I finally resolved to remove the camel hump by packing my hair at the back and no more at the centre. Having experimented this in front of my long wall mirror, using different ‘pashminas’ and veils, I have come to realize that even if it doesn’t look as fine as it would have, it’s not such a bad idea. Bearing in mind that doing this is totally for the sake of Allah alone and nobody else it will be far more fulfilling and rewarding than all the compliments I would be getting from people for looking pretty in the Hijab. I am aware of the fact that this can’t happen without a firm resolution as the Wardah in me I know may still likely get tempted along the line, especially when it comes to sacrificing what I am totally in love with. But when I say I am up to the task, not just physically but also in every possible channel leading to my mind and soul, I mean it and Insha’Allah, I will achieve it. In the end, I no longer see it as a defeat on the part of the campaigners. Rather, I see myself as a victor, because this is not just about winning but about Jihad. Yes! It’s called Jihad of Nafs.

Just yesterday I walked into the lecture room in a long black robe and a black veil wrapped around my head. As I took a seat in the fore front, I got a tap from the back. It was Mazeedah (not real name), the one I had argued with in the cab seven months before. Out of her unhidden excitement came the words “YOU LOOK ISLAMICALLY PRETTY TODAY”. I didn’t need a soothsayer to tell me that her excitement was borne out of the absence of the camel hump under my hijab. If this new choice of mine could put a broad smile on the face of my pretty sister and friend, then in the end, it was worth the pain.



Wardah Abbas is a Law student at the Nigerian Law School. She is a great adherent of Islam, a modest fashionista, an aficionado of the natural environment, a passionate Muslimah and writer who believes in intellectualism as a prerequisite for change. You can read more of her writings on             

                                                                                                            Wardah Abbas

                                                                              20th Rajab 1434 / 30th May 2013


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