In late 2017 the internet was filled with news of a Nigerian law school graduate who was denied access to the venue of the call to the bar ceremony after she insisted on wearing a hijab during the ceremony.
Firdausa Amasa was later called to the Nigerian Bar in 2018 with support from Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and Muslim Rights Concern.
Her decision to wear a hijab during the ceremony changed the law by the Nigerian Law school and Body of benchers, therefore, the incident paved way for Muslim women to be called to bar with their hijab.
Document women talked to Firdaus about this revolutionary moment in history and what it meant to her.
Hello Firdausa, could you tell us about yourself?
I am Firdausa Amasa, a young Muslim Legal Practitioner. I am also currently a postgraduate researcher at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM).
Do you have a very religious upbringing?
Yes, Alhamdulillah I was raised by conscious Muslims. All my pre-university schooling were in Muslim schools. I also attended ile-kewu (Islamiyyah) where I learned how to recite the Quran and other basics of Islam.
What was law school like?
I attended Abuja campus law school. We faced the challenge of using the hijab at dinners, particularly the first dinner. Alhamdulillah, I was able to use it for the three dinners.
How would you describe studying law and practising law as a Muslim woman?
Studying law is good. It makes you versatile. I believe the training in law school will make anyone smarter. Practising law can be quite challenging for Muslim women just as any other career. But, I believe in this present age, and by Allah’s help, one can succeed both at home and career-wise provided there is the right support and one is ready to make a lot of sacrifices.
On the day of your call to bar ceremony, what prompted the decision not to take off your hijab?
I believe it’s conviction and more importantly, Allah’s guidance. I always say I was used as an instrument for that positive change and I will forever be grateful. Alhamdulillah.
Were you scared of the consequences of your refusal?
The consequence? Of course, every aspirant to the bar who went through rigorous learning in law school would always wish to be called to the Nigerian bar. I won’t say I was scared, I was only concerned about what would be the aftermath for those to come if I were never called to bar with my hijab. Alhamdulillah, it was a win.
Was there a moment when you regretted your actions that day?
I never regretted it.
Looking back did you expect this much impact from this act?
For us to act, success or impact is determined by the All-knowing. It wasn’t something I had a solid plan for. So, there were no major expectations. But, it feels good to see Muslim sisters called to the Nigerian bar after me without any worries about hijab.
My immediate younger sister joined the train at the last call to bar on July 28. You can’t imagine the joy. All I can say is Alhamdulillah.