Underneath The Hijab
Abubakar Adam Ibrahim's season of crimson blossom's is a book whose theme doesn't conform to northern Nigeria's Muslim conservative reputation. Theme's of sexual immorality, drugs, and corruption is evident in the story. What amazes me and every other person who picks up the book to read is the affair between Hajiya Binta, a retired school teacher and Reza, a notorious weed dealer. This narrative takes a jab at The north's conservative outlook. A devoted Muslim Widow, most likely in her fifties engaging in sexual intercourse with a weed dealer isn't the typical model Muslim behaviour. And is certainly not one of the ways Muslim women are perceived.
Muslim women have been boxed into many stereotypes. Amongst many of them are the stereotype of oppression. True, many Muslim women are oppressed, but this is not the reality for a lot of other Muslim women. Another stereotype is that hijabis are supposedly saints and can do no wrong. This is a harmful stereotype because it doesn't give room to the reality of Muslim women. It doesn't let Muslim women be who they are essentially, Human beings.
The author tackles this oppressed stereotype in his book. Hajiya Binta might not be considered an oppressed Muslim woman as the book starts, but later on, you discover how she was married off to her late husband which was a typical Hausa/ Fulani practice. You can see that a lot of the oppression was not Islamic, but cultural. Her daughters Khadija and Hureira are not oppressed women. Hureira is considered to be a tyrant to her husband, a title given to her possibly because she does not play the role of a submissive wife like she is supposed to. Reza's Mother is another woman who cannot be boxed into the oppressed stereotype. She leaves Reza's Father. A man old enough to be her father to pursue her dreams. These women are strong and determined unlike the oppressed weaklings mainstream media paints Muslim and Northern women to be. To talk about Seasons of Crimson Blossoms without addressing the sexual themes would be to leave out a chunk of the story. The author wanted us to know that beneath the surface all of these characters were still human, desperate for love and attention and not lacking in the normal human urges. Hajiya Binga has never had an orgasm and when the chaotic affair with Reza began. It most certainly got harder for her to leave the newfound ecstasy she found in his arms. This brings us to another stereotype. One used to mock Northern women who wear the hijab, the idea that Muslim women hypocritically wear the Hijab to please or deceive people around them into believing that they are pious is held by a lot of Nigerian Non-Muslims This idea comes from believing that Hijabis are pious and good simply for wearing the Hijab.
The Hijab is worn by Muslim women to obey the instructions of God. It is not an antidote to sin or abuse, if not the Hijab required of Muslim men would not be necessary. In the book. Many times we see Hajiya Binta battling with the guilt of the affair with Reza. Like every normal human would.
Season of Crimson blossoms is a must-read for those looking to see Northern Nigeria and Northern Nigerian Women in a more realistic style devoid of the stereotypes perpetuated by Mainstream Nigerian media.