Almost ten years ago, while I was busy checking out my shopping at Macy’s, my daughter who was 3 at that time, hid behind a pillar. As I turned around and saw that she was missing by my side, I frantically started calling out her name. The store clerk joined me when she sensed my distress. It turned out that my mischievous little one was playing hide-and-seek. When I finally spotted her, I hugged her tight for a long time and almost cried.
I had lost sight of my daughter for just a few seconds, but the incident unnerved me. As a mother of two girls, I cannot even verbalize the anguish and pain of the mothers of the Nigerian girls who have been missing for more than a month now. As a woman, a mother and a Muslim, my heart aches at this grave atrocity. How can this horrible and massive abduction be justified in the name of Islam?
Boko Haram loosely translates into ‘Western education is sin'. This organization uses the word ‘Haram’ (sin) in its name. It is a grave anomaly. The mere fact that an organization connotes a negative term to define its existence, speaks volumes about its true motives. The fact that they employ the name of Islam demonstrates their ignorance. They are not cognizant of the basic values of the faith, which is inclusive and grants abundant permissions to everyone including women.
Boko Haram is not a religious organization, it is a hate group. It is guilty of grave sins. The abduction of innocent girls in the middle of the night has taken its atrocities to a new level. This gruesome act is a slap on the face of humanity.
Boko Haram does not represent Islam. Rather, it is the antithesis and an expression of the worst form of barbarism that is reminiscent of sixth century Arabia where women were considered mere chattel and baby girls the victims of infanticide.
In the earliest years of Islam and ever since, women and other disenfranchised sections of the society find solace in the egalitarian spirit of Islam as it safeguards their fundamental human rights. A girl’s right to education and emancipation are guaranteed.
The world must not judge Islam through the lens of Boko Haram. This radical organization shares a parallel with the very same forces that Islam initially set out to counter. Islam’s narrative is peace and harmony and that remains unattainable in a society where women are denied basic rights and treated as less equal or held hostage.
How can an organization deserve credence and find justification in Islamic jurisprudence, if it publicly proclaims that the innocent girls who have been kidnapped will be used as slaves when Quran clearly forbids the detaining or enslaving of women against their will (4:20)
Critics of Islam are quick to jump to hasty conclusions in an effort to demean Prophet Muhammad and accuse him of polygamy. Many of his later wives were those who had been offered to him as slaves, as booty of war. However, he elevated their status and offered them protection and marriage to which they willingly consented. Prophet Muhammad married Saffiya- a Jewess and Mariya – a Coptic slave, even though he was not obliged to.
The fundamental objective of Boko Haram is a crusade against Western education. It aspirations are medieval and it represents a threat to enlightenment. It must be dealt with an iron hand and curbed. It poses a grave danger to humanity. The world must act immediately to #BringBackOurGirls.
This incident has touched a core with all families across the world. Daughters are precious and are a treasure. They are the future leaders of the world. A firm resolve to educate our daughters is mandatory to counter the hate of Boko Haram. All girls in the world deserve the right to freedom and education.
Every day, as I look at my two beautiful daughters, I thank God for the immense blessing and joy that they bring to my life. I earnestly pray that the bundles of joys are soon reunited with their Nigerian moms. I hope the earnest call, the plea to #BringBackOurGirls reverberates across the world and doesn’t subside till our innocent daughters are freed.