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Parenting – Raising Muslim Girls in Nigeria

Nigerian Muslim parents have a special kind of relationship with their female child. They protect them more than the males. Raising an Islamic girl child in Nigeria has been studied by scholars. In Islam in Nigeria, the children of Muslim parents are considered Muslims – Muslim childhood is special period in a every Islamic kid’s life.

Isn’t it mind-boggling whenever we hear and read from facts that Africans are the most religious people on earth?

Aren’t we always quizzed on the possible reasons for such high commitment?

In fact, a recent poll again showed that every eight from ten Africans claimed to be religious. That is about 86%!

muslim girl child
Muslim girl fetching water – © Adeosun Olamide/flickr

More astonishing is the predominance of Islam in the continent. WIN/Gallup recently conducted an international survey on the religious level of people around the world. The pollsters discovered that almost one-third of the world’s Muslims reside in Africa with the religion predominant in North Africa, West Africa, the Horn and Sahel.

Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria, Sudan and Morocco count the most number of Muslims on the continent.

While researching on how such high numbers were credited to Nigerians, it was found that 86% of the younger people under age 34 tend to be more religious compared to 60% in the other age groups. These statistics and findings could only but point us to a practice peculiar to these group of people – the highly upheld heritage of child upbringing in Islamic African homes.

The traditions of child upbringing by the Muslim parents are well passed from generations to generations and hence contributes greatly to the continually increasing number of Muslims from this part of the continent.

As popularly said, “Women are the backbone of the family and the bedrock of a nation”. It would be without doubt to say that this great feat of highly upheld heritage was continually achievable through a good upbringing of the female Muslim children.

These well brought up female children help pass the traditions from one generation to another when they assume the role of a mother in their homes.

This typical child upbringing in an Islamic home – an African home especially are most times considered oppressive on the female child. They are seen as being a way of depriving them of their human rights. It is being described as entrapping them within an alcove which doesn’t afford them much freedom.

But it was said in the holy Quran – a book guiding the Muslims on their ways of life that:

“O ye who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a fire whose fuel is men and stones.” (Q66:6).

A saying of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also goes that:

“Both parents would be held accountable by Allah for the doings of their children”

These sacred sayings in the Holy Quran and that of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) coupled with the high level of belief in most Nigerian homes compel parents to pay cognizance to the way they bring up their wards.

It makes them guide and monitor their children most especially the females to behave and act according to the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH) and the sayings in the Quran.

One of the old and mostly abode Heritage of Islamic girl child upbringing is the modesty in the way of dressing. This act tops the rank among many other Islamic ways of child upbringing.

A Muslim girl child is first identified by her mode of dressing. The covering of the head using different styles of clothing, the length and the body fitting of the dress amongst others are ways to differentiate a well brought up Islamic girl child from any other girl outside there.

In recent times, civilization and exposure to different level of fashion have affected greatly the style of dressing of female Muslims. However, they can still be identified by their trademark head cover – Hijab, loose and long gowns and level of composure.

raising muslim girls
Muslim girls in Nigeria – © Anadolu Agency

How does the Muslim girl relate to the opposite gender?

Another well maintained heritage of an Islamic girl child upbringing is in their ways of relating with the opposite gender. The Islamic way of relating forbade physical contact of a female to a male who isn’t a mahram – a family member or relation.

The Muslim counterparts are expected to maintain the highest level of distance when communicating with each other. The commonest being a rejection of handshake from the opposite sex by a female Muslim.

This practice supports that a female must not have a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship with any man. They are available to each other only when an Islamic wedding – Nikkah is completed for both parties. They are not to court or have any kind of physical contact prior to the legal or Islamic marriage approval.

In many institutions and places around the world, female Muslims are afforded a lot of respect and recognition. They are usually addressed with respect, gently related to and they command a special level of attention.

All these are apportioned to them for their way of appearance, composure and high self-esteem.

Nigerian Muslim parents maintain a special kind of relationship with their female child. They tend to protect them more than the male children. They try to make them understand their importance, position and impact in the society.

These parents monitor their growth and lecture them on matters having to do with their relationship with the opposite sex. They restrict them to certain set of people whom they could meet or go out with. They are not afforded total freedom to relate with anyone as a male child could.

These traditions are sacredly protected and recognized in the society. They remained so well practiced in most Islamic homes in Nigeria and has been a major reason for why and how the heritage is integrated in each succeeding generation.

This answers the big question of why Africans most especially the West Africans are considered the most religious people on earth.


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