VEILING IS NOT FAILING [A true life feature stories of Muslimah’s in face veil]

Story Two

Our feature guest for today is Alhaja Rafiah Idowu Kunle Sanni. She is the principal of Isabatudeen girls grammar school, a government owned school in Orita-Bashorun Ibadan.

Alhaja Kunle Sanni was born into Labaika family of Ilorin on November 11 1960. She was born in Ikare where her parents were trading.

She started primary education at the age of 9 in 1969. She attended African Church primary school Oshogbo. In 1972, her family relocated to Ilorin where she continued her primary education. She finished primary education in June 1974 in Adeta NEA primary school Ilorin.

In September 1974, she gained admission into Saint Clare’s Anglican girls grammar school Offa for her secondary school education. During her days in school, she was very active in the school activities. She participated in sport, she was the leader of the cultural group and in her final year in 1978-1979, she was made the president of Ilorin students and equally the president of MSSN of her school.

She wrote her WAEC in June 1979 and she passed in flying colours.

That same year in September 1979, she gained admission into Kwara State College of technology school of mines to study Metalogy. During her days in higher institution, she was an active member of MSSN. Before her final year, she was made the treasurer of the school MSS. Aside being the treasurer, she participated in all activities of the body in her school branch and state level which made the outgoing executive, led by Brother Isiaq Olanrewaju Oloyede, [Now professor, Isiaq Oloyede, Jamb registrar] to elect her unopposed as the first Amirah of the Kwara State Area Unit.

Her first industrial training was done at Nigeria Railway corporation at Ebute Metta Lagos while her second industrial training was done at Road Foundary Ilupeju Lagos.

When the school of mines was relocated to Ajaokuta steel complex Okene, she was the one in charge of that part of Kwara State which is now Kogi State as the state Amirah of Mssn.

She graduated as the best student with Upper credit [B+]. She was the only female in her sect and she enjoyed the privilege of living in a secluded complex provided for her by the school authority.

When she graduated in 1983, she was posted to Oyo State for her National Youth Service Corp, NYSC. She became one of the strong members of MCAN. During her NYSC, she got married to Alhaji Isiaq Kunle Sanni, the coordinator of NACOMYO, on the 12th of November 1983.

The couple are blessed with seven children and lately Four grand children. She has three co-wives but she’s the first.

Alhaja Kunle Sanni is a founding member of Federation Of Muslim Women Association Of Nigeria, FOMWAN. FOMWAN is a non governmental organization which caters for the affairs of Muslim Women and children throughout the federation. Her branch in Ibadan has two orphanages that caters for motherless and abandoned babies. Alhaja Sanni has held several positions both at the State and National level of FOMWAN.

She got into civil service in 1985 and she started with Ibadan Municipal Government School as a classroom teacher. She taught physics and chemistry and at times Mathematics. She spent two years before she was transferred to Community grammar school Mokola Ibadan where she spent 11 years.

From Community Grammar School, she was transferred to Abadina College inside the University of Ibadan where she spent only one session.

She got promoted afterwards and was elevated to the position of the vice-Principal and was transferred to Ojoo high school where she spent five years, before being promoted and elevated to the position of a principal in June 2004 to Isabatudeen Girls grammar school 11 as a pioneer principal.

Alhaja Kunle Sanni spent ten years as a pioneer principal in Isabatudeen Girls Grammar school 11 before she was transferred to Isabatudeen Girls Grammar school 1 [Isabatudeen girls grammar school has school 1 and school 11] in September 2014 where she is till today.

The face veil for Alhaja Kunle Sanni came at a later time in her marriage [2013]. Her husband was convinced about the face veil and as a man who wished jannah for his wives, he urged them to use it and waited patiently for them to be convinced about it.

Although Alhaja Sanni had always loved the face veil while still a child but she took her time before observing it when her husband introduced it to his family. She made sure she was adequately convinced and informed about it before using it. As elderly as she is, she doesn’t unveil in front of non mahram as some elderly women in veil do because she is greatly convinced and well informed about it.

According to Alhaja Sanni, the first time she wore the Niqab to school, her staffs and students were crying. The whole school couldn’t do anything throughout that day. The belief of everyone was that the Niqab would hinder her activities and she might later resign and be a stay at home wife.

They thought she’d adopted the cloth of backwardness and laziness. They thought she’ll not be able to be as active as she’d always been in face veil. They thought the veil would be a hindrance to her performance as a diligent and exquisite school principal that she’d always been. They cried because they were afraid that their school would be backward now that the principal has adopted the purdah. But Alhaja Sanni disappointed them all.

She became more active, diligent, bold, vocal, industrious, hardworking, indefatigable, earnest, energetic, dynamic and bouncy to mention a few. She doesn’t go late to meetings and she ensures she always participate and let out her voice [contribution]. She became super duper progressive with lots of achievements to her credit.

The staffs and students and the board of management of Public schools in Oyo State who were earlier scared that her performance would suffer due to her new found way of dressing were later impressed and their hearts calmed and convinced that the Niqab is not an hindrance to achieving the best. Neither is it an excuse for laxity and laziness. It is a cloth of piety which makes the wearer more focused and visionary so as to achieve the best. The staffs as well as the students are proud of her as their successful principal who had piloted the vehicle of the school to a greater height.

Alhaja Sanni has Post-graduate diploma in Education. She also has so many certificates on leadership in US, Saudi Arabia, and so on. On invitation, she attends seminars and workshop to train upcoming teachers.

Alhaja sanni has memorized portion of the Quran through the effort of her late mum. And she doesn’t toy with her Ibadah. She made use of post-natal and menstruation freedom to read a lot and get herself equipped about her religion.

Alhaja Sanni is a successful mother and amongst her children are lawyer, doctor, lecturer and two udhtaz who studied in Sudan.

Alhaja’s advice for Muslimahs in general is to be visionary. A Muslim should plan and pray at all times and never be idle. Idleness breeds a lot of evil and being engaged with things of profitable importance is essential.

She also advised Muslimahs to be focused and always work hard to achieve a set goal. Engage in lots of Ibadah and always have trust in Allah and not their effort. She advised Muslimahs to be deligent and never allow Ijab or Niqab be a setback for them. The sky should be set as limit and every dreams should be given a shot. There is never a harm in trying and failure shouldn’t be the end of trying.


I appreciate Alhaja Sanni for granting me audience out of her busy schedule. May Allah in his infinite mercy reward you abundantly. May your days be long in good health and may you live long enough to reap the fruit of your labour on your children and other kids you’ve invested on. May your effort on the deen, school of work and home front never go unnoticed by Allah. Keep winning ma! Keep basking in greatness.

Thank you for showing us that the Niqab is neither a sign of backwardness, nor ignorance nor mental incompetence but Allah’s obligations. You inspire me and I’m sure the readers are inspired as well. Jazakillah Khairan.

Lateefah Adewunmi Jumah LAJ


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