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A True Life Feature Stories Of Muslimahs In Face Veil

Note – This interview was conducted in November 2019!

Our feature guest for today is the first ever Niqabi to bag a PhD in the history of the University of Ibadan and probably in the whole of Nigeria (not sure) This is to celebrate her as she’s been conferred with a PhD today, 18th day of November 2019.

Her name is OYAREMI Motunrayo Kafilat (Bakare). She was born and bred in Lagos State. She is from Ifako Ijaye, Lagos. Her father is late Alhaji Uzamat Adekunle Alani Bakare while her mother is Alhaja Rizqoh Arike Bakare.

She spent her early life with her late grandmother, Alhaja Khalilat Omolola Lawal who died while she was rounding up her PhD programme. Her grandmother was the mother she grew up to know while she was very young.

She had her primary education at African Church Primary School, Ifako Ijaye, Lagos, while she had her secondary education at Lagos African Church Grammar School, Ifako Ijaye, Lagos. She belonged to the Press Club and Drama Society in her primary and secondary schools. She was a very active member of the two societies.

Though she was placed in the science department in senior secondary school, she loved acting and casting news. She never wanted to be a science student but she was placed in science class because of her academic performance and everyone believed she would excel in the department. However, she was never fulfilled. She only had a passion for the Arts. Though she was among the best students in the department, she was never satisfied. She wanted more.

She wanted to be the best, she wanted to go for her passion. In her second year in senior secondary, she changed to Arts but her father was highly disappointed and sad. She went back to make him happy but she was sad. She continued to assist her friends in Arts and Commercial classes to do their assignments and she was extremely happy doing this.

Her father was confused, he wanted to know where she actually belonged. Eventually, she took a bold step in SSS 3 and walked up to the Vice Principal academics that she preferred Arts class and that is all she wanted. He was baffled, he couldn’t understand why she wanted to change when the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE) was just around the corner. She pleaded with her father, sent emissaries to him, promised him she would never bring the family name into disrepute if given the opportunity to pursue her dream of studying Theatre Arts and later becoming an actress. Her father was flabbergasted, he couldn’t comprehend why she would prefer Theatre Arts to every other course. He humorously offered to take her to Baba Sala (the late veteran comedian) to learn acting from him instead of wasting four years to get the certificate.

After much persuasion he allowed her. She sat for JAMB and chose Theatre Arts. In the year 2000 she was offered admission to study Theatre Arts and her name was number four on the merit list. That day, she was very sure it was one of her father’s happiest days. He was very happy that one of his daughters would be studying at the Premier University, the prestigious University of Ibadan. He took her by the hand and handed her over to Prof Abdul Afeez Ayinde Oladosu of the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies who is a nephew of his boss and friend, Alhaji Popoola of Ifako Ijaye. It rained cats and dogs on this particular day but both father and daughter never felt the rain because of their happy states of mind.

Immediately they got home, her father gave her sister, Mrs Taiwo Kafayat Arulogun, some money to keep for her registration whenever it starts. But Alas, man proposes God disposes. We plan and Allah plans, Allah is the best of planners. Her father took ill the following week and died. She couldn’t go for her registration until after his Fidau Prayer, eight days after. The family members contributed money for her registration because the money set aside for registration has been spent on his sickness.

They later went for the registration (herself and her sister) and they were asked why they were just coming. Her sister narrated what happened and fortunately, that was the last day of registration. They got to UI around 2:00 p.m and the registration would end by 4:00 p.m. She was able to beat the deadline and Alhamdulillah, she became an undergraduate of UI.

The journey in the Department of Theatre Arts began with her sister’s advice of becoming a triangular student; Room- Class- Library and back to the room. Her sister enlightened her on the journey to getting a first class and that the journey starts in hundred level. She became a Federal Government Scholar in 100 level and was one throughout her undergraduate. Worthy of mention is also that she won the Mirinda Excellence Award for the best Arts student in her department in SSS 3 first term when she changed to the department.

She later graduated as the best graduating student in the Department of Theatre Arts in 2005. She specialised in Educational Drama and Playwriting. While at the Department of Theatre Arts she realised she loved working with children, teaching them with drama and other forms of arts.

She then proceeded for a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) in 2007 at the Faculty of Education, Department of Teacher Education, University of Ibadan. She taught in some schools briefly before going in for Masters in Early Childhood Education in 2010. While doing the Master’s programme, things were so rough, her family was in a financial mess and there were days she would not have transport fare to UI and she would join a colleague to school, with the belief that she will definitely not sleep in UI, she would get home.

She was eventually stopped from attending classes because she couldn’t pay her school fees. Ruqoyyah Olayinka Popoola-Isiotan, a friend indeed, later came to her rescue and gave her money to pay half of the tuition fees. She did and she went back to school. She later paid the remaining school fees and school activities continued.

Immediately after her Master’s programme, she started a school, Milestone School, Ibadan and then participated in the YouWin programme and won. She used the grant to build her school and bought a school bus.

She proceeded for her PhD programme in 2013/14 and finished in 2018/2019. She had a PhD in Early Childhood Education/Educational Evaluation from the University of Ibadan.

She started using the Hijab in her first year in the university. This was before she got married. She actually got married in her final year. She started using the face Veil in 2007 while she was pregnant with her second child. She encountered several challenges after using the veil. Many people couldn’t comprehend why she had to use the veil. She was still doing PGDE and the first time she used the veil to class, she was embarrassed by a lecturer, who later succumbed.

Second year into her PhD, she was asked to stop veiling to classes. But Alhamdulilah, the University authority, kicked against this. The University pointed out that veiled students were to be identified by female staff during examinations. Oftentimes, people find it strange and absurd that an “eleha” is doing PhD. Some will even ask her what she intends to do with a PhD? ‘Can you get a lecturing job like this? ‘Who will employ you? These were very few of the questions people asked her while doing the programme.

She is married to Alhaji Abiodun Sulaiman Oyaremi. Allah blessed them with five children: Aisha, Maryam, Abdullah, Abdur-Rahman and Khadijah. Raising the children while studying is not an easy task but she has to cope with it. Alhamdulilah, her husband comes around and they try their best to bring up their children in accordance with the Islamic creed.

Juggling academics and career with family life for her has not been easy at all, it’s an herculean task. However, she tried to ensure that one doesn’t affect the other. By being able to differentiate the primary assignment from the secondary. Her family remains her primary assignment while academics and career remain secondary. With Allah’s rahma, perseverance and prayers, she juggles amongst the different aspects of her life. Her mum has always been her ‘unpaid nanny’ who comes around whenever she needs to be around; when she gives birth, during examinations and field work. She had her children at some very cogent points in her life but she’s been able to scale through thick and thin.

The seed for the quest for knowledge was planted in her by her father whose desire was that the least of his children’s academic achievement will be a Masters degree. Other factors that aided her ride from first degree to PhD are determination, perseverance, patience, prayers, love for research and die-hard spirit among others.

As a Niqabi, what motivated her to continue climbing the ladder till this stage are simply determination and Allah’s rahma. Though the general believe is that ‘elehas’ are meant to sit at home, she is of the opinion that though they must not go out like the disbelieving women, however they have their roles to play in the society while observing the dictates of Allah and His Prophet; Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him). Women have multiple roles to play in society and they can only do this excellently if they are educated both in the Islamic and Western ways. What you don’t have, you can’t give!

What also kept her going is her resolution never to give up and her childhood dream of becoming a professor coupled with some people’s “gentle pushes”, the fact that she doesn’t want to disappoint herself and those that strongly believe that she’s a “superwoman” is a motivation.

Being a PhD student is a “trial” on its own. The acronym stands for different factors that will aid your success in the programme. P: Prayers, Perseverance, Patience. H: Humility. D: Determination, Dedication, Diligence. You must possess these virtues among others to succeed. You can’t do it alone, your spouse must support you, you need family support and you must be personally ready to go against all odds.

Her experience as a PhD student is a “stressful-sweet” one. Most of her lecturers believed in her. They supported her, they gave her wings to fly and they pulled her along the lonely path to success. She enjoyed her course of study; Early Childhood Education/Educational Evaluation. The only aspect she found difficult is Statistics, but with determination, she passed the two Statistics courses. It got to a point her children kept asking if Statistics is only the course they were doing.

It took her six sessions to complete her PhD program. Her strengths as earlier stated are Allah’s rahma and her resolution to succeed against all odds.

She is a student of Mahadul Arabiyy (Arabic Institute of Nigeria). But she had to take a leave to complete her PhD and then go back to complete her Arabic classes in Class Eight. She also did a Tajweed programme at Thaqafi (Arabic School Civilization) Agbowo, Ibadan. Her daily routine starts mostly with mid-night prayer (Tahajjud), Salatul Duha, reading from the Quran, going to UI, and going to her school; Milestone School, Ibadan.

She has memorised some portions of the Quran and some hadith. Alhamdulillah

She also has a Madrasah that the pupils in her school attend daily after the Western Education. At least any pupil that passes through her school must memorise two juzuhs and a good number of hadith.

No matter where the whirlwind of life pushes you, Allah will always bring forth a servant of his to be instrumental to the achievement of what He has decreed for you. Prof. Abdul Qoniyy Raji is God-sent to her. He gave her the money that she used to obtain her PhD form. He became the father that she lost at the inception of her first degree. He strongly believes she can achieve whatever she puts her heart into. He is her cheerleader. His support of her academic attainment is second to none. She urged sisters and brothers alike to ensure they marry someone that shares their dream because that’s a step in dream achievement. Someone that will walk and work the path to success with you. She appreciates her husband who gave all the support she needed for today to be a reality. If he had stopped her at one point, today might remain a dream. She also appreciates her children who had to cope with her absence from home at times due to the demand of the programme, her prayer for them is to attain goodness in the two worlds. Her heartfelt gratitude also goes to her mom for being her “unpaid nanny”, And to her siblings, she loves them all. To the management, staff and pupils of Milestone School, Ibadan, she prays this achievement be a source of better beginning for them all. To all her teachers both Islamic and Western, she thanked them for watering the seed. To her supervisor, Prof. Monica Ngozi Odinko, the wind beneath her wings, she thanks her for giving her the wings to fly!!!

Her final words to all sisters who wish to pursue their dreams despite the face veil, ‘you can, you will and you must!!! You have only veiled your face, not your brain. Though your face is covered, your brain is uncovered to be receptive to knowledge that will aid the development and growth of your society. Do not allow anyone to put you down! Simply try to excel in whatever field you choose. Contribute your quota to the world, that could be one of your own ways of calling to the deen. Remember whatever you choose to do has a multiplier effect, it will not only affect you but it may affect your family, society and the world as a whole. Veiling is not failing! Definitely!! Indeed!!!

My sacrifices, my living and my death are for my Lord, the Lord of the World.

Alhamdulilahi Rabbil Alamin.


Alhamdulillah Robil’Aalmin. Thank you so much Dr Kafilat Bakare Oyaremi for finding time out of your busy schedule to feature on veiling is not failing.

Thanks for showing us through your good examples and indefatigable efforts that the Niqab is only a cover to the face and not a cover to the brain. We’re indeed proud of you. May this achievement be beneficial to you in this life and the next.


Brethren, help me utter a resounding Baarakallah feek to this enigma on the milestone she’s achieved. She’s actually the first Niqabi to bag a PhD from UI, Maa shaa Allah. She has indeed made us proud and we’re elated.





Lateefah Adewunmi Jumah

Laj Fingers





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