Facebook users tell Bank Negara scholarship winner to don tudung

A screen capture from Friends of BN ― Barisan Nasional's September 16 Facebook post.
A screen capture from Friends of BN ― Barisan Nasional's September 16 Facebook post.

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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18 ― Hajar Nur Asyiqin Abdul Zubir, an 18-year-old who dreams of studying in Oxford University, is the winner of a prestigious Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) scholarship but to some on Facebook, the young Malay girl’s achievement has been shadowed by her failure to don the tudung (Muslim headscarf).

On the social media site, the chemistry student, upon winning the Kijang Emas Scholarship 2015 that allows her to pursue any field of study at top universities across the world, was told that her father would bear the sins of her not covering her “aurat”.

“Congratulations..but it’s a pity that the ‘aurat’ is not covered. Her father bears the sin,” a Facebook user called Rozaidi Jai commented on Friends of BN ― Barisan Nasional’s Facebook post Wednesday announcing Hajar Nur Asyiqin’s win.

Facebook user named Nazri Toushirou even called for conditions of the scholarship interview to mandate covering the “aurat”

“Don’t think it’s wrong, right?” he said.

Facebook user Mohd Sabri Hussien said: “Pretty looks, good at studies. It’ll be better if she wore a tudung”.

Another Facebook user, called Mohd Khairudzaman Bahaudin, said: “All right, congratulations, Allah hates His servants who do not cover their ‘aurat’, we succeed not because we’re clever”.

Other Facebook users, however, have since come to the 18-year-old’s defence, with one named Ag Sha saying: “It doesn’t necessarily mean that not wearing a tudung means you’re not religious..congratulations..prove to them that you’re not shallow in your religious knowledge”.

Islam as is practised in Malaysia is beginning to show signs of increasing conservatism, illustrated among others by the local boom in the tudung industry that was a rarity just several decades ago.

Friday sermons sanctioned by the government also repeatedly tell women to cover their aurat, with a Malay-Muslim gymnast recently getting backlash for wearing a leotard. 

Local daily New Straits Times reported Monday that Hajar Nur Asyiqin ― who went to SMK Abdul Rahman Talib in Kuantan, Pahang, and is now doing her A-Levels at Tuanku Ja’afar College in Mantin, Negri Sembilan ― wants to study chemistry at Oxford University in the UK, one of the top universities in the world.

The paper reported that she scored 9A+s in SPM last year and that she had undergone group and individual assessments by Bank Negara before she was announced last April as one of four recipients of the Kijang Emas Scholarship.

According to Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz’s speech at the Kijang Emas Scholarship award ceremony last April, the central bank had received 212 applications for the 2015 Kijang Emas Scholarship and shortlisted the top 24 based on their SPM results and involvement in sports and co-curricular activities.

“The students then underwent a rigorous evaluation process under the Bank’s ‘Kijang Academy’ which assessed their technical and leadership competencies, as well as their values,” Zeti said in the speech made available on Bank Negara’s website.

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