On World Hijab Day, February 1, 2015, a group of UB students got together at a local Panera Bread to discuss the reason behind the Hijab and to clear up any misconceptions. All of us who were involved wore the Hijab for the entire day so we can grow in our awareness first-hand.
I, for example, wore the head scarf the entire day, and ran errands and went to Zumba class prior to meeting the ladies at Panera Bread. Of course, other members around me continuously asked if I was dehydrated or too sweaty under the scarf and conservative clothing. I felt comfortable despite the positive and negative reactions I received from strangers or the individuals who know me.
This was a very different experience than when I taught English in Morocco for two weeks in June-July, 2013. During that time, I wore the head scarf about 90% of the time as a non-Muslim American while teaching there, and I sure felt the difference in terms of respect.
World Hijab Day gave all those who participated the opportunity to unite at a public location and clear up any misconceptions regarding the veiled women on campus and in the Bridgeport and Trumbull communities. The Muslim ladies were a gem and were more than happy to share their culture with non-Muslim individuals.
I encourage people to honor World Hijab Day on February 1st next year. It’s a great way to understand the reason behind the headscarf, and bring an awareness in every community that can really make a difference for world peace.
Below is a collection of photos and reflections from UB’s first formal participatory event of World Hijab Day.
Jennifer Turner, Civic Engagement Coordinator and UB student communicate about different head scarves. Jennifer Turner created her own style for her headscarf to support World Hijab Day. She is Jewish. UB student from Saudi Arabia wears the niqab on a daily basis and even though one can only see her eyes, she informs that she is not forced to wear it. While wearing it, she feels protected and close to her customs, beliefs and her home country.
Mona Alnasser ’14 (left) and Sumaya Islam ’15 (right) take a look at photos from the Muslim females present. On the cell phone photos, the Muslim females are not wearing the headscarf. They wanted to pass their photos around the table to show what they would typically look like without their headscarf – lots of makeup and fashionable dresses when attending an all-girls’ gathering. Sumaya is from Bangladesh but resides in Malaysia. She is Muslim but does not wear the headscarf. Mona is half-Egyptian and half-Saudi Arabian and wears the scarf on a daily basis.
Sumaya Islam ’15 helps Jennifer Guevara (former UB/Sodexo employee) wrap the scarf on her head. Jennifer is from Honduras and was honored to have the opportunity to be part of the gathering and learn more about a world completely different from her culture.
More reflections from World Hijab Day participants:
World Hijab Day gave me a great chance to speak about my hijab. Also, it was a pleasure to meet other non-muslim ladies. I really enjoyed sharing the details and explaining the meaning of the hijab to them, which is more than just covering one’s head with scarves.
I liked how other non-muslim ladies were respectful of our religion and culture. They were very curious to know more about muslim women, to listen to their feelings, and to share with them by wearing the hijab for the entire day in public.
If I have the opportunity to be part of World Hijab Day again in future, I will be there again. Thanks, Nadine, for giving us this chance and trying to raise awareness about hijab.
World Hijab Day was a wonderful time to meet with international Muslim and non-Muslim women. Also, it was my pleasure to answer any questions about Hijab that the non-Muslim women had. For instance, there was a question about whether women wearing Niqab were more respectful to their Islam heritage than women wearing Hijab? The answer was No, because all Muslim women can wear either.
First of all, I would like to thank Nadine for being so encouraging and bringing together so many Muslim women from various parts of the world to speak together about their Hijab experience. I have learned that Hijab might be a religious obligation for many of us, but sometimes it’s a choice. The world looks at it as if it is forced on to us, but it blew my mind when I heard that it is what women want in order for them to connect to the ulimate creator of the world. Hijab is an identity and a way to equalize Muslim women.