In an effort to bring forth more education regarding what it means to be a Muslim woman who practices modesty according to Islam, Nazma Khan, a resident of New York, founded the first World Hijab Day in 2013. It was her intention to invite women of different faiths, and even Muslim women who don’t wear traditional head coverings, to experience it for a day.
It’s no secret that many people — men and women alike — associate hijab as a mark of oppression. An order issued by jealous husbands or a cultural rule handed down to stifle, when for the most part it’s observed out of respect for their religion.
Hijab, or a scarf that covers the head and neck but allows the face to show, is a command from Allah (SWT) found in the Quran. Allah directed the prophet Muhammed (SAW), saying, “Say to the believing women that: they should cast down their glances and guard their private parts (by being chaste)….”
Still convinced it’s a controlling act aimed toward Muslim women? A commandment is also given in the Bible to women regarding covering their heads. In fact, many faiths advocate for the wearing of some type of material to cover their heads.
After reverting to Islam, I found wearing hijab strange at first. I spent hours watching videos of how to wrap my scarf just right and found it wasn’t as easy as it seemed. Wanting to show my love for my faith and let the world know that I was a proud Muslim woman, I continued on.
My initial attempts were quite laughable to say the least and to raise my spirits about my failed attempts, my fiancé sent me four beautifully colored scarves in the mail. Over the past several months, I’ve become somewhat adept at wearing hijab, and I couldn’t be happier. I feel comforted when wearing hijab and have gained a sense of pride in myself that I had been missing for a long time.
Admittedly, I will say that I consider my hair one feature of my body that I cherish the most. I am not ashamed to say that it’s beautiful, and I love it. The main reason I wear hijab is because it’s a command in the Quran to protect my beauty. A beauty that should only be reserved for my husband.
I realize that sounds very archaic and old-fashioned, but there is a certain romantic chord it strikes with me as well. But I digress. Whether a woman is Muslim or not, chooses to cover her head or leave it open to view, it’s important to spread the word on what hijab is and what it really represents.
Some may still see it as an oppressive tactic toward females. It’s important to remember what Nazma Khan wanted to accomplish with observing a World Hijab Day: to give women of all races, religions, cultures, and beliefs a chance to learn and experience what it means to wear hijab.
By starting more frank conversations and open dialogues like this regarding religious and cultural differences, we are promoting peace and openness among everyone on a global scale. We’re saying it’s okay to observe different aspects of faith without judgment toward anyone.
It’s a chance for us all to realize that just because a woman chooses to protect her beauty and reserve it for her husband’s eyes only, or to show her respect for the commandment in both the Quran and the Bible, it’s not something to be afraid of. I certainly am not oppressed, and I wear my hijab proudly. Nobody made this choice for me — I made this choice for myself.
I would kindly invite you to learn more about my religion and Muslim culture today.