Hijab Day lets students experience Islamic culture
Joseph Vincenzi – Reporter
Breaking down stereotypes about why Muslim women choose to wear a hijab or other headscarves is the reason why Hijab Day was hosted on campus, said Rachael Schaffer.
The event was sponsored by the Muslim Student Association.
“I think if you see someone wearing a hijab it could look very different,” said Schaffer, the vice president of the MSA.
The event started in the Adanti Student Center plaza, where students could receive a hijab from MSA’s table from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The hijabs were spread over a table and each one contained a different design or theme. Students were welcome to try on a hijab for a while or even take one with them.
After the initial event, the group moved to ASC 301 where there was traditional Halal dinner prepared. Public health major Muna Mah, a junior, explained that “Halal” food means it is slaughtered in a specific way so that the animals being used in the dish do not feel any pain in the process.
The presentation defined the hijab as a “barrier” in the Muslim religion to ensure that women remain modest at all times. Mah claimed that the head covering is an act of religious piety. This directly contradicts the popular belief that women are forced to wear a hijab, which Mah said is simply not the case.
“People look at me for who I am with a hijab, not just because of what I wear,” said Mah. She said regular clothes cause people to preemptively judge their peers. The hijab avoids this premature judgement by concealing all body parts except the eyes and hands.
Mah then displayed various religions that instruct women to wear certain headdresses, including Catholicism, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism. She said religious headscarves were not exclusive to Islam.
MSA board members talked about personal experiences while wearing the hijab and other headdresses. Psychology major Moor Rahim, a senior, shared an instance where she received verbal abuse from a stranger while she was walking alone at night.
Rahim said she believes that the cautious and sometimes aggressive behavior towards hijabbearing women is not limited to a few individuals.
“My experience is that people are more wary of the hijab,” said Rahim.
Through the Hijab Day event, Rahim said she hopes that a positive outcome is for more people to be comfortable approaching women wearing a hijab and for them to understand why women wear it in the first place.
“We want to wear it because it’s where we find success in a religion,” said Rahim.
Special education comprehension major Jennifer Pohl, a senior, said she gained much more respect for hijab wearers after learning of the commitment a woman would make to cover herself.
“It was super eyeopening,” said Pohl. “I never realized how much commitment there was to keep a hijab on.”
Pohl said although she is not Muslim herself, she has always wanted to wear a hijab to view the world from a Muslim woman’s shoes and that this event was “super cool” in allowing her to see that perspective.
Computer science major Zaha Naeem, a senior, expressed his content with the representation of Muslim women and the hijab in the presentation.
“It was great seeing a woman representing the hijab for the first time,” said Naeem, who himself is a Muslim. He said he believes the experience will be beneficial to non-Muslim students to educate them on Islamic culture.
He also said he learned a great deal about other religions and cultures during the presentation as well.
Rahim said people should break out of their comfort zones and try to connect with people from all different cultures and religions, regardless of any existing stereotypes.
“Sometimes,” she said, “what stops us from talking to other people is ourselves.”
Photo Credit: Joseph Vincenzi