Each year on Feb. 1, millions of Muslim women across the world share not only pictures of themselves in the hijab, but why they choose to wear it. The hijab, a headscarf worn by women who practice Islam, is often seen in the Western world as a symbol of oppression. In order to combat this narrative and highlight the resilience and strength behind the hijab, World Hijab Day was created in 2013 to foster religious tolerance. By recognizing Muslim women and inviting individuals to wear the hijab for a day, Nazma Khan, a New York resident, hoped to bridge the divide between those who wore the hijab and those who did not understand its significance.
“Growing up in the Bronx, in NYC, I experienced a great deal of discrimination due to my hijab, ‘she reflects. ‘In middle school, I was ‘Batman’ or ‘ninja’. When I entered University after 9/11, I was called Osama bin laden or terrorist. It was awful. I figured the only way to end discrimination is if we ask our fellow sisters to experience hijab themselves,” Khan shared on the World Hijab Day official website.
While the movement itself has received criticism from some for treating the hijab as a fashion accessory, others have applauded the movement for giving space to hijab-wearing women who consistently face systemic and faith-based oppression. Wearing the hijab for one day does not give insight into the hardships and discrimination hijab-wearing women face daily, but it allows for solidarity and support of the idea that what one chooses to wear is their choice. An estimated 190 countries take part in the movement each year.
We can’t ignore that there are women who are forced to wear the hijab, but this day highlights the importance of the freedom to express one’s choice in clothing. In a world filled with discrimination, World Hijab Day highlights the reasons why women and girls choose to wear the hijab and reminds us that no matter how one dresses, they can accomplish anything. Your choice of attire should not restrict what you want to and can do.
Across Twitter under the hashtag #WorldHijabDay, women of all ages are sharing their selfies and photos in hijab. Here are some of the women and their stories.
“I mostly started wearing hijab because of the fact that I started in Islamic School in fourth grade, a time where students wore the hijab in class. I felt like a hypocrite not wearing it outside, then happened to have a dream where an angel came to me and told me to wear the scarf. So from that day onwards, I did. At the time I happened to only have a navy blue two-piece that was a part of my uniform. No one really thought I would go through it and continue with it especially being the first in my family,” said Nawal Mustafa, a medical student who lives in New Jersey.
“I think it’s so important for Muslim women to represent their religion and as I move further in my career I believe it will be a symbol of hope for young Muslim girls that you can do or be anything you want to be,” Mustafa added.
To see more of the beautiful photos people across the globe have shared to celebrate the hijab, check out the day’s official page, @WorldHijabDay, on Twitter. Have any photos you’d like to share? Feel free to drop them in the comments below!
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