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World Hijab Day: A Celebration of Culture

by Imani Coaxum - Staff Writer
Tue, Feb 6th 2018 11:00 pm

February 1 was the turn of a new leaf after the dreaded month of January. But it is also known to be a day for women of all walks of life to celebrate and experience a hijab, known as World Hijab Day. 

World Hijab Day was founded by Nazma Khan back in 2013 and takes place all over the world. A few of the women of MSA brought the celebrated day to our Seymour College Union Thursday, Feb. 1, as a way to educate others about what it means to wear a hijab.

A hijab is a head covering or veil worn by Muslim women. Out of 1.8 billion Muslims in the world, 43 percent of women wear headscarves, whereas 48 percent of women choose not to. The choice of wearing it or not is a controversial one that not many understand.  The hijab serves many purposes, one being as a belief that God directed women to wear it to carry out his commandment of modesty. Besides serving a religious purpose, hijabs are worn to express cultural identity or simply just because they want to. 

It is also important to know it is not mandatory. Women who wear hijabs wear it out of choice, not force. There is no rule book saying who can wear what. Muslim women choose to wear it as a commitment to their modesty. This means that women wear their hijabs around any man they can marry or that is outside of their immediate family. Modesty is open to interpretation, so it is a choice. It also serves as a means of tradition, it is a way of showing their internal power and control.

As an on-campus organization, BMSA welcomes people who are and are not Muslim. The club brings a supportive Muslim environment, and wish to spread the knowledge of Islam.

 “We brought [World Hijab Day] here to Brockport because not a lot of people know about Islam and they see us wear the scarf and not really know what it means,” said Halima Hussein, BMSA president.

We live in a world where there are many cultures that celebrate and express their beliefs in different ways. Hussein expressed that it’s important to educate others of such cultures. Though our college is in a small town, we still must share knowledge with others of what is outside of it. 

Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of World Hijab Day is the opportunity for individuals to experience and interact with a completely different culture. Hussein explained beyond exposing others to a new culture, Wolrd Hijab Day also serves as a way to spread awareness and inclusivity.

“Today is really about fighting intolerance,” Hussein added. 

She also expressed that the organization’s purpose for the event is to not convert or change anyone’s views, but to rather bring awareness to those who do not know why women choose to wear hijabs. Most people do not know, and instead of turning a blind eye to it, BMSA is changing that respone by showing differences can be celebrated. That is the beauty of learning. Today, people often take first impressions as fact instead of taking the time to go deeper than surface level. It takes experiences like World Hijab Day to integrate this informal education into a variety of people’s lives. 

BMSA also gave male students the opportunity to partake in the event. Men wore turbans, as the female students wore hijabs that came in all different colors and patterns. Everyone seemed to light up as they got their hijab done. Students were even able to keep the hijab after. So hijabs are not just for women; anyone can celebrate the hijab.

“It was very inclusive, I didn’t know guys could celebrate it too,” said Mcarthur Mentor, a student.

Walking around the Brockport campus and seeing so many students wearing hijabs and turbans made the start to a new month seem like the start of acceptance. The event showed that anyone can choose to  wear a hijab. We must work to  celebrate  our cultural differences rather than disregard them. The world is already in a state of disunity.

We need to connect and make sure to educate ourselves, especially about issues we aren’t  too familiar with. Attending  the event also informed those that it is okay to ask questions about a culture other than their own.

 

icoax1@brockport.edu