The Hijab to Muslims and many others around the world is a symbol of modesty, empowerment and freedom.
Saturday 1 February 2020 marks the 7th World Hijab celebration; a celebration which takes place in over 140 countries worldwide, bringing communities together sharing and experiencing the Hijab.
My name is Lila, I’m VP Academic Quality at John Moores Students’ Union, and this year I’m bringing World Hijab Day to LJMU.
LJMU is full of so many wonderful cultures and identities and so it is important we celebrate those identities, especially in a time where they can and are often subject to discrimination by political leaders, the media and more.
Why we should celebrate World Hijab Day
World Hijab Day allows us to raise awareness of the issues Muslim women face every day across the globe. It is a day where we can challenge the misconceptions, demystify the myths and stand in solidarity with Muslim women in our communities.
Over 7% of our students at LJMU identify as Muslim, and a portion of those Muslims observe the hijab in their day-to-day life. You might walk past these students every day and have questions in your head about why they might wear it or how it makes them feel.
Well - I asked those students for you, and these are some of their responses.
“It’s part of my identity; I could never see myself without it.”
“The Hijab means freedom to me. I’m not listening to the negative people around me saying I’m oppressed because if anything they’re oppressing me by telling me to take it off so it keeps me in touch with me”
“To feel beautiful in my own way!”
“Main reason it keeps me in check with my actions and how I portray myself”
“I feel freer than I ever have before”
“Hijab is a sense of security for me. I feel empowered wearing it, gives me a feel of safety. Makes me feel feminine and beautiful. But Hijab is not just the cover of our hair, but how we talk, walk and compose ourselves everyday”
Amongst the more comedic responses…
“Asked my sister, she said to save time getting ready”
“I look way too good without hijab & it annoys all my friends that I’m stealing the spotlight”
Despite this sense of empowerment, freedom and identity we feel, in a recent poll, it was found that 71% of Muslim women wearing hijab face some discrimination (@WorldHijabDay).
Here are some of the common myths around the hijab, debunked:
- Myth: Hijab is oppressive
- The truth: The Hijab is a symbol of feminism
What is oppressive is the belief that as women, we should dress a certain way, and conform to a societal dress code that does not allow the freedom to make the choice of wearing hijab.
For the majority of Muslims, the hijab is a choice and an empowering choice at that. As we can see from the responses from students at LJMU, the hijab empowers Muslim women with the freedom to dress however they wish, and sprouts love for their religion.
It is for this reason that the hijab should be considered a symbol of feminism.
- Myth: Hijab is the scarf on our head
- Truth: Hijab is a way of life
Whilst in its physicality, the hijab is a garment worn on our head, contrary to popular belief, it is much more than that. In its entirety, it is the belief that as a Muslim, one must try to diligently live every day in respect of God, with modesty, and show devotion to the religion as a whole. By wearing the physical scarf, it is one way of expressing one’s love for Islam. In this way, hijab can also be the way one acts, thinks, and treats others, aside from wearing the physical scarf.
- Myth: Hijab is only observed by women
- Truth: Hijab is observed by all Muslims
Because of the overarching meaning of hijab; to live modestly in every aspect of your life, the hijab also applies to men. While not as well known outside the Muslim community, men also strive to wear the hijab both physically and mentally every day, the same as Muslim women.
- Myth: Hijab is only observed by Muslim women
- Truth: Hijab / is also observed by Jews, Christians and Sikhs
If you’re wondering how it feels to wear hijab, try it on World Hijab Day on Saturday 1 February! You can use any scarf or come over to James Parsons on Monday 3 February, from 9.00am – 4.00pm where I will have some ready for you to try and wear!
If you have any questions about the event or want to get involved – please email me at email@example.com!
On World Hijab Day, we do not ask nor expect you to adopt the hijab as part of your life. You may not even agree with it, and that is also okay. Everyone is entitled to their own belief. However, what we do want and expect is that you respect us, and treat us no differently as you would treat your non-Muslim peers.