World Hijab Day 2017 Better Awareness, Best Hijab Day Quotes

World Hijab Day Has Got It All Wrong

World Hijab Day is an annual event founded by Nazma Khan in 2013.The event takes place on February 1 each year in 140 countries worldwide.Its stated purpose is to encourage women of all religions and backgrounds to wear and experience the hijab. Event organizers describe it as an opportunity for non-Muslim women to experience the hijab.

To some, the hijab is a symbol of female oppression and Islamic fundamentalism.

But to Nazma Khan, a Muslim who moved from Bangladesh to New York at age 11, the headscarf is a symbol of her religious belief in beauty through modesty.
"Modesty is part of our Islamic faith," Khan wrote in an email. "No one should be discriminated (against) for following their faith."

So Khan started World Hijab Day to build empathy for this perspective and to encourage non-Muslims, and Muslims who don't normally wear a hijab, to try it out. The Arabic word hijab refers not just to a headscarf but to modest dress and behavior in general.

"Our goal is to foster global religious tolerance and understanding through hijab awareness. Many women get discriminated (against) simply because they choose to wear the hijab," Khan said. "Hopefully, this event will make people realize that women who wear the hijab are just like anyone else. They're not oppressed or are forced to wear it. They just simply want to follow their faith by being modest, just like Mary (mother of Jesus)."

For the first time in its three-year run, Sunday's World Hijab Day became a trending topic on social media as women supported the effort in events worldwide and shared images tagged #WorldHijabDay.

"Covering up should be a free choice! I may not be Muslim or religious but I support the beauty a hijab can bring to a woman," said one woman who shared an image through the World Hijab Day website.

The concept of modesty is not unique to Islam. Other religions, including Judaism and Christianity, embrace the concept. Still, public expression of hijab can be controversial and often misunderstood -- especially in the United States -- despite being protected by the First Amendment right to free speech and freedom of religion.

Many hijabis, or wearers of hijabs, are stigmatized for the practice, Khan said, speaking from experience. After moving with her family to the U.S., she says, she was taunted and called names for wearing hijab to school. The harassment continued into high school and college and became worse after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

"I always faced the following question: 'Why don't you ever dress normal?' " she said. "I constantly lived in fear as I was called names such as Osama, terrorist, etc. It was a total nightmare."

In summer 2011, after friends from around the world shared similar stories of harassment, Khan began pondering solutions.

"I kept on thinking how can I help them and myself?" she said. "I thought if I could invite other women (Muslim & non-Muslims) to walk in my shoes just for one day, perhaps, things would change."

This year, "ambassadors" in 33 countries organized World Hijab Day events. Organizers in Canada, for example, invited the public to try on hijabs at a mall in Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Criticism of the Event

Feminist activist and Muslim reformer Asra Nomani says "as Muslim women, we actually ask you not to wear the hijab in the name of interfaith solidarity," going on to say, "This modern-day movement spreads an ideology of political Islam."

Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz accuses the day as being a "well-financed effort by conservative Muslims to dominate modern Muslim societies," and says that the event spreads the "misleading interpretation" that the head covering is always worn voluntarily, and that "hijab" purely means headscarf.

Maajid Nawaz described the event as "worse than passe," suggesting that the name be changed to "Hijab is a Choice Day".

some past World Hijab Day participants

"I participated in World Hijab Day and it was a good experience that I will repeat. I live in a very small, very Christian town. There were some strange looks and people were staring at me – and then looking away quickly when they realised I saw them looking. A few people seemed surprised that I spoke English. The fact that I was wearing hijab gave me the opportunity to talk to my stepchildren about respect, difference and peace."

"Wearing the Hijab was an incredibly powerful experience. I felt liberated from society's view that dictates the latest fashion trends – in fact, never did I feel as regal as I did today. I stood tall with my head held high and felt in control of my image, beautiful and strong. Today, I wore the hijab in honour of my student, and her mother, who reminded me that one simple gesture can positively impact upon someone else's life. Thank you for granting me with this unforgettable experience!"

"My daughter Emma (eight years old), sporting her favourite scarf. She said she got called names, but she kept wearing it and it didn't seem to bother her. We are Christians but love our Muslim sisters! She wants to involve her school next year."

"I greatly respect women who wear hijab every day. I found it quite comfortable actually, and the anonymity was kind of nice. It was a good experience. I'm still confused however as to why some people seem to equate hijab with oppression. I found nothing oppressive about covering my head at all – on the contrary, it was liberating not having to constantly worry about my hair."

"It's commonly believed that wearing a veil is a form of sexual discrimination. I didn't find it to be so. To my surprise, the veil was strangely liberating – an unapologetic form of self-expression."

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