In a world where the Muslim religion is stereotyped as one for extremists, World Hijab Day 2017, allowed Americans of all faiths to join Muslim women in peace as they stand for their right to be covered.
February 1, 2017 marked the fifth annual World Hijab Day, where non-Muslim women recognized millions of Muslim-American women who chose to wear their hijab and live a life of modesty as part of the Islamic faith.
A hijab is a veil traditionally worn by Muslim women in the presence of adult males outside of their immediate family, which usually covers the head and chest, according to al-islam.org. Ferha Berhan, a fourth year business administration student at Florida A&M University and the Muslim Student Association Vice President, shared her definition of being covered.
“The true definition of hijab is curtain, hiding, obstructing, and isolating,” said Berhan “The Quran, which is the holy book, uses the word Jalabib, which means loose garment and khumu.”
By inviting the world to experience Hijab Day, it is a step toward minimizing discrimination against Muslim women. The goal of WHD is to create global religious tolerance and understanding through hijab awareness, according to CNN.
Anta Deen, a fourth year nursing student said, “Hijab day gives non-Muslims a different perspective into how a Muslim sister feels when she wears a hijab. It provides the opportunity for diverse individuals to learn more about Islam in order to eliminate the social stigmatism in reference to why a Muslim woman wears a hijab.”
In 2016, a then President-Elect Donald Trump, spewed stereotypical comments about Muslim practices that coincidently tripled hate crimes against Muslim-Americans around the same time.
“Donald Trump, is seen as a threat to the Muslim community because of all his hateful comments. Muslims and non-Muslims are affected by Trump’s ignorance and imposing toward Muslims,” said Deen.
Berhan also believed that Trump’s views gave power to other communities that feared Muslims.
“Trump gave the volume to the voices of the people who dislike the Islamic faith. It's bigger than Trump, it's his supporters and the words they say,” said Berhan. “For some Muslims it's the thought that your neighbors who you believed were genuine good people, are now saying negative things about your beliefs and who you are.”
Headlines plastered in the New York Daily News with attacks on Muslim women such as “Muslim High School Teacher Told Hang Yourself With Hijab” as well as the Times of India with “Muslim Girl’s Hijab Ripped Off in Front of Students,” are a few documented incidents of hate crimes done to covered women.
Tyra Minter, a fourth year English student from Miami expresses her support of the Hijab and Muslim culture. “In the year of 2017, it is important we use this movement to stand together with our fellow Muslim-Americans on World Hijab Day.”
FAMU’s Muslim Student Association is an organization for people who are both Muslim and non-Muslim that provide the opportunity for non-Muslims to learn about Islam and stand for peace.
“The Muslim Student Association will be observing the national holiday for the first time since it has been marked in the calendar,” said Berhan. “After a one-day observation, there will be a late night forum where we will discuss the outcome of the day.”
This event will consist of Muslims and non-Muslims discussing their experience with the hijab for one day. Attendees will share their experience and how they felt while wearing the hijab and if there were any different interactions while portraying a Muslim woman who wears the hijab as a lifestyle.
“Representing a religion that has many misconceptions makes me more cautious of all actions and contributes to me being a better person”, said Berhan. “I understand that by covering myself I will be identified as Muslim and will remain a proud one!”