HomeKnowledge UtilitiesFor American Muslim women, hijabs symbolize the right to choose

For American Muslim women, hijabs symbolize the right to choose

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Nazma Khan, the founding father of World Hijab Day, started the initiative with the mission of “dismantling bigotry, discrimination and prejudice in opposition to Muslim girls” who select to put on the overlaying. (Marquis Perkins)


As the one hijabi scholar at her Bronx, N.Y., faculty within the ’90s, Nazma Khan confronted a lot Islamophobia that she contemplated dropping out. Her classmates referred to as the Bangladeshi immigrant names corresponding to “ninja,” “Batman” and “Mom Teresa.” She was shoved, kicked and spat on by college students, who usually waited exterior her classroom to attempt to pull off her headband.

After 9/11, as a latest faculty graduate residing in New York Metropolis as a visibly Muslim lady, Khan stated the hijabophobia solely worsened, and he or she was chased down metropolis streets and referred to as a terrorist. Nonetheless, Khan stated she cherished sporting her hijab, an “outward expression of my inside religion,” and needed to assist girls and women like her who have been being mistreated.

“I stored on fascinated with it, and I used to be like, ‘What if I requested girls from all walks of life to put on the hijab for at some point?’” she stated. “Perhaps they are going to see that I’m not hiding a bomb beneath my scarf or that this scarf doesn’t have a lifetime of its personal to oppress me.

After three years ruminating on the concept, Khan founded World Hijab Day in 2013. The February vacation encourages folks to spend a day donning hijabs in an effort to normalize them and upend false assumptions in regards to the head overlaying. Since its begin, not each Muslim has applauded the annual occasion, but it surely has shortly gained recognition, spreading to greater than 150 international locations.

For Muslim girls, sporting a hijab is an act of worship in addition to a option to observe modesty, a precept anticipated within the conduct and gown of all Muslims. Though the visibility of the top coverings has made girls targets of Islamophobia, Muslim girls who put on the hijab in the US say the choice to put on the material overlaying is a liberating one. By sharing their various hijabi journeys, they are saying they’re proof that Muslim girls should not a monolith.

When Houston writer and illustrator Huda Fahmy started sporting a hijab at 10 years outdated, she felt the strain to be good and stay as much as the piety related to it. As she grew older, she realized she didn’t want to suit a mould for the hijab to be a significant a part of how she practiced Islam.

Muslim women in hijab get lots of discrimination. This what it is like.

“Numerous instances we’re diminished to having the identical experiences,” Fahmy stated. However “each hijabi has a distinct relationship together with her scarf and together with her faith and with the best way she decides to put on it and current herself.”

In her comedian books, corresponding to “Sure, I’m Sizzling in This” and the forthcoming “Huda F Cares,” Fahmy makes use of humor to work by stereotypes and inform tales about nuanced hijabi characters, corresponding to somebody who loves sporting her hijab and doesn’t wrestle with the will to put on it, or somebody who is a component of a giant Muslim neighborhood.

Fahmy has all the time cherished comics, however she felt drawn to pursue cartooning as a profession in 2016, compelled to fight Islamophobic narratives from politicians corresponding to Donald Trump who talked about Muslims with out speaking to Muslims.

Bushra Amiwala, 25, who serves because the youngest faculty board member within the Illinois city of Skokie, stated she additionally observed the sentiment on the time and the way the remedy of Muslim folks would “ebb and stream primarily based on the political local weather.”

It helped her make the choice to ease into sporting a hijab, as each one other step ahead in her spiritual journey and a option to destigmatize the hijab. “My intention of sporting the hijab was to rewrite the preconceived notion folks had for Muslim girls earlier than it turned completely ingrained of their minds,” she stated. “And I assumed one of the simplest ways to take action is when our ideas and beliefs are malleable: in highschool.”

Her plan labored. When Amiwala went to highschool sporting her hijab, she fielded plenty of questions from her classmates, corresponding to whether or not she nonetheless washes her hair, which she does. As a faculty board member, she additionally supported legislation that addressed the dearth of in-depth training about Islam and different religions in Illinois public colleges.

“I’m so grateful that I stay in an space the place I’ve the selection. That empowers me to a different degree,” she stated. “I can freely select to cowl my head, and that may be a alternative that I’m making that I can see by.”

Iman Zawahry made the selection to start out sporting a hijab throughout her sophomore yr of faculty in an effort to dispel stereotypes. Generally when assembly folks for the primary time, she says they’re shocked by her persona: boisterous and humorous, with out a overseas accent.

She hopes her work as a filmmaker can even deliver extra Muslim tales, ones that don’t revolve round terrorism or the oversexualization of girls, to the forefront. One of many films she directed, “Americanish” which was launched in 2021, is the primary American Muslim romantic comedy made by an American Muslim lady and has been acquired by Sony Footage Worldwide Productions.

“It’s only a rom-com, however it’s a rom-com with three Brown Pakistani Muslim girls, and they’re main the movie. It’s not a loopy concept, however it’s one thing that now we have not seen,” Zawahry stated. “These are the tales that I linked with after I grew up, and I actually simply needed to see it by my eyes.”

Whether or not it’s sporting a hijab on set or ensuring hijabis are represented on-screen, Zawahry is keen about activism and selling American Muslim visibility. “That is what I would like the movie to do: to create consciousness and alter and transfer folks to be higher neighborhood members,” she stated.

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