In an effort to encourage dialogue surrounding the importance and meaning of the hijab, the Intercultural Center invited all non-Muslim and non-hijab-wearing Muslim women to wear a headscarf as a symbolic hijab on Wednesday, Feb. 1.
Known as World Hijab Day, this occasion is in celebration as well as support for the millions of Muslim women all over the world who choose to wear a hijab in their daily life.
Many people possess misconceptions regarding the meaning of what a hijab represents, said Cassidy Hammond, Assistant Director of International Student Life and a key organizer of the event.
“I’m not a practicing Muslim so I’m not going to speak on behalf of Muslim women, but there are many different meanings for the hijab,” Hammond said. “It does not mean oppressing women. It is more of a religious thing and is connected to your relationship with Allah. I’m sure if you ask any Muslim individual, they are going to have a different answer as to what the hijab means to them”.
“It is very much a culture issue,” junior Emily Parratt added. “People see a hijab and think that the woman wearing it is probably a Muslim. I think that people are turned off by it without really knowing what it is. They are more focused on what the general negative perception of that culture is”.
“The hijab has become symbolic of difference. People use it to identify a woman as a Muslim, as if the other aspects of her identity don’t matter,” said junior Kaelyn Mostafa, who comes from a Muslim background and has grown up learning about this culture.
“I think the biggest problem right now is that people in this country are largely ignorant of what the Muslim faith values.”
Senior Nujud Alsaleh, a Muslim student who does not wear a hijab herself, expressed a desire to see support from her peers, and spent the morning of the event assisting others with their hijabs.
“A hijab is no harm, it is just a fabric that women wear,” Alsaleh said. “It basically represents Islam, peace, and purity.”
Sophomore Tarek Aldawalibi also offered comments on what the hijab symbolizes in his culture.
“A lot of people are not educated enough about [hijabs],” Aldawalibi said. “When a women wears a hijab, she covers the most beautiful parts of her body, including her hair. In doing so, she is stating that she respects her husband so she will not show others who are not related to her those parts of her body.”