World Hijab Day is celebrated on Feb. 1 of every year. It started with a Bangladeshi-American woman Nazma Khan. This is the day when Muslims and non-Muslims wear the Hijab (the veil) to support personal freedom, particularly for Muslim women who suffer from social oppression and ostracism.
World Hijab Day was celebrated in 116 countries for Muslim and non-Muslim women all over the world. The goal of the movement is to foster global connection and understanding of Muslim women, and to affirm the concept of freedom of self-expression and religion practice. “A book should not be judged by its cover” is the English saying that sums up what veiled Muslim women fight for.
Organizers of the campaign founded this event because of the great number of women all over the world, especially in Western countries, who are discriminated against and alienated by society. Nevertheless, it is a human right to wear whatever suits her. Many think that Hijab-wearing women are forced to conceal their hair and bodies. To add insult to injury, they are sometimes thought of as brainwashed and pathetic; but ironically, this kind of racism empowers, dignifies and liberates women who wear the veil. Judging women by appearance is generally offensive as it overlooks, if not rejects, women’s intellectual and mental capacity. Founders of World Hijab Day encourage women all over the world to wear the Hijab for a day to experience what Muslim women feel like.
Women play a vital role in society regardless of their choice of clothing. They are active, engaged members of the community. They become doctors, engineers, lawyers, accountants, politicians and scholars. They are the mothers through which a community is created. Muslim women who wear the Hijab are also part of the community. They achieve success and are capable of reaching high professional positions.
For instance, there is Ayesha Farooq, a female fighter pilot in Pakistan, who is one of the five women who have become pilots in the Pakistan Air Force. There is also the famous Egyptian author Aisha Abd el Rahman, who used to write under the pen name of Bent EL Shatea. She wrote many books and essays on literary criticism, and is considered one of the most brilliant female scholars in the Islamic and the Arab worlds. In addition, Dalia Mogahed is the first Muslim woman to join U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration. She was selected as advisor to the president in the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
These unique women have different roles in society yet they all share the same religious principle of wearing the Hijab. They have implicitly proved by their hard work and intellect that women wearing the Hijab should not be discriminated against or looked at as inferior or feeble, or easily exposed to religious deviations. On the contrary, most women who wear the Hijab are poised, confident and proud of their actions. This is the reason why Khan, the initiator of World Hijab Day, was keen on publicizing the event on social media to allow women from all over the world to participate and thus reflect on their own experiences of wearing the Hijab to others who have misconceptions about Muslims and the Hijab.
By Mona Salman