For American Muslim ladies, hijabs symbolize the correct to decide on

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 ladies” who select to put on the overlaying. (Marquis Perkins)


As the one hijabi pupil 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 reminiscent of “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 current school graduate residing in New York Metropolis as a visibly Muslim lady, Khan stated the hijabophobia solely worsened, and she or he was chased down metropolis streets and referred to as a terrorist. Nonetheless, Khan stated she cherished sporting her hijab, an “outward expression of my internal religion,” and wished to assist ladies and women like her who had been being mistreated.

“I saved on desirous about it, and I used to be like, ‘What if I requested ladies from all walks of life to put on the hijab for someday?’” she stated. “Possibly 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, nevertheless it has shortly gained reputation, spreading to greater than 150 nations.

For Muslim ladies, sporting a hijab is an act of worship in addition to a strategy to follow modesty, a precept anticipated within the conduct and gown of all Muslims. Though the visibility of the pinnacle coverings has made ladies targets of Islamophobia, Muslim ladies who put on the hijab in america say the choice to put on the fabric overlaying is a liberating one. By sharing their numerous hijabi journeys, they are saying they’re proof that Muslim ladies will not be a monolith.

When Houston creator and illustrator Huda Fahmy started sporting a hijab at 10 years outdated, she felt the stress to be good and reside as much as the piety related to it.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 lowered to having the identical experiences,” Fahmy stated. However “each hijabi has a unique relationship along with her scarf and along with her faith and with the way in which she decides to put on it and current herself.”

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

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 reminiscent of 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 seen the sentiment on the time and the way the therapy of Muslim folks would “ebb and circulation based mostly 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 non secular journey and a strategy to destigmatize the hijab. “My intention of sporting the hijab was to rewrite the preconceived notion folks had for Muslim ladies earlier than it grew to become completely ingrained of their minds,” she stated. “And I believed the easiest way 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, reminiscent of whether or not she nonetheless washes her hair, which she does. As a college board member, she additionally supported legislation that addressed the shortage of in-depth training about Islam and different religions in Illinois public colleges.

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

Iman Zawahry made the selection to start out sporting a hijab throughout her sophomore 12 months of faculty in an effort to dispel stereotypes. Typically when assembly folks for the primary time, she says they’re shocked by her persona: boisterous and humorous, and not using a overseas accent.

She hopes her work as a filmmaker may deliver extra Muslim tales, ones that don’t revolve round terrorism or the oversexualization of girls, to the forefront. One of many motion pictures 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 ladies, and they’re main the movie. It’s not a loopy thought, however it’s one thing that we’ve not seen,” Zawahry stated. “These are the tales that I related with once I grew up, and I actually simply wished to see it by way of my eyes.”

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

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