February 1st has been celebrated as the World Hijab Day in over 140 countries across the world since 2013. A day when all women - Muslim and non-Muslim alike - are openly invited to experience the hijab. Let us unite and learn what the day is about.
Initiated by Nazma Khan in 2013, this awareness campaign invites all the women of the world – Muslim and non-Muslim alike – to experience the "hijab". The campaign was born out of a series of events in which a young Muslim girl (Khan) was bullied and oppressed for wearing what was her family heirloom.
The World Hijab Day is an awareness campaign that voices the women who wish to demonstrate that the hijab is their own choice and not an imposition unto them.
Some pro-hijab activists argue that their reasons for choosing to wear the hijab range from personal security to time-honored tradition to the reservation of personal freedom involved in what they wear.
On the contrary, many critics of this movement are afraid that by advocating the attire, they may be spreading the ideology of political Islam or "Islamism" – which is funded by the richer section of the Muslim society, including the Taliban Afghanistan and the Islamic State.
Although the literal translation of "hijab" in Arabic is "curtain" or "to cover" or "to obstruct" someone or something, the word has been used since times immemorial to refer to the headscarves that Muslim women wear.
Hijabs are quite different from "niqabs" and "burqas". While the hijab only covers the hair and neck, it leaves the face clear. A niqab covers the entire face, neck, and head of the woman – going as far as below the mid waist to cover up her hair as well – while leaving only an eye-slit to see. The burqa is a full-body garment that covers the woman from head to toe and a mesh on the face permits partial visibility.
Although the norm is to begin wearing the hijab at puberty, it is not unordinary to find girls as young as the age of 3 years clad in conservative clothing – including their heads.
Did you know? Hijab is not just for the women. The Koran instructs even the men to observe modesty and dignity in their own clothing and behavior.
Many western countries have placed a ban on face covers (niqab and burqa) and hijabs. The reasons given were security-related, but since they were mostly applied to only the Muslim apparel, they caused much political bustle. In 2010, the French ban on Burqas was not taken well by the community. Other countries that ban the full-face veil include Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands.
Despite everything everyone says about imposition and oppression, the modern day Muslim woman has managed to successfully turn hijab into a style statement. In fact, some of the best-dressed women are from Muslim theocracies.
To represent the empowerment and integrate hijab as an accepted form of fashion, designers do their bit by organizing special fashion shows that incorporate a multitude of head scarfing styles in their own show-stopping outfits.
Some traditionalists argue, "The entire point (or at least one of the best parts) of wearing a cover-up garment is to avoid unwanted attention, right? So why is it then that you wear the scarf in the name of hijab while dressing the rest of yourself in attractive makeup and flattering clothes?"
In so far, we can't decide if their argument is valid. Personally, I don't find a fault in women choosing a hijab as a fashion accessory, but then defending it on religious terms at the same time DOES seem kind of hypocritical.
The hijab has been the bone of contention since before the internet can remember. The tug-o-war between power, politics, and purpose has worn out the piece of cloth a woman wears around her head.
Here's our take on this phenomenon the call the "hijab"... Girl, wear it if you want, and wear it as you want. If someone has a problem with it, they need to learn to deal with it. However, wear it only if YOU want, and not because you are told to.
At the end of the day, it's your choice, your body, and your life!
Happy World Hijab Day!