booth-upload-e1289217954651London, 12 Rabi’ul Akhir 1436/2 February 2015 (MINA) – As the sun rose on February 1st, millions of women, either Muslim or non-Muslim, prepared their headscarf to don hijab for a day, showing solidarity and respect to Muslim women’s choice to cover.

“I think it is important today to try to understand and experience other cultures and belief system,” Elizabeth Croucher, a non-Muslim Londoner, OnIslam.net quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.

Croucher was introduced to the World Hijab Day event for the first time during her stay in the US in 2014.

Ever since, she took the decision to try the Islamic headscarf on the event day in 2015. “As a woman I think it will be a beautiful and innovative way to experience Islam and what it means to be a Muslim woman,” she said.

“I’m sure this will give a greater perspective on Islam and the world in general,” she added.

On February 1, millions Muslim and non-Muslim women wearing a traditional Islamic head scarf will march on the streets of 116 countries to mark the third anniversary of World Hijab Day.

The World Hijab Day, held for the third consecutive year, is the brain child of a New York resident, Nazma Khan, who came up with the idea as a means to foster religious tolerance and understanding.

Suggesting the event, Khan wanted to encourage non-Muslim women to don the hijab and experience it before judging Muslim women.

She also saw the event as a best chance to counteract some of the controversies surrounding why Muslim women choose to wear the hijab.

This year, Khan told reporters she’s hoping to mobilize over 10 million women across the globe. Amanda Whyman, a student from Manchester, said she was in Belgium last year for World Hijab Day.

“I attended last year and I will attend this year. To be honest it was nothing like I expected it to be. I have a few Muslim friends and I really wanted to understand their point of view and see for myself what a headscarf would feel like,” Whyman said.

“To be honest, I felt like me! By that I mean I was still the same individual, just dressed differently …. and yet people’s perception of me was completely different.”

Fighting Stereotypes

Afeefah Binte Irfan, a native Pakistani woman, World Hijab Day was a milestone towards changing stereotypical perceptions.

“Hijab is a choice yes I agree and no one can force another into donning it. Having said that, I firmly believe that to change a stereotypical perception, one has to take solid courageous steps,” she wrote to share her experience with hijab.

“The world usually sees Hijab as a sign of oppression, viewing it as more of a sexist notion. In order to break this stereotype, I feel, Muslim women must prove their mettle in every field of life. From Journalism to Medicine to Fashion Designing, just everything! And prove to the world that Hijab does not limit or deprive them from succeeding in the society.”

Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.

Muhammad Rizvi, an Islamic scholar, explained the importance of hijab in Muslim women life.

“Islam has introduced hijab as part of the decency and modesty in interaction between members of the opposite sex,” he told OnIslam.net.

“In the Qur’an, verse 59 of chapter 33 gives a very good reason; it says, “This is more appropriate so that they may be known [as Muslim women] and thus not be harassed [or molested].”

He added, “Men, whether they confess it or not, are slaves of lust and desire.”

Despite of the growing success of the event year after another, Whyman, the Manchester student, thinks the west has a lot to do to be more tolerant towards Muslim women.

“Western society has a lot of catching up to do in terms of tolerance and I don’t think we’re aware of it,” she said.

“It is an experience such as this that truly serves as a reminder. We are what we think of other people, and we need to learn to see other people through more accepting lenses.” (T/P011/R03)


Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)