Nurah Sabir demonstrates different hijabs from around the world on Mari Tilahun.

World Hijab Day

Heidi Voigt

The hijab and other associated clothing articles such as the burqa, are often associated with oppression. Because of this, World Hijab day was created in on Feb. 1, 2013 and continues to be celebrated on this day. The goal is to commemorate women who choose to live a modest lifestyle.

St. Scholastica’s Muslim Student Association held to inform the community on the significance and history of Hijabi women.

Nurah Sabir, a convert to Islam, began her explanation with evidence from the Quran. According to Sabir, hijab speaks to modesty and, “actually addresses men first.” This means that the Quran first tells men that they should avert their eyes from women, and then tells women that they should act modestly.

Hijabs as head coverings are a cultural object more than a religious one, and are not required according to the religion.

Madina Tall, a co-presenter at the event, said, “I choose not to wear a hijab. I was raised Muslim, and none of the women in my family wear hijab.”

Sabir modeled hijabs as they are worn across the world from the colorful patterns of India to the cutting edge fashions worn in Western cultures. She noted that the black niqabs of Saudi Arabia – which are the ones most often considered to be oppressive – are a part of the culture.

Jessica Schneider, an attendee, said that the presentation made her reevaluate her ideas.

“I think it’s important to know that women can wear hijab as a liberation. It’s not oppression, it’s a way of expression.”

To Sabir, who was originally scared of judgement in public situations, wearing a hijab became liberating. While she wears hijab because, “God asks me to wear it,” Sabir says that she does not miss the objectification that non-Hijabi women face.

“Being Hijabi allows me to be judged based on my personality rather than my body,” she said.

Another prevalent stereotype discussed was that women have to wear hijabs at all times. In truth, hijabs are only worn in which a woman could be seen by a marriageable man. Women do not wear them around male family members or female friends. It is common for Muslim women to hold entirely female parties.

The night concluded with questions and solidarity as attendees were encouraged to look at and try on the hijabs themselves.