World Hijab Day (WHD) is a phenomenal initiative which invites women from all backgrounds, religions and ethnicities to wear the hijab and stand united with Muslim women. Muslim women from around the world face abuse and discrimination on a daily basis, which is why WHD is a unique moment to challenge the narrative.
Today marks the 11th anniversary of WHD and many from around the world are working tirelessly to raise awareness about the high levels of discrimination.
It all started with Nazma Khan who is a Bangladeshi American that faced much abuse growing up because of her hijab. She came up with the idea “as a means to foster personal freedom of religious expression and cultural understanding by inviting women from all walks of life to experience the hijab for one day,” according to the WHD’s website.
This year’s WHD was promoted using the hashtag #UnapologeticHijabi and invites women from all backgrounds – regardless of their ethnicity and religion – to wear the hijab for one day and post images of their new look on Twitter. As well as uniting as women, the hashtag’s main intention is to challenge the false narrative that women in hijab are oppressed, and the day stands to combat the discrimination many hijabis experience.
“Hijab doesn’t oppress us. On the contrary, it gives us the power to strengthen our faith. We have a right to believe in our religion, and we have a right to wear our hijab,”Marziya Fatemah (Burma) Twitter
For many around the world, Hijab has become a means of feeling liberated and protected. We spoke to Mizz Nina, founder of Qalby App who told us, “I dress more modestly for the reason of wanting to please Allah. I wear the hijab because I feel safe, I feel beautiful in hijab and because I know it is something that pleases Allah and I hope to earn paradise through this deed inshAllah“.
Uniting Through The Hijab
WHD founder, Nazma Khan was born in New York and for many years, she faced discrimination for wearing her hijab. Whether that was in school or on the streets, this victimisation led her to contemplate a revolutionary idea.
What began as a simple idea in 2013, has now fast transformed into a worldwide campaign with over 150 countries taking part in the initiative. With volunteers and ambassadors helping out in any way they can, many countries have also witnessed key authoritative figures and celebrities joining in. What’s more, the UK was astounded when the UK House of Commons hosted an event for WHD in 2017.
The initiative is receiving a lot of attention. Last year, Meta helped celebrate the 10th annual World Hijab Day by posting a promotion campaign video about World Hijab Day.
Many have become hijab influencers with an aim to act as role models for aspiring hijabs. We spoke to social media hijab influencer, Eniyah Rana who told us, “I became a hijab influencer because I truly believe that representation matters and when I started wearing it, I never saw people who looked like me in the media. Living in such a vibrant and diverse country like the UK, and seeing all types of people out and about, I wanted to be a modest beauty and fashion creator who also shared her real life, the good and the bad.”
Discrimination Needs To Be Challenged
To this day, many Muslim women have voiced their thoughts on the discrimination many hijabis are receiving. In fact, many countries such as France, Denmark and China are making it exceptionally difficult for hijabi women to practice their faith.
Many hijabis are shunned whilst others are discriminated against even in their workplaces. According to TRT World, “35 percent of women in The Netherlands with headscarves got responses from employers, while this rate rose to 70 percent among those not wearing them.”
Speaking to Arab News, Ridwana Wallace-Laher, a British Indian hijabi from Bradford told Arab News, “It is important that Muslim women did not allow themselves to be affected by the stereotypes and stigmas attached to wearing the hijab.”
In a TED Talk, the founder of WHD, Nazma Khan said, “We should not give up on our identity simply because of negative perceptions by others.” She also added, “turn struggles into strength, wounds into wisdom and pain into power by keeping hope and courage alive.”
Main Image Credit: Narratively
Juber Ahmed is our Digital Editor and travel enthusiast with a keen interest in Islamic history and heritage. He travels with his wife to various places around the world and writes about his experiences.
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