World Hijab Day (2019)

Hi internet explorers!

I hope that wherever you’re reading this from, you are healthy and safe. I am sure most of us are still trying to comprehend the fact that we’re living through one of the most historical moments in our lifetime, or maybe even the century. And all of us, from the richest to the poorest, are affected by the coronavirus, to varying degrees. But during challenging times like these, we have to stay positive!

So for those of us blessed with the ability to stay at home, I want to share my writing. I hope that these words can bring a moment of reflection for both you and me.

Because on Friday Ramadhan will start, I want to share an essay I wrote about World Hijab Day, which is on February 1st every year. 🙂

A grinning array of girls and boys with colorful hijabs, with stray strands of hair peeking through. These were all the people who participated with me on World Hijab Day. This was an event that I and two of my hijab-wearing friends at school initiated to promote a discussion on hijab and Islam, which I realize are misinterpreted or prejudiced by many people globally, especially due to phenomena such as Islamophobia. When I saw all the people who decided to join this event, I was touched. There were about 20 people, from all corners of the world.

At UWC, we all are of different races, ethnicities, countries, and opinions. What is the most amazing thing, however, is the fact that despite our differences, my friends at that school are all extremely open-minded. So much so that during the World Hijab Day, there were even two boys who participated, my friends who were supporting me. Besides inviting the school to wear hijabs for a day, I and my two hijab-wearing friends at school also created a workshop wherein we discussed the meaning of hijab, and perceptions on Islam itself.

In that discussion, I played the role as the facilitator. Around 15 people came to the workshop, each with a different goal. Some wanted to reassess their assumptions, stereotypes, or misconceptions. Meanwhile, others already had a deep understanding of Islam and hijab but wanted to expand their knowledge.

In turns, we shared our viewpoints, posed questions, and at times even argued or criticized another person’s opinion. I guided the conversation by providing questions for the group to think upon, such as, “How do you understand hijab?” or “How did you feel wearing it the whole day?” And I pitched in when I felt it necessary. One example is when someone commented on how wearing the hijab throughout the day made her feel oppressed. Thus, I explained to her how from my view, I didn’t feel oppressed by wearing a hijab, and that I wore it because I wanted to and because I felt closer to God, not because of pressure from my religious community or someone else.

Overall, I believe that creating this event gave me the opportunity to learn. It also allowed us to take responsibility for something which I believe is a monumental problem throughout the world, and that is the lack of understanding many people have towards ideas foreign to them, such as the hijab. We also learned about each other. Through respecting each other’s ideas, we discovered that although we might still disagree with another person’s viewpoint in the end, that is not the most important thing.

Rather, what is most important is having the humbleness and capacity to listen to what others have to say, and the willingness to try to understand.

What do you think about this issue?

And do you think that to promote an idea such as this so enthusiastically, but then undergo a paradigm shift which makes you change your view towards it, is hypocritical or right? After UWC, I feel like I’ve had a paradigm shift regarding my own perception of the hijab, but I still believe in the meaning behind it.

In any case, I wish you the best, dear reader!

Happy Ramadhan! Stay safe and healthy. ❤


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