Muslims Shed Light on World Hijab Day as Culture Is Brought to Campus
BY MATT MCCORMACK
SENIOR STAFF WRITER/TRANSLATOR
A display of the veil worn by some Muslim women moves others toward understanding and reflection.
At a time when Muslims are viewed with a watchful eye in America and beyond, three Muslim students revealed a part of who they are in a panel discussion sponsored by Interfaith House and Interfaith Advisory Board last Monday.
The panel was no ordinary gathering. Rather, it was a time to celebrate World Hijab Day. Founded in 2013, Feb. 1 marks a time when Muslim women embrace their roots through the hijab, or headscarf.
Naima Caydiid, ’19, from Somaliland, Fathimath Shafa, ’18, from the Maldives, and Fatima Jafari, ’18, from Afghanistan, each highlighted their hijab and spoke to a room full of students about how the article of clothing is perceived in their home countries.
While not all Muslim women wear the hijab, it is required for women in Somaliland, and it is a strong part of Muslim culture in Afghanistan and the Maldives.
For Caydiid, Shafa and Jafari, the veil is a part of daily life. Each of the young women has worn the hijab since her youth. Caydiid has worn hers ever since she can remember, Shafa since the eighth grade, and Jafari since the age of 10.
“The hijab was a means for me to be more confident,” Shafa said about growing up with the veil.
“This is my personality,” added Jafari. “This is how people know me — with my scarf.”
Students in attendance asked if any members of the panel faced discrimination while wearing the hijab in the United States. Both Caydiid and Shafa said they felt uneasy at American airports. Caydiid was at the airport in Washington, D.C. and Shafa was at the airport in Philadelphia when they were pulled aside for special screenings. Jafari said at a Walmart, a customer apologized to her for being a Muslim and then walked away.
Part of World Hijab Day is inviting others to experience the head covering for a day.
“Cozy and warm.” These are the words that Tychirra Moreno, ’19, used to described the hijab as she and other female students were invited to wear the veil. Moreno had never worn a hijab before, so she decided to take advantage of the opportunity.
Moreno told the story of her family reunions as a child where some of her distant relatives were Muslim. Coming from a Christian background, Moreno said she did not associate with these distant Muslim relatives “out of ignorance and fear.”
Moreno concluded that being friends with Caydiid has helped her appreciate Muslim culture and added that coming to Westminster has opened her eyes and made her more culturally aware.