They say, “Oh, poor girl, you’re so beautiful you know
It’s a shame that you cover up your beauty so.”
She just smiles and graciously responds reassuringly,
“This beauty that I have is just one simple part of me.
This body that I have, no stranger has the right to see.
These long clothes, this shawl I wear, ensure my modesty.”
-Dawud Wharnsby Ali
There couldn’t have been a better quote to sum up the way hijabis are perceived and how they perceive themselves. Last February 1st, 2013 was the first ever World Hijab Day founded by a New York resident, Nazma Khan. The idea was meant to promote religious tolerance and counteract the belief that a headscarf is a symbol of oppression. Women who do not wear it are given a chance to gain an understanding by experiencing it for a day. The movement has become quite popular through the use of social networking and has attracted interest in more than 100 countries. So far there are more than 50 appointed Hijab Day Ambassadors, including Buffalo’s own Jenece Garber.
I was so excited (so excited I really dressed up for it) to be part of this year’s World Hijab Day event, especially after facing the disappointment that I wasn’t going to be able to go. Scarves were donated by woman in the Buffalo area and a table was set up in a local mall giving everyday consumers the chance to oust their curiousity or have any questions they had about the headscarf answered. Also if any woman chose she could wear one for the day possibly enriching her shopping experience.
What was more exciting was the people that all the volunteers got to meet. Among them were a Middle Eastern Politics teacher at the University at Buffalo who really wanted to try the experience after having Muslim students in her class, and a family who was going through a rough situation- they found comfort in taking a few scarves for their mother.
I was also able to meet Jenece Garber, the ambassador for Buffalo and hear her story. This woman was a convert to Islam after spending years studying the Qur’an/Islam. Her set career was contributing to her Church choir. Her church had multiple inter-faith days and gave its goers the chance to learn about different religions. She used one of those days to reveal her faith change and found great support from the clergy as well as the church followers. IT BLEW MY MIND! IT WAS AMAZING TO KNOW THAT PEOPLE COULD BE SO RESPECTFUL AND SUPPORTIVE. It takes so much courage to one day change the way you live your life, but it takes even more to tell those who have always thought they have known you so well. But serious props to her and the church. Let’s hope other churches as well as those of different faiths can be as open-minded.
To see other pictures from World Hijab Day or other Islamic Events check out the WNY Muslims Facebook Page