One of Helena Kabasele’s friends was once asked if she ever took off her hijab. Did she wear it in the shower? Seriously, did she ever take it off?
Kabasele, a senior political science major, knows what it is like to be confronted by these misconceptions — she wears a hijab too.
“Another [misconception] is that we do it for men — saying that we wear the hijab so that men don’t look at us,” Kabasele said. “That’s not true. We wear it for God and only God.”
Hijabs are worn by Muslim women as an act of servitude to God. To the people who celebrate World Hijab Day, the hijab symbolizes a Muslim woman’s right to worship in any way they please.
World Hijab Day is celebrated on Feb. 1 every year. The day was founded in 2013 by Nazma Khan, a Bangladeshi-American activist. It’s used around the world for non-Muslim women to experience what it’s like to wear a hijab while allowing them to support the right of Muslim women to practice their faith in whatever way they choose.
In observance of the day, the Women’s Center set up a booth in Armstrong, inviting women to try on a hijab and learn about Muslim tradition and culture.
Kabasele spent the afternoon putting hijabs on non-Muslim students and seeing their reactions to wearing them. Kabasele says that people find it easy to judge the things they do not understand and in order to understand the purpose of the hijab, it is important to try one.
“When you try it on for yourself and you experience it for yourself, it kind of widens your perspective,” Kabasele said. “It changes how you feel.”
Renate Crawford, physics professor and university first lady, stopped by twice during the event to show her support. The second time, she tried on a pink and gold hijab.
Rhonda Jackson, administrative assistant in the Women’s Center, coordinated the event. She enjoys trying on the hijabs and experiencing Muslim culture.
“There’s a sense of beauty when you put it on,” Jackson said.
She emphasized the importance of celebrating unique cultures and engaging with people from different backgrounds.
“It is important to dispel the myths and misconceptions about women who wear the hijab,” Jackson said.
Posters of prominent female Muslim activists surrounded the booth. Among them were Rashida Talib and Ilhan Omar, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, and Carolyn Walker-Diallo, the first Muslim woman elected to serve as a judge in the United States.
On World Hijab Day, women around the world express their support of Muslim female choice to wear a hijab using #FreeInHijab on Twitter.
“I feel a personal responsibility to raise awareness about the Muslim community and their faith, and to provide opportunities like World Hijab Day to hold space for building community and creating allyship across cultures,” Jackson said.