World Hijab Day gives Columbia students opportunity to wear a hijab for the first time

By Irvin Ibarra, Staff Reporter

MSA members in front of their booth and their backdrop where people can pose for photos and see themselves in the mirror after trying on a hijab. (Pictured: Top row from left to right: Steve Claros, Ayat Hamed, Summer Radwan, Sumana Syed. Bottom row from left to right: Noha Alhams, Kashf Fatima, Nasim Ellahi.) Irvin Ibarra

Walking into the Student Center, students from the Muslim Student Association of Columbia set up their booth with multiple headscarves and religious garments hanging along a clothing rack with one goal in mind — to give any student the chance to wear one for World Hijab Day. The head coverings ranged from the hijab, niqab, chador and the burka in different sizes and colors.

“World Hijab Day is this day to bring awareness to Muslim women all around the world who wear the hijab,” said Summer Radwan, secretary of MSA and junior communication major. “We want to bring people together and give people the opportunity to learn more about the hijab, and to actually be able to try one on as well.”

The event hosted by MSA was held on Wednesday, Feb. 9.

World Hijab Day was founded on Feb. 1, 2013, by Nazma Khan, founder and CEO of the World Hijab Day Organization, to celebrate and recognize the millions of Muslim women who wear hijabs, and to raise awareness against discrimination and Islamaphobia by inviting non-hijabi Muslims and non-Muslims to wear a hijab for a day.

MSA’s goal is the same.

At the MSA’s World Hijab Day booth in the Student Center, students are able to take artwork and a goodie bag filled with candy with the tag #WorldHijabDay commemorating the visit. Irvin Ibarra

“We wanted to spread awareness because there have been recent attacks against hijabs,” said Nasim Ellahi, MSA president and a junior graphic design major. “If headscarves and balaclavas could be a fashion trend, I don’t get why hijabs are persecuted on the daily.”

Ellahi said these attacks on hijabs are seen in the form of hijab bans, with India recently placing a hijab ban in schools.

“There’s a lot of misconceptions about [the] hijab,” said Sumana Syed, the Student Organization Council representative for MSA and a sophomore cinema and television arts major.

Coming in many colors and patterns, hijabs can reflect the latest fashion trends for Muslim women. K’Von Jackson

Syed, who has worn her hijab since she was 9, acknowledges that while hijabs have been used as a political weapon in some Muslim countries as a method of oppression toward women, that is not always the case.

For Muslims, including MSA members celebrating World Hijab Day, wearing a headscarf by choice is a form of preservation of one’s beauty, a method of remaining modest and a way of protection against the male gaze.

“It’s just an amazing religion and an amazing experience to be Muslim,” Radwan said. “If you do have questions, you can approach us with questions. We’ll happily answer them.”

MSA meetings are every other Wednesday at the Student Center from 6:30 to 8 p.m., and they welcome anyone to participate and join, not just Muslim students.