Muslims and non-Muslims on Thursday observed World Hijab Day, an annual event observed in 140 countries worldwide. Clerics and Muslim groups in Nigeria unanimously declared at various events to mark the day that no woman, regardless of her faith, should be subjected to persecution and discrimination over Hijab. Chief Imam of Young Muslim Brothers and Sisters (YOUMBAS), Imam Najeemdeen Yusuf, said at an event that Hijab is ordained by Allah on all believing women. A non-Muslim American woman, Chelle Houston, who chooses to wear Hijab as a non-Muslim woman, added that no one has the absolute right to dictate how others should appear. She said: “I am not a Muslim woman. However, I am a Hijabi woman (even though not all faiths call it by the same name).
There are many different religions whose woman choose to dedicate their soul, heart, mind and body to their faith with the inclusion of covering, wrapping, veiling, hijab, and so many other names. I am proud of my choice and proud of my sisters of all faiths who also make this choice.
“I felt a desire to write my reasons for choosing to do so a while back when some uneducated woman told me that I was oppressed and probably did not even know why I had to cover my head. I could have started yelling at her all the reasons, but I chose to go home and write it out and then some time later I put it on my Facebook page.” She continued: “I did not do it for her or anyone else; I chose to write this for me and then I chose to share it for education purposes.
My hope is that if I can help empower a woman who is scared of society for the choice she makes then I have served my purpose well. We as women often do not have a level playing field. We are often darned if we do and darned if we don’t. “I do not even want a level playing field. I just want my sisters of all faiths to know that you are not only on the field, but you have a huge team rooting for you and here to support you. No matter your path, your sisters are here to support you and love you. Be strong and be faithful to who you are.
The five reasons I choose to cover my head and hair with headscarves are: first, it expresses my devotion, respect, and commitment to my Gods and Goddesses. As anyone else in their faith, I do not ignore what I am called to do by my Gods and Goddesses. It allows me to be in a beautiful and spiritual state that is receptive, aware, and centered. In my faith, it offers a level of needed protection and free of distraction on many sacred levels that are important to me. These are internal benefits and protections that have nothing to do with my outward appearance and everything to do with my spiritual and emotional growth and well being. “Second, I prefer to keep the focus on my face and my facial expressions and not on secondary sexualized characteristics.
The face of every human being is beautiful and sadly, people tend to focus on secondary sexualized characteristics instead (hair, makeup, tight clothes, cleavage, rear, legs, shoes… etc…). “Third, choosing to cover also creates a level of honor and privacy in a secure sense that it is immediately visible that I am beautifully married and unavailable. It also creates a psychological barrier, a cognitive distance between myself and strangers (or others I choose to be distanced from), if you will; a distance that use to be valued in society and this is something in which seems to have been lost through the generations.
It serves well in deterring unnecessary and unwanted attentions which is of the utmost discomfort.” According to Houston, covering “my hair is, as the fourth point, not only modest, it is also beautiful, comfortable and practical. I do not have to worry about styling my hair to appease the shallow judgments of those in the general public.”
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