This World Hijab Day, we strive to honor the legacy of women who have inspired us to embrace the hijab: our mothers, sisters, and friends. Today, our social media feeds are filled with aesthetically pleasing photos of women wearing hijabs with confidence, but this is only a glimpse into what it means to embrace the hijab. It is easy to focus on the physical, external challenges Muslim women have faced as a result of wearing it, but wearing the hijab is a choice that is more than skin deep: it represents a spiritual commitment just as much as it represents a physical one. In this life, Allah (swt) has given us signs to reflect upon the beauty of our world, the complicated nature of humanity, and the ultimate purpose of our existence. There is a perfect and divine wisdom behind every facet of our faith, and the hijab is no exception.
The hijab at its core is defined by juxtaposition. Physically, the hijab serves to identify us as Muslim, uniting us in a sisterhood that transcends borders and cultures. Yet, it simultaneously puts our personal relationship with Allah (swt) on full display. We can mask aspects of our identity, but the hijab forces us to confront our faith head-on, inviting both social scrutiny and personal reflection. It may be physically easy to wear a headscarf, but the spiritual vulnerability we experience by literally putting our hearts on our sleeves (or in our scarves) is a challenge that should not be taken lightly.
Just as the hijab serves to unite us as Muslims, the hijab can also set us apart. From Islamophobia experienced by Muslims across the world to simple microaggressions we feel being visibly different from our peers, Muslim women are particularly vulnerable to being targets of hate and discrimination. However, this vulnerability can also be our strength. The Prophet (saw) teaches us: “Whoever amongst you sees an evil, he must change it with his hand. If he is not able to do so, then with his tongue. And if he is not able to do so, then with his heart, and that is the weakest form of faith” (Muslim). As we work to fight against injustice throughout the world, our hijab acts as a symbol of solidarity. Even if our hands and tongues falter, wearing our hijabs with sincerity aligns us with those who actively stand against evil. While wearing our hijabs serves as a silent protest, it also reminds us that true faith cannot remain silent and should be vocalized. Wearing our scarves with pride is a first step, a commitment to fighting injustice simply by making the effort to wear our scarves with pride.
Wherever you are in your hijab journey, World Hijab Day is for you. While we may amplify the voices and share the images of those women who have made the commitment to physically wear the hijab, embodying the values represented by our hijab is a crucial first step. Together, we can inspire the next generation not only to wear the hijab and embrace it physically, but to embody the values of modesty, humility, and kindness it represents both inside and out.
Written by Nadia Carrillo.