Hijabs lay delicately on the heads of two women, covering their heads and necks, as they strode on to the stage. Students and teachers filed into the seats of the Huss Center to hear these women speak about their experiences wearing the traditional Muslim headscarf. Their names are Nausheena Hussain and Rafia Omer, and they both choose to wear a hijab every day. They stressed the significance of awareness about what a hijab is and that it means something different to each woman who chooses to wear one.
“My decision was really based on my own journey, and my own practice of Islam and understanding of it. I really do feel that it is a commandment from god and that is why I wear it,” Hussain said.
Hussain’s the Executive Director of Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood for Empowerment, known as Rise. Omer is on the advisory board for CAIR-MN, the Council of American-Islamic Relations and a Quranic Arabic teacher at a few of her local mosques, along with being the mom of two Saint Paul Academy and Summit School students, Husaam and Noor Qurieshy.
The women emphasized that each person, not just people who wear a hijab, have a lot of components that contribute to their identity.
“I feel like we need a lot of strength in today’s time to be who we are and to stand up for our identity, whether it is the religion we preach, whether we are a feminist, whether we identify as a women [or] as a minority or as a person who’s wearing hijab,” Omar said.
The speakers also covered the growing need for understanding of their religion and choice, with the current political climate.
“In this political climate I think we all understand our First Amendment right, which is freedom of religion, freedom of expression and I feel like my hijab is a commitment to my First Amendment Rights,” Hussain said.
“[women who wear a hijab] are a walking target for people who hate,” Hussain said.
The assembly was organized by Muslim Student Alliance, who will be hosting their second annual “Hijab Day” on Wed. Feb 1. Students and faculty can find hijabs to borrow as well as green ribbons to show their solidarity with the muslim community outside the Deans office all day. MSA will be there to help students put on the hijab and ask that those who wish to fully participate in Hijab Day wear long sleeve shirts and pants or a skirt. There will also be a following presentation by MSA during advisory in the lecture room.