Women’s Herstory month is in full swing at Ramapo, this week with the Muslim Student association’s annual “Try on a hijab day.”
This event, hosted in the Fishbowl, encouraged students to try on a hijab and ask questions about it openly.
“We’re trying to bring us [hijabis] together,” said junior Rand Abdul-Razik of MSA. “Even if some of our members don’t wear hijabs, or if they do, it’s just a way to spread awareness about the culture.”
Though some of the women of the Muslim Student Association noted that they do not see many women wearing hijabs on campus, they feel Ramapo creates a comfortable environment for those who do make the choice. One of the key points of this event is to remind others that wearing a hijab is a choice that many Muslim women are proud to make.
“I love this event because it not only shows how we would represent ourselves, but gives others insight as to what it represent and how much it signifies respect and honor that we, as women, have in our culture,” said junior Caitlyn Probst. She noted that she identifies with a religion other than Islam but still wears a veil or hijab to her church.
Women covering their heads either only in church or always have a part in many different religions, including Judaism and Christianity. However, a stigma sometimes surrounds Muslim women who wear hijabs.
“It’s good for people to ask questions, not out of ignorance, but out of curiosity,” Abdul-Razik said. “Just because people wear hijab doesn’t mean that they all have a certain, similar perspective. They all have different personalities, different ideas, and it’s important to know that you need to get to know the person for who they are, not just the scarf.”
Women’s history month aims to highlight the varying experiences of women around the world, and this event certainly helps to gain insight on women’s experiences wearing hijabs.
Beyond being welcomed to try on a hijab and keep a scarf, women were encouraged to wear the hijab for the rest of the day and share their experiences later at a dinner hosted in Friends Hall. By engaging out of respect and curiosity, there was much to be learned about the experiences of hijabi.
“People shouldn’t be scared of people who wear hijabs, because I know it can be a real cultural stigma when people see people proudly showing their faith,” freshman Khalisah Hameed said. The ability to gain knowledge and break down stereotypes is a key goal of this event.
One of the most important takeaways is to remember that women who wear hijabs are not defined solely by their decision to proudly represent their religion. The women of MSA joked around as they talked about the stereotype of hijabi women looking unfriendly or not smiling.
“Sometimes we’re shy of how someone else is looking at us,” Abdul-Razik said.
Junior Samarah Khan added, “Or, we’re just really stressed, like any other college student.”
Women who approached the table of scarves to choose from were warmly welcomed and shown different ways to wear a hijab. The styles in which hijabs are worn in vary in different countries and by preference of the wearer.
This event was a success for the Muslim student association, as shown by the many proud faces who shared in this experience to try on a hijab.
Khalisah Hameed summed up their motivation for this event well, “It’s not a forced thing that we have to do,” she said. “It’s a decision that we’re proud to make.”