A MESSAGE FROM ADMINISTRATOR AMARA MAJEED

As a Muslim living in America, the gaping gap of ignorance exists between myself and others: my headscarf, otherwise known as the hijab. I pleat, fold, and fasten a piece of cloth over my head everyday before I go out, but the hijab means more to me than merely concealing my hair. In the religion of Islam, both Muslim men and women are expected to preserve their modesty, and from an Islamic point of view, the hijab contributes to the creation of a modest atmosphere. In an era where women are universally sexualized, Muslim women believe that the hijab can prevent this from happening. The Hijab Project is a social experiment that I’d like girls—both Muslim and non-Muslim—to begin. Try on your own headscarf to school, the mall or other public place, and observe the reactions that people give you. Are you looked at differently? Do people treat you differently? Then, share your experience here! If you currently wear a hijab, tell us your hijab story. A bridge of understanding needs to be built between Muslims and non-Muslims, and experiencing the lifestyle of a growing and often misunderstood culture in America is vital to shedding the lack of knowledge that many people have regarding Islam as a religion. I’m looking forward to hearing your hijab stories! السلام عليكم--[May peace be upon you]

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“In my junior year, I signed up for the military, and four days after graduation I left for basic training…In civilian clothes I wear hijab, but in uniform I can’t. I am now petitioning my commander for the right to wear hijab at all times…I will fight to wear the hijab while I defend the United States.”

The people began to walk in large circles around her people whispered, some stared, and I watched on in curiosity. I urged my mom to specific places to get closer just to see better who this woman was. She wore a long blue dress like a night gown with sleeves and a white scarf wrapped around her head like it was winter and not 114 degrees outside. I was 15 and a much more religious child than most others. I was beginning to feel the frustration of having my questions diverted by preachers as beyond our knowledge and being told not to question that which is beyond the human capacity like the first sin. When Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. I had began reading about other religions, but Islam was far from my knowledge. As I watched this mother do her grocery shopping, I became curious. A few weeks went by and this woman showed up everywhere, or perhaps I tried to be near her. I found we had once lived near each other, her daughter went to my school and worked at the snow cone stand. After a while I would see the woman there at the little red snow cone stand and I would go and stand inline right behind her. Something! Something grew. Later I became sick and couldn’t go to school for a while. I played on a little chat game and a kid began to tell me about Islam while another tried to warn me away, telling me christians have no need for such lies. But what he said was true. For the entire week I studied. I continued until one day I texted my mom, out of fear to tell her in person, that I wanted to convert to Islam. That night I nearly lost my home. I was slapped for the first time ever by my mom and was hit with a bible. She took all my scarves and my computer. Twice she caught me until she promised to kick me out if I didn’t stop. I hid for five years. I studied the bible thinking maybe my mom was right and I was only a young woman looking for an adventure, but I grew more and more frustrated. Too many questions grew from these five years, and the only time I felt joy was when I snuck onto an islamic website at school and read a small piece of the Quran. In my junior year, I signed up for the military, and four days after graduation I left for basic training. Still fearful my mom would retaliate, I avoided going to the mosque that was offered to us. Later though when I went to tech school in California, I met a Muslim girl. That’s when I knew for sure I was a Muslim. Another girl randomly had an English Quran and gave it to me. Also my job studied about religion some. I struggled for a little while with fear of losing all my family.

Then I met my husband. I was on class break and walking through the town. I decided to grab a bite to eat at the crepe place, but you see I had decided to out on the hijab to try it. My friend, and non-muslim who was supporting me, joined me in my adventure. I had worn it a few times before and loved it. That day I walked in and he saw me and asked if I spoke Arabic; unfortunately I did not. The very next day I got dressed up a little fixed my hair as my mom would have told me and went back. He didn’t recognize me but we spoke for hours about Islam and life. I finally told him who I was and he was shocked. When he told me I looked more respectable in the hijab but still beautiful I felt so surprised. Then he took me to meet his family. It was the strongest feeling. I sat and watched as people cared for one another and ME! They weren’t what others had said they would be. I loved them. Just before that Ramadan I converted, and Issam, my husband, and I got married. I recently told my mom about my religion and my feelings. Now I am still in the military. In civilian clothes I wear hijab, but in uniform I can’t. I am now petitioning my commander for the right to wear the hijab at all times. I will never forget that woman in my home town. She showed me Islam through her hijab. She taught me and still doesn’t know. Inshaallah paradise will be rich for her. What Muslim women who wear or don’t wear hijab may not realize is that you are giving knowledge. Every smile people see of a woman in hijab, every happy Muslim they see could be what introduces them to Islam. It was for me. I love the hijab. It is purity and dua all in one. Imagine that you were that woman and you learned that simply by practicing your religion you saved me. Or imagine me desperately grateful to her and Allah for this. I am sad in uniform because every person that sees me could be a missed dua. Not only to help me but for those teetering.

I will fight to wear the hijab while I defend the United States. Allah help me and bless all those you sent to guide me. And thank you to all women who wear hijab. You could be the start of something more for others. So smile, pray, and share.

BRIDE

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“I was walking to the library, and two guys behind me were yelling “Terrorist!”

They probably thought it was funny; it wasn’t.

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“I would put an outfit on, my hijab on and then proceeded to go ask my mother for her opinion if my hijab matched my clothes. This to me was the start of trying to get her to accept even just my hijab. She said I actually looked beautiful. “

Salaam Alaikum

I converted using youtube back in Decemeber 2013 but just the other day I went to the Mosque for the first time and restated my Shahada. In the mean time of these few months, my son and I moved in with my mother, which I grew up not talking religion even though my parents where Christians. My mother asked me to NOT wear my hijab in her house. So out of respect I didn’t. I also live in a town of only 400 people that are retired and old school. My mother works on Sundays, and that was my day to wear hijab in the house to get used to the feel. Well, one day while my mom was at work at the gift shop, I decided to get hijab on and go to the gift shop to see what they had for scarfs. Now this is my first time in public with hijab on also. My mother just kind of looked at me and left it alone.

A few weeks went by and I decided to play dress up. I would put an outfit on, my hijab on and then proceeded to go ask my mother for her opinion if my hijab matched my clothes. This to me was the start of trying to get her to accept even just my hijab. She said I actually looked beautiful.

One day my mother asked me to ride with her to pick up my nephews and I said sure, just let me go and put my hijab on. She never once told me no. While on our way, she looked at me and said, “I can’t believe you actually wear that out in public”, I turned and looked at her saying, “Mom, to be very honest with you, not only am I wearing my hijab because Allah said we should be modest, but I feel very proud and happy when I’m wearing it”. That was the last she stated about it.

Alhamdulillah, I don’t leave my house now without my hijab. Not only is it step by step for people learning of Islam but it’s also step by step for family and friends. I am the type of person that doesn’t care what others think of the way I’m dressed so I just go for it. And I love being the only Muslim in a 30 mile radiance.

People will judge whoever they want, whether you are Muslim, black, gay, or even purple, but we as Muslims need to not judge them back cause it’s only God’s job to judge.

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“…these two boys were making terrorist jokes about me. They said something like, “she might blow up on you, man…” Everyone heard; I was humiliated and wanted to stop wearing hijab. In gym class, a girl had sexually harassed me. She would say explicit things, grab my face and ask me why I was Muslim. She told me I should get naked. I had to crawl under a stall away from the shower where she pushed me in. Nobody bothered to help; finally I told some adults who took action.”

Assalamualaikum; I have been a revert for five months. I grew up in Mexico believing in the trinity, although I always questioned it. The church wasn’t working for me so I went to my high school’s library and found the Quran. It had everything I was searching for and more. My family thought it was a phase. I would practice Islam very late at night and sneak out the house with hijab. Finally, I took shahadah when I was just 17; I felt excited and nervous at the same time. I wore hijab openly and even prayed at the beach without a care. People wouldn’t look me in the eye, even cashiers. My family occasionally makes Arab jokes, and at school I was harassed. My school has 3000 people with only five hijabis; I stand out since I am the only Mexican Muslim. Once, when I was minding my own business in the halls,

these two boys were making terrorist jokes about me. They said something like, “she might blow up on you, man…” Everyone heard; I was humiliated and wanted to stop wearing hijab. In gym class, a girl had sexually harassed me. She would say explicit things, grab my face and ask me why I was Muslim. She told me I should get naked. I had to crawl under a stall away from the shower where she pushed me in. Nobody bothered to help; finally I told some adults who took action.

Apart from that, there were plus points to wearing the hijab. In hijab, men let me walk by without honking horns at me. I feel beautiful and so empowered.

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“…asked me if I wanted to take my coat off. It was cold in the room so I said I would keep it on. She looked concerned and insisted that it wouldn’t matter if I took my coat off. I reassured her that I would be okay. She asked if I was worried about showing my skin, made reference to my hijab and asked if I came with my husband. I felt a little angry and upset at her assuming that I couldn’t make my own decisions. It’s demeaning to be patronized and molly-coddled like a 4 year old child. “

At school I had a couple of classmates who were male Muslims. One thing I noticed was that on wearing the headscarf, my contact with them almost ceased to exist. When we did happen to converse, they seemed very cautious and were more overtly respectful. I thought of my headscarf acting as if it were a physical barrier for those who understood what it symbolized.

It was comforting for me to not have to initiate awkward conversation by ‘telling off’ male friends when they made unwanted advances or comments. Instead, it felt like my headscarf did the talking for me by implicitly suggesting ‘I do not flirt’ or ‘I do not date’. In general, although male attention was not eliminated completely, it was reduced greatly.

I do not think my circle of friends changed much after wearing a headscarf. Because my old non-Muslim female friends were familiar with my personality, we all still got along with each other and were very close.

One thing that I realized after high school was that wearing a headscarf will subject you to a lot of assumptions. Of course, I already knew this, but it was only after I wore a headscarf that I felt the heavy weight of what this actually means. Part of my decision to wear a headscarf was to escape the burden of conforming to societal pressures of what a woman ‘should’ look like. But my extended family and even my sister would call me old-fashioned, a ‘grandma’or backwards for not being as trendy or fashionable as my cousins or other girls my age, and for being uninterested in fashion.

Another belief I think people hold of me after wearing a headscarf is that I am quiet, vulnerable, weak, stupid or otherwise simple-minded. I had an optician’s appointment where the woman, caucasian and in her mid 50′s, asked me if I wanted to take my coat off. It was cold in the room so I said I would keep it on. She looked concerned and insisted that it wouldn’t matter if I took my coat off. I reassured her that I would be okay. She asked if I was worried about showing my skin, made reference to my hijab and asked if I came with my husband. I felt a little angry and upset at her assuming that I couldn’t make my own decisions. It’s demeaning to be patronized and molly-coddled like a 4 year old child.

When people hold such strong assumptions about you, it strips you of your individuality. Sometimes I feel like I have involuntarily molded myself into what others have expected from me. At times, I do feel like going out without a hijab, because I think I will be treated better and feel more confident if my religious background or ethnicity remains ambiguous.

Despite this, the advantages of wearing a headscarf outweigh the drawbacks in my opinion, which is why I have decided to keep it on.

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“One time flying home from school, I decided why not wear my hijab? As a white woman, I had flown many times before with no problems. However, I knew right away that they were treating me differently. TSA gave me a full body pat down (a woman officer did the pat down), and had to run tests on my laptop.”

As a college student and revert in America, I had not yet found the strength to wear Hijab full time. However, whenever I went into town where I would not see people I knew, I would wear my hijab to practice and get used to it. The Muslim community in my town is fairly large, so seeing a woman in hijab was not really that unordinary. Nobody ever gave me a hard time for wearing it.

One time flying home from school, I decided why not wear my hijab? As a white woman, I had flown many times before with no problems. However, I knew right away that they were treating me differently. TSA gave me a full body pat down (a woman officer did the pat down), and had to run tests on my laptop.

On the plane, I usually chat with my seat mates, but the man next to me tried very hard not to make eye contact with me and was very short with me when I asked him in a friendly manner how he was doing and where he was going. A child sitting across the isle from me even looked scared of me when I tried to smile at him. Children usually love me, and I tend to get along with them very well, so this was extremely unusual.

I wanted to tell these people: I am an American, just like you! Just because I choose to wear a scarf on my head doesn’t make me a terrorist.

Overall, a very eye opening Hijab experience. I hope the American people can see as a whole how beautiful and peaceful the religion of Islam truly is. Insha’ALLAH (God-Willing) I will be able to wear Hijab full time one day soon.

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“Where are the most precious pearls found- under the sea, hidden. Gold? Deep in mines. The best of things are hidden, so protect yourself.”

At the age of 11, when every Muslim around me was fasting, I was unable to be a part of this due to health issues. Depressed, I decided I wanted to do something else to please my lord, I knew that hijab was obligatory. However, as no one other in my family wore the hijab, it had never been something which I had thought I would do. Being only 11 when telling my family, they claimed I was too young, I would get bullied. But when I explained it would only be for a month, they agreed.

The hijab when I first put it on was difficult. People called me ugly, others stopped communicating with me.

Today, At the age of 20. I am still wearing a hijab. It never came off after that Ramadan. Hijab was the right choice for me. It defines me, it allows others to know I’m a Muslim – and when I am about to do something haram, the hijab serves as a reminder for me.

Now my sister is at the same stage as me, finding her way with the hijab. Hijab can’t be forced, it’s a choice and believe me the right choice. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Where are the most precious pearls found- under the sea, hidden. Gold? Deep in mines. The best of things are hidden, so protect yourself. Stay modest. May Allah give us all strength to follow his commands and grant us Jannah in sha Allah, ameen. Love you all for the sake of Allah SWT.

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“My aunts tried to convince me that we don’t wear hijab at parties, that we only need to wear it on the streets (eye roll.) I had gotten a new hair cut few days before the party and all of my dear aunts kept asking me, “why did you get this hair style if you want to cover it?”

Assalamualaikum.

I am an 18 year old girl from India. From the time I hit puberty, my clothes had short sleeves and I never bothered about covering my hair. I always thought that we should start wearing niqab or abaya when we are married or either close to getting married. But then I had to live in another state for 4 yrs for studies. Before, I had studied in my hometown in a Christian school. In my new school, I saw many girls wearing the headscarf. Some also wore abaya. I made new friends and coincidentally all of my friends wore the headscarf. Iseventh ally started wearing the hijab. I started wearing it but I did not cover my neck. Gradually, I started wearing it properly, neck covered and everything. Since then, I have not looked back, and In Sha Allah in next few days, I am going to buy my first abaya. I have worn the headscarf for approximately 4 yrs now but I have really understood it now.

I have attended two marriage parties with hijab after I came back, and of course I was stared at. Some girls younger than me passed comments in loud voices.

My aunts tried to convince me that we don’t wear hijab at parties, that we only need to wear it on the streets (eye roll.) I had gotten a new hair cut few days before the party and all of my dear aunts kept asking me, “why did you get this hair style if you want to cover it?”

People here have to learn a lot. What saddens me is the fact that even the muslims here give more priority to the so-called traditions even when it is completely against the islamic rules.

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“I’m not lucky. I don’t have her courage to stand up for myself. I don’t have her courage to represent myself. I am an introvert, I hide myself completely because I am that person who is so frightened of what people think of her. That is a bad thing to be. I am not lucky.”

Including me, my best friends are all Muslim and female. One like me, does not wear hijab but the other two do wear the scarf. We all have hobbies, and experiences and thoughts that many would call “straying from our deen” but we all accept each other with no judgement. All of us are also aware of our limits . Inner and outer, we all carry qualities and appearances that can be misunderstood as to what Islam actually is. I know I am making many claims here but here’s a story:

My Hijabi bff-let’s call her H, has received taunts from people about her hijab. Standing in line at a grocery store, someone told her, “I’m so sorry for your oppression”. She didn’t walk away. She turned around and basically, told him off.

Back in high school, an acquaintance of ours asked us if we were both Muslim. We both said yes. She then proceeded to ask why I do not wear the hijab and she does. We both agreed and said “It’s our own choices”. Despite saying that it was my best friends own choice, she looked to me and said “you’re lucky”.

Why?

No I’m not lucky. I don’t have her courage to stand up for myself. I don’t have her courage to represent myself. I am an introvert, I hide myself completely because I am that person who is so frightened of what people think of her. That is a bad thing to be. I am not lucky.

There are many reasons why I have not worn the hijab yet. I have thought about it, but it is up to me. Just like the other hijabi’s and niqabi’s. They know what they’re wearing.

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“I took off my hijab, and went to my first class with my carefully curled hair flying in the wind. People walked by me just like they normally did, and no one was extra friendly or overly nice to me. I sat in the back row, feeling devastated. I felt horrible inside, wishing I could run to the bathroom and cover my hair. Even though there were guys everywhere, I didn’t get the attention I had originally hoped for.”

I was born in America into a muslim family, and started wearing the hijab when I was ten. At the time, it wasn’t difficult. I went to a full time muslim school my whole life, so up until 12th grade I was always surrounded by muslim girls like me. I wore the hijab everywhere, but mostly because I was afraid of how my family would react if I stopped. My parents are very strict, and I was way more scared of them than Allah (swt)’s punishment. Also, I knew that if I took it off, all my friends and people I knew would be quick to judge. Not truly understanding the meaning and value of hijab, it was more a symbol saying “I am muslim” than a personal decision and commitment.
I got accepted into a college in a different state, where I knew no one. I still remember that first day, mostly because I was utterly miserable.

I took off my hijab, and went to my first class with my carefully curled hair flying in the wind. People walked by me just like they normally did, and no one was extra friendly or overly nice to me. I sat in the back row, feeling devastated. I felt horrible inside, wishing I could run to the bathroom and cover my hair. Even though there were guys everywhere, I didn’t get the attention I had originally hoped for.

And every time one of them saw my hair, I knew my bad deeds were piling up.
After class was over, hastened to put on my hijab. I had made a final decision, and realized the true meaning of hijab. No one knows of this story, not even my parents or best friend. This is the first time I am relating it. But I believe it was a great lesson for me, and I have vowed to never take off my hijab in public again.

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