Sr. Nazma Khan recently spoke at the Rad Talks conference about World Hijab Day, a movement she started:
February 1st, 2013, marked the first annual World Hijab Day in recognition of millions of Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab and live a life of modesty.
This movement was the brainchild of a New York resident, Nazma Khan, who came up with the idea as a means to foster religious tolerance and understanding by inviting women, both non-hijabi Muslims and non-Muslims, to experience hijab for one day.
For many people, the hijab is a symbol of oppression and segregation. By opening up new pathways to understanding, Nazma hopes to counteract some of the controversies surrounding why Muslim women choose to wear the hijab.
Nazma knows exactly what she’s talking about. The social activist came to this country from Bangladesh at the tender age of 11 where she found herself being the only hijabi in middle school. She remembers her experience as a difficult one.
“Growing up in the Bronx, in New York City, I experienced a great deal of discrimination due to my hijab,” she reflects. “In middle school, I was ‘Batman’ or ‘ninja’. When I entered University after 9/11, I was called ‘Osama bin Laden’ or ‘Terrorist’. It was awful. I figured the only way to end discrimination is if we ask our fellow sisters to experience hijab themselves.”
The whole movement was organized solely through social networking sites. It has attracted interest from Muslims and non-Muslims in more than 67 countries worldwide. Their literature has been translated in 23 languages.
Jess Rhodes, a former pagan from the UK, was one of the thousands of participants who chose to wear hijab in response to World Hijab Day. A few days later, she decided to explore the Qur’an in order to fully understand Islam. It was through reading the Qur’an that she found a sense of peace and chose to convert to Islam.
For this year, Nazma Khan’s goal is to have 1 million participants worldwide and she is asking for everyone’s support. For more information, visit: World Hijab Day.
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