Muslim students at N.C. State celebrate World Hijab Day through outreach
N.C. State University student Aisha Mahmoud celebrates World Hijab Day each February by honoring the Muslim women in her life, who — like her — choose to practice hijab and wear headscarves and loose-fitting clothes in public.
“I texted my mom, my sister, my best friend and I was like, 'You go girl,’” Mahmoud said. “‘Keep doing it, keep rocking it.’”
She first heard about the honorary day around the same time she started practicing hijab when she was about 13-years-old.
“Me and my friends, we would just try to raise awareness about what exactly the hijab means to us, via social media, via conversations with our friends,” Mahmoud said.
Her classmate and fellow hijabi Mariyah Modan says those conversations are important, because there are so many misconceptions about hijab.
“I think the biggest misconception is [that] you have to wear it, and it's to cover your hair, right?’” Modan said. “It’s not a piece of cloth. It's your whole lifestyle, the way you come off, the way you speak, the way you dress, act, everything.”
In honor of World Hijab Day on Tuesday, the Muslim Student Association at N.C. State hosted a table on campus to invite fellow students to try out hijab for themselves.
Mariyah Modan helped sophomore Miranda Powers, who is not Muslim, try on a blue scarf. Meanwhile, Powers' friend Ashna Patel, relayed what she had learned from the MSA members about how it is a symbol of modesty.
“Hijab actually means modesty,” explained Patel, “and it's in any way you interpret it.”
“That's how they interpret it,” Patel said, referring to her hijabi classmates. “That's how they want to show their modesty, and it applies to men too, not just women.”
“I actually didn't know that,” Powers said.
This is the kind of exchange the Muslim Student Association wants to foster more often. The students say this event on World Hijab Day simply felt like a good starting point.
"One aspect of our identity is wearing hijab, but it opens up to like, how we found it and our religion and our own experiences," Isra Siddiqui said. "Especially as college students, I feel like college is like such an imperative time for people to discuss and learn."
Muslim Student Association member Muaz Modan plans to begin hosting a Dawah table twice a week on campus to provide outreach to non-Muslim students and answer questions about Islam.
“Dawah is basically an invitation,” Modan said. “You invite people to the religion by sharing, by talking, you know it could be debates, but it doesn't have to be.
“We want to talk to people, whether they agree with us or not agree with us. We just want to find common ground.”