The Muslim Student Organization held a panel discussion about the Islamic tradition of hijab during Scarves for Solidarity.
Scarves for Solidarity was an event for Islam Awareness Week. Women who do not normally wear a headscarf were encouraged to try it out for a day to experience what Muslim women who wear them go through on a daily basis.
Four women sat on the panel and talked about what hijab means to them.
“Hijab is a lot more than a headscarf, it’s about modesty,” MSO spokeswoman Farah El-Jayyousi said.
Each Muslim can interpret modesty differently, but typically women cover everything but hands and feet.
Some Muslims believe modesty is a commandment in the Quran, but hijab is a choice women make every day.
“I wanted to start wearing a headscarf early, but my mom wanted me to wait until I really knew what hijab was about,” MSO member Tahura Lodhi, said.
Most women start wearing a headscarf in middle school, but one panelist and moderator had not started yet.
“Mizzou opened me up to maybe starting because it is so diverse and accepting,” Samiah Khalili said.
Khalili’s mother never wore a headscarf because she was the only Muslim woman in her area growing up. Her mother has influenced Khalili’s delay in starting, but she thinks maybe one day she will decide to wear a headscarf.
Stereotypes came up during the panel discussion. Lodhi asked the audience what first came to mind when they saw a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf. Words that came up were reserved, quiet and shy.
“By covering what is irrelevant, your voice can be louder,” Lodhi said in response to the common misconceptions.
All panelists agreed that they did not feel suppressed by the hijab, but rather empowered that appearance is put aside so people can focus on them as a person. When it came to men, the women felt hijab especially encouraged them not to look at their body.
“Women’s lives are often dictated by what men think of them, when you put on the scarf, it’s internal and makes God happy,” Lodhi said.
Panelist Nabinah Maqbool had always worried about what others thought of her and how she looked. Once she started wearing a headscarf, she learned what was really important.
“I needed to stop worrying about what other people thought of me,” she said. “Now I feel relieved, I feel freer and I can represent my faith wherever I go.”
Funny stories about the panelist’s experience with headscarves were also shared. Though they are worn for modesty, they come with some extra perks.
“I can walk out of the rec super gross and no one can tell,” Maqbool said.
Two non-Muslim students wore a headscarf for a day and were able to relate with the panel.
“I got some weird looks and my friends asked me a lot of questions,” Maiya Hawkins said. “I’ve had a lot of Muslim friends so I knew a little about (hijab).”
Hawkins and her friend Camille McMahon said they both have a better understanding of what Muslim women go through on a daily basis and see how strong and confident they are.