Pink hijabs promote breast cancer awareness

A panel of Muslim women discussed the significance of the hijab.

Muslim women donned pink hijabs in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Islam Awareness Week on Wednesday.

Pink Hijab Day is a global event that supports the fight against breast cancer. Muslim Student Organization President Arwa Mohammad said Pink Hijab Day is an opportunity for Muslim women to get involved in Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

"Muslim women will wear a pink hijab to raise awareness for breast cancer," Mohammad said. "We also donate money to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. That's kind of one way that Muslim women are getting involved."

Along with the pink hijabs and donations, MSO held its Women in Islam panel Wednesday night in Mumford Hall to discuss the cultural and religious significance of wearing a hijab. The three panelists were MU staff nurse Fatten Elkomy, MU alumna Farah Naz and Leona Greer from Jefferson City.

Throughout the night, the panelists fielded questions regarding misconceptions about hijabs, their personal decisions to wear them and other questions related to their lives as Muslim women.

All three panelists addressed the responsibility to represent Islam that accompanies wearing a hijab. Naz said wearing the hijab creates a level of accountability for her actions.

"Just because (the hijab) does make you so public, I think it influences my own actions as well," Naz said. "So I evaluate the things I do and the things I say to make sure that people, especially the people that don't know me well, interpret it the right way."

Greer also said wearing the hijab was a public statement that represented not only her personal beliefs but also the Islamic community as a whole.

"When you're wearing a hijab it does make you think about your actions because not only are you representing yourself, but you're representing a community," Greer said. "I really think it makes you feel a sense of responsibility that you need to uphold and make sure that you are acting in a right way."

After explaining the significance of the hijab, the panelists were asked to clarify common misconceptions they had encountered regarding it. All three panelists said wearing the hijab was a personal choice and didn't symbolize any form of sexist or cultural oppression that is often attributed to the headscarf.

"It's not something that somebody forced me to do," Elkomy said. "It's my choice. People only think that it's opposed on me or I'm a slave to some kind of super male power that is just influencing me. It's none of these."

As an uncommon sight to those who are unfamiliar with Islam, Greer said the hijab is less of a spectacle once people get to know Muslims better.

"A lot of times, until they actually get to know you, you're just a scarf, and they don't really see who you are," Greer said. "But after people get to know you it's not that big of a hindrance."

Elkomy said the hijab has a significance to Muslim women that transcends its value as a garment.

"It's an attitude," Elkomy said. "It's not only a piece of cloth. It's not as simple as that. It means so much. It means presenting myself in relation to God as a human rather than as beautiful or attractive, and then asking to be judged for my actions and my intelligence, not for my being a female."

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