Out of the roughly 1 million Muslim women living in the United States, 43% regularly wear hijab. It is worn by many as an expression of modesty and dignity, out of a desire to fulfill a commandment of Allah. However, while hijab is a very public act of worship, it is also deeply personal - a choice that must be made every day.
Hijab means something different to everyone who wears it. So we asked our VELA community what hijab symbolizes to them. Here’s what you had to say:
“Hijab is a public declaration of my faith and identity.”
From prayer to fasting, charity, and supplications, most acts of worship are done privately. Hijab, however, is a very public statement. It’s a badge that says “Hi, I’m Muslim” to the world. In the post 9/11 era, that’s a very bold and brave declaration to make. It’s an act of resistance in the face of stereotypes and negative sentiments about Islam, and a way to assert pride in our identity as a Muslim.
“Hijab is a reminder to myself about Allah and my true purpose in life.”
Allah says, “I did not create jinn and humans except to worship Me” (51:56). However, this world is designed to distract us from our true purpose. In our busy day-to-day lives, when we’re being pulled in a million directions between school, work, friends, family and our worldly responsibilities, the hijab is a reminder of why we’re here; that everything we do in this life should be centered around Allah, through submitting to Him and serving Him.
“Hijab is my source of strength and confidence.”
It’s ironic that while many critics of Islam perceive the hijab as oppressive to women, many of us who do wear hijab see it as a mark of empowerment. It gives us control over our physical selves, our sexuality, and who has access to us. While some women find confidence in displaying their bodies, many women who wear the hijab gain that feeling from covering theirs.
“Hijab highlights my inner beauty.”
As Yasmin Mogahed beautifully states in the poem above, the hijab covers the “irrelevant”. After all, our outer beauty is only a small part of what makes a woman, a human being. Our self worth does not lie in our beauty alone. When that is concealed, our true, inner beauty shines through. The focus is no longer just on what we look like, but on our intellect, kindness, and everything else that we are.
VELA was founded to revolutionize the way the world looked at hijab and modest style, by serving a powerful community of women celebrating one another for their uniqueness and strength. We celebrate hijab, the women who wear it, those taking steps to wear it, and everything hijab means to each of them.