Muslim group seeks to break stereotype

Courtesy of MCT

In honor of Islamic Awareness Week, the Muslim Student Association (MSA) Thursday will present the Hijab Day Challenge to give students the experience of what it feels like to dress like a Muslim for a day.

“Hijab” is the Arabic word for “veil;” students will be able to pick up a hijab on the Titan Walk and wear it for the rest of the day.

Mona Bennani, president of MSA, said the main goal of the event is to defy stereotypes of Muslims.

“(Being Arab) is not the definition of Islam,” said Bennani.

The headscarf is supposed to make one more conscious of God by taking attention away from physical attributes like hair. Bennani said people can have honest and healthy relationships with other people like this and that so much of relationships are based on physicality.

According to Bennani, the experience will help people learn a lot about themselves and she would like to see a lot of girls try it, just so people can relate. This is the most real “walk in my shoes” one can ever do, she said.

“As soon as you put on the headscarf it should be assumed that you are Muslim,” Bennani said. “It’s something you can do to actively be in their shoes, and actively feel what we feel, wearing the Hijab, and being stared at. But also to feel that it’s not oppression, it’s rather a liberation.”

Although she said it is a commandment from God, they choose to wear the head veil.

“Because once you wear it you can’t say we’re oppressed anymore … There is no compulsion in religion, so it’s something we have actively made a choice to wear, and it’s a hard one,” Bennani said.

She said just having someone experience wearing the headscarf for one day “would make the world to us, hopefully open their eyes as well.”

However, students like Nijah Crenshaw, 22, a health science major, said some may not think the event is for everybody.

She said it would be good for those who have an opinion about it or think negatively about it “just so they can know,” she said. “But for me it doesn’t really make a difference. I wouldn’t want to do it, personally.”

According to Sarah Salama, vice president of MSA, when people participate in the event they will gain an understanding of someone else’s life experience.

“It’s important for anyone, regardless of which religion you come from,” Salama said.

She used an an example of someone from the Hindu faith desiring to understand the point of view from a Christian or a Muslim’s point of view from a Buddhist.

“That’s why we’re here to understand, and feel each other and find commonalities amongst our experiences. That’s a huge part of being a human,” Salama said.

She said society has a negative view on Islam in the West, and they don’t see it for what it really is.

“I hope that anyone participating in this event is going to realize the beauty of this, and the beauty of the concept of the Hijab,” Salama said.

Islam is the fastest growing religion in the United States and worldwide.

About Bevi Edlund

Bevi is a news assistant at the Daily Titan.