On Friday, April 28, a group of students and staff gathered to learn more about the hijab, a traditional Muslim headdress. The Diversity Achievement Center was filled with the excited chatter of those who yearned to gain knowledge about a garment that has existed since the beginnings of Islam in the 7th century.
After some brief introductions the presentation began. The presentation started by defining the headdress as more than just a veil, scarf or head dress, but as a way of life. Islam didn’t introduce the hijab, it embraced it.
Religious headdresses exist in almost every world religion, but their use is not as clearly defined as it is in Islam.
In the Qur’an the definitions for modesty are clear and were written for both genders, so that modesty would be a staple in the religion. The slideshow highlighted an assortment of online images from several religions celebrating modesty as a way of life that encapsulated the way one speaks, acts, and thinks.
The presentation went on to discuss how the lines of modesty have been pushed to oppressive levels by use of the hijab, as well as the response by some muslim women. Finally the hijab was presented as a fashion piece, that can be tied into appropriate and modest outfits for both work and recreation.
The World Hijab Day program was important lesson on how first hand accounts are some of the most viable sources of information available. Hearing about hijabs from muslim women who are proud to be wearing them helped put to rest rumors of oppression and sexism. Combined with delicious middle eastern meal and a respectful and attentive audience, Hijab de-mystified was truly one of the most successful events Linn-Benton has seen this year.
Column by Karl Hellesto