By Fatima Kermali
It was a historical day for the state of Michigan as the GOP-led Michigan Senate on Thursday, in a bipartisan, adopted a resolution that was introduced by state Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) recognizing February 1 as World Hijab Day in this Great Lake State. This initiative begun with Rebeka Islam, a Sterling Heights resident who grew up in Hamtramck where many Muslim-Americans live, approached Chang about the resolution.
World Hijab Day (WHD) is a day recognizing millions of Muslim women who wear the hijab and conduct their lives modestly. Hijab is the mandated covering a woman must observe in Islam upon turning the age of nine, which is to cover her body except her face and hands. The means of doing so differs from culture to culture and society.
The founder of The World Hijab Day is a New York resident, Nazma Khan, who came up with the idea as a means to foster religious tolerance and understanding by inviting women (non-Hijabi Muslims/non-Muslims) to experience the Hijab for one day. February 1st, 2013, marked the first annual World Hijab Day (WHD)
This was a way to open new roads to understanding about the Hijab. Nazma wished to raise awareness and counteract some of the controversies surrounding as to why Muslim women choose to wear the Hijab. World Hijab Day was to assist in normalizing the wearing of the Hijab. Consequently, New York City has recognized the day for 10 years.
The state of Michigan beginning to do so was supported by Chang who said, “This is a day to recognize the millions of Muslim women around the world who choose to wear the hijab and live a life of modesty. It’s also an open invitation to women of all walks of life to wear a Hijab and stand in solidarity with Muslim women,” She stated, “Culture and faith are meant to be shared, to educate each other and understand one another. World Hijab Day calls for a universal understanding of Islamic faith and practices, and to develop a stronger communal bond within our society.”
Thus, a part of the resolution reads “[It] is a day for women of different cultures, who do not normally wear the hijab, to experience wearing one for the day. Its purpose is to encourage religious tolerance, cultural understanding, and international solidarity,”
State Rep. Padma Kuppa (D-Troy) who met with Senator Chang remarked, “It was an honor to recognize APIA Vote-MI Director Rebeka Islam, her family and a group of visitors who accompanied her to Lansing for the World Hijab Day resolution introduced by my co-chair of the [Asian Pacific American Legislative Caucus,] Senator Chang, and even nicer to visit with them in the House gallery,”
Islam remarked, “It is our hope that our community comes together on Feb. 1 and embraces the Hijab as this symbol of unity and strength,”.