CAIRO – Aiming to defy misconceptions surrounding hijab, a US Muslim teen has launched a social experiment project in which Muslim and non-Muslim women were invited to try hijab in public places and share their experience.
"The Hijab Project is a social experiment that I’d like girls—both Muslim and non-Muslim—to begin," Amara Majeed, the founder of the project, wrote on The Hijab Project website.
"Try on your own headscarf to school, the mall or other public place, and observe the reactions that people give you. Are you looked at differently?
"Do people treat you differently? Then, share your experience here! If you currently wear a hijab, tell us your hijab story," Majeed wrote.
Being a Muslim living in the states, 16-year-old Majeed started project in a bid to bridge the gap between Islam and other faiths and convey the true-message of modesty behind hijab.
"A bridge of understanding needs to be built between Muslims and non-Muslims,” she wrote.
"And experiencing the lifestyle of a growing and often misunderstood culture in America is vital to shedding the lack of knowledge that many people have regarding Islam as a religion," she added.
The project invites women to share their experience with hijab at the website, The Hijab Project, aiming to underscore hijab as a women choice and highlight the prestigious status granted to women in Islam.
“Often times, people think that Muslim women are forced into wearing hijab by male relatives. In Islam, everything is based on intention," Majeed wrote.
Launched last December, the project has achieved a global progress, reaching hundreds of women across the globe, according to Majeed.
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.
The status of women in Islam is often the target of attacks in the secular media, with many citing the Islamic dress as an example of the “subjugation” of women under Islamic law.
Yet, the truth is that 1400 years ago, Islam recognized women’s rights in a way that grants them the utmost protection and respect as well, a combination other systems fail to offer.
Islam granted them freedom of expression, political participation, business and financial rights, and asked the rest of society to hold them in high esteem and offer them due respect as mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters.
Participating in the social experiment, a Christian school student said that wearing hijab made her feel protected, granting her a different image about Islam.
"Initially, I found wearing a Hijab somewhat uncomfortable – I had wrapped it too tight, and my peripheral vision was covered,” the girl, who posted her photo in hijab without a name wrote on the project’s website.
"But as the week continued, I found wearing the Hijab gave a sense of protection, as well as warmth,” she added.
“These past few days have given me a different view of Islam, and especially in a society which I find often condemns Islamic practices, I know I will be a sure advocate for social acceptance and awareness.”
Sharing her experience as a veiled woman, a 20-year-old website visitor said: “Where are the most precious pearls found- under the sea, hidden. Gold? Deep in mines.”
“The best of things are hidden, so protect yourself,” the young woman added.
A Muslim college student shared her story about being reluctant to wear hijab.
Trying it for the first time, the Muslim girl said: “I had forgotten to take it off, but it felt like the most natural thing in the world to be wearing it.”
Posting her experience, the girl added: "Wearing the hijab made me feel like at last, I was free from people’s expectations of me.”
"I was doing something that was purely for me and my relationship with Allah, the girl added at the website.
"I wore the hijab for myself and Allah, not for other people."
Another Muslim girl wrote about her experience with hijab, which she was forced to wear since she was ten.
At the first day of college, she decided to disobey her family and take off hijab.
“I took off my hijab, and went to my first class with my carefully curled hair flying in the wind,” she said.
Yet, after taking off her hijab she was disappointed and felt devastated.
“People walked by me just like they normally did, and no one was extra friendly or overly nice to me. I sat in the back row, feeling devastated.
“I felt horrible inside, wishing I could run to the bathroom and cover my hair. Even though there were guys everywhere, I didn’t get the attention I had originally hoped for.”
The experience made her realize the true meaning of hijab, taking a final decision to wear it.
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of participants are expected to mark the second World Hijab day next February 1.
The event, held for the second consecutive year, was first suggested by New York woman Nazma Khan to encourage non-Muslim women to don the hijab and experience it.
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