by Nabiha Asim

Islam Awareness Week, which ran from March 7-11, catered the Hijab Challenge. Aliyah Banister, a licensed clinical therapist specializing in the American Muslim population, visited Benedictine University to share perspectives in a discussion about Muslim hijabs in America.
Banister explained that people have made this “piece of cloth” into a big misunderstanding. One of the common misconceptions about people wearing the hijab include the idea that those who wear it aren’t seen as part of society or their husbands have forced them to wear it.
“We have so many labels and ideas that go behind it and it’s really overwhelming,” said Banister.
Shortly after, she played a video of Hijabi Monologue which is a monologue about all the baggage that comes with being a woman wearing a hijab. The woman in the video talked about the pressures of representing 1.6 billion people in the world as she steps outside with her hijab.
Muslim attendants shared their views afterwards about the struggle to not talk back to people who comment or give looks towards them. They remember that they are representatives of this religion.
According to Banister, it doesn’t matter to most Muslims that they don’t look like a normal American because it is a direct commandment of God.
“The point is because we believe this will was created. This will was created by somebody. It was created by somebody and it was a being an all-knowing being called Allah. There’s this being that created all of us and he created human beings. And because he created human beings, he is a kind creator. He’s kind because he did not leave us alone…he gave us guidance which is the Qur’an. He gave us our holy book and that’s a basically a manual for our lives… in the Qur’an, there is a commandment that talks about the hijab. It’s about we believe in God and God told us to do it and that’s it,” said Banister.
She went through the meaning of hijab and the way the commandment came down in the Qur’an about hijab including its history. Despite different interpretations of khimaar, the head dressing, all Muslims agree that there is some type of head covering which should cover the chest and clothing should be loose.
“The hijab is about covering what is beautiful and that is how God made women,” stated Banister.
At the end of the event, non-Muslim women had the opportunity to try on hijab and wear it for a day. After learning about the struggles of women in hijab, Cristina Garza was one who was ecstatic about trying it on.
“The presentation itself was very eye-opening. I never knew the struggles of a Muslim woman. As women in general, we face a lot of struggles in society; and to be a Muslim wearing hijab on top of those pressures? It made me have so much respect for women who cover,” said Garza.
Garza, like many Muslim women, was questioned why she was wearing it and explained that her answer always sparked conversations about religion and the significance of wearing a hijab.
“It gave me perspective on Islam and the importance of modesty. It was truly a great experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat,” said Garza.