ONTARIO – Hoping to educate their colleagues about hijab, the Canadian Muslim community will host its 3rd annual World Hijab Day next February 1 at the new Mac-Nis Islamic school in St. Catharines City, Ontario.
“We bring all sorts of colorful hijabs and we tell people, the only difference is that you put it on your neck as an accessory and we put in on our head,” said Bilkis Al-Haddad, one of the event’s organizers and the founder of Qamer Foundation, a youth-serving organization in Niagara, told St Catharines Standard on Monday.
Bilkis’s sister, Yusra, and her friend, Golala Mahmoudi, invited colleagues and community members to try on hijab, and learn about it and about Muslim women who wear it.
The three women seek to “make the Canadian public learn about their Muslim neighbors which in turn would lead to a greater understanding of people from different faiths and cultures,” Bilkis explained.
“People could ask questions. Choose a scarf. Have a photo taken while wearing a hijab. And then leave with a personal head covering as a thank you for reaching out in peace and understanding.”
The worldwide Hijab Day started in 2012 when Nazma Khan, an American Muslim woman who has experienced countless physical and emotional Islamophobic harassments because of her veil, asked females all over the world – regardless of faith – to wear a hijab for a day in solidarity with Muslim women worldwide.
Since then, on February 1 of each year, people around the globe host their own World Hijab Day.
In 2015, during the 1st Hijab event at Geneva Street mosque, the three Canadian Muslim organizers were ready with 200 scarves.
However, they almost ran out of hijabs as some 300 people came out to the event. Thus, the organizers had to make an emergency order to the local discount store to buy more hijabs.
“The idea is to create a more peaceful world where people respect each other. It’s about a greater understanding. A peaceful world,” believes Bilkis.
“Not only women but even men, children, and seniors, entire families have come out to past events,” she said.
“One year, a young girl brought her doll. They both were fitted for a hijab.”
Next Thursday, participants can ask questions and Hosam Helal, the new imam of the St. Catharines mosque, will be there to offer insight.
“There will be food and baked goods for sale. The samosas and butter chicken and rice always sell out fast. Money raised will go towards repairs to the school after a pipe burst earlier this month and caused a flood,” Bilkis clarified.
She hopes people will leave with a bigger message of understanding.
“This is my faith. This is my identity. And all I’m asking you is that we respect each other.”