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Health Care Workers Create PPE Hijab for Muslim Women

Being on the frontlines of the pandemic, Minnesota health care workers Yasmin Samatar and Faraoli Adam have struggled to find personal protective equipment for Muslim women like them.

Samatar and Adam, both 29, met at St. Catherine’s University in St. Paul, where they studied to become respiratory therapists.

Though hospitals provide sterile protective equipment to health care workers, they didn’t have a head covering that met hijabi standard.

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“They even had a beard cover, and we thought, really? A beard cover, but no hijab?” Adam told Pioneer Press.

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Without the proper PPE on-hand, Samatar and Adam had to use their own cloth hijab from home. Then, they launched Mawadda, a line of hygienic hijabs to help keep Muslim health care workers and patients safe in the hospital.

“We had to find the right material so it’s not too hot or thick, but also not too sheer and meets hijabi modesty standards,” Samatar said.

They settled on two disposable designs: the Zanub, a pull-over with an adjustable elastic band around the face, and the Ikram, a one-size-fits-all wrap.

Huge Success

Mawadda officially launched on Nov. 9, and has since gained international attention, with 30 percent of their reach coming from France, according to business analytics on their website. Their site has also reached users in the United Kingdom and China.

“It’s just been crazy. It was like — we didn’t think about how it would reach this many people,” Adam said. “Everybody had the same story.”

Samatar and Adam hope that providing culturally appropriate protective garments in hospitals will lead to more inclusivity and comfort for Muslims in health care.

“It’s created by us, for us. But having culturally appropriate protection won’t just affect us, it will affect everyone under the care of a Muslim woman: patients, families and communities,” Samatar said.

 Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.

This is not the first company to produce disposable hijabs for Muslims healthcare workers.

In 2020, Minnesota fashion designer and owner of Henna & Hijabs, a boutique specializing in organic henna and handcrafted hijabs, designed a sanitary hijab that could be easily washed and safely reused.