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What Hijab Means to These Portland Students

“We’re the face of Islam.”

Those were the words used by Manar Surur, president of the Muslim Student Association in the University of Portland, when asked about her hijab.

While many see women wearing hijab for modesty reasons, the UP junior believes it has an essential aspect in bestowing Muslim women with the power of representing their religion.

“For us, we wear the hijab so we represent the religion,” she told The Beacon.

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Studying at a Catholic institution where Muslim students make up a minority, the visibility of Hijabis comes with stereotypes, with many seeing hijabi Muslims as oppressed.

Yet, Surur and sophomore MSA member Menar Emam believe that MSA has helped foster a stronger community for Muslim and Hijabi students on campus.

“There were no Muslims in my high school, so when I came here it was eye-opening,” Emam said.

“I was never worried about how I looked to other people because I saw so many Hijabis. Even though it’s a Catholic school, I felt comfortable.”

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

📚 Read Also: Hijabi Perspective: What Does “Freedom” Mean For Hijabis?

The young ladies believe their hijab remains a symbol of faith, identity, and community. 

“It’s also liberating in a sense because everyone else around you doesn’t wear [the hijab],” Surur said.

“[The hijab] makes me proud that I’m able to represent my religion in that way.”