Jama, who was born in Somalia but grew up in College Station, Texas, has not
taken off her Hijab since she started wearing it in high school.
that when she catches someone staring at her for too long, she'll walks over to
them and say, “Here’s my Instagram. Feel free to like it. You can stare at that
however long you need to.”
she uses humour to “disrupt the linear process” of offensive questions and
judgemental stares from non-Muslims.
terrorist attacks abroad, some Muslim students at Ohio University have felt the
United States has become a more marginalized space for members of the Islamic
faith, as Muslims practice their religious traditions, such as praying in
public and wearing the Hijab.
and the Hijab
women have different reasons for wearing Hijabs, Jama, a second-year graduate
student studying health communication studies, said.
Lybarger, an associate professor who teaches Islamic studies, said
“xenophobia,” an intense dislike or fear of people from other countries, has
caused Muslims to assimilate by shaving their beards or taking off their
Hijabs. Other Muslims, however, sought a claim to their American identity by
embracing public prayer or wearing the Hijab, Lybarger said.
Jama said a
reason for wearing a Hijab is to show her “subservience to the Lord.” She said
the Quran mandates that women wear a Hijab and that men grow a beard and wear a
Taqiyya, which is a Muslim prayer cap.
reasons for wearing a Hijab are that it makes her less likely to commit sins
and serves as a conscientious reminder of her spirituality, Jama said.
shouldn’t be judging others on outside appearance because at some form we are
all uniform,” Jama said. “Really, you should be focusing on the spiritual
beauty of a person.”
Kalinga, a junior studying African studies, only wears a hijab during the
season of Ramadan and when she visits her extended family in Kenya. Kalinga
said there are different ways people can interpret and express every religion
and its texts.
relationship with Allah doesn’t necessarily have to be your relationship with
Allah,” Kalinga said.
considering wearing a hijab more often, though she said she wonders how she
will deal with questions and looks from others.
feminist, Jama said she does not believe the hijab oppresses women.
to go against societal expectations of the woman’s image is a beautiful,
central concept to what feminism is — giving women the right to make their
choices, outside of gender boundaries, outside of social constructs,” Jama
Jabbari, a first-year graduate student studying African studies and political
science, is from Tunisia. Though Jabbari said she has never worn a hijab, her
mother and sister do.
just sees the whole Arab world as brushed with one brush, but there are nuances
between one country and another,” Jabbari said.
Effects on Muslim Women
recent terrorist attacks, Lybarger said the U.S. has treated Muslims similarly
to how Japanese-Americans were treated after World War II, following the
attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
happen to be brown, if you happen not to be Christian, then your place in
American society is called into question,” Lybarger said.
Pashtun, the president of International Student Union, said at the TedX Talk on
March 30, that whenever there is a terrorist attack, he hopes the perpetrator
is not a Muslim.
comes to terrorism, I think Muslims should stop being apologetic about
terrorism,” Jabbari said. “Because they are just confirming that terrorism is a
part of Islam, which is not the case. Islam is a religion. It’s not evil. It’s
not good. It’s what you as a person brings to the table.”
the media often shapes people’s perspectives of Muslim women in Hijabs as
quiet, oppressed and lacking agency.
said with the increasing number of terrorist attacks in the world since 9/11,
such as the ISIS-attributed March 22 attacks in Belgium and the Nov. 13 Paris
attacks; Muslims have been identified as outsiders.
just assume if you look Arab or Middle Eastern, you might be Muslim,” Jama
said. “But for a female, regardless of their nationality, if they are wearing a
headscarf, you immediately know they’re a Muslim.”
societies feel threatened, scapegoating a race or religion is a predictable
response driven by fear, Lybarger said. This idea is highlighted by the more
xenophobic aspects of Donald Trump’s political campaign and his calling for the
registration of all Muslims, he said.
In a 2015
poll conducted by ABC News and The Washington Post, 36 percent of 1,002
respondents supported a banning of Muslims from the U.S. However, only 28
percent believed banning Muslims would make the country safer.
kind of American authoritarianism that draws on fear of the outsider, the
xenophobic fear, and a kind of Christian nationalism that defines what it means
to be an American,” Lybarger said.
Acceptance In Athens
Muslims made up 1 percent of the total U.S. population, and it was estimated
that the population would double by 2050, according to Pew Research Centre.
have recently organized and engaged in events such as a TedX talk and the
Bobcat Unity Walk, which tried to create cross-cultural dialogues about the Muslim
faith and cultural traditions.
wants to build an interfaith prayer room, or a meditation room, in Alden
Library, which would have prayer mats and multiple religious texts for people
to use. Pashtun is in the beginning stages of planning for the meditation room.
Chapel is one of the only places on campus open to members of all faiths for
practicing their beliefs. It is open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through
(the meditation room) will be useful,” Pashtun said. “I will try to involve as
many other faiths and religions as possible. It’s not only for Muslims, but for
said people could get over their fear of Muslims the same way they could get
over their fear of heights — take a big jump.
“Get to know
something and someone to get rid of the fear and ignorance, and embrace Islam,”
Kalinga said. “You don’t have to necessarily agree with it, but I’m sure you
can better understand it.”