By Sana Javed

I feel privileged to say that I am a Canadian citizen. I am part of the multi-cultural world phenomenon that takes place. I live in the heart of Canada: Toronto. This city alone holds more cultures than any other city in the world. I’ve learned a lot living in this city. I’ve learned about other cultures, religions and other ways of life. I’ve learned tolerance from this city.
I’m not only a citizen of the Canadian world. I’m also a citizen of the Muslim world. And unfortunately as I turn on the television or read the newspaper, I’m afraid there is too much room for misconceptions. The Muslim world has been the unfortunate target of a lot of debate in the past few weeks. I feel that a hard topic that has been hit is the Hijab. The Muslim

I feel that a hard topic that has been hit is the Hijab: the Muslim woman’s headgear. The wearers of this article of clothing have been the victim of a lot of prejudice. The reason of the prejudice is the lack of education. But who could blame the people for forming their own views on a topic that is scarcely portrayed reliably? The doorstep to the temple of wisdom is knowledge of our own ignorance

Countless peers of mine have often questioned my reasons for practicing the Hijab; many assume it was forced upon me. These very questions are the source of my motivation for compiling this article. What I wish to accomplish by the end of this is reasonably straightforward. I want to put an end to the prejudice and the misconceptions regarding the Hijab. This problem if excels; could lead to the downfall of the multiculturalism in Canada. Further more my goal is to promote my Muslim brothers and sisters to do the same. I firmly believe that “knowledge itself is power.”

Every religion is compile of different shades and symbols which model it. There are many different things that symbolize Islam. The most common one that comes to mind is the practice of the Glorious Hijab by Muslim Women.
To begin with, I am going to clarify the meaning of the word Hijab. Hijab is the modern word for the practice of dressing modestly, which all practicing Muslims past the age of puberty are instructed to do in their holy book, the Qur'an. So now that we have clarified the meaning of “Hijab”, let us take a look at how it came to existence.

About 1400 years ago, a man by the name of Muhammad (P.B.U.H) was born. His birth was the dawn of a new era, from which mankind would forever benefit. Muhammad (P.B.U.H) is the believed to be the final messenger of God. At the age of 40, Muhammad (P.B.U.H) received his prophecy. Allah Almighty blessed Muhammad (P.B.U.H) to guide people to Islam. Muhammad (P.B.U.H) began preaching in Saudi Arabia. Muhammad (P.B.U.H) being the first believer of Islam endured many challenges. Regardless of all that he had to face, he was ambitious, and continued to distribute the word of God, explaining in his preaching that God Almighty is one, and the Quran is His word. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the ultimate role model for Muslims, who have strong faith in the Quran.

Before Islam, women were never treated equally or given any rights whatsoever. The ignorance was extremely widespread. Fathers would bury their daughters alive. Islam did not support this view of women. In fact Islam gave women honour and respect, and they were treated like human beings. This was very rare at the time. God Almighty did not like the way people would treat women. He did not want his believing women to be treated as the property of men. He wanted them to have an identity of their own. Most importantly Allah Almighty wanted women to be respected for who they were. As a result, he had revealed the following verses in the Quran (this is the book that the Muslims believers follow and have strong faith in. Muslims consider this to be the final word of God.).

In Surah 33, Al-Azhab,” O Prophet! Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go abroad). That will be better, so that they may be recognized and not annoyed. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.”

The acceptance of the Hijab has modified history for the Muslim women forever. It truly has made a mark in the Islamic world. The practice of the Hijab is accepted and approved differently in every culture. Allah Almighty is always fair and equal, as He has ordered the believing women to cover them selves in a modest manner. Allah has also ordered men to lower their gaze. That is how the Hijab came into existence. The Hijab’s impact on the women of the past, the women of the present, and women of the future will continue to increase.

How did I accept the Hijab Being an adolescent in the west?
I must say making the decision to practice the Hijab was a tough one. It required a lot of thinking, self examination, determination, devotion and last but not least, bravery. The brilliance of Hijab was enough to convince me. It did not matter to me weather I lived in the Islamic society or the Western society. The day I decided to practice the Hijab is an unforgettable day of my young life. Mash Allah it’s been 2 years now since I have been blessed by practicing the Hijab. My decision was a very wise one and I say that from experience. The Hijab has impacted and changed me as a person so much that I cannot explain in words.

The reason why I decided to practice the Hijab is not because I was told to or because it was the newest trend or because I saw others doing it. It is because first and foremost it’s the word of Allah. Practicing the Hijab sends out a clear message to men that “I am not going to accept anything that goes against my religion.” It highlights the boundary between a man and a woman. As a result, they respect you, and do not treat you like any other girl. This prevents them to think dirty of you. After that the Hijab promotes the importance of a good character. The Hijab says that beauty is only skin deep, that inner beauty is what matters, not what I look like. The Hijab makes a statement which is that “I do not want to be judged by who I seem to be, but who I really am”. Being someone that practices the Hijab I have to model, and match what the Hijab says. Lastly, I believe that by practicing the Hijab I am more cautious about my actions, and before I do something, I think not once but twice.

Ladies and gentlemen, I come to conclude my article. I wish that by the end of reading my article. My readers have gained a better idea of the Hijab. I hope that through my writing I have answered all your questions about the practice of the Hijab. If there were any misconceptions at all, I truly wish that by now they have vanished. Remember: Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Willing is not enough; we must do. Once again, Ladies and Gentlemen thank you for your time and stay tuned for the next coming article.

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speech given by Atira Ikram

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