Styline, a modest lifestyle marketplace of Bangladesh, organised a round table dialogue on 1 February, 2019 with people followers from various fields and occupation on the event of World Hijab Day. This dialogue was aimed to fight against bigotry, prejudice, and discrimination to Muslim women, and to promote their freedom in wearing the hijab.
World Hijab Day is celebrated every year, on 1 February, worldwide to create a more peaceful environment where global citizens respect each other. Styline celebrated this day in such a manner for the very first time.
Hanium Maria Chowdhury, founder and CEO of Tahoor; Razia Haque Konok, owner of Elegant Event Solutions and Blissful Bites; Sharna Maria Mrittik, owner of JK Foreign Brands; Anzum Ifat, owner of Sparkly Closet; Dr Chawdhury Saima, professor of Department of International Business at Dhaka University; Barrister Jahrat Adib Chowdhury, Chef Legal Officer of Banglalink Digital; Dr Tanjila, popular blogger and influencer Mim Sabiha Sabrin, Anjuman Turin, Afsana Rakhi and many more joined on the discussion to share their thoughts and journey to a Islamic lifestyle. The dialogue was held at Araaz Restaurant & Banquet.
This year, the motto of World Hijab Day was “Breaking Stereotypes. Shattering Boundaries” with the hashtag #FreeInHijab. So, to start the proceedings of the evening, the first question which arose at the table was if women actually feel free in a hijab.
There were varied responses to this question.
Dr Chowdhury Saima stayed very firm to her answer, saying, ''In my point of view, free in hijab means the chances to do the things I want to do. And if I have that competence, if I have that quality, if I have that much courage and confidence, I can do it anyway. I did not let people humiliate me for wearing the hijab; it is not a bar for me.''
During the discussion, the one thing which kept coming up was the journey. Why did they choose to embrace this garb, or what exactly influenced them?
Barrister Jahrat Adib Chowdhury made a true confession, saying, ''Back in 2006, in the UK, I saw women covering their heads with pretty and beautiful coloured scarves. It attracted me, and I started wearing the hijab, not even from any spiritual devotion. My family respected my freedom. If I wore sleeveless, my father would not stop me. But I chose the hijab, and gradually, it changed me. I performed Hajj, I researched more about Islam. Actually, hijab is not a piece of cloth, it's a way of life.''
On the other hand, things were quite difficult at first for Sharna Maria Mrittik. She was very much interested in showbiz and media. She loved fashion, makeup and jewellery. But just to adjust with her in-laws, she started wearing the attire saying, ''Now, Hijab is like my skin. I can never get it off in public. A top leading brand came to me for modelling on hair-care products. But I refused without thinking twice.''
On that note, Hanium Maria Chowdhury, owner of Tahoor, said some very powerful words. From her experience she saw many girls start wearing hijab just because they saw someone else wearing it and found it beautiful.
''By wearing Hijab, we are actually the ambassadors of our beautiful religion. We are opening doors for a brighter side. Women who used to criticise me are now my customers,'' she added.
Accompanied by a hot cup of coffee, the discussion kept on illustrating the visions of women. There were more stories about the hardships and struggles of their journey, but all of them were successful stories, because by the end, this was said as a conclusion, ''Hijab is my personal choice. There is nothing to judge. The way I present myself is not what I wear.''
Styline arranged a review writing contest about free in hijab. All the winners were present at the event to share their stories too. Styline congratulated them with a gift hamper as a small token of love. And then, right after the dinner session, the blissful evening came to end.
The Hijab Day has surely had a lasting effect on the minds of all the guests at the event, with the diversity of their stories and experiences.
By Fabiha Hossain