On Tuesday 5th of July 2022, MWA was proud to facilitate an exciting new program ‘Reflecting Hijab’, a workshop which aimed to help young Muslim women reconnect with Hijab and Modesty within an Islamic framework. MWA invited young women aged between twelve and twenty-five to participate in an interactive forum filled with activities and discussions that were carefully selected. The idea of a workshop to help young Muslim women find their connection to the Hijab was an initiative that MWA’s Youth Advisory Committee (MYAC) had brought to light in October 2021. Through discussion with MYAC, MWA was able to develop a greater understanding of what the Hijab meant for young girls, and that although they knew the hijab was a requirement of their faith, they did not have a clear understanding of its significance.
The Reflecting Hijab event began with an Acknowledgement to Country by Ustadha Feda Abdo, who also provided a beautiful recitation from Surah Maryam (verses 1 to 25), providing hope in trying times and strengthening one’s connection to God. This was then followed by an interactive presentation that allowed participants to share their thoughts and submit questions to the panel speakers. It also allowed for the opportunity to answer three questions in which the forum was based – “Why do you wear the Hijab?’ and ‘What does Hijab and modesty mean to you?’. By presenting these questions to the attendees, MWA was able to gather a concise understanding as to their knowledge of the Hijab and thus leading to the presentation by Dr Ghena Krayem and the importance of understanding oneself and the Hijab in western society.
Dr Ghena Krayem, Associate Professor at the University of Sydney and regular commentator on the Muslim community in Australia, provided an Islamic perspective on the Hijab, shared more about her own research, and reflected on personal experiences as a lawyer wearing the Hijab. Dr Krayem was able to gauge the interest of the young people by being honest and transparent, allowing opportunity for questions concerning wearing the Hijab and answering them in a way that allowed for careful reflection and instilling hope in their hearts.
The workshop then continued with age-appropriate activities – the young people were divided based on their age. Girls aged twelve to seventeen years were provided role play scenarios based on potential experiences that they may encounter at school and in everyday life. Towards the end of this workshop, they presented and performed the scenarios and included how they would respond in that situation. The second group was made up of young people in the eighteen-to-twenty-five-year range. They engaged in meaningful discussions around their experiences of the hijab as well as the meaning behind hijab in all its forms in a safe and supportive space. Leading the discussion was Ustadha Feda Abdo, who was able to reflect on these experiences and provide feedback and support based on our Islamic Principles.
The insights that were shared and the discussions that the young people had echoed our aim for Reflecting Hijab and really highlighted the importance of fostering community engagement and creating a sisterhood for young Muslim women to discuss and give voice to important issues faced by Muslim Young Women today.
The last interactive session for Reflecting Hijab was light and enjoyable for all. Participants assembled their own travel pin cushions, putting it together and decorating it to their liking. The activity was a big success! The excitement was seen and heard all over and was a great way to bring the event to closing remarks.
MWA aimed for the content of Reflecting Hijab to leave a mark on the hearts of those who attended. To remind them of their personal journey, participants were gifted a sentimental bag that included a Reflecting Hijab Booklet curated by MWA, as well as other goodies, including a hijab/ neck scarf.
As the final activity of the night, participants were asked to write a letter to their future self, outlining what their modesty goals would be and how they expected to achieve it. MWA would then post this letter out in 6 months’ time to encourage them to reflect on their view of the Hijab, and how they are tracking with their own personal goals and modest journey.
The need for a workshop such as the Reflecting Hijab was prominent throughout the night. Providing a space to young Muslim women to discuss topics around modesty while strengthening their relationship with the Hijab and Allah allowed attendees to leave Reflecting Hijab with their hearts feeling full.