March 24, 2017

Madiha Syed, a participant in the (UN)Covered Project. (Adetayo Bero/ CBC)

Read the Cambridge YWCA initiative of sharing the stories of women in Canada's Sikh and Muslim communities. The (UN)Covered Project asked the women to share what their head coverings mean to them. 

The (UN)Covered Project asked the women to share what their head coverings mean to them. Here's some of what they said: (Some responses have been condensed).

Hijab is my shield and protector. Hijab is the very core of my identity. It represents the faith and love I have for my religion. The hijab is one test every Muslim woman faces. We receive glares, hurtful comments and are treated like an outcast from society. It is a test to see how we react and how we cope with obstacles and the most important is when we turn to God in our time of difficulties. Every day, we watch the rise of Islamophobia and hate crimes. The hijab is something I put on every day and God tests me to see if I let society win and take off my scarf, or if I believe in God, believe in a better ending and wear the hijab. Because of that, the hijab is now the part closest to me.

You will never influence the world by trying to be like it. Hijab is my moving home. It is my safe haven. It is the gem that made me cherish everything about myself and realize my value. Wearing the hijab was not a challenge for me. When I was told that it's time to put it on, I just did. I realize every day that you will never influence the world by trying to be like it and just by wearing your hijab, you are pretty special! Hijab is not just a veil you cover yourself with. Behind every hijab, there is a story, a challenge, an up and down. Always know that you are not alone in it and that Allah (God) is watching every step of your way and rewarding you for every obstacle you overcome.

My mother introduced me to the hijab at a very young age. I always had it on my head, so now it's a part of me. Without my scarf, I feel different and uncomfortable. There wasn't really a choice, since I always had the scarf, I just naturally keep it.

Coming from a non-Muslim background, my hijab is often the only thing that lets other identify me as a Muslim woman. The hijab is an essential part of my everyday life now. Some people may see religion as something not to be discussed, something personal. But Islam is such an important part of my life that I find it a necessity for my friends and colleagues to know that I am Muslim and not just your typical Columbian girl.

I wear the hijab because it is a means of protective covering for when I am out in public. It creates a sense of modesty and dignity to present myself and my religion. To cover oneself with the hijab is to protect oneself from evil eyes. When I wear a head covering, I feel as though I am the sun and gazes are averted immediately ... unlike the moon upon which anyone can cast their eyes.

In my life, Dastaar (turban) is not just a piece of cloth that I wrap around my head every morning. It is a CROWN. It is my identity, a promise, an honour that carries along [the] pride of a great history. It makes me who I am: One of Guru's Daughters who will stand out among millions. My turban has always motivated me to be true to yourself. It never goes out of style.