The Annual Hijab Challenge

by · April 24, 2013

Asma and Anita
Above: Students Asma Neblett ’16 (left) and Anita Ali ’14

I hope you can see how happy I am in the above picture, because the memory behind that image is marvelous; I still get happy each time I look at it. Several emotions come to mind when I stare, but it’s predominantly the traces of that specific day that dictates. There were many happy faces, beautiful linens, prints of scarves, the flash of a DSLR going off every few minutes, and unity among students. But before I jump into the reason behind my happiness and divulge the story I have for you, I want to share an important fact about me: I hate to idle, hence my activity on campus and my exhausting resume.

Truthfully, it’s the reason why I’ve triumphed from the low and indecisive period I had during the first semester of my freshman year. I constantly asked myself, “What is there to do here? Where are the events?” Now that I am in the second semester of my freshman year, my questions have changed to, “When will I get a break to sleep?” or, as my roommate harmlessly teases, “What time will you come off of Pilot-shift?” I’m always on the go.

The wave of my campus activity began when the bi-annual club fair arrived during my first week of school. This event is a promotional period that displays the unions and clubs here at the Mount, and I knew it would be a good place to discover the offerings of my campus. I signed my name up to clubs that genuinely appealed to my interest, and that indicated a potential challenge. Among the clubs I signed up for was the Muslim Student Association, lead by my friend, senior Nadirah Muhammad. Although I am Christian, I do have a connection to Islam through my paternal side, in addition to practicing it as a child. One of the biggest events that MSA does annually is the Hijab Challenge.

Asma Anita Nadirah
Above, from left: Students Asma Neblett ’16, Anita Ali ’14, Nadirah Muhammad ’13

A Hijab is a headscarf worn by the women of Islam to display modesty and to represent oneself for who they are, without any superficial additions. Nadirah wears her Hijab daily in a variety of eclectic, colorful, and sometimes neutral styles. Most people on campus can testify to how fabulous the colors and prints of her Hijabs are, so my excitement was through the roof when the day approached to wear my own. We were in front of the View (the main dinning hall), passing out free scarves and tying them in different styles (like mine pictured above or MSA club member, Anita’s).

Although the scarves went like hot cakes and folks read lovely flyers about Islam, the challenge wasn’t wearing the Hijabs – that was the bonus, in my opinion; it was practicing some rules of Islam for twenty-four hours straight. The rules challenged all participants, including yours truly. No cursing, no physical contact with your significant other (unless you’re married), no pork, no taking off the Hijab in public, and have fun.

We learned so much about ourselves when we chose to abstain from these daily activities; significantly, I learned more about the religious tolerance that exists here on campus. As a Dominican Order college with Catholic roots, it’s profound to witness how open the Mount community is to all demographics. I was so happy to have supported the Hijab Challenge, and to witness my fellow Knights on campus embrace that event. And I won’t lie, I felt kind of fly placing my waist long braids into a beautiful scarf for a day. It’s truly a challenge to maintain daily, but that’s another story for another blog entry!

Asma Neblett, class of 2016, is a communications major with a concentration in journalism from Port Jefferson, New York.

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