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Modesty,” “We Are Not Submissive to Men” and “Health Benefits of the Hijab,” which discusses protection from harmful UV rays that could lead to cancer, heat exposure, protection from cold weather conditions and covering hair for hygienic purposes. A judge recently found the company guilty of workplace discrimination. Khan felt she needed to do something else to help support these women.
As her business began to grow, she started receiving emails from other (women who wear the hijab), who shared their individual experiences of judgment or hate, and who expressed concerns about not being able to get jobs due to their appearance. So in 2011, she began crafting a way for non-Muslim women to get a taste of what it was actually like to wear the hijab.
As for her parents, “At first they were a bit disappointed, but later on they let her live her life. Nothing changed.” One day Khan decided that perhaps she too should no longer wear the hijab. “Wearing hijab makes me feel protected, respected, and unique.
“I took it off for one day; I felt naked.” It was going without wearing it for that single day that she realized she truly wanted to wear the hijab. It makes me feel peace at heart knowing that I’m obeying the command of my creator.
I am not a particularly modest dresser, and I have attracted a second glance with my cleavage at times.
But working at a college that enrolls numerous Muslim students, many of whom wear the hijab, I feel that I have a responsibility as an educator to have a better understanding of all cultures.
When Nazma Khan steps up to the podium, the crowded room grows quiet.
Her exquisite face is framed by a brightly patterned silk scarf wrapped around her head and neck.
“Though many women in my family wore the hijab, there were many more who did not. “No one told me to wear it.” The first time she tried one on, “I didn’t tell my mother anything. “In middle school I was called ninja or Batman,” she reveals with obvious pain.
“They would put gum in my hijab.” She struggled during those awkward preteen years, a difficult time for even the most willing conformist.
And while she held true to her beliefs, her younger sister could no longer deal with the peer pressure.
Now thirty, Khan is speaking to a group of students at a meeting of the Queensborough Community College Student Muslim Association.
The room is filled, primarily with Muslim students, and many wear the hijab. The students, many immigrants themselves, have all experienced the same judgmental stares and hurtful comments.