By: Kenyan Carter | Web Editor
The Muslim Student Association at the University of South Alabama hosted its first all-women panel at the Marx Library on March 28. The event “Women in Hijab” discussed the ideology behind the hijab. The MSA provided an avenue for non-Muslim students to learn about Islam and interact face-to-face with the university’s Islamic community.
Zara Ijaz, the organizer of the panel and biomedical sciences major at South, said the goal of the event was to inform students.
“I think some people have questions and if you bring everyone interested together in a room, it’s the best way to educate them,” Ijaz said.
Hadil ElSharkh, a first-year medical student on the panel, highlighted her experience wearing the hijab.
“I learned that people fear what they don’t know,” ElSharkh said. “When I started wearing the hijab and I would meet new people, there was always that feeling of hesitation around me. I’m going to be honest that used to bother me at first, so I decided that I would be really open to questions.”
Dala Eloubeidi, a second-year medical student on the panel, gave the religious context for the hijab and described her interpretation of the Quran.
“We, as Muslims, find in the Quran a passage that discusses head coverings,” Eloubeidi said. “The wording of the passage doesn’t say Muslim women should cover, it actually informs the women to draw their coverings to the front.”
She described that one of the intents of the hijab is to provide emphasis on a person’s internal substance, rather than the physical. Eloubeidi explained how this concept can be empowering for women.
“The scarf says to me, and I’m sure to a lot of other women, that I would like to be valued for more than who I am on the outside,” Eloubeidi said. “ I want people to value me for my personality, my contributions to society, not just things you can see on the outside.”
The panelist were further pressed however, about Islam’s influence on women’s rights. Saudi Arabia for example according to the Independent, institutes state-sponsored Islam and doesn’t allow women to freely travel, have custody of their children, open a bank account and only recently legalized a women’s right to drive.
Eloubeidi in response to this drew a distinction between individual choice and an institutionalized law for followers of Islam.
“When a government asks a people to do that is that still sincere,” Eloubeidi asked? “If someone is being forced to do something, I feel like that goes against the principles of what that faith, our faith, is teaching.”
The MSA mission statement is to clarify and convey accurate information about Islam to foster understanding and coexistence of different ideologies, according to the MSA Facebook page.
“Those people that were hesitant around me at first became some of the greatest friends I’ve ever met,” ElSharkh said. “They came to know me for my personality and not just this cloth on my head.”
To watch the full panel, visit the Muslim Student Association at The University of South Alabama Facebook page.