Bruneian women speak up on right to wear hijab

National 3 minutes, 31 seconds


THE challenges faced by Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab needs to addressed, said the women participating in the World Hijab Day(WHD) event in Brunei yesterday.

The Brunei Times interviewed a number of women, mostly boutique owners participating at the Cintai Rasul Carnival yesterday, on their thoughts of the misconception surrounding Muslim women and the hijab.

Hijab means to conceal or hide from view but generally it refers to the headscarf or modest dressing.

According to Siti Norhalifah, founder of Alwani Collections, the view that Muslim women are forced into wearing the hijab “is definitely something that is not true and we need to show it to the world”.

She said women who wear the hijab are beautiful, and by participating in the WHD, she hopes to inspire women especially youths to wear the hijab.

The owner of Covered By Anissa, Hidayah Khairunissa Bazilah Hj Masir, said the WHD is a positive movement as it helps in spreading awareness on what hijab really means.

“Like most Muslim women, I choose to wear the hijab not because I feel that I have to but because I want to,” Khairunissa said. “I feel proud to be part of this event. I hope to show non-Muslims the beauty of wearing the hijab.”

She added that she believed that the hijab is not only a lifestyle but also a way of life.

Another boutique owner, Hayati of Al-Muhajirah Hijab Lebuh, was excited when she found out that Brunei was one of the countries that will be participating in the World Hijab Day. She believed that wearing the hijab made women more special.

Hayati shared a story about a non-Muslim customer who had purchased a headscarf from her store and later informed her that she had fallen in love. The customer said that she felt that the act of donning the headscarf had brought her closer to Islam.

After learning about the customer’s experience, Hayati said she was even more inspired, motivated and proud that because of just a single hijab, the customer has opened her heart to learn more about Islam.

“It is because of stories like this that make me want to show the world that wearing the hijab is by choice and not by force.”

Hayati also expressed her pride in seeing how more youths are now seen to be covering up and wearing the hijab.

“I think that it is important for youths to start wearing the hijab from an early age.”

All three boutique owners stated that they hope to also take part in the WHD event ext year.

Meanwhile, an undergraduate from Universiti Brunei Darussalam who wished to be known as Siti, expressed that she was happy that Brunei is participating in the WHD.

She shared that she started wearing the hijab after spending time with people who wore it.

Siti realised the beauty of wearing the hijab and was inspired to see women who wore it with dignity and who showed modesty not only in their clothing but also in their character.

With regards to Muslim women being oppressed because of their choice in wearing the hijab, she said that she had never experienced any types of discrimination.

Howver, she hopes that the WHD movement would help shed light on the issue, particularly those living in some parts of the world that struggle to keep or wear the hijab.

A lecturer from Politeknik Brunei, who did not wish to be named, stated that she started wearing the hijab because she felt a sense of peace whenever she sees other women wearing it.

“I used to study in the UK and I know how it feels to be stared at by people who think you are being oppressed.”

She stated that she usually tried her best to ignore the stares because their opinions do not matter.

“I want to hide my beauty and only reveal it to the man I marry. I think it’s so special that way. It’s like keeping a really good secret but only between two people,” she said.

This is the second World Hijab Day — it is observed on February 1. This year saw the participation of 116 countries.

The Brunei Times