Hijabis of New York creator Abdelhamid wants the world to know there’s more to Muslim women than just a hijab.
Rana Abdelhamid, a student and an activist, hopes to clear misconceptions concerning the hijab, a head covering favored by some Muslim women, with her Facebook and Tumblr account ‘Hijabis of New York.’ It tries to emulate the runaway success of “Humans of New York,” a photography blog documenting the lives of ordinary New York residents.
The intention behind “Hijabis of New York” is to highlight the successes achieved by Muslim women who have made the decision to wear the Muslim head covering. The project already has over 16,000 likes on Facebook. Abdelhamid is a 22-year-old student at Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She stated her motivation is to elevate and diversify the narrative which surrounds Muslim women. She says the project has been extremely empowering.
Hijabis of New York contains the story of women hailing from all backgrounds. They range from students to professionals and even to mothers. The stories told underscore the difference among the women who opt to wear hijabs in background, profession, ethnicity, education and age. According to Abdelhamid, her goal was to utilize social media and photography to show the world the diversity and vibrancy of hijabi women.
Abdelhamid, who herself dons a hijab, said that she felt inspired to begin such a photography blog after she suffered ignorant or insensitive comments for a majority of life. She found such ignorance even in Queens, one of the most diverse of New York city boroughs.
Abdelhamid pointed out that there exists a number of stereotypes surrounding the hijab- both from the non-Muslims and also among Muslims. There are assumptions that veiled women are soft spoken, conservative and docile. They have also no interest towards careers. She cites the dehumanization that affects veiled women – and made them easy targets for anti-Islamic bigotry. To many outsiders, hijab is regarded as an oppressive piece of clothing. To her, the head covering is her choice and represents in part, her identity.
Abdelhamid hopes that the page will spark conversations about a number of issues offline. She mentions a number of real challenges like domestic violence, harassment and assault which Muslim women suffer every day. She urged the wider world to know them.