Women continue to fight for their rights, be it the right to vote, receive education, to garner equal respect and value, or the seemingly simple sartorial choice of donning a hijab, or head covering.
World Hijab Day was founded on February 1, 2013, and has been celebrated on the same day ever since; it offers the opportunity to educate and enlighten.
For Muslim women, the hijab is a fulfilment of the instruction given in the Holy Quran.
It is a continuous act of worship, and a way to practice modesty, a fundamental principle for every Muslim man and woman.
A beautiful saying of the Holy Prophet of Islam, Prophet Muhammad is: “Modesty brings forth nothing but goodness.” (Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Iman, Hadith 37a).
In the wake of Iranian injustices pertaining to women and hijab, and the vilification of hijab in countries such as France and India, is this source of goodness still to be found? Wearing the hijab is a deeply personal decision; but the ability to make this decision freely without consequence is being stripped away in many parts of the world.
Governments seek to control and restrict this basic human right while oppressive regimes seek to dictate and punish women.
Neither approach is just or can be condoned.
The true teachings of Islam emphasise moderation and do not permit any coercion or violence in the wearing of hijab.
The Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, constantly exhorts the community to uphold Islamic duty with excellence, whilst also integrating fully and peacefully into society.
In a Friday Sermon His Holiness said: “Purda [modesty] is to uphold a woman’s honour.
“It is in the nature of women that they desire to be respected; everyone wants respect.
“Women have a certain honour they want to maintain and they should do so. Islam champions the honour, respect, and rights of women.
“It is not because of coercion women observe Purdah or wear the Hijab. It is to establish their individuality and respect.”
Following the framework of a peaceful religion and living within it’s guidance for a harmonious society does not mean women’s rights are usurped.
On the contrary, Islam seeks to preserve chastity, but also gives a woman the freedom to leave her home and excel in education, work, and community service.
I choose to celebrate the true iteration of hijab, and as a hijab-wearing mother, wife, and professional, I can attest to the liberty and autonomy I feel in my day-to-day life.
I uphold my faith in this very visible way, but do not feel any inhibition of equality or opportunity.
Rather, there is beauty in relying on intellect and personality over appearance.
Today where there is a casual willingness to dehumanise women, the hijab affords me dignity and an essential safeguard.
I am grateful to live in a country where my choice is protected. Women must strive to uphold this right.