College Fashionista serves as a platform for students around the world to express their fashion choices and to share their voices, and we believe that should be inclusive of everyone. So to ensure we continue to foster a conversation of inclusivity and understanding, we want to highlight the voices of students who might not always be heard. In honor of Muslim Women’s Day today, and in celebration of Muslim women and the diversity of their experiences, we asked five students in our community to share the most common misconceptions about being Muslim to help shed light on their stories. Keep reading to see what they had to say.
Our ethnicity does not dictate our faith.
“One misconception about being Muslim I would like to clear up is that we are not of Arab or Middle Eastern descent. We come from all over the world, speak many different languages and have many different cultures. Our ethnicity does not dictate our faith. I mean, my family is from India, and we are Muslim! Religion positively impacts my fashion choices by allowing me to think outside the box. A lot of clothes that I buy aren’t traditionally considered modest, so I always have some challenge trying to make them both modest and fashionable. I almost always end up tailoring anything I buy at the store to make it wearable for me. Sometimes it’s just adding fabric in the neck area. Other times I have tops, dresses or skirts that are entirely sheer, and I have to add a lining with matching fabric.” —Ayesha Ahmad, Loyola University of Chicago class of 2020
Islam as a religion has emancipated women from boundaries that are cultural or societal.
“Muslim women are generally perceived to be oppressed and deprived of rights in Islam. This is fortunately not the case, and Islam as a religion has emancipated women from boundaries that are cultural or societal. Muslim women not only were scholars in the early times of Islam, but they also fought in battles, attended to the sick and wounded, were business women and were so much more than gender constraints that lasted far into the 20th century. On top of that, the first university in the world was created by a Muslim woman. Islam is a religion that is meant to help create a peaceful lifestyle. So while following Islam, not only have I been able to find myself, but I have also been able to define my fashion choices. It gives me a guideline to not only be confident in who I am but to also be modest in my dress. I get to work with myself to choose clothing that not only works together but are also comfortable and allow me to be modest. I find it a fun challenge, going into shops and trying to find different ways to wear clothing that others wear in a completely different way. Overall I have been able to push my boundaries of fashion, to seek out trends and have learned to interpret the fashion world around me to fit my style and what I have learned about modesty from my religion.” —Fiha Abdulrahman, Rutgers University class of 2019
Islam has never restricted my creativity or fashion choice, but rather it has allowed me to experiment with different styles and broaden my spectrum.
“The biggest misconception about being Muslim is that because we wear the hijab, we are oppressed. We are restricted. We are confined in something against our will. Let me get this straight: The hijab allows me the freedom to live and express myself however way I want while still holding on to my core beliefs and values in life. It allows us to combat the negative stereotyping plastered all over the media. The hijab allows us to develop the pious fashion that makes everyone’s jaw drop. It’s the most liberating thing, and most of all, it is my choice. It is a sign of strength and forces people to look at me and my personality, beliefs, intelligence and just who I am as a person rather than the unrealistic standard of beauty being idolized at the moment. My hijab allows me to have the freedom to live and express myself in my own way while still holding on to my beliefs and values. Islam has never restricted my creativity or fashion choice, but rather allowed me to experiment with different styles and broaden my spectrum. I am able to find different styles while still holding onto my modesty and feeling comfortable in what I wear. My religion, Islam, is the core of who I am and thus being able to dress up and make fashion choices around my core belief is all about experimenting and trying out different things. This allows me to go and expand my creativity and feel great in outfits most people cannot pull off! Our pious fashion makes everyone feel comfortable in their skin and look amazing doing so!” —Mooniba Abdul, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia class of 2021
We dress modestly for God, as a step to become more modest in character.
“A lot of people think that Muslim women dress modestly to hide their beauty from men, which is not true. Our bodies are not objects of pleasure for men such that we need to cover them for the sake of helping them limit that pleasure—that very idea objectifies women. We dress modestly for God, as a step to become more modest in character. Being Muslim comes with a package of labels that can be quite restrictive. Fashion is my way of taking these labels (pun intended) and turning them into something positive. It’s my way of telling people: ‘I am more than what you see on my head—look at my creativity, look at me.’” —Salma Elztahry, Rutgers University class of 2020
The hijab is not supposed to be a compulsion—it’s supposed to be a choice.
“Many people think that the hijab is forced upon women in Islam, although this does happen in many places. The hijab is not supposed to be a compulsion—it’s supposed to be a choice.” —Insha Khan, California State University – Long Beach class of 2021
Featured photo by @thatgirlyusra.