The University of Southern Mississippi’s Muslim Student Association hosted its first Hijab Day on Feb. 7 to promote cultural awareness on Southern Miss’ Hattiesburg campus.
“We are in the Deep South, and we are in the Bible Belt,” said MSA President Wisam Beauti. “I think at a higher-level educational institute, it’s very important that people educate themselves.”
Inside the Hub on Tuesday, students on campus were able to try on different cloths used as headwear in Muslim culture to showcase modesty. In Islam, women wear hijabs for different reasons, and they may wear them whenever they choose to or at any age.
“Islam does not suppress women,” Beauti said. “It took me years to come after it and really choose it. It just took me so long.”
Beauti, who has six other siblings, said it took her a while to start wearing a hijab. She began wearing it for her freshman year of college at Southern Miss, but she admits that she had a couple of questions due to the common misunderstandings that most Americans have about the religions from the Middle East.
“What is an extra piece of cloth?” she said. “What are my friends going to think of me? How are people going to perceive me? Are people going to try and take it off of me? I live in the South – people always scare me.”
Beauti said she feels that wearing a hijab in Mississippi can be dangerous. She is only one of a few hijabis on campus, so she feels that it was only right that she conneced directly with Southern Miss students.
Senior biochemistry major Taylor Robbins tried on the hijab for the first time. Robbins believes that she is not so different from Beauti, even if they do not share the same religion.
“I believe that in some type of way, all religions are correlated,” Robbins said. “To put it into perspective, everybody is not going to be the same. If everybody was the same, this wouldn’t be America. Everyone is different. We’re not all going to have the exact same beliefs or the same religion.”
Right in the middle of the campus, between Seymour’s and the R.C. Cook University Union Game Room, students learned various lessons about Islam, including their beliefs, who Allah is and that Jesus Christ a prophet in the Abrahamic religion.
Through Hijab Day, students were able to connect with hijabi students, like Beauti.
“People like to express themselves,” Beauti said. “They’ll get tattoos, or get piercings or wear black. The hijab, for me, is a way to express myself – a way to display my religion. Religion shapes my character. Islam kind of shows me my way of life. It gives me my perspective on life, believe it or not.”