World Hijab Day: Meet the hijabis changing the face of social media

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Clockwise from top: Ibtihaj Muhammad, Zahra Lari, Dina Tokio, Halima Aden. Center image: Mariah Idrissi.

 

February 1 marks the World Hijab Day in recognition of millions of Muslim women around the world who choose to wear the hijab and live a life of modesty.

The brainchild of New York-based Nazma Khan, the movement – which is now celebrated in over 140 countries – is aimed at fostering religious tolerance and understanding by inviting non-Hijabi Muslims and non-Muslims to experience the hijab for one day.

In the current political climate, the hijab continues to be viewed as a symbol of oppression and segregation. According to worldhijabday.com, Nazma hopes to counteract some of these controversies through education.

And we’re witnessing a new wave of personalities creating change by promoting the hijab in a positive light through their work and social media channels. Therefore, in no particular order, here are 10 of the most fierce and fabulous women that we believe are shattering stereotypes by normalising hijab in this volatile climate.

1. HALIMA ADEN

Appearing at the very first Dubai Modest Fashion Week (DMFW) in December (read our interview with her here), it’s hard to believe that Halima Aden is only 20 years old.

The former refugee is now one of the sought after new models in the business, bagging front covers for Vogue Arabia, Allure and Grazia UK.

But she’s not just a pretty face; the American-Somali is using her fame for good.

“I'm not just a model; I'm now partnering with UNICEF, going back to what I’ve always wanted to do since I was six years old. You could either be the girl on the catwalk, or you could have a message and do both.”

2. IBTIHAJ MUHAMMAD

 

 

 

If there was one word to describe Ibtihaj Muhammad, it’s ‘cool’. Like Rihanna is to the music world, Ibtihaj is to the international sports community.

Part of Team USA at the 2016 Olympics, she became the first Muslim-American to wear a hijab while competing, also becoming the first female Muslim-American athlete to earn a medal at the Olympics.

Ibtihaj owns a modest fashion company, Louella, and last year was made the face of Barbie, after Mattel launched a hijabi version of the doll, modelled after the fencing athlete.

3. ZAHRA LARI

 

Fast establishing herself as one of the best-known faces in Emirati sport, Zahra Lari made headlines last year after becoming the first figure skater of either gender to represent her country in international competitions.

In November, she was unveiled as the very first hijabi cover girl of Women’s Health magazine.

4. DINA TOKIO

 

 

When your reflection lets you down

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If there’s one person to get modest fashion tips from when heading to colder climates, it’s Dina Tokio. The London-based, self-confessed “modest fashion know-it-all” always manages to look effortlessly stylish.

Dina appears in the February issue of British Vogue dedicated towards gender equality.

5. RUBA ZAI

 

It has been a whirlwind few years for the Afghani-Dutch fashion blogger. Ruba Zai – better known by her Insta-name @HijabHills – started her online journey sharing hijab-tying tutorials. Now, she’s working with mega brands such as Dolce & Gabbana and YSL Beauty, racking up over a million followers in the process.

6. MARIAH IDRISSI

 

The 25-year-old Brit (of Moroccan and Pakistani descent) first gained recognition in 2015 as the first hijab-wearing model in H&M’s ‘Close the Loop’ campaign.

Now a model, public speaker, and online personality, Mariah signed with Insanity Group Management in 2017.

7. MELANIE ELTURK

 

 

Stopped at the coziest cafe to warm up after frolicking in the snow ?????? I reflected on the past year as a critical year for Haute Hijab - it’s the year we finally stopped working out of our apartment and moved into an office and the year we started to build out our team with full time employees (we only had part-timers and contractors before this year) and really feel a company culture and more importantly Haute Hijab family taking hold. In the past year, we’ve been laying the foundation for *amazing* new products and services meant to enrich your life and overall well-being (check out my highlights for a sneak peek ??). On behalf of the Haute Hijab team, we’re *incredibly* excited for 2018 and hope you are too ?? The best is yet to come ? #LookingBack #HappyNewYear #2017 #ThisIsOnlyTheBeginning

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Melanie Elturk’s Instagram page is named after the company she founded in 2010.

Haute Hijab was created out of a passion for vintage scarves and classic/timeless looks. As she explains on her website: “Our community consists of beautiful women empowering one another through their inspiring stories, style and commitment to faith.”

8. AMANI AL-KHATAHTBEH

 

The American author and tech entrepreneur is the founder and editor of the hugely popular website MuslimGirl.

 

Amani – who’s of Jordanian and Palestinian descent – recently turned down a Revlon award, citing brand ambassador and Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot’s open support of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in Palestine.

 

“As much as this means to me, and I would love to be there to celebrate with you, I cannot accept this award from Revlon with Gal Gadot as the ambassador,” she wrote on Instagram. “Her vocal support of the Israeli Defence Forces’ actions in Palestine goes against MuslimGirl.com’s morals and values.”

9. ILHAN OMAR

 

We first heard of the Somali-American in 2016, after she was elected a Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, making her the first Somali-American Muslim legislator elected to office in the United States.

 

Now also a Director of Policy and Initiatives of the Women Organizing Women Network, Ilhan was named by Time Magazine as one of the “women who are changing the world”, by breaking barriers in their respective disciplines.

10.FATIMA AL-ALI

 

 

Ice hockey might not be the first sport that comes to mind when you discuss the sports scene in the United Arab Emirates, but Abu Dhabi native Fatima Al Ali is bringing it to prominence by becoming the first hijabi to play for the national ice hockey team.

Hoping to inspire others to take up the sport, the athlete took part in a ‘Hockey is for Everyone’ campaign in February 2017, practicing with the Washington Capitals and the Washington Pride.