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I am not a particularly modest dresser, and I have attracted a second glance with my cleavage at times.But working at a college that enrolls numerous Muslim students, many of whom wear the hijab, I feel that I have a responsibility as an educator to have a better understanding of all cultures.When Nazma Khan steps up to the podium, the crowded room grows quiet.Her exquisite face is framed by a brightly patterned silk scarf wrapped around her head and neck.We all lean in closer to hear her soft yet vibrant voice.
After graduating from City College, where she studied biology and pre-med, Khan decided to go a different route with her career.At a time when some in New York City were wary of Muslims, her hijab made her a target for ridicule and suspicion.“I was made to feel like a criminal,” she says, “as if I was responsible for 9/11 and owed an apology to everyone.” True to her religious beliefs, Khan shrugged off the cruel comments and hateful looks and kept wearing the hijab.Modesty,” “We Are Not Submissive to Men” and “Health Benefits of the Hijab,” which discusses protection from harmful UV rays that could lead to cancer, heat exposure, protection from cold weather conditions and covering hair for hygienic purposes. A judge recently found the company guilty of workplace discrimination. Khan felt she needed to do something else to help support these women.As her business began to grow, she started receiving emails from other (women who wear the hijab), who shared their individual experiences of judgment or hate, and who expressed concerns about not being able to get jobs due to their appearance. So in 2011, she began crafting a way for non-Muslim women to get a taste of what it was actually like to wear the hijab.
Many non-Muslims have long associated this religious head covering with oppression and sexism. Often described as a means to aid in modesty, proper conduct, and dignity, the wearing of a veil has an ancient history; the 2,700-year-old Middle Assyrian Laws reference a prostitute or slave girl who was found wearing a veil improperly and ordered to be punished.