'They feel beautiful': Regina's Muslim women host World Hijab Day

A group of smiling young women wearing headscarves greeted people at Regina's Southland Mall on Sunday, inviting people to try on a colourful scarf of their own as part of World Hijab Day.

Muslim women gathered at Regina's Southland Mall to talk about their choice to wear headscarves

Young women with the Muslim Youth Network were happy to hand out donated scarves and talk with people about their faith. (CBC News)

A group of smiling young women wearing headscarves greeted people at Regina's Southland Mall on Sunday, inviting people to try on a colourful scarf of their own as part of World Hijab Day.

"I love to see curiosity from people, to see that they're more open and willing to learn," said 18-year-old Ayesha Azam, as people walked by with smiles, or flipped a thumbs up as they passed.

She said the reaction from some of the women trying on the scarf was amazing to see.

"They tell me they feel beautiful ,which honestly makes me so happy, to know that you can cover yourself and be modest, and still feel like you're beautiful."

I don't see the hijab, I just see the people.- Therese Durston

Therese Durston was walking by when she saw the display, stopping to chat with the women and to try out and take home a scarf of her own.

"They never have to do their hair, and I was envious of that fact — they never have bad hair days," she said with a laugh.

Minhal Mussawar helps Therese Durston try out a head scarf during World Hijab Day, with Muslim girls and women of all ages answering questions and talking to people at Regina's Southland Mall on Sunday. (CBC News)

Durston said she's taught several students that wear the hijab, who seem to cheerfully embrace this part of their faith.

"They are positive people," she said, adding, "I don't see the hijab, I just see the people."

World Hijab Day has taken place since 2013, but Azam explained that the Muslim Youth Network and Islamic Circle of North America partnered up to hold the event for the first time in Regina this year to address misconceptions that they sometimes see or hear.

"It's kind of like a misconception that wearing a hijab is forced upon you, that it means oppression,' Azam said. "We're trying to show it's more freedom, it's more expression, and empowerment for women."

Azam started wearing a hijab this past year.

"I didn't feel like I was something I was ready for. My family was very accepting of that," she said.

Muslim women at Regina's World Hijab Day talked about the multiple scarves they have at home, leading to some fashion fun as they coordinated their hijabs' colours and styles with their outfits of the day. (CBC News)

She said most of her friends have been very supportive, and while she has lost a couple of friends who did not understand her decision, she has come to terms with that.

"It was difficult at first, but after a while, I kind of realized that some people won't like it, some people will, but I'm blessed with the friends I have now who accept me for wearing my hijab."

While the Qur'an says it is mandatory for women to wear a hijab, Azam said the decision is ultimately between a woman and God.

"No one else can force you to wear it," Azam said. "They can tell me to wear it, but I can say yes or no. But because God tells me to do it, I say yes."