It’s true that a preponderance of Muslim women are shrouded in unflattering chadors and hijabs that hardly permit a crack of light, but American women are turning to more fashionable (and environmentally friendly) ways to achieve the modesty called upon by their Islamic faith.
Founded in order to promote a culture of peace and tolerance in the United States by human rights attorney Shaz Kaiseruddin, the inaugural hijab design competition held in Chicago over the weekend was a huge hit. From elaborate coral arrangements to wraps piled high on models’ heads, the show turned out a surprising variety of 21st century hijabs that both honor and turn tradition on its head.
Sarah Musa, second from the left, won the grand design for the camel quilted ensemble worn by her sister standing right next to her.
Sold out to a diverse audience, the design competition had a star-studded panel of judges that included such luminaries as designer Nailah Lymus, who was dressed for the occasion in a wild, avant-garde outfit, Parsons Professor Shireen Soliman and Dr. Aminah McCloud, a Muslim American scholar.
“Derek Khan, America’s Next Top Model guest judge, was the biggest critic of the group-which was an essential role” said Shaz, whose dream it was to show that hijabs are as “American as blue jeans.”
“The event showed that the hijab does not have to be an after-thought, consisting of just a color matched scarf. It can be integrated into the attire, enhancing the overall look and elegance,” her father added.
The design competition was open to non-designers to present their American-styled hijab and styles and promotes an end to the violence, hatred and discrimination that Muslims often face in the United States.
“Seeing my dream become a reality made me want to help everyone experience the same and pray everyone has a team that will help push them past naysayers,” Shaz said in a recent press release.
She received particular support from her husband and father, Ahmed Minhaj and Mohammed Kaiseruddin.
The grand prize was awarded to New York’s Sarah Musa, whose design included an entire ensemble that makes the traditional Arab scarf look like a table cloth.
A quilted camel-colored shirtdress hangs over slim pants while the head covering consists of a turtleneck with a head cap – almost like a hoody but much more classy. The outfit modeled by Musa’s sister, who does not normally cover herself, is completed with a pair of boots.
Yasmeen Sabir won the style component for a tropical scarf coupled with a coral motorcycle jacket, boyfriend jeans, a yellow cardigan, and gravity-defying blue heels .