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Regional mosque throws its doors open and shows women what it's like to wear a hijab Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Updated Mon at 4:50am

The hijab has courted courted plenty of controversy, and now Muslim women in Queensland are harnessing people's interest in the headscarf to start conversations within their community.

At a recent open day at Rockhampton mosque, 34-year-old, mother-of-three Nusra Noorudheen and her friends showed non-Muslim women how the hijab was worn.

Ms Noorudheen said it opened up plenty of interesting conversations.

"If you have a hajib, niqab or burka on some people find it objectionable and think it's against women's rights," she said.

"When you have a negative image like that and then you try it on you see that it's not that bad, you still look beautiful — sometimes you even look better in a hijab!

"Going through that experience, you can get a different idea about it."

Ms Noorudheen said it was also a humanising experience to share your culture with someone directly.

"Sometimes when you are showing it to them they will tell you how they feel about it," she said.

"It opens up conversations because sometimes people don't talk about hijabs but this makes it more casual."

'Beautiful experiences' in growing community

The city of Rockhampton is better known for its beef than its religious and cultural diversity, but a growing Muslim community is calling central Queensland home.

Ms Noorudheen, who moved to Australia from Dubai eight years ago, said she had not encountered many problems when wearing her hijab in the city.

"I was worried when I first came that people could be prejudiced against me or judge me harshly, but I have had really beautiful experiences," she said.

"I have had many, many people come to me and compliment me on my hijab, they sometimes say they really love my scarf and they want to know where I got it."

But what about wearing a head covering during brutal Queensland summers?

Ms Noorudheen said it was about choosing the right scarf and remembering the meaning behind the garment.

"You have to choose the right material," she said.

"The one I am wearing is light cotton and I don't feel it as much.

"It is also for a religious reason and you have to make some sacrifices if you want the reward.

"I've just had a baby recently but before that I used to go the gym regularly and I was always in my hijab, I also go to the beach for a swim, I have my burkini, as they call it. It doesn't stop me from doing anything."

A chance for connection

Sue Finnigan tried on a hijab for the first time today and said while it was a warm accessory in the Rockhampton heat, it was nice to speak one-on-one with Ms Noorudheen.

"I don't think they should be judged — it's a part of their culture," she said.

"Trying on a hijab may remove people's negativity about it.

"It's been nice to experience wearing it and, not only that, I think it's also about experiencing the whole thing, trying on the hijab, tasting the food … I have nothing but pleasant thoughts about today; it was absolutely wonderful."

Community open to learn

The day's activities were a part of the Lebanese Muslim Association's National Mosque Open Day.

Islamic Society of Central Queensland president Binil Kattiparambil said welcoming 200 people through the doors of the mosque aimed to demystify their community.

"The purpose is to break down barriers and any sort of stigma around Muslims and Islam," he said.

Mr Kattiparambil said the conversations had between women about the hijabs were as important to the Muslim women as they were to the visitors.

"The Muslim women feel quite empowered when they see people from other faiths come forward and try on the hijab," he said.

"The non-Muslim people who try it on get to experience a bit of culture that another woman experiences throughout her lifetime."

He said women wearing hijabs were mostly treated well within the broader central Queensland community.

"There are a few instances, maybe a shove of a trolley at a supermarket, but you expect that everywhere," Mr Kattiparambil said.

"There are much more things that happen in the bigger cities. The people of Rockhampton are really lovely and they are welcoming; they like to live a really relaxed life.

"What we do see is sometimes they don't understand different cultures because they haven't experienced it, but they are willing to learn."

 
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