By Tom Holmes
Wearing an hijab for a week
When Forest Park resident Sarah Reich heard that the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at the University of Illinois in Chicago was providing an opportunity for non-Muslim coeds to wear the head scarf called an hijab for a week, she intuitively knew she had to take advantage of the opportunity.
Reich, a senior psychology major who will graduate from UIC in May, wrote in the following in the MSA newsletter: “I knew from the moment I woke up Monday morning this was something I had to do. No, I am not Muslim. No, I do not plan on becoming Muslim, yet the opportunity to embrace a faith different than my own could not be passed up. When a person shows their beliefs every day [by wearing the hijab] despite prejudice, it is inspirational.”
Wednesday was the day that really impacted the 24 year old college student. “It was Ash Wednesday,” she said. “When I say I’m going to do something I do it fully. I went to the Mass at Ascension [in Oak Park] wearing the hijab. I got my ashes while wearing the hijab.”
She then added a statement that says as much about her outlook as it does about the attitudes of the people Ascension. “No one said anything. Ascension is a more modern church. No one was looking at me funny. People who are devout in any religion wouldn’t do that, but I was self-conscious, because I didn’t want them to think I was trying to make a scene.”
“I didn’t know any of the sisters personally before the week began,” Reich concluded, “so I was still judging them by their appearance. Now I got to know them as individuals. I learned that they are beautiful and devout, but they’re also college students who like to joke around.”
“The week also made me stronger in my own Christian faith,” she concluded. “You can only really know your own faith fully when you experience other faiths.”