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Making Change Abroad

Definitely, making a change doesn’t need a perfect time and place. For Zahra, it happened to her when she was away from her loved ones and that was without knowing whether she could stand the test of time.

But she found something within those days which she least expected it. Let’s celebrate Zahra as she shares her transition in being a hijabi and what she has to say for World Hijab Day 2018.



Why do I want to wear the hijab?

I started wearing the Hijab back in 2012. Back then, I was in South Korea doing an exchange programme for 4 months. I went to Korea without the Hijab and never did it ever occur to me that I would return to Singapore with the Hijab on. Being in Korea taught me plenty of lessons that I feel were invaluable even till today. I was enthused to ace my final semester and explore the cities and the culture in Korea. While doing the latter, I was faced with challenges, at times all by myself (i.e. getting lost, having to be brave and ask around for directions and being shun away because not everyone speaks English and having to move around while carrying heavy bags by myself as I travel alone).

One of the reason that kept me going was my Du'a to Him. The challenges made me reflected and realised that Allah have made it easier for me in times of need and that He listens, always. It then softens my heart and the next thing I know, I was buying shawls at Myeongdong and Ewha Women's University area. I still remember that day vividly; my mum was the first person I broke the news to. She was shocked and she even broke into tears of joy when we spoke over Skype. Being my mother, she was extremely supportive of me wearing the Hijab. My Hijrah began that very day.

What are your biggest achievements and struggles you had when you start wearing the hijab?

I didn't know making my Hijrah in a foreign country was made manageable for me. I still remember it was right at the start of winter in Korea when I first don the Hijab to school. My Korean classmate's first reaction when she first saw me was, "Zahra, are you feeling cold?" I chuckled as I explained to her. My professors were very encouraging too!

I would not say I was faced with struggles when wearing the Hijab but yes, whenever I travel to a foreign land where wearing the minority wears the Hijab, I do get the "stares" and I feel scared of course. I just keep telling myself that everything is going to be okay and when the "stares" happen, just smile it off. 

What do you wish to say to your fellow women out there for this year's World Hijab Day?

We are all still the same person with or without the Hijab on. As we always try to better ourselves as we grow, it doesn't matter if you have or do not have the Hijab on as we come from different backgrounds and beliefs. It's your own prerogative. At the end of it all, Hijab shouldn't be a reason to define a women. With or without the Hijab, women can still be successful and beautiful inside out.

Meet Zahra Johari this Saturday at our World Hijab Day event, happening at Baghdad Street. Only at 5pm! Come and celebrate the joy of hijabs and woman empowerment!

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