Al Ahad: The Hijab Project, is a display of handmade hijabs that reflect the feelings of five Muslim women. Ana Antunes, a Ph.D. student at the University of Utah, is doing her dissertation on the experiences of Muslim women and said the project morphed into an exhibit at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art.
“Most people feel like a hijab is associated with some kind of gender oppression," Antunes said. "Right, that women are forced to use it. That they’re trying to fight their beauty, that there’s some sort of like male pressure to cover themselves. So we wanted to highlight with the project the uniqueness of each Muslim woman - how a hijab represents their uniqueness, and their sense of style, and their personality and how these young women feel about their own hijab.”
Antunes worked with a group of Muslim woman to survey people at her school and the general population in Salt Lake City. Together they found that many people believe that all hijab wearers are the same. The group decided to challenge this perception of uniformity by making individualized hijabs to display at the museum.
Antunes said that the project is about shedding light on the feelings of a population that often does not have a voice.
“We don’t really give them the space to talk about themselves and share with us how they feel about things, and how they feel about their culture and how they feel about their religion,” Antunes said.
The project reflects the title Al Ahad which is used to describe God as indivisible. The title is also an acronym for Always Love Against Hate and Discrimination which is an organization that challenges stereotypes about Muslims. The art exhibit which opened last week is available through mid November.