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A Night With Women Event:
NMSU Theatre Department Debuts a New Play
Congrats to Dr. Hamzeh: New Animated Short
Take from: “Unmediated Inquiry: Animated Short ‘The Four Hijabs’ Offers Insightful Perspectives” by R.A. Sheth
We live in a world where we are constantly being told what to think. In an age of readily accessible information, passive consumption of media-perpetuated stereotypes trump active quests for knowledge. For instance, the hijab, commonly associated with the headscarf worn by Muslim women, has become a source of irrational fear for many. With a sharp rise in Islamophobia and xenophobia in America and abroad, we have gone from telling Muslim women in hijab that they’re being oppressed to yanking off their headscarves. Much of this fear stems from false information and a lack of inquiry. So what do non-Muslims actually know about the hijab or the Qur’an? Demystifying the hijab with an eye toward justice is exactly what New Mexico State University Interdisciplinary Studies/Women’s Studies Associate Professor Dr. Manal Hamzeh and Mount Prospect native and Silk Road Rising Founding Artistic Director Jamil Khoury set out to do with the new animated short film “The Four Hijabs,” premiering at Silk Road Rising on July 30, 2016.
“The Four Hijabs” was purposefully developed as an entertaining and accessible animated short film that engages with the complex ideas surrounding the hijab. The animated short explores the multiple meanings of four hijabs mentioned in 16 Qur’anic verses. In engaging these verses through Arab-Muslim feminist lenses, four identifiable hijabs emerge: the visual hijab (the modest dress of both Muslim men and women), the spatial hijab (the separator between private and public spaces), the ethical hijab (ethical values/practices required of all Muslims), and the spiritual hijab (the barrier that inhibits deep spiritual growth and new knowledge.
“[The Four Hijabs] reflects our deep commitment to make important cutting-edge academic thought accessible to a general public by interpreting and rendering it as art,” said Hamzeh. The project stemmed from several conversations between co-writers Hamzeh and Khoury about the effects that Islamophobia and hijabophobia are having on young Muslims.
Hamzeh and Khoury are no strangers to challenging perspectives. “The Four Hijabs” is inspired by ideas in Hamzeh’s book, “Pedagogies of DeVeiling: Muslim Girls and the Hijab Discourse” (2012). “[The film] engages broader audiences in work and thought that may cut against the grain of what they have previously taken for granted,” said Hamzeh. She sees “The Four Hijabs” as one of the extensions of her own struggles as an Arab-Muslim feminist wrestling with patriarchal logic. It also supplements her approach to teaching, guided by a commitment to equity and social justice.