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Al Ahad: The Hijab Project

Jul 21, 2017 – Jan 27, 2018

Installation photograph, Al Ahad: The Hijab Project, Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Jul 21, 2017—Jan 27, 2018, photo © UMOCA

Al Ahad is an Arabic word meaning indivisible and is used to describe God. It also serves as an acronym for Always Love Against Hate And Discrimination, a local organization working to change public perceptions of Islam. The members of Al Ahad believe that love, unity, and community action are society’s strongest tools against hate and systemic racism.

Al Ahad conducted surveys at three locations in the Salt Lake Valley in order to gain insight into local residents’ views of Islam. In particular, survey questions focused on the hijab, a headscarf worn by Muslim women. The survey results indicated widespread disinformation about the hijab, including the belief that the hijab is intrinsically connected to gender oppression.

While many see the hijab as a symbol of homogenization and oppression, the women of Al Ahad believe the hijab represents a profound respect and connection to God. They have all made a personal choice to wear the garment at different times in their lives.

Informed by the survey results and their own experiences, Al Ahad created The Hijab Project. They invited Muslim women from around Salt Lake City to participate in workshops to create their own headscarves. As participants used the hijab as their canvas, they let their personalities shine through. These artworks reflect each woman’s individual spirituality with the hope of dispelling stereotypes surrounding women who wear the hijab.