Tomorrow, her political party—the Movement for Transformation (MFT) will contest three seats in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election.
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Designer Chi sells hijabs with sequins, embroidery and even bridal laces
On World Hijab Day, which was on February 1, you didn’t have to be a Muslim to wear one. The designated day was first announced in 2013. Founded by activist Nazma Khan, the story behind World Hijab Day is an emotional one which speaks of the bullying, prejudice, physical and racial abuse Khan endured as a young child who migrated to the US from Bangladesh. These unkind imputations were all because she wore a hijab.
Since launching an online store in 2010 to sell hijabs, Khan has received an outpouring of support from hijab-wearing women across the globe who have shared with her their own terrifying stories because of their headscarves.
Today, World Hijab Day is celebrated in 116 countries around the world. Although the declaration received negative criticisms from some who saw it as a “well-financed effort by conservative Muslims to dominate modern Muslim societies,” others respect the day. One such person was New York Assemblyman David Weprin, who in his feature address on World Hijab Day, said: “As the prime Assembly sponsor of the Religious Garb bill in New York State, A2049, I stand with all Americans of faith, regardless of their choice, to wear a hijab, kippah, turban, or cross. All Americans of all faiths should be allowed to freely exercise and display their religious choice without the fear of violence and bigotry.”
Here at home, women’s rights activist and model Naballah Chi has not been quiet about her love and honour for the true meaning of the hijab. In an interview with the T&T Guardian, Chi explained the meaning of the hijab and why it’s worn.
“The literal meaning of hijab is to veil, to cover, or to screen. Islam is known as a religion concerned with community cohesion and moral boundaries, and therefore the hijab is a way of ensuring that the moral boundaries between unrelated men and women are respected,” said Chi.
She added, “In this sense, the term hijab encompasses more than a scarf and more than a dress code. It is a term that denotes modest dressing and modest behaviour. Wearing the hijab is a commandment from Allah. The majority of Muslim women wear hijab to obey God, and to be known as respectable women.
“The basic requirement of the hijab is that a Muslim woman should cover her head and bosom (chest) and her body. So in the last 30 years, hijab has emerged as a sign of Islamic consciousness and women’s assertion to obey their lord. A woman wearing hijab becomes a very visible sign of Islam.
“The aura of privacy created by hijab is indicative of the great value Islam places upon women. Therefore, hijab is not a symbol of oppression. The hijab does not prevent a woman from acquiring knowledge or from contributing to the betterment of human society. While those who seek to ban hijab refer to it as a symbol of gender-based repression, the women who choose to don a scarf, or to wear hijab, in the broadest sense of the word, view it as a right and not a burden,” she explained.
She said wearing the hijab has given her the freedom from constant attention to her physical self.
“My appearance is not subjected to scrutiny, my beauty, or perhaps lack of. Instead it has been removed from the realm of what can legitimately be discussed,” she said.
Chi comes from a world of beauty pageants where she once felt pressured to put down her hijab in exchange for a crown.
After understanding the true meaning behind the hijab, and why she wore a hijab as a Muslim woman, she decided to design a fashionable collection called Classic Woman—not the conventional headscarf, but rather, beautifully coloured pieces which bear intricate artwork. They can range from embroidery to sequins or even tie-dye. The sky is the limit when she puts her fashionable sense into motion.
Chi said the collection was inspired by both The Great Gatsby and the Renaissance eras of power dressing.
“My collection features designs showcasing the powerful but elegant and well-tailored woman.
Chi Collection’s trademark fabrics are soft, beautiful silks, chiffon, sequins, embroidery and bridal laces. Distinctive attributes are the colours scarlet red, white and black, in keeping with the classic fashion palette and to pay homage to my country as a Trinbagonian designer,” said Chi.
Her collection was launched in November 2015 at the Red Runway Fashion Gala held in Port-of-Spain. The collection will be available for purchase via Chi’s upcoming website.