Muslim Student's Style of Head Covering Is Controversial

February 3, 2001

Source: The Washington Post

On February 3, 2001, The Washington Post published an article on the controversy caused by 16-year-old Theheerah Ahmad's decision to start wearing a hajib, a Muslim head covering. "Roger Dallek, the principal of Theheerah's school, Gar-Field High in Woodbridge, told her that the scarf, which covers only her hair, did not meet accepted standards of dress for Muslim women...Unless there is a religious reason, Prince William County students are not routinely allowed to wear hats or head coverings indoors. Theheerah said she was told she risked an after-school suspension for each day she wore the head scarf...Other Muslim students at Gar-Field wear a scarf that covers the forehead, shoulders and chest. Dallek sent a letter and pictures of women in such scarves to Theheerah's mother." None of the women pictured were from America, though. "Theheerah's style of hijab wouldn't be out of place at any mosque that serves a primarily African American congregation, [her mother] Ahmedkabrin said...Dallek said he spoke to a scholar at the [Islamic Center in Washington] who disapproved of Theheerah's interpretation of the hijab. But Joshua Salaam, a civil rights coordinator for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that in effect, Dallek was making a religious judgment for Theheerah... 'There's a lot of differences of opinion in the Muslim faith,' he explained, 'just like there are differences of opinion in the Christian faith.'" After many calls and letters from Ahmedkabrin, Dallek apologized to Theheerah.