by Sarah Schwarz

A look at modest fashion (Photo from Vogue UK)

It was July 1, 2015. For most Americans, it was an ordinary day in the courtroom in Oklahoma, but for Samantha, it was a momentuous.  She did not only win a lawsuit against a company who denied her the job because of her hijab, it was a winning moment for people like her. To note, it is considered unlawful for companies in America to discriminate gender, status, religion and ethnicity and Samantha fought for what’s rightfully hers; the right to practice her religion.

Two decades earlier, hijab movement started remotely only among Muslim communities and Samantha would have had a difficult time trying to fit in a society that are oblivious to Oriental religious culture, especially Islam. Islam was and still, is a misunderstood religion because of its practices peculiar to the modern Western life.

Also, to note, that around this time, Muslims were still revered as some fanatics and stereotyped as extremists due to the event that took place in 9/11. But Muslims did not coy away and let the West label them as such as they proactively reversed the idea of Islamophobia towards them. Instead, Muslims took the streets, held feasts and conventions, they wore hijab and beard more openly than before, they join social gatherings where they are mostly not wanted, they invite people to their religion and the once reserved minority group became active in the social scene including politics, television and even the runways and fashion. Muslims introduced their way of life openly, and the result, many Americans converted to Islam.

While new Muslims were on the rise in the West, there was a need to provide for their needs. Basic necessities such as food and clothing are in demand in the growing population but the fashion world was so slow at responding to it until 2019 when big brands finally gave in.

But how did the Muslims do it? For such a short time, a small movement that started among peers became a worldwide trend?

So, before the court granted Samantha the win, the story of Samantha’s lawsuit reached the Muslims and conservative people alike; Christians, Hindus, and even atheist girls, took to the social media and express their support for Sam. This, perhaps accelerated the modest fashion movement. Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest flooded with support for cultural and religious attire, religious freedom and identity, of unity, equality and diversity, of empowerment, crashing the walls of ignorance against a certain group of people. Modest fashion movement became not just a hijab movement, it is a message of peace- which exactly what Islam stands for- that we as onlookers will be at peace of their existence; it is freedom of expression. It’s not about dress codes anymore but of suave and style; for which we all come to the conclusion that this movement is not just a fashion choice- it is beyond it.

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