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Hijab-Wearing Wheaton College Prof. Responds to Critics Who Question Her Devotion (Interview)

Hijab-Wearing Wheaton College Prof. Responds to Critics Who Question Her Devotion (Interview)

Since her controversial Facebook post last Thursday, Hawkins said that at least ten other people, including students, friends and even a mother of one of her former students, have told her that they will be taking part in wearing hijabs this Christmas season. She is not certain if all of them plan on wearing the hijab throughout the entire Advent or just for a day or two.

Although Hawkins Facebook post has gained quite a bit of media attention, her goal behind her show of solidarity with Muslims, she said, is not to gain attention or conduct a social experiment.

"I think that is the kind of unity through religious diversity that I am trying to accomplish through this is to have unity with women who are easily targeted because they wear their religion on their head," Hawkins stressed. "I really find it imperative to think about what it means to coexist as religionists. There are Christian missionaries who uphold these models of the faith who are doing the same thing as a way of reaching out to Muslims even as they try to spread the gospel. I am not sure if we see this is a way of sharing the gospel or as an act of religious solidarity. I think people do it all the time, just not in the U.S."

"I think woman wearing a cross or a man wearing a cross isn't necessarily deemed Christian but a woman wearing a hijab is always assumed to be Muslim, even though Jesus' mom wore a hijab. Mary, the mother of God, wore a hijab," Hawkins highlighted. " The context in the time is fortuitous to remind ourself that in some context, this is a cultural element of dress. Some of my friends who are missionaries in the Middle East wear the hijab while they live there everyday."

Even though Hawkins' goal wasn't to conduct a social experiment, she couldn't help but notice last Friday, her first full day wearing the hijab throughout her daily routine, that she was getting more stares while out in public.

"I have been noticing how I am isolated because there are so few women in hijabs. As a black female, I often notice that I am the only one," Hawkins said. "In terms of people in responses and reaction to me, I have noticed being stared at, at the gas station while pumping gas. It's less obvious that people stare at me for the hijab. It is very difficult to know at any point in time why they look at you. At the gas station, that was pretty obvious that I was being stared at for a long time while pumping gas and wearing the hijab."

On Sunday, Hawkins attended an Episcopal church service while wearing the hijab for the first time.

"The church was very accepting of me. This is the church that I had been visiting regularly. There were no sense that I would be rejected. There were no outright questions. They just said, 'Hi, how are you today?' So, perhaps they thought maybe I was a Muslim visiting the church and just started wearing the hijab," she explained. "Then I got to explain. The pastor asked me what I was doing and why I was wearing the hijab. I thought that was a good opportunity to put some context around it."

For those who continue to call Hawkins faith into question for wearing a hijab during her advent worship, she has just three words for them: "I love you."

"The apostle Paul declares, '...as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone' (Romans 12:18). That includes those of you who now count me apostate for daring to call fellow humans who happen to be Muslim my brothers and sisters," Hawkins wrote on Sunday. "I love you with the power of the love that saved me and keeps me and bids me do justice in my body."

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