the hair or the hijab
Hair or the Hijab
Sara S. sits and talks with friends at Lykksekolen in Aarhus, Denmark. Sara is one of the few girls in her class that has not yet taken the hijab, the Muslim veil. Women of the Muslim religion typically take the veil around the age of 14 or 15, around the time of first menstruation. However, many decide to wear the hijab at an earlier age of their own accord and some decide not to wear it at all.
Alaa E. takes a sheet of paper from her chemistry teacher during class at Lykkeskolen. The decorations on the wall behind her and her friends are from an Eid party, which means feast in Arabic. Lykkeskolen is a friskole, a type of Danish school that has a specific focus in addition to normal public school academics and is also privately funded. Lykkeskolen, which translates from Danish as “happiness school,” places a focus on Islam and Arabic, in addition to mathematics, chemistry, reading comprehension and more.
Sara S. walks into a classroom to meet her friends Monday during school. Sara does not wear the veil but plans to take it during the next Ramadan. Muslims wishing to begin wearing the hijab typically start on Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, because it is a time period when Muslims feel their faith the most.
Alaa E. mimics her physics teacher, Chawke Zeid, during class Wednesday at Lykkeskolen. Although Alaa E. and many of her friends wear the veil, their personalities are not dictated by the hijab, and the same can be said for those who do not choose to wear the veil. They are all 13-year old girls and act as such.
Alaa E. drapes a different hijab over her head in the girls’ bathroom Thursday at school. Alaa E. changed from her leopard hijab to a more neutral color before having her class where the students study the Qur’an and Arabic.
Sara S.’s hair drapes over the Qur’an as the students read surahs Thursday during class. Surahs are readings of Qur’an passages that sound very musical when read aloud in Arabic. Sara is one of four girls in her seventh grade class that does not wear the hijab. There are about 20 girls in her class total.
Hallal A. inspects a can of hairspray while Sara S. adjusts her ponytail during a “girls’ day” in the sixth grade classroom. The girls day allowed the ladies to act like they were in a salon and pamper each other. It featured yoghurt masks, hair styling and vast amounts of make-up.
Hallal A.’s hair hangs over Doaa A.’s face as she stands on top of the stairs outside her classroom Tuesday at school. Lykkeskolen is connected to Bazar Vest, an Arabic-oriented food market that brings together different vendors that sell Halal meats and specialize in Middle Eastern foods.
Sara S. and Alaa E. play football in the schoolyard on Tuedsay in Aarhus, Denmark. The girls play football almost every day during their breaks between classes and were especially excited to be outside this day because it was unseasonably warm.
Upon reaching the age of 14 or 15, young Muslim women face the choice of whether to continue wearing their hair as they do or to don the hijab. The hijab is the Muslim veil which instills modesty upon the wearer, as stated by the Qur’an. Not all Muslim women take the hijab, but if they do, it is a deeply personal choice.
The girls at Lykkeskolen, an Arab school in Aarhus, Denmark, are approaching the age where they should begin to wear the hijab if they already don’t. Although many have worn the hijab for many years, some since they were 8 years of age, some did not think they have been ready until now. But whether or not they wear the veil, the girls in the seventh grade class at Lykkeskolen are all very much 13-year old girls, and act accordingly.