Long treated with ridicule and scorn in the southern African country, hijab is now becoming a common sight in Malawi streets, a shift attributed to the political empowerment of the Muslim community in the predominantly Christian state.
“We have gone through a painful and dehumanizing experiencing,” Mwalone Jangiya, one of the only two Muslim women legislators in Malawi’s National Assembly, told OnIslam.net.
“Hijab was at one time a “crime” to some people, but now, we are very free to put on it.
“Even while I’m in here in parliament, I put on my hijab, without any person raising eye blows. We are now part of the society,” said Jangiya.
“Islam in Malawi has taken on a path that will never be detoured or reversed.”
Hijab, an obligatory code of dress in Islam, was rarely seen in Malawi streets before the 1990s as Muslims wearing the outfit often encountered scorn and ridicule.
But today, the Muslim headscarf has become a common sight with many Muslim women proudly donning the outfit.
Walking around the streets, market places, schools, colleges and other public places, it is very easy today to recognize a Muslim woman or a girl from distance.
“Today, hijab has become a symbol of liberation among Muslim women in Malawi. You can find a woman in hijab almost everywhere. You walk into an office, schools, you can easily identify a Muslim woman.”
Islam is the second largest religion in the southern African country after Christianity.
Official statistics suggest Muslims constitute 12 percent of the country’s 14 million people, but the umbrella Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) puts the rate at 36.