Wearing the hijab.: Becoming Minnesotan

Female silhouette.
  • Name - Maryan Del
  • Age at interview - 26
  • Gender - Female
  • Generation - First Generation American / Refugee
  • Date of Interview - 06.21.2004
  • Somali girl, Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis, June 2004.
    Somali girls, Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis, June 2004.

    We Are Here

    Identity, Religion, Somali

    Essential Question

    We Are Here: What does it mean to this immigrant group to be here in America?

    Cultural Preservation: How does a person weave his or her traditional culture into a new American identity?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    Somalis mostly belong to the Islamic religion, which has its own set of rules and practices its believers must follow. For example, Islam calls for women to wear the hijab, a style of head scarf that covers the entire head, for the sake of modesty.

    Some Somali women in the U.S. have continued to wear the hijab and traditional flowing dresses, while others have not. Some compromise by wearing the headscarf with more American clothes, and others have given up the headscarf entirely and dress like mainstream Americans. Each woman has to decide for herself if the headscarf is part of her Somali identity.

    To learn more about Somali history and culture, visit our Somali Community page.

    • Chapter 1

    Download Maryan Del 8
    1:14 Minutes | 1.18Mb


    Narrator: Maryan Del (MD)

    Interviewers: Sumaya Yusuf (SY) and Andy Wilhide (AW)

    SY:  What would you say is the most important thing that makes the Somali culture unique?

    MD:  The hijab, I think. [Laughter] What makes it unique?

    SY:  Yeah.

    What about the hijab?

    MD:  Hijab is very important because it makes us different from other people. Hijab is a way of preserving your religion. Also, it’s a way of…

    AW:  Identity, maybe?

    MD:  Identity. Thank you. That’s the right word. Also, I think the hijab protects you. For me, the hijab is a protection. It protects me from a lot of things, like certain things. You don’t attract certain people. I think most people who see you are covered, they have more respect for you because they figure you're…I think you should be a religious person, but I think there’s a greater respect involved. People will not approach you like that. I think that’s unique to have, because then you don’t have to deal with every streetwalker, you know. It’s part of the culture.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Verb:  To come near.  (approaches, approaching, approached)

    Noun:  A manner in which a problem is solved or policy is made.


    Noun:  The arts, customs, and habits that characterize a particular society or nation.


    Noun:  The headscarf worn by many Muslim women as part of the Islamic practice of dressing modestly.


    Noun:  The difference or character that marks off an individual from the everyone else; selfhood; a name or persona by which one is known; knowledge of who one is. 


    Adjective:  Complicated.


    Verb:  To protect; to keep; to maintain the condition of.  (preserves, preserving, preserved)


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access]. http://www.mnhs.org/immigration
    nid: 544