Evangelical Christian school Wheaton College has suspended a political science professor who vowed earlier this week to wear a hijab to work during the Advent to stand in religious solidarity with Muslims.
According to media reports Wednesday, the college, based in the Chicago suburbs, placed Dr. Larycia Hawkins on administrative leave because of “significant questions regarding the theological implications of statements” she made about Islam and Christianity.
The statement Tuesday did not refer to the professor’s vow to wear a hijab, but said faculty and staff must “speak about public issues in ways that faithfully represent the College’s evangelical Statement of Faith.” The college spokeswoman declined to comment on the details of the administrative leave when asked by phone but pledged to responded to emailed questions.
Back on December 10, Hawkins drew attention via a Facebook post on when she declared that she stood in religious solidarity with Muslims because “they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book,” and that as part of her Advent worship she would be wearing a hijab ” to work at Wheaton College, to play in Chi-town, in the airport and on the airplane to my home state that initiated one of the first anti-Sharia laws (read: unconstitutional and Islamophobic), and at church.”
I don’t love my Muslim neighbor because s/he is American.
I love my Muslim neighbor because s/he deserves love by virtue of her/his human dignity.
I stand in human solidarity with my Muslim neighbor because we are formed of the same primordial clay, descendants of the same cradle of humankind–a cave in Sterkfontein, South Africa that I had the privilege to descend into to plumb the depths of our common humanity in 2014.
I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.
But as I tell my students, theoretical solidarity is not solidarity at all. Thus, beginning tonight, my solidarity has become embodied solidarity.
As part of my Advent Worship, I will wear the hijab to work at Wheaton College, to play in Chi-town, in the airport and on the airplane to my home state that initiated one of the first anti-Sharia laws (read: unconstitutional and Islamophobic), and at church.
I invite all women into the narrative that is embodied, hijab-wearing solidarity with our Muslim sisters–for whatever reason. A large scale movement of Women in Solidarity with Hijabs is my Christmas #wish this year.
Perhaps you are a Muslim who does not wear the veil normally. Perhaps you are an atheist or agnostic who finds religion silly or inexplicable. Perhaps you are a Catholic or Protestant Christian like me. Perhaps you already cover your head as part of your religious worship, but not a hijab.
***I would like to add that I have sought the advice and blessing of one of the preeminent Muslim organizations in the United States, the Council on American Islamic Relations, #CAIR, where I have a friend and Board colleague on staff. I asked whether a non-Muslim wearing the hijab was haram (forbidden), patronizing, or otherwise offensive to Muslims. I was assured by my friends at CAIR-Chicago that they welcomed the gesture. So please do not fear joining this embodied narrative of actual as opposed to theoretical unity; human solidarity as opposed to mere nationalistic, sentimentality.
Document your own experiences of Women in Solidarity with Hijabs #wish.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Hawkins thanked “new friends, old friends, and colleagues” for their support, and signed off with: “Your sister in solidarity with the hijab.”
Hawkins, a graduate of Rice University and the University of Oklahoma, has beenon faculty at Wheaton since 2007.