In a spirit of medical tolerance and understanding, the Royal Derby Hospital in London is now the first hospital in the British Isles to issue disposable hijabs to female doctors and nurses. The idea began with a Malaysian medical student, Farah Roslan, who was worried that traditional fabric hijabs might carry germs that could infect patients. She wrote to friends and family back in Malaysia, and they were able to send her a box of disposable paper hijabs that can be worn just once and then thrown away. Now the hospital is buying them wholesale from a local distributor and offering them to all staff who would like to use them.
The hijab began as a traditional female headscarf in Northern Africa over a thousand years ago. When the Arab conquerors began settling the area their women adopted the scarf against the blazing African sun and unrelenting desert winds, and soon it became standard wear throughout the Moslem world. By the nineteenth century the hajib was required to be worn by women in mosques worldwide, and in many Middle Eastern countries today it is still expected that women will wear them whenever they go outside the home.
Many Islamic women take comfort in the long tradition of the hijab, and both a cultural and religious piece of their heritage, and wear them at work.