Westridge Gardens was filled with colour on Thursday as more than 100 women attended an annual initiative hosted by the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC).In commemoration of Pink Hijab Day, usually celebrated annually on 30 October, the MJC Women’s Forum (MJCWF) arranged a picnic one week earlier, due to the increase in the number of events hosted in celebration of the international movement.This year, the women-only event was a picnic where women from all over the city were encouraged to wear a pink scarf.The initiative is in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and is intended to remove stereotypes of Muslim women by having them engage in dialogue about breast cancer awareness.“This year, we wanted to take the programme into nature, hence the picnic at the Westridge Gardens. We chose Mitchell’s Plain to keep the event in one of our localities, bringing it closer to home,” says the chairperson of the MJCWF, Mualima Khadija Patel-Allie, in a statement.“An important message to our sisterhood, one we’d like to emphasise, is that if you or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, there is definitely no shame in it, neither is it a death sentence,” Patel-Allie continues.“Awareness of the symptoms of breast cancer is therefore so important so that we can self-examine and be conscious of the signs. This is one of the main reasons for our campaign.”The forum is also engaging high schools to encourage teachers to speak to students about breast cancer and how to cope as a young caregiver.The event was a resounding success, building on the successes of previous events, says MJC first deputy president Moulana Abdul Khaliq.“[If not for] our respected mothers and sisters in Islam, men would not be around. We are here because you are here. Women, you are a very special creation of Allah. We are all created by Allah, but with creating women, you brought almost the completion of men,” said Khaliq at the event.He also shared a message on behalf of the MJC president, Shaykh Irafaan Abrahams, who was unable to attend.“He wanted to thank the MJCWF for their passionate commitment to women’s matters,” said Khaliq.“I am proud to say at last year’s Pink Hijab Day, it was driven by the women. There was not a woman on the executive of the MJC. A historic decision took place in April when the MJC decided to bring the first ever woman to be appointed of the MJC executive. This is all in the vision of the MJC president. On this front, we would like to commend the MJCWF for their passionate work they do for the wellbeing of women.”He saluted the founders of the initiative.“This initiative, Pink Hijab Day, has a history behind it. The mere fact that we are here today, sitting in pink, is a point of solidarity and support. We want to say to the mothers and sisters [suffering] that you are not alone. In your silent moments, when you find yourselves in a tight situation where you are alone, you are not alone. As the MJC, we are compelled to stand with you. You are creating awareness here, a discussion around a matter that is not only close to women, but to men too,” said Khaliq.The campaign was brought to South Africa by Humairah Jassat, whose aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer but was too shy to speak about it.Patel-Alie also spoke at the event, encouraging the women.“This is such a beautiful day that Allah has made and he has chosen us [to make a difference] at this event. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and in our lives we know someone who has been diagnosed, been through the treatment or had a mastectomy and we have seen the emotional toll it takes on the sisters. There is a lot of information out there, yet it can still feel like a death sentence to be diagnosed with breast cancer,” she said.“It is a test and a challenge [for us women]. Even though men are also diagnosed, it is the one cancer most commonly found in women. Breast cancer is a harrowing experience. You find a lump and in a space of weeks or days you are without a portion of your body. It is not any part of your body, it is the part of your body that speaks to your femininity. I think it is important for us as women to say this to one another. Having breast cancer is not the end of our lives.