Somewhere on the Internet, Muslim Women are being Shamed

By Rabia Chaudry

On behalf of Muslims of the internet, I would like to extend a sincere apology to the young women in the “Somewhere in America” video that has been exploding heads online for the past 48 hours. The controversy became so heated and perverse it landed the video on Buzzfeed. Good on you for the exposure, but sorry for the context.

I am really sorry that you vivacious, happy, dynamic, stylish, and I’m sure very bright young women are being brutally examined and analyzed with laser-like tenacity, and about as much empathy. It stinks to high heaven that you are being accused of promoting racism (poor song choice, but I know it had little to do with you), elitism, classism, fat shaming, immodesty, and essentially the downfall of our entire Ummah. Yes, I know. I didn’t see it coming either.

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As the mother of a teenager who has full control of whether she decides to wear hijab and how, but still is expected to dress decently while allowing for style, I thoroughly enjoyed your video. I am either exceptionally dim-witted or much more sophisticated than your critics. The jury is out on that for now. I never thought you were preaching the gospel of hijab and the proper Islamic etiquette of wearing it, because that would be ludicrous; and I failed to consider the socioeconomic ramifications of the project, which also is kind of ludicrous. I just absorbed it as a joyful expression of who you happen to be. And any examples of a happy and proud Western Muslim identity are fine by me.

I regret that you probably approached the project with full agency and command over your choices but are being treated like brain-washed children who never even realized the evil sexist stereotyping you would be perpetuating. It’s ridiculous that you are expected to portray yourselves as others want to see you, and not as you chose to. It sucks that feminists are breaking you down as a slap in the face of Muslim feminism itself, and that you have been branded as lending credence to orientalist portrayals of Muslim women (though in my estimation you’re destroying such paradigms). It’s embarrassing that you are being accused of being too American, when in fact you probably are American, and there’s nothing wrong with an American Islam.

I’m sorry that in the span of a few minutes you were expected not just to express who you are, but who we all are, every single class of Muslimah, of every racial and socioeconomic background, dressed in the million ways we dress, doing the million things we do. I apologize that even though you may be from working-class backgrounds and be hard-working young ladies who have never been handed a thing in your life, you’re being accused of normalizing wealth and materialism by a college student, and people are taking it seriously.

I am most ashamed that your imaan is being judged and your choice of clothing, shoes and makeup are being dissected and discussed in a way that no one would want for their own sister or daughter. We have an illness, us Muslims. We like to publicly humiliate our girls by pointing out where we think they’ve failed in their religious practice. We don’t do this to our men, ever. I’ve seen dozens of photographs and memes with the caption “this is not hijab, sister,” as if anyone would actually publicly do that to their own sister. I’m sorry that you have to put up with awful judgments from both non-Muslims and Muslims. I hope it doesn’t push you away from Islam, and I’m sorry that your appearance and behavior has become a litmus test for the state of our community.

I’m sorry that even though our scholars have told us time and time again to go easy on the sisters, we come hard and fast. You’re easy prey. Low hanging fruit. What you wear distracts us from discussing serious issues, like sexual violence, drugs, or domestic abuse; because those are things we’d actually have to do something about.

You’re in the center of a shaming-storm and I’m sorry for that. I know you meant no malice, no harm, and no offense to people who don’t dress like you, think like you, act like you, or look like you. The internet allows for quick and easy offense, instant critiques and condemnations, and is always looking for things to protest. If you had made this video set to a nasheed and in full burka, others would still rage against you. Because a woman in niqab is no less sensationalistic than a woman in stilettos, as far as moral outrage is concerned.

Keep doing your thing, stay proud to be a Muslim despite your fellow Muslims, and pick better music. That’s all the advice I have for my little sisters.

And again, accept all our apologies.

Rabia Chaudry is an attorney, president of the Safe Nation Collaborative, an Associate Fellow of the Truman National Security Project, and a columnist for the Muslim Channel at Patheos.

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  • pietrocrazy

    The majority of criticisms of the video I saw, and the ones I agree with, were against the makers of the video, not against the people in the video. Though of course there are those people who will criticize Muslim women no matter how they dress and what they do, it’s disingenuous of you to try to silence all criticism of the video with this (quite frankly ridiculous) oversimplified straw man argument.

    • lol

      So I guess your logical fallacy of choice is ad hominem arguments then?

  • Haaris

    Outstanding!! This is spot on. Hats off to you.

  • somewhereinamerica

    As a girl who is featured in the video, your piece nearly brought me to tears. THANK YOU for being kind, objective, open minded, and non-judgmental. Our intentions were definitely innocent, and it’s refreshing to know there are people out there who can see that in spite of the hate, judgment, and over-analyzing that has been circulating. If I could give you a hug right now, I would.

    • Mintyy f

      You know what brought me to tears, this video. It was fantastic.. Honestly. Its a disgrace that people are so judgmental, and you all happen to receive the judgements from brothers and sisters. Its one thing if others were trying to rip you apart, but the fact that your own ‘family’ is. That is truly disgusting. I loved this video and everything it stood for, all the ladies in here were truly stunning and magnificent, all unique in their ways and expressed so much. That Hijabi’s are individuals, we are all different, we aren’t oppressed, we don’t have to stand in a corner and be quiet, that we can go out and be free. That we have personalities and likes and dislikes and hobbies and talents. To sum it up, yes we do have a voice. It was brilliant. For anyone to tell you otherwise is just ridiculous. No matter what anyone says to you, please don’t forget you do have fans out there who appreciated this video and what you ladies did by putting yourself out there. Thank you! Hope you all have an awesome day. Assamalaikum =]

      • somewhereinamerica

        thank you so much!! really appreciate it. alaukum assalaam :)

        • Taimour Chaudhri

          thank you for the video it is fantastic, i apologize for those who attack you, it’s safe to say that much of the criticism directed at you and the other sisters stems from an internal conflict the critics have about themselves. Nothing in that video suggested anything Un-islamic or a promotion of negative things, (people need to lighten up sometimes and realize a video representing a unique sub culture is just that and nothing more) Islam is a wonderful religion that has spanned the globe and encompasses so many wondrous cultures and I am glad to see that in American our homeland (well most Muslim Americans who choose to live here….at least) you and your sisters have created a unique sense of style and identity. Be proud of it! Be you, because being you is the best thing to be and Allah swt knows that. Never forget that and let other people who don’t understand take that away, you have allys and friends who know who you are and respect and admire you for that. Once again thank you for allowing us to have a glimpse into your fun world.

          • somewhereinamerica

            thank you so much. really really touched by this.

      • Monica Bergeron Ennaciri

        That’s right and I’m sure if Prophet Muhammad Salallahu Alayhi Wasalam were there with the sister’s in the video he’d be raising his hands saying “You Go Girl -, Smile for that camera and show off your pretty face and cute leggings! And don’t worry about being modest and shy in front of non-mahram, I only meant for that behavior to last until y’all felt like letting loose and display yourselves on parade!” Astagfirallah! Are any sisters really learning Quran and Sunnah and how to apply Allah’s deen??

        • Mintyy f

          You totally missed the point I was trying to say. I didn’t say anything about their choice in clothing or any such thing. Covering your face is not a requirement, so the fact that they were smiling at a camera is a problem because? And as far as clothing is concerned, I’m not in any position to judge them, to say what the prophet (saw) would say. That being said, to say something against someone and what their intentions may be or judging them is also wrong. Don’t talk about applying deeper things when you cannot be bothered to follow and understand such a small and easy fundamental.

          • Nadefrenzy

            It seems you clearly missed her point, but it’s ok as long as you’re “free” right?

            Hmm I wonder why there’s so much insecurity in these comments. Where’s your iman? If you’re getting influenced by others’ judgements you need to work on your Deen.

          • Guest

            Are you kidding? Alhamdulillah! It’s a very good thing we’re free because we see what people would subject us to if we weren’t. Don’t smile too widely, don’t laugh too loudly, better yet, don’t be seen, stand in that corner and cover yourself as much as possible, you’re responsible if you draw anyone’s gaze- astaghfirallah, that you want the beautiful, strong women’s in your lives to have their voices suppressed and their contributions limited to only what men think is appropriate. What power as a man, to determine all that, to be the all-powerful arbiter of what a woman’s allowed to do or say or be. Take that back to your rural homeland if you want to duplicate it so badly!

          • Nadefrenzy

            You do realize that women will be sinned(as well as the man) if any bystanding man is provoked by their looks– if revealing, right?

            Or perhaps you missed the sermon on modesty.

    • respecttheunknown

      I am also sorry that you had to endure the harsh judgement.. As a sister, know I am with you on this as well. Don’t let this get you down.

      • somewhereinamerica

        thank you so much. really appreciate the kind words and hope all hijabis who are subject to judgment by others (and we all are, video or no video) feel reassured by these comments as well.

    • Nadefrenzy

      I didn’t notice the supposed socio-economic or sexist connotations associated with the video; however, I did notice that since you’re posting on the internet a video for millions to watch, you’ll be influencing a whole lot of people (other fellow muslimahs specifically), and in doing so, you’re making it acceptable for them to jump and run around, act hyper and as a result, appear revealing and therefore act immodestly which I guess defeats the purpose of having the hijab on in the first place. You have every right to play/jump/run around as a free American, but when you throw the hijab twist in there, things get “icky”.

      • ThisIsTheEnd

        Yeah because jumping, running around and acting hyper, I mean who knows where that could lead?

        • Nadefrenzy

          That same rhetoric can be used for “shaking hands” or “hanging out” with the opposite sex. Either way, the standard for modesty has been set, and it’s up to you to abide by it or not. Questioning it won’t get you far– or heck anywhere really.

          • ThisIsTheEnd

            Questions always get you far.

          • Nadefrenzy

            Not if they’re against the scripture. Learn your deen, but hey, if you’re not a Muslim then there’s no point in having this convo in the first place.

          • ThisIsTheEnd

            “…there’s no point in having this convo in the first place” On that sister we can agree.

          • Nadefrenzy

            Perhaps next time remind yourself of that BEFORE you reply to my comment. :)

          • ThisIsTheEnd

            But then I’d be unfairly judging you. It was only by interacting with you that I realised it was fruitless. I try not to judge by appearances…oh wait…

          • Nadefrenzy

            I love how you call that “interacting” just to get away with your own judgement.

            If you have anything relevant to say (within the constructs of Islam) in response to my initial point then go right ahead.

          • Taimour Chaudhri

            Sister what are your thoughts on Yuna Zarai, the Malaysian Singer who has now branched out in the United States. Her style is one she has had and cultivated in a Muslim country, and in the largest Muslim populated place on earth. What i find interesting is that many Muslims that condemn these girls for expressing their identity are among the biggest fans of Yuna Zarai. Where is the criticism against Yuna Zarai, i’ve tried to look but i find that there are many positive articles from muslim voices than negative ones. Why is that so? The hijab is a symbol associated with Islam, it represents modesty but modesty does not mean style,nor does modesty mean not being confident of who you are. I think you are confusing what Islam means when talking about modesty with self-expression, style and identity. What breaks my heart is that in this world where Muslims are constantly fighting to define themselves in the world against the adopted representation the Non-Muslim world has given us, we still find ways to prove them right. They say Islam is mono-lithic but when we demonstrate and show Islam’s diversity, conservative Muslims demand a mono-lithic identity. Islam is not mono-lithic nor mono-cultural. Many muslims practice Islam in many different ways, the Qur’an, hadiths and sunnas are subject to multiple interpretations, and from my knowledge and understanding of Islam, nothing those girls did is immodest, and as a Muslim I am right in this interpretation. I respect your right to believe your interpretation as I hope you respect my right. The only thing i ask sister, is that you refrain from judging other Muslims by the way YOU choose to practice Islam. Judgment is left for Allah swt, and Judgment will happen on Judgment day, not by fellow Muslims who are themselves trying to live by Islam, in the way they understand Islam. Thank you

          • Nadefrenzy

            Sure there are many interpretations, but that’s for the select few rulings. Overall though morality is clearly defined in the religion, and trying to throw out the interpretations excuse doesn’t really work–well except for the claimants I guess.

            My point was that if it’s revealing then the action’s perpetrating that are immoral; the actions of the girls in this video were revealing and as a result immoral. Now of course there’s a scale, and by no means am I accusing the sisters of being immoral themselves; however, let’s be real, those actions are not modest and certainly don’t fall in line with the intent/purpose of the hijab. But I digress, maybe you’re from a different school of thought or perhaps even a “liberal Muslim” in which case I guess I can’t help you.

          • Taimour Chaudhri

            “liberal Muslim” you say that like it’s the big bad wolf haha. No i am not a “liberal Muslim,” nor a “conservative Muslim” But a Muslim, who understands Islam the best way he can. I never realized that walking in the park, skateboarding, or engaging in fencing were immoral. I think i must have missed that part of the Qur’an denouncing those acts. Again I make my point through sarcasm, because I think that alleging those actions as immoral is ridiculous. But like i said before I respect your right to believe in Islam in the manner you understand it, I just ask that you refrain from judging the actions of others based off your understanding of Islam. Ultimately we’ll leave it at you can feel sorry for not being able to “help me” (although i don’t need help my relationship with Allah is incredibly strong, and I don’t need anyone telling me it isn’t…sorry) and i’ll feel sorry for you and sorry that i could not help you realize that passing judgment on others is not really the place for Muslims who still are trying to understand Islam. (I’m not attacking your knowledge of Islam but merely pointing out the fact that Muslims spend their entire life trying to understand Islam). That is all i am saying, you are entitled to your opinion, but remember words are powerful (Gabriel’s first word was icra = read) and that they can have powerful effects on people. Please try to imagine that these Muslimas when they did this video had no doubts that they’re activities or their style or identity conflicted with their religion (which according to how i understand Islam, they certainly do not), and to be told by a complete stranger who does not even know or understand them that they’re actions from an edited 3 minute video are “unislamic” is truly a hurtful and impactful thing. All i am saying is although you have your opinion, please reconsider making comments that come off as judging others deen. Only Allah can do that, and last time I checked none of us are him. JAK take care sister.

          • Nadefrenzy

            Fair enough. To each their own.

          • Nadefrenzy

            I don’t know that singer nor do I care to know. It’s irrelevant to this discussion anyway.

          • Taimour Chaudhri

            Not really, the point i’m making is that she is a singer from a Muslim world who inhabits a style similar to the Mipster culture. But she is not attacked for her actions, or her songs, rather she is praised for being a Muslim woman who can enter the main music industry while maintaining her Muslim Identity, but when Muslim Americans do the same, the same Muslim community attacks them? Why is their display of their individuality so concerning, yet Yuna’s is not? I am merely addressing the abject hypocrisy that exists in the Muslim community when it comes to matters such as these. But like i have said in my previous posts, no one can judge but Allah, so lets all be good Muslims and respect one another ok. Your friend always “the “liberal Muslim” (a,k,a Just plain Muslim)

          • Nadefrenzy

            Let’s cut the PC crap, and be real—we all judge.

            I made a judgement on their ACTIONS not the sisters themselves. It’s none of my business who they are or what they do in their personal life. I was merely discussing the act itself.

            As far as the hypocrisy goes, I’d like to point out that that singer isn’t running around and acting provocative (regardless of intent). That’s the issue that concerns me at least. So I fail to see the connection. Are you implying that it’s immodest to sing in public? Because it isn’t (tho that’s a controversial topic) anywhere near the act of being revealing when it comes to immodesty.

          • Taimour Chaudhri

            Let’s cut the crap too sister, running around and eating ice cream and walking and skateboarding are not provocative acts, unless i missed that we traveled back in time and a woman’s right to well basically breathe and talk were subject to restrictions and ridicule (uh oh a woman has her own opinion, she must be hysterical!….uh oh a woman is skateboarding or eating ice cream call the deen squad! LOL). Also the Sisters mere modest acts of walking and skateboarding and taking pictures with their phone and eating ice cream and fencing are not ok, but a Muslim woman singing songs about pining for men, or love, or heartbreak is a ok with you???? Didin’t you say that Muslims should not hang out with members of opposite sex or even shake their hands? Yet singing about wanting to be with the opposite sex is not provocative….And also my understanding of Islam, Intent is all that matters, i don’t think people’s actions cannot be looked at without first understanding their intention, because if that were to be the case then Muslims would start saying and making baseless accusations…oh wait….oh crap too late. Anyways I enjoyed engaging with you sister. Take care

          • Nadefrenzy

            Did you miss the part where I mentioned that I’m not aware of this singer nor would I care? If i had known the content of her songs it’d be a whole different scenario.

            Guess you missed that part though.

            Also, yes it IS immodest to run around and skateboard. It IS revealing like it or not. Unless you dress up like that professional female Muslim athlete everytime you engage in sports, it IS immodest. If you always looked at the intention first, then innocently hanging out with other boys claiming “he’s like a brother to me” would be well within the bounds of modesty too, brother.

            You can keep your liberal “open-minded” view of Islam to yourself. Hopefully sooner rather than later you interpret the reality of the religion, and what its core teachings truly are about instead of finding some arbitrary middle ground thanks to the western influence.

            Take care.

          • Taimour Chaudhri

            “Did you miss the part where I mentioned that I’m not aware of this singer nor would I care?

            Soooooooo you don’t care about a muslim woman singing about things that you most likely would consider immodest, a muslim singer who is a role model to many muslim girls…but you have a problem with Muslim girls walking, eating ice cream and playing sports, all things that are not remotely immodest, (at least to me and my understanding of Islam) because they might influence other muslim girls to do normal non-immodest things?

            Ooooookaaaaaay…..well that about gives me the answer i needed. Take care sister, and don’t worry I’m pretty confident with my understanding of Islam or at least the way in which i choose to lead my life, I have an excellent relationship with Allah, which no judgmental person (psssst. again judging is harraaaam….naughty naughty…..) can take away. Haha take care. It was fun to talk with you and realize how some people can really stretch their understanding of what constitutes modesty and immodesty. People are truly amazing, and can all have varying views and interpretations on the same thing….and Islam reflects that diversity in its interpretation. Again Take care, if i never have the opportunity to run into you in this lifetime i will certainly make sure to say hi to you in the next :) AA

          • Nadefrenzy

            Wow you’re such a hypocrite. You’re judging me left and right without even knowing me, and yet you have the audacity to lecture me on how “judging is harraaaam…”. I mean seriously? What are you like 12?

            As far as your response to my statement “Did you miss the part where I mentioned that I’m not aware of this singer nor would I care?”, which btw is taking it out of context—ironically something that most disbelievers do—but hey you’re only human right?, if you had read the entire statement, you’d fully understand what I meant.

            The part you conveniently missed: “If i had known the content of her songs it’d be a whole different scenario.”

            And no, I do hope we don’t get to run into each other in this lifetime—i’d rather keep my sanity. :)

          • SS

            Maybe what is provocative to YOU is actually some people just jumping around. Perhaps someone’s brain needs a spring cleaning.

          • SS

            Yes , Learn your deen and stop judging others.

    • SS

      Hun you DON’T need to apologize for ANYONE. If people like Nade are so scared of being influenced by a small clip, perhaps they should revisit their personal beliefs. It’s like saying a video about beating up another individual will influence her to do the same. We all have a brain and we choose to do things that we think are right. I am glad you participated in the video. I saw beautiful young women, who were having fun and who were free. Just like any other girl in America. Before we become muslims and christians and jews, we are humans, we are women. Thank You for being you, and for standing up for many muslim women who are just like you. And to those who are judging, they need to chill because they are not going to your grave, they are going to end up in theirs. I promise them. They are accountable for their own actions so the whole blame game really needs to evaporate.

  • disqus_AXs7s6uMm0

    Great post, way to tie in all the recent articles, mostly which I disagreed with. Yours seems to hit the nail on the head.

  • um lina

    As being hijabi myself I would definitely feel uncomfortable doing a video like this not because I don’t have fun with my friends and families but because I know if it’s put online I’ll be observed with both good and evil people with evil intentions…plz sisters we are all United and respect each other…now the criticism this video received would be quite harsh but if you take Qur’an and sahih hadith ( prophet Muhammad’s perspective) I don’t think putting up a video online like this on Jay z’s song would be allowed …plz correct me if I am wrong

    • Mintyy f

      I read a note from one the ladies who was in this video stating that they were told it was going to be a song by Yuna.. But the video was posted and it obviously was not. This was not the song that they were told about when they had been filming. That being said, there are variations of hijabi’s, some trendy, some not. We are all different, so I guess it really depends on your interpretation on what you find appropriate and how understood the message. That being said, I don’t think I nor anyone else could tell you if this video was islamically okay or not (music aside of course).. Hope that helped. =]

  • Footybedsheets

    I did not appreciate the author offering an apology from “all the Muslims on the Internet”. I don’t need her to speak for me as a woman, mother or a (un)trendy hijab wearing woman. Ms.Chaudry should speak for HERSELF not me or the rest of the Muslim population. Incredibly disingenuous for her to attempt to do so. Isn’t that what she is advocating for in her misguided defense of the video? The articles cited were not attacking the women but instead challenging systems around the video. That is all. If people listen to the voices of other Muslim women, you would see that many are trying to stand in *solidarity* of the women who were in it, while challenging the obvious sexism and socio-economic narratives at play. It is possible critique a concept but to support a sister without condemning her. Novel idea, I know.

    • braininstead

      ooooo poor you, poor little thing. How about you try and shut up

      • Footybedsheets

        That was brilliant. I have learned so much from you. Thank you.

        • braininstead

          just tired of muzzies refusing debate as soon as someone blame them… just cannot accept criticism

    • Noor Hasan

      I completely agree. We don’t need Rabia Chaudry to speak up for all of us. We all have our own voices and experiences — and I would like to reclaim that voice.

      • SS

        And we certainly don’t need Noor Hassan to speak up for us either. But if there are Noor’s and Sana’s on the net. There will be Rabia’s on the internet as well. =)

  • Belal Mobarak

    Well written article, thank you for sharing. I’m a male photographer and I find myself defending the faith and modesty of the Muslim (female) models i work with. It’s sad how harsh people are towards our sisters.

  • Noor Hasan

    Wow, thank you so much for reducing my opinion on classism to that of “a college student.”

    I’m not just any college student – I am the first in my working class family to attend college in the U.S. and have been blindsided by the privileged experiences of upper class Muslims that seem to dictate identity expression.

    You have to realize that by shaming the people who are critiquing the video, you are doing the same injustice to them as you are to the young women in the video. Everyone has a right to an opinion, and I would be careful of reducing someone’s opinions that are based on very fundamental, important, and real experiences as a lower class Muslim.

    • Danish Munir

      Noor, the writer did not shame or reduce your opinion in any way. If you’re going to put out something publicly, you have to be ok with someone commenting on it. I read your article, and while you write well, you did make a very large set of assumptions about the people involved in the video, their motives and cast upon them a huge set of responsibilities. FYI, a lot of these women are working women, who’ve ‘made it’ on their own just as much as you or anyone else. And no, one doesn’t have to throw around money to dress in a trendy way. My sister is usually pretty broke, but fashion is something she enjoys, so she prioritizes it over other things. Would be happy to chat more with you on the topic, but I think you might be getting a little too sensitive to this writer’s comments about you. She mentions you barely in passing.

      • Noor Hasan

        Rabia called my article an “accusation” and even made a sarcastic comment about how surprised she is that people are taking it seriously. Much to the dismay of privileged Muslims, being from a lower income status in a Muslim community can be extremely detrimental to experiences in this country, and I wish that she had been more sensitive about addressing socio-economic issues and experiences instead of throwing them under the bus along with the other “shaming” feminists, etc. that she depicts.

        I made it extremely clear in my article that I wasn’t making assumptions about WHO the people in the video are, but rather what their REPRESENTATION symbolizes.It doesn’t matter what the actual income statuses of the women in the video are – that is completely irrelevant and none of my business. What is relevant, however, is the fact that the entire video they are depicted in the context of fashion, models, and luxury — and this is normal. It’s not about them as people, it’s about their characters in the video. To put it in an analogy, I don’t care that Beyonce is a rich singer, but if Beyonce starred in a video called “Somewhere in America” that was meant to symbolize the black hipster experience and all it showed was her wearing designer fancy watches and other glamorous details, I would take issue with her REPRESENTATION in the video, the message that would send to young black woman who look up to black female role models– not her as a person. I don’t have an issue with any of the women in the video and I am not shaming them — there is Sana, or the other writers mentioned. Instead, we are critiquing a piece of art that was put out and shedding light on the concept of representation.

        Also, I would have never even guessed that a lot of these women are working women if someone hadn’t told me that many of them are accomplished journalists, painters, and designers and I think that reflects on the poor efforts made by the directors. We didn’t even get to see that side of them in the video – I have no doubt that they are all accomplished, but that’s also because I’m familiar enough with the Muslim community to recognize their community work, etc. But if I’m a non-Muslim who doesn’t really know about Muslims in America, all we got was the bling and fashion (and just a bit of the Muslimah who fences) of pretty girls who dress and accessorize well.

        • Danish Munir

          I hear you. I’d love to carry this conversation with you offline, and I’ve found that the comments section on an article is rarely the best place to have an open-minded dialogue where people can learn from each other’s perspectives. Wanna switch over to email? I’m :)

        • SS

          It’s a fashion video, don’t watch it if you can’t afford it. Do you see a person buying a LV bag when they see an ad? No, not if they can’t afford it. Can they get a knock off if they really want it? Yes, if they really want it. So saying this affects the low income muslim people might be true but the video can’t be held responsible. If you can’t prioritize your life like Rabia said, you can’t blame others for it. It is your responsibility to make sure you get your needs taken care off before your wants.

  • uzi

    Great article. This video empowered me and encouraged me to wear hijab again. It’s bc of this sort of harsh critique and hypocritical judgement that I personally chose to stop wearing hijab in the first place. These same kind of ppl push others away from Islam rather than bring them closer to it.

    God forbid, I wear eyeliner w hijab bc that isn’t really hijab, they all said. Oh my, I swore after stubbing my finger, that isn’t really hijab, they all said. I’m listening to Jay Z and watching True Blood, but that isn’t Hijab they all said. After all the criticism, it just pushed me away from hijab. It made me feel that hijab is such a huge unreachable responsibility, and I am so far from being perfect enough to wear it or represent with it on, so maybe I just shouldn’t be wearing it, period.

    And the irony of all of this is the majority of the negative criticism comes from other Muslim women, whom if you creep on their profiles, their profiles are far from Islamic. #Justsaying #foodforthought #hijabpolice #halalpolice #hypocrisy #tolerance #perfection

    • somewhereincanada

      Couldn’t agree with you more! I’ve actually had people tell me I shouldn’t wear makeup or go to movies/concerts because I wear hijab! It’s ludicrous that we should be made to feel bad about ourselves for just being ourselves!

      • SS

        Such people make it difficult for others to live. And perhaps a huge reason why so many people turn away from their religion. Not God, but People make them do that.

    • AmericanMuslim

      My dear sister Uzi, forget about people who judge you. Do what your heart and mind agree to. There will always be criticism when you want to go in the path of God, sometimes from in that very circle and sometimes from out. Anyway, I applaud any sister who tries to wear hijab in all its different forms and capacities. Wear it with pride, hijab does not put shackles on us, it liberates us. Peace

  • somewhereincanada

    I loved the video, and I love this article. As an educated/working muslim woman I’ve worn Hijab my whole life and also struggled with how people expect to me be as opposed to what I actually am. I wear Hijab for my deen, and the way I choose to wear it is up to me. The women in this video represented so many forms of hijab wearing women that I know, and am friends with. I’ve always felt that the muslim community tries to pigeon hole women who wear hijab and expect them to portray themselves as they perceive a muslim woman to be. What’s wrong with a hijab wearing woman to be fashion foward, or into hip hop music? Nothing at all! We are human just like anyone else, and because we wear hijab doesn’t mean that we should be treated differently or judged. Everyone out there is a supposed expert on how we should be, go judge yourself and let Allah be the judge of us:)

  • AmericanMuslim

    Well said sister Rabia.

    • Sara

      That would be interesting if all men dressed like that. Lol

  • Zainab Khan

    <3 amazing.

  • bladeandblu

    Everyone is at their own pace in this deen…. Man, the judges are out today.

  • Beenish Akhtar

    Thank you so much for this.

  • S Khan

    I think this was an awesome video, and that we need to show our support 100%. Who else is actually strong enough to come out and publicly support them? When a real situation arises and we have an opportunity to take a stand, many of us, should I say, run for the hills. I know not all of us stand eye to eye about many issues, but here’s my question. What about now? Are we just gonna let this slip or actually do something about it? Whats your stand? Your opinion?

    I personally feel like, we all have the right to be free and independent. If that is by wearing jeans with stilettos and a hijab, or with an all black niqab and jilbab, I don’t care. That is up to you, and whoever else. No one has the right to judge another person and accuse them of false preaching or anything as such. If these gals want to live like this, then let them be. For those of you who disagree, who knows, they may be even better Muslims than you and I are. Only Allah can judge us, not you or me.

    Last but not least, for anyone reading this who might take offense to what I’m saying, I’m not really sorry. I have all the rights to my own opinion, and every right to say what I just said. The rest is up to each and everyone of you.

    Hats off to all of you in the video, and stay awesome like that :)

    • SS

      I agree 10000000% But many muslimahs and mulsims seem to forget the “don’t judge” part in islam which is HUGE.

  • Rokhsareh Vahid Dastjerdi “Other than that, however, all we as the audience are afforded are images that, simply put, objectify the Muslim female form by denigrating it completely to the physical.” And, this is how we are fighting stereotypes?! By objectifying ourselves? If we want to overcome stereotypes, as I have said previously, let’s show the individuality of each hijabi Muslim woman: their intelligence, their accomplishments, their spirituality, and their inner beauty! It is not about judging the beautiful young ladies in the video. It’s about disallowing the objectification and industrialization of women, which is coincidentally the very purpose of hijab!

    • SS

      I am sure the girls in the video weren’t forced to wear the clothes, they stand up for it. They are women who wear hijab but also dress up the way they do. No one is objectifying them. You saw it as sexual perhaps, not everyone does. Because we all perceive differently. This is how people dress up in America, so its not a big deal for people in North America. Yeah if you said this movie was about women in Saudia Arabia, I would question it and say women are being objectified. Like there are numerous of videos of muslim women being covered up, in loose clothing or in other ethnic outfits, this is about teenagers in America who also happen to be muslims. Or fashionista. OR whatever it is. Point is, enjoy the video, and don’t ruin it for others.

      • Rokhsareh Vahid Dastjerdi

        Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and you should learn to agree to disagree and accept and respect all opinions. I am in North America (since I was 14) and I am fully aware of the culture. We do not need to overcome stereotypes by ONLY showing wildness in hijab. There are better ways to overcome stereotypes that do not actually conflict with the idea of Hijab (modesty) such as showing a variety of educated, smart, progressive, tolerant Muslim women of differing views engaged in professional or social service.

        • SS

          And perhaps you are now stereotyping muslim women as those who only wear head scarves and jalbabs. You saw it as “wildness” in hijab, so it’s quite obvious what you believe in and what you think is right, and right for you. But as I said before, whatever your perspective is, doesn’t need to be shared by everyone. Hence the reason why there doesn’t need to be such an out cry over this video.

          Good for you if you grew up in North America. Doesn’t mean everyone is going to grow up and be you and make the choices that you made.

          What is so immodest in the video?These girls aren’t flashing their private parts to you, they are covered up, and if fitted jeans are turning you on than that is perhaps a little alarming. Given that you grew up in North America, sight of fitted jeans should be more than just norm for you now.

          Or are you calling these girls immodest because they are skating, or having fun? Which one offends you more?

          Yes please, make a video of women who you believe are smarter, more educated and progressive than the ones in the video, because they clearly are not good enough for the bunch of you. I am sure these girls won’t come attacking or whine about the clip you release.

          • Rokhsareh Vahid Dastjerdi

            It seems to me like you like to argue (thus all of your replies to almost every post on this page), and you do not give thought to the responses you receive. I said “differing views.” I did not say fully covered or uncovered Muslim women. This video fails to offer a variety of perspectives on the role and purpose of hijab and a Muslim woman, and that is the main problem. Another word to describe the “wild” behavior is “uncivilized,” if you prefer that. Skating in high heels is uncivilized. Climbing up a traffic light to touch the hand is uncivilized. Climbing up poles around town is uncivilized. Sitting in the trunk of your car in the middle of woods with pink smoke around and some kind of a drink (that looks like alcohol) in your hand is uncivilized. I am sure a security officer or a police officer would shoo these girls away. Anyone who knows me knows that I welcome and get along with a variety of Muslim and non-Muslim ladies. This video does a very poor job of representing Muslim American women/girls and overcoming stereotypes. I am done with this discussion. I wish you the best.

          • SS

            Yes when people seem to be senselessly attacking these girls then it seems important to “argue”. And you are probably mistaken because I have also agreed to many people who actually make a point in the post here. Anyways, you need to chill, all your “uncivilized” examples, are really in fact pathetic. If you want an example of “uncivilized” muslim behaviour, than perhaps you need to start commenting and arguing on videos where muslim girls are belly dancing, and muslim men are showering them with money and “uncivilized” comments. The purpose of this video is not to serve a “variety” of purpose, just like any other video. It;s targeted for like minded individuals. And wow your comments are full of biased assumptions, ” Sitting in the trunk of your car in the middle of woods with pink smoke around and some kind of a drink (that looks like alcohol) in your hand is uncivilized. What does pink smoke have to do with anything? maybe she lives in a wooded area and that’s her back yard, or maybe that’s her cottage? And I am not sure why you think that bottle has alcohol??? It’s really sad how you sat there and watched this video and came out with nothing but negativity. Jeez, learn to chill out a little. Not everyone out there is to please you. Perhaps all the “muslim/ american” women that have been on the web do not include these girls, and they obviously failed to represent this group. So why is there such a big problem if they chose to keep the “civilized” group out? I am done with the discussion as well. It’s obvious that people who are against it, in one way or the other just have issues with the female gender and the way they are in video. I don’t think you should be concerned about the authorities, if they were having issues with these women, you would see them commenting

  • Eman Tai

    I so whole heartedly agree with you that it is as if you were in my heart and mind with me. I too am a writer, an attorney and a mother. I am proud to call you my sister.

  • Sana

    I <3 This article. Beautifully written and so well said.

  • DzFox

    I couldn’t see anything controversial about the video at all. It was a bit too long and some of the shots were too similar. Aside from that it was fine. Polemics and hyperbole aside could have used some better scenery too. hmmm did I miss the point or something? : )

    • SS

      I agree, I guess some people can’t just sit through a clip without raising controversy. I loved it.

  • Siraj Usmani

    those girls are all my hero

  • Mohamed

    When you said ‘American Islam’, did you mean ‘American Muslims’?
    Besides reading that awkward comment, great post. Very strong and valid points. Totally agreed. =D

  • Yumna

    I often receive hate from strangers on my Facebook which is usually because they don’t like my religious beliefs. I replied to one of them and published the reply in a local newspaper. Below is the link to my reply.

    • Sara

      Mashallah!! Great strategically thought out reply!

  • Sabina

    Assalam alaikum sisters and brothers,
    As consumers of a cultural product, we have a right to have our opinion, even outrage, about it. I did not enjoy the video because none of the clothing styles represented my style and I too felt like it reduced Muslim women to simply a product of their image. But let’s not take it out on the artists themselves. We have to be very VERY conscious of not allowing our critique of the art devolve into judgement of the artist. I did not feel that any of the critiques that I read, admittedly only of Sana Saeed and on Dr. Suad’s tumblr, attacked the artists themselves. I did not enjoy Inception – it was just a clever action movie but action movies are really not my thing. Does that mean that I hate Christopher Nolan? That he’s destroyed the filmmaking industry? That he’s a pox on the British male community? Absolutely not. This is one image I hope among many of Muslim women. I hope we can use our distaste for this product to go out and make our own products. As a Muslim screenwriter and comedienne myself, it is an impossible burden to expect me or any of my fellow sister artists to ask us to represent everybody in the community.

  • Anon

    what a ridiculous article. Speak for yourself and don’t apologise for anyone else.

    • SS

      She is speaking for herself, and on behalf of many other women, muslim women, hijabis and non hijabis who actually didn’t end up hating the video.

  • Anon

    I just saw this video and I just wanted to add a comment. Although I am not a hijabi myself, some of my best friends are hijabis and are some of the “coolest” girls that I know. One of the things that annoys me is when some of my other friends (even Middle Eastern ones!) become uncomfortable around my hijabi friends because they have this stereotype in their head about them being “uptight” or “prude”, simply because they choose to cover their hair. They say things like, “Oh, I’m scared to make a joke/hang out with her/do something that could remotely offend her”. Many of them do not realize that Hijabi girls are pretty much like other American girls (socially): They like to take selfies, do sports/arts, go out for ice cream, make jokes, laugh, etc. And for goodness sakes, most of them are not shy! They are LOUD and like to voice their opinions! Like I said, I am sure there are many other issues people are concerned about, but I think that the video would be an eye-opener for people who are overly sensitive/nervous toward hijabis/Muslims in general to see that they really are not that different. Sorry, this is a long comment, but I just felt like it needed to be said!

    • SS

      Well Said, and true to every word. I am not a hijabi but I have friends wear it. Are one of the nicest, out going girls with an amazing fashion sense. I like them better than the ones who wear the hijab, are judgemental and do have attitude ;) <– because they believe they are superior than everyone else.

  • Trisha Islam

    I definitely am appreciative of all the discussion this video has generated. Though I think there is quite a bit of misunderstanding in this article. Many of the super insightful critiques aren’t criticizing the women in the video, my reservations about the video aren’t about the fabulously dressed actors either. I think the Muslim community should be able to have conversations about class, consumerism, stereotypes without being attacked as cynical or negative. I can appreciate this video and still not be comfortable with how the women in the video don’t speak a single word. Or how the background song is weird and inappropriate. I think Noor Tagouri is awesome, I just wish she was given the opportunity to showcase her acute fashion sense AND her inspiring achievements.

  • Aisha Isabel Ashraf

    High-heels, bling, headscarves and poses – what’s this got to do with Islam? It’s a fashionista video. Was someone trying to make a point? #confused

    • be tolerant

      yes, the point is muslim women can be fashionistas too. thats the whole point.

    • SS

      It’s a fashion video. That’s what it is.

  • Rhajibeigi

    This video and movement is trying to make “hijab” cool. Being a Muslim in this society is not about fitting in. When everything is motivated by sex, drugs and money – what does that have to do with Islam? I was born and raised here, and I’ve covered since I was 9. Hijab is more than just the cloth on your head. I know lots of girls who don’t cover but have amazing hijab.

    • SS

      Hijab also means modesty, so yes the majority people choose to cover their heads and there are many who don’t. There are those who wear niqabs and jalbabs, and there are those who wear fitted clothes. Hijab is a veil, its modesty. So if you have a hijab on and still have the tendency to judge others and point fingers and make people feel inferior, than there is no point of your hijab.

  • be tolerant

    the point is muslim women are so tired of being seen as creatures from another planet. everyone is so quick to judge but in reality, youd do the same if you felt the same. but since all people arent the same, you do not understand. the girls are beautiful, they skate, have a sense of fashion, they listen to music…big deal. They just want to show the world that muslim women are no different from other people. As teens, they like to engage in the same activities. Skateboarding has nothign to do with sex. Being pretty, wearing makeup, wearing heels makes these girls feel pretty. Islam isnt about being ugly. It’s about presenting ourselves in a clean, beautiful manner. in the end, keep your useless opinion to yourself. if you dont like the video, good for you. but it is evident that these girls worked so hard and the least we can do is support them for being so brave.

  • frankinbun

    Muslim women are pawns on the giant chessboard. Muslim extremism is a direct result of the US pumping petro dollars into Saudi Arabia. It’s the OIL!

  • SS

    I LOVED this video, only biased, narrow minded PATHETIC people said anything against it. Because they were too busy trying to find “something wrong” with this. I took a lot of heat from people when I spoke up for you guys on an aritcle that someone (SANA) whose trying to be self pious by pointing fingers at this video. And trying to get love from people who also love to tell others that THEY ARE WRONG. It is true that the first video I watched was of the two sisters who started the hijab fashion, but now that I saw the real video, I love it! I am tired of people saying muslim women are dull, boring, oppressed, plain janes. Not everyone! and I am glad you guys, this faction rose up. Good on you girls. Don’t let the loosers judge you.

    • Al Battani

      “narrow minded PATHETIC people” are those who think Muslims are a monolithic people and do not have a right to voice their opinion.

      • SS

        Yes exactly, and this video is the one that shares that No muslims are not monolithic and by making this video they are sharing their voice and opinion.

        • Al Battani

          Nice try, but please allow me to repeat your exact words:

          “I LOVED this video, only biased, narrow minded PATHETIC people said anything against it.”
          With other words, its you calling others names for disagreeing with your view point. Also, there is no way for you to use an Islamic argument to support video that contains a rap singer, who whose family and him self partake in some of the most vulgar and obscene behavior.

          • SS

            Yeah well I wouldn’t have said anything, if “those” people didn’t start their judgemental dialogues against the video, doesn’t matter how they “word” it. Firstly, I am not viewing this video as a RELIGIOUS thing, its a fashion statement, like BEAUTY, modesty is not only Skin deep, meaning doesn’t matter if you wear the hijab or not, if you cannot be modest as a person inside, there is no point. Why would I support this video islamically? it’s not about your religion or a religious event, its about a lifestyle, its about girls who live in North America, who love fashion and who happen to be muslims. And yes its their choice of how they dress up. Just like the fellow men who happen to have a beard or not. I might not be able to defend this video in terms of islam, a) because I dont need to. But I can definitely defend all the judgemental things people seem to be making about it. It’s called ” do not judge others”. Which is a big part of your religion.

          • Al Battani

            Except that wearing the hijab in Islam is not a fashion, though it maybe the case with non-Muslims. It is the very reason why when someone has no sense of morality, for them to dress modesty–whether they be male or female.

          • SS

            It MAY be the reason, that the head scarf that you believe muslims women wear for modesty is for modesty. Or it can just be a cultural requirement or a family tradition. Doesn’t mean everyone consciously chooses to wear it for their beliefs. Maybe their grandma and mom wore it, so they chose to wear it. The point is, stop judging others and the way they live, mind your own business, if you cannot appreciate anything, do not ruin it for others with your bitterness. There are many women who cover themselves up and are decent girls, they do not need to have a head scarf but sometimes they do. And there are many women who do not wear any head scarf and wear fitted clothes and they have more modesty than women who are fully covered. And then there are women who wear non fitted clothes and have a hijab and they are amazing. And then there are women who do every kind of hijab and still get raped. The point is, if these girls are being judged for their clothing and their fun, because they are a problem to you and the way you think, then perhaps train yourself better so these people will not become a big issue in your life. Learn to respect and move on. They are as free as you are.

    • Guest

      you’re not Muslim in fact you’re a pervert! These girls are not Muslims and Prophet Mohammad [SAW] said they’ll Neither Enter paradise nor smell the scent of it!….

  • Al Battani

    “poor song choice, but I know it had little to do with you”
    Except that the song is an integral part of the video and attempting to appease Muslims by separating the song, amounts to nothing but you like to have it both ways. The teaching of Islam is replete with examples of not imitating non-Muslims, and as parent, the last people I would like my kids to listen it these rap singers who possess no sense of morality.




    Muslim (r) narrated that Abu Hurayrah (RA) said: The Messenger of Allah
    (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “There are two types
    of the people of Hell whom I have not seen…” one of whom was, “women who
    are clothed yet naked…” According to Imam Ahmad (r) he said: “Curse
    them, for they are cursed.”


    In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

    The Hadith in full is as follows:

    Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that
    the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said:
    “There are two types of people who will enter the Hell-fire, whom I have
    not (as yet) seen: People having whips similar to ox-tails with which
    they will beat people, and (secondly) women who will be dressed yet
    appear to be naked. They will seduce men and be inclined towards them.
    Their heads will be like the swaying humps of bacterial camels. They
    will neither enter paradise, nor smell its fragrance, even though its
    fragrance can be smelt from such and such distance.” (Sahih Muslim, no.

    In this Hadith, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give
    him peace) describes two types of people who will enter the fire of
    Hell, whom he had not seen. In other words, these two types of actions
    lead one to punishment and Hell in the Hereafter. May Allah Almighty
    save us all, Ameen.

    The meaning of “women who will be dressed yet appear to be naked” (as
    explained by Imam al-Nawawi and others) is that they will be semi-nude.
    Part of their body will be covered whilst the other will remain
    exposed. This is clearly manifested today; in that many women wear short
    skirts and expose their arms, neck, hair, etc.

    Imam al-Nawawi (Allah have mercy on him) mentions some scholars
    stating that the meaning is, women will wear see-through and transparent
    clothing in a way that the colour of their body will be visible. This,
    again, is quite common today, in that many women wear very thin
    clothing, thus exposing their skin-colour.

    A third interpretation, also recorded by Imam al-Nawawi (Allah have
    mercy on him), is that they will be blessed in abundance with the
    various gifts and bounties of Allah, yet they will not be grateful.

    The meaning of “They will seduce men and be inclined towards them” is
    that they will walk and act in order to seduce strange men.

    The meaning of “Their heads will be like the swaying humps of
    bacterial camels” is that they will style their hair to certain stylish
    hairdos, or style their hair like a hump. (See: Sharh of Nawawi on Sahih
    Muslim, P. 1603)

    In summary, the above Hadith is one of the marvels (mu’jizah) of the
    Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace). Imam
    al-Nawawi (Allah have mercy on him) states:

    “This Hadith is from the miracles of prophet-hood (nubuwwah), for
    these two types of people now exist. This Hadith also condemns these two
    actions.” (ibid)

    The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace)
    envisaged the situation of certain individuals and their actions, thus
    informed his companions (Allah be pleased with them) and us about them.
    Thus, the moral of the Hadith is to abstain and refrain from these
    actions, for they lead one to the fire of Hell.

  • Musa

    i m deeply sorry when i ear about suh évents i LL surelly do somme Douze for that leattle Sister may Allah ne satisfied of TER thèse are signe of thé near cooming of thé end of times more et en work against Muminum more their punisment will ne sever down hère un the grave and at thé final jugement it ils ont proselitsim et ils simple fait for thèse who sée l salam aleykom to all thé Muminum Moses