32 Photos That Hope To Change The Way We Look At Muslim American Women Basma Sayedi March 31, 2014 Tweet Well the month of March is winding down, and it sure has taught us a lot about Muslim identity – particularly that of women. From Abu Essa Gate to Alice in Arabia, March has truly been a memorable month for women’s history – especially Muslim women. To commemorate Women’s History Month, we collected photos of Muslim American women. This project was inspired by a Buzzfeed article called 44 Stock Photos That Hope To Change The Way We Look At Women compiled by Ashley Perez. We’ve compiled thirty-two images. One for each day of March, plus another because no one month can contain the awesomeness of Muslim Women. These images show the status and the importance of Muslim women in our society. Muslim women are liberated, educated, and play the most important roles in our society. Update(7:30 pm EST): The purpose and intent of this article is not to showcase the ethnic and racial diversity of Muslimahs. No one article can do that. We meant to express the diversity of the roles Muslimahs play in society and to begin to re-frame how they are thought about. Going forward we will make sure to be all inclusive. *** (1) Saba Chaudhry Barnard – Professional Artist (If you looked at the featured image for this article and thought it was awesome, that’s because SHE painted it!) (Photo credit: Noor Iskandar) (2) Ameena Mirza Qazi – Attorney and Civil Rights Advocate (3) Maryam Amirebrahimi – Religious Scholar, Speaker, and Writer (4) Sarah Kureshi – MD, MPH Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine (5) Zainab Ismail – Professional Fitness Trainer at Nadoona Fitness (6) Amal Sayedi – Full Time Mother, Part Time Student (7) Sadia Naeb – Professional Make Up Artist and Hair Stylist (8) Dina El-Nakhal – Civil Engineer (9) Aliyah Mohammed – Professional Journalist (10) Ayah Koleilat – Dental School Bound Soccer Talent (11) Fatima Ali – Professional New York Sous Chef (12) Frankees Samad – Professional Fashion Designer (13) Fatima ElKabti – Optometry Student (14) Khadija Abid – Aspiring Violinist (15) Sadia Saifuddin – First Ever Muslim University Of California Student Regent Designate (16) Lena Khan – Professional Film Director and Producer (17) Sabah Azam – Professional Photographer at Sabah Azam Photography (18) Sara Hassan – Educator and Coach (19) Reem Suleiman – Student and Free Spirit (20) Lula Abusalih – An Educator with a Ph.D in Education (21) Nashwah Akhtar – Communication and Public Diplomacy Student, and Artist (22) Fatima Mekkaoui – Fashion Fighting Famine Model (23) Hosai Mojaddidi – Inspirational and Religious Speaker, Co Founder of Mental Health For Muslims (24) Fatima Salman – Educator and Inspirer (25) Bihter Ozedirne – Integral Member of Google’s Legal Team (26) – Kulsoom Abdullah– Competitive Weight Lifter (27) – Sherrel Johnson – Community Relations Manager (28) Rawan Kaddoura – Social Work Intern, Teacher, and Refugee Tutor (29) Noor Hussein – Student and Saxophone Enthusiast (30) Mariam Naguib – Student Athlete (31) Taqwa Abdallah – Entrepreneur and Owner of Taqwizzle’s Cakes (32) Barbara Hassan – Clinic Office Supervisor – Adolescent Division Comments Call for Subjects | artbysaba says: March 31, 2014 at 2:41 pm […] was included in a list of beautiful photographs of American Muslim women: hereIf you scroll down to the comments section, there is a pretty clear and legitimate concern with this […] the bee and the butterfly | wood turtle says: April 1, 2014 at 11:57 am […] ongoing talk online about the need to creatively challenge how people think about Muslim American (and Canadian) women, as well as Twitter #hashtag campaigns challenging what it […] That Oppressive Piece Of Cloth | Journalism by Jabeen Akhter says: April 3, 2014 at 5:46 am […] Speaking from personal experience, I now feel more free to be more assertive and have my words heard. After wearing the hijab, I left all traces of vanity and focused more on the state of what’s inside rather than what shows on the outside. Being able to do this, to me, is success. […] Media failure * Slaughter tweet * Afghan vote | Moozweek says: April 4, 2014 at 5:04 am […] a website that covers Muslims in America, has posted a thought-provoking collection of 32 photos it hopes will change the way people look at Muslim American women. The intriguing […] Race And Why It Matters » ThrivalRoom says: April 7, 2014 at 4:27 pm […] is a Fellow Thriver’s response to the article and pictorial “32 Photos that Hope to Change the Way We Look at Muslim American Women“. This response is not intended to discredit the intentions of the article’s author, […] The Bee and the Butterfly says: April 9, 2014 at 4:02 am […] ongoing talk online about the need to creatively challenge how people think aboutMuslim American (and Canadian) women, as well as Twitter #hashtag campaigns challenging what it […] Interview | Art by Saba Barnard | Ayesha & Umair's Blog says: April 11, 2014 at 9:26 am […] so I also came across Mrs. Barnard. I learned of her when I read Thrival Room‘s article 32 Photos That Hope to Change the Way We Look at Muslim American Women– must-read article highlighting great American Muslim […] My Interview With a Muslim American Artist » ThrivalRoom says: May 8, 2014 at 9:50 am […] 32 Photos That Hope To Change The Way We Look At Muslim American Women […] MuslimARC says: September 29, 2014 at 8:23 am […] out every other day that lists Muslim Women on the rise in various fields including fashion and said list has little to no Brown faces…there’s a problem. 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Chris Thach:April 27, 2015 at 9:29 pmWow, who would have guessed that Muslim American women are just like anyone else, shocker! *Sarcasm* Great article. Amina Wadud:March 31, 2014 at 8:09 pmyou know you really HAVE to do better. Not ONE AFRICAN AMERICAN Muslim woman??!!! Amina Wadud:April 1, 2014 at 1:07 amActually she's Sudanese (according to the makers of this spot...). So YES from Africa.. but not (what we mean by) African-American.. Qadirah T Simien Muhammad:April 1, 2014 at 7:13 amHow can someone say this is not about race, but about diversity in American society. Excuse me, my paternal family has only been here & free since 1700s. I think that qualifies me to say what I've set. I'm no subset. There is no who without diversity. Anyone looking at this article (non-Muslim) will come away with a simple minded view of our diversity. There is an African-American designer who actually is in the New York Fashion show along with the other well known fashion designers. Out front being seen. This is the USA & the diversity needs to be.represented. This is a big issue in our community & if we don't speak up the views will remain narrow. Ahmed Naguib:April 1, 2014 at 1:34 pmQadirah T Simien Muhammad maybe you should read some of the other stuff on the sight - u will see they write about this as we see here: http://thrivalroom.com/uncovering-racism-in-the-american-muslim-community/ and here: http://thrivalroom.com/moving-towards-ethnic-conciliation-among-american-muslims/ Amina Wadud:April 1, 2014 at 3:01 pmThank you Qadirah!! Anela Jadunandan:April 1, 2014 at 8:09 pmAzizah Magazine has some very good ones. Must not exclude. Afshan Jilani:April 1, 2014 at 8:18 pmStop the hate please. Maybe you can fill in the gaps and include all the other races and nationalities. Just be happy for someone. Anela Jadunandan:April 1, 2014 at 8:27 pmA great start...maybe want to add more adoring Muslim Americans. This was probably their trial balloon. Let's not DISS them..let's ENCOURAGE them to improve...that's all I'm saying. American Muslim Women's Association (AMWA):April 1, 2014 at 8:30 pmdefinitely not a very diverse perspective but a positive portrayal,nonetheless. Would like to see more diversity in age and race. Azizah magazine is great but they also limit the portrayal to fit a certain "religious ideology". Andrea InspiredbyKhadijah Williams:March 31, 2014 at 8:51 pmReally once again, left out of consideration. African American Muslim Women have been around longer than some of the women listed have been living. If you want to have a story that wants to give a new perspective to the stereotypical Muslim woman in the eyes of mass media, portray EVERYBODY! This story only feeds into the misconception that Muslim women are from Middle Eastern descent from !st generation immigrant families. While I respect the women included, I could list a number of women just off the top of my head that are NOT included: Dr. Amina Wadud, Dr. Amina McCloud, Shayka Reima Yosef, Tayyibah Taylor, Tamara Gray... Ahmed Naguib:March 31, 2014 at 9:06 pmThis post wasn't meant to show every high achieving muslim women, just trying to show the diversity of accomplishments among our muslim Sisters - its not a top 30 list or anything Zeynep Egeli:April 1, 2014 at 1:25 amVery good study to give people with prejudice a new perspective. People who harshly criticize and look for faults, WHY DON'T YOU MAKE SOMETHING BETTER IN STEAD OF MOANING FROM YOUR COUCH?? Isra M. El-beshir:April 1, 2014 at 1:47 amHytham Aly No she is not. Isra M. El-beshir:April 1, 2014 at 1:48 amHytham Aly She is an Arab woman. Steph Thomas:September 17, 2014 at 5:44 pmZeynep Marmaris Somehow all this comes across as VERY ODD since it is the Muslim intent to CONQUER THE WORLD. If these women are 'American' then follow American LAW ... sharia law that goes AGAINST American law is not allowed here. Do you really expect Americans to believe you when you follow your CULT? We already know you also have Muslim Elite who make life very comfortable for themselves on the backs of other Muslims! This group functions above the others and is immune from any laws they choose to be immune from. You have proven time and again what a PHONY group you are!!! Noor Hussein:March 31, 2014 at 9:46 pmAll this criticizing is really sad. This post's intention was to prove that Muslim American women cannot be viewed from one lens; we are all different and unique in our own ways. How about instead of nitpicking this article (with inaccurate assumptions) we support it and in turn support each other. Qadirah T Simien Muhammad:April 1, 2014 at 6:34 amWhy is that not an issue. There are Hispanic Muslims, African American Women, Caucasian Muslims etc. That's diversity and something that should have been thought of. If we say nothing, then nothing changes. We exist and should be acknowledged. Noor Hussein:April 1, 2014 at 6:52 amQadirah T Simien Muhammad this article was not about racial diversity if you clearly see in the description. It is about the roles of Muslim American women in our society, nothing to do with race. Also no one said it was not an issue and like Claire said it's for a different article. Apop Harris:April 2, 2014 at 4:18 amIs it really that hard to at least appreciate her effort putting those pictures together, before you criticize? I am an Indonesian muslimah living in the US. Indonesia is the world's largest muslim population but never been acknowledged well... but it's not the obligation of the writer and I won't whine about it in this forum. It's not the proper place. Mind your akhlaq, sisters. A'ishah Amatullah:April 2, 2014 at 4:55 pmit is sad because the post replicates the view of muslim women from one lens. Steph Thomas:September 17, 2014 at 5:55 pmClaire Ngo-Anh Race has nothing to do with this... CULT to have sex with animals, little girls, and your famous bacha bazi! Somehow all this comes across as VERY ODD since it is the Muslim intent to CONQUER THE WORLD. If these women are 'American' then follow American LAW ... sharia law that goes AGAINST American law is not allowed here. Do you really expect Americans to believe you when you follow your CULT? We already know you also have the 'Muslim Elite' who make life very comfortable for themselves on the backs of other Muslims! This group functions above the others and is immune from any laws they choose to be immune from. You have proven time and again what a PHONY group you are!!! To break away from your ugly, despicable traditions... most importantly the despicable treatment of women... you'd have to leave the Muslim Cult completely... which could hardly happen because you'd never make it out alive. Very few do... Nebula Nabila:April 2, 2014 at 12:47 am"American Muslim Women" huh. Then where are the American Muslim Women (Black Americans, Latinas, Native Americans)? Very interesting choice of words for a title for it to be primarily immigrants or the children of immigrants. As if there aren't any Indigenous American Muslimahs.... As if this is an absurd question? Why is it a problem that we question this? You come to this land getting visas that our forefathers fought and died for through the civil rights movement and live in neighborhoods and get education that our efforts paved the way for. And suddenly, it is out of pocket to question why there isn't any Black, Latina, or Native American sisters presented when you are supposedly changing the way people look at Muslim women? The common misconception is that all/most Muslims are middle-eastern. Isn't that the most common stereotype? If you want to change the way people look at Muslim Women, it'd be best to enlighten them that this is not the case by featuring some non-middle eastern sisters that have been putting it down for centuries without due respect. Azzizza Johnson:April 2, 2014 at 1:32 amNebula Nabila words well spoken. The only problem is that if you are steeped in darkness its hard to guide by light. As I read some of the comments it became clearer and clearer that most miss the point and will continue to do so simply because they come from a dark place. Nebula Nabila:April 2, 2014 at 1:36 amYou are right @azzizzah! It takes humility and maturity to redress a wrong. Nana Firman:April 2, 2014 at 3:59 amI think sis.Zainab is a latina muslimah ~ however, you're rite, beloved...this needs to change...even I am having a hard time to present American muslims to my fellow Indonesians...as they wanna know the indigenous muslims in America...boy oh boy...glad that I know some cool ones, including you!!! :) :) :) Basheer Abdul Ali:November 2, 2014 at 5:09 amThen we as African Americans must produce a photo article like this one. Yes, i truly thought this as well! Then, I thought of the intent (which was excellent), then too, Afrian Am. Muslims must get more involed in promoting themselves. .. Paula Key:September 18, 2014 at 3:40 pmI had a wonderful coffee encounter with a woman wearing a hajib and her husband in a shopping mall in Toronto, Canada. We shared our views on Islam. The couple were still grieving the loss of their son who was killed in Iran by Muslim terrorists. We shared that we were a Canadian married lesbian couple. This did not matter to them. They invited us to their home. I have blogged this encounter on http://stories4hotbloodedlesbians.com (NOT a porn site) Teresa Mosley:March 31, 2014 at 8:39 pmI agree with Amina, no white women either. Any idea how many times I hear from muslims and non muslims "I didn't know white people could be Muslim". Where is Asma Hanif (who is African American),who runs the only Muslim womans shelter in the states? Khadija Mohiuddin Harsolia:April 1, 2014 at 4:30 amSherrel Johnson is pretty white at least the last time I met her! Lol. R Giovanni-The Noir Economist:April 1, 2014 at 10:12 amActually haydea majeed in atlanta runs baitel salaam in Atlanta another shelter for eomen. Riya Gurrado:August 3, 2014 at 5:24 pmMiddle Eastern (Libya-Pakistan) people are Caucasian. Technically speaking, most of these women are white. White people come in different shades too! Amr Abdallah:March 31, 2014 at 10:35 pmMoslems really need to lighten up sometimes. Aishah Abdullah:April 2, 2014 at 1:53 amWe are not Moslems....we are Muslim's Valentina Haq:April 4, 2014 at 9:23 pmAishah Abdullah - Thank you for correcting; we are Muslims. Amr Abdallah:April 5, 2014 at 12:41 amI know it's Muslims. I use that when referring to Muslims sarcastically. I didn't mean to offend. C Angel Handley:April 2, 2014 at 4:10 amAs an African American muslim woman I must say that I did not notice whatsoever that there were no African American women featured (it has been said that the woman being called african american is actually sudanese while by african american we are referring to those who have inherited their position in this nation from their enslaved anscestors before america as a nation or idea existed). I wasn't looking for black women, I was more scanning for both powerful reflections of muslim women and a reflection of myself in terms of interpretation of the deen as I rarely ever see the "more conservative" muslim women being represented, other than that I was, tisk-tsking about stringed instruments and things that are too tight to be called hijab. Now, for the people who are mad at the Af Amr women for mentioning this: African Americans have carried Islam in America for some time now, even since the days of our being imported to build the nation you now enjoy. you care about us when we are your sirraj wahaaj, your amir' Loon" muhaddith, your abu taubahs, your malcolm x's and the likes, but unless we have celebrity and fame to humanize us, its like we don't exist. 32 women and not one being african american is a loud and clear statement, even more clear since it was one that was made unintentionally. We are, by exclusing african americans, reinforcing theidea that Islam is something foreign when peolpe need to realize that it is also domestic, homegrown, and all-american as apple pie, the deen has BEEN here and that is the point. If there wren't one arab, what would you think? now imagine if it was done in an arab country (they may call us african-american but we are centuries removed from africa, we are THE americans, when you build a country, you Are its people, deserving no hyphenation of identity) Don't be mad at folks who are shocked at being overlooked in their own native land. Fatima Haro:April 2, 2014 at 4:38 amC Angel Handley girl am angry now for real. How come they don't have a single African American Sister on the pictures? They say "32 photos that hope to change the way we look at Muslim American women" but all I see is everyone except African American Sisters. Now that's a shame. Thank you my dear for sharing this with us. And may I say you write so well Ma Sha Allah. You should become a write. R Giovanni-The Noir Economist:April 1, 2014 at 9:57 amI normally stay away from this type of thing because its non productive. But when you put something in the public domain to be viewed you must accept the critique as well as the praise. One has to be very cognative of the messages being sent. My issue with this article is that everyone looks like a different version of the same person. This article seems as though no effort or thought was placed into thinking about what the best image would be. Not that the sisters used were not deserving of recognition. But that no other group of Muslimah could see themself reflected in the article. The fact the author of this article didn't make that connection speaks volumes. R Giovanni-The Noir Economist:April 1, 2014 at 11:48 amAll are basically the same hue and all look indo-pack. R Giovanni-The Noir Economist:April 1, 2014 at 12:07 pmYes all that's why I made the statement. Sara Hassan:April 1, 2014 at 1:59 pmI would just like to add the fact that I myself am in this article and come from an Egyptian American background. We really need to learn not to make assumptions. Especially as Muslims. We know better than that. R Giovanni-The Noir Economist:April 1, 2014 at 2:24 pmI know you said shes african American but no I don't see a difference and neither dies almost every commentor because you gave to tell them she's African-American. Its no insult to the sister but she looks like everything being presented, Indo Pakistan. Thats my opinion. Your not going to change my mind about that. But you are more than welcome to critique my assessment. R Giovanni-The Noir Economist:April 1, 2014 at 2:27 pmMy original statement included hue first u only said indo Pakistan to furthet describe an olive cery light tan skin tone. R Giovanni-The Noir Economist:April 1, 2014 at 2:28 pmCorrection I only... R Giovanni-The Noir Economist:April 1, 2014 at 3:45 pmIm not saying she's not African American. Im saying I didn't know she was until you said so. And be straight forward. What is ironic about myself and others not realizing she is African-American. And why focus in her. The fact that you see such a stark difference between 20 and the others is ironic. Maybe its because you know she's black that you see such a difference. See how useless innuendo is. Its also cowardly. Just be open and honest about what you want to say. Why are you pointing out the black lady to me? Thats ironic! Another example of the shear ridiculousness and uselessness of innuendo. Were are the white women, the clearly Asian, dark skin, , Latin, Mexican etc. Aishah Abdullah:April 2, 2014 at 2:27 amI agree. And as an American Muslim, Caucasian, I couldn't really relate myself to any of the ladies pictured. It seemed deceiving and disappointing. Sara Hassan:April 1, 2014 at 2:06 pmI find it really upsetting that people try to find the faults in such an article. We should not make assumptions about the ethnicity of someone. For those of you who are criticizing this article and saying there aren't enough races shown, you need to realize...who are we to judge? Leave the judging to Allah please. Plus, many of your assumptions are incorrect. Unless you know every single person in this article and their backgrounds you don't know where they come from. To the makers of this article, mashAllah you did an incredible job. I showed it to my students in class and they talked about it all day. They kept commenting on how inspiring it was for them, especially the girls (since I teach in an islamic private school). Don't worry about the criticizing, it just means you did a great job. :) Michael Mumisa:April 1, 2014 at 9:34 amThe reasoning given for the absence of African-American women is even more insulting to such women than their mere exclusion. It is being argued that: "We meant to express the diversity of the roles Muslimahs play in society." I am sitting here in a small town in England and I can think, off the top of my head, of more than 32 African-American, White, and other women who play diverse roles in society. This list says very little about "Muslim American Women" and a lot about the deep-rooted practices of racial exclusion within Muslim communities in the USA and other countries. Isra M. El-beshir:April 1, 2014 at 5:12 pmyou are absolutely right. This article was not meant to highlight the diversity of Muslim women, however, when you expect readers to change their perceptions of Muslim women, which are often framed as Arab, burka-wearing, oppressed women, then it is incumbent upon you to challenge the perceptions by including those who do not fit the stereotype, meaning South Asian, African American, Hispanic/latino, African, and Arab. It must be inclusive and reflective of today's society. These women above have accomplished much, and they are praise worthy. For commenters to say, oh #20 is African American, see we have our token black women, diversity has been accomplished is offensive. More So that the woman is Sudanese, and not an African American. (to Haytham, if #20 is African American, so too are all the women of North African descent in this list, but i get the feeling you won't include them in that category). We can even argue that all the women above are white, well mostly, since in the U.S. middle easterners and North African are classified as White/Caucasian. Again, I doubt this was the argument. There will soon be a counter project to this article: http://artbysaba.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/call-for-subjects/ Michael Mumisa:April 1, 2014 at 5:39 pmIsra M. El-beshir. Looking forward to the counter project! Excellent idea. Thanks for sharing the news. Isra M. El-beshir:April 1, 2014 at 6:53 pmHytham Aly Yes, I do agree. You are absolutely right. However, the concerns of, and it seems, the majority of those commenting is that there needs to be an unbiased, more inclusive, and real representation of Muslim women to assist in changing (hoping to change) mainstream's perceptions of Muslim women. This article was not drafted to service my needs as a Muslim woman and other Muslim woman who are aware of our individual and collective success. Its goal was to alleviate the misconceptions others ("them") have of 'us'. That is the only aspect of this article I object to. Aaron Sipe:April 1, 2014 at 8:48 pmWhine whine whine, there are no African American Muslim women....well, there were no Chinese Muslim women, no Native American Muslim women, and no Native Hawaiian Muslim women either! Should they complain as well? Terri Plez:April 3, 2014 at 4:29 amIf the objective of posting this collection of photos is to defy stereotypes - YES, they should complain. Zeynep Egeli:April 1, 2014 at 1:26 amVery good study to give people with prejudice a new perspective. People who harshly criticize and look for faults, WHY DON'T YOU MAKE SOMETHING BETTER IN STEAD OF MOANING FROM YOUR COUCH?? Sherin Ibrahim:March 31, 2014 at 8:24 pmI agree with Amina. Isra M. El-beshir:April 1, 2014 at 1:49 amHytham Aly She is a Arab (Afro-Arab if that will help you sleep at night). NOT an African American. Adam Carroll:July 5, 2014 at 6:03 pmComing to this late. Yes it is not a good sign that African American Muslimas were left out-- they should be added! And though it is true that we should celebrate the achievements and the drive of our sisters, I also could caution that more stigma attaches to Muslim men in the so called mainstream society (arguably) and so men also deserve a collective shout out in the same style. Why not celebrate each other? Muhammad Abdul-Aziz Ibn Hayes:April 1, 2014 at 2:48 pmI actually like this as to me it shows that all Muslim women aren't this stereotypical uneducated unheard docile creature in front of a stove . I would have liked to see more diversity but I will take what we can get. Alhamduillah I didn't see any racist or bigoted trolling on the comments...kudows Adam Carroll:July 5, 2014 at 6:04 pmhowever all in all its a nice and spiriting group! Hasan Amenra:April 1, 2014 at 8:30 pmFirst of all, pointing out a pretty big oversight does not mean that someone doesn't support the overall message of the piece. But, when you title a piece "32 Photos That Hope To Change The Way We Look At Muslim American Women" and you don't include (or only at most vaguely (2 or 6%) non-Arab looking women, then you should expect some criticism. Are we really going to argue over 1 or 2 out of """32""" photos--come on now. It's not the end of the world, nor is it a reason to bash the article's message about the diversity of Muslim women in America. It is okay to point out that there are a lot of Asian, African American and African Muslim women whose phenotype does not resemble the pictures being shown...that's all. Pointing that out does not make someone overly sensitive, it's just a fact surrounding the piece. Salaam. Gwen Boucher:April 1, 2014 at 8:31 pmAlhumduallah, I like it very much that Muslim women are in public more and I do not hear the hateful talk about Hijab or no Hijab. That Muslims can talk with each other and Christians without the hateful talk is good also.