9 inspiring Muslim women shattering stereotypes
Now more than ever we need to elevate the diverse and vibrant art and voices of Muslim women from around the world to emphasize Muslim people cannot be defined. Trump’s executive order banning immigrants from Syria and seven other predominantly Muslim countries, which also establishes a religious test for refugees from Muslim nations, has led to increased hate crimes, discriminatory language, and damaging stereotypes about Muslims. We cannot allow this hate to hold. Muslim women and men are bold, creative, courageous, diverse, and dynamic. Muslim people are doctors, teachers, mothers, fathers, human rights activists, artists, journalists, dancers, and so much more.
Together, let’s get loud to shatter damaging stereotypes about Muslims in the United States and worldwide. Explore some of the powerful work and words from Muslim women artists, activists, photographers, and leaders through work featured in our Muslima: Muslim Women’s Art & Voices campaign.
These 9 Muslim women are challenging negative images and portrayals, defying labels and definitions, and breaking down harmful walls—just by being themselves.
LaRita Dixon, USA
“In this work, I wanted to show the fun side of Muslims, to show people that we are just like everyone else.”
Haafiza Sayed, UAE/India
“My Muslim woman is amongst the millions of unsung and often ignored Muslim women in global societies. These are women that are strong, liberated, awakened in all senses, exercising their rights, voicing their opinions; they are the leaders, educators, doctors, writers, artist, activists and so on.”
Nadia Helmy Ahmed, Denmark
“I try to challenge the cultural discourse about what Muslim women should act like. And exhibit leadership through my sport and encourage other women to be strong norm breakers.”
Rajae el Mouhandiz, Morocco/Algeria/The Netherlands
“I have had to deal with Muslim music labels not wanting to promote me because I am a woman and didn’t wear hijab… I believe that pop culture and songwriting in Muslim culture—just like in all other cultures—are great vehicles to use as a way to express yourself, your search for your unique character and identity, and to share ideas with your peers and the world. Pop culture has always be a catalyst, and has proven to be very effective tool for cultural diplomacy or cultural rebellion.”
Soufeina Hamed, Germany
“Being Muslima in a western city is not as bad as some people think. In my experience, it makes you somehow more conscientious, more sensitive, and more self-confident at an early age. When I started to cover myself with a hijab, I felt that from then on, I was representing something bigger than me. I was representing a whole community—a community that is diverse as the humanity itself.”
Kelly Izdihar Crosby, USA
“I’m still touched by the diversity of the Islamic global community and that idea developed into this piece. I decided to create a montage of women in different headscarves and different complexions. I have depicted Muslim women wearing turbans, Turkish hijabs, “traditional” hijabs, stylish wraps, niqabs (face veils) and no hijab. I want to show the audience our beauty and also our diversity in terms of how we outwardly reflect our faith. The mainstream image of Muslim women is quite one dimensional and I think this piece can offer the viewer to an alternative to the current monolithic stereotype.”
Senna Ahmad, USA
“I looked through the crowd and noticed such a variety of people there, all with different backgrounds and stories, all different races and different ages. What I thought before I took this picture was how amazing it is that this one belief could unite so many of us, no matter what differences we had. It was while having this thought that I saw this little girl sitting on the floor staring right at me. “Purity” was the only word that came to mind when her piercing eyes met mine. A child’s thoughts are so unsullied by the world around them and the less-than-twenty-second interaction I had with this girl made me believe that our hope truly does lie in hands of those younger than us. They are the ones with big dreams and hopeful thoughts. If ever faith is lost in you, look into the eyes of a child, you will find your faith there.”
Zainab Khan, USA/Afghanistan/Pakistan
”I firmly believe that through peace, love, respect, and mutual understanding, we will be able to provide a helping hand that will empower each woman to reach out like a sister to one another. In today’s world, where our chances of connectivity are much higher, it truly is possible to create a culture of sisterhood and unity. As we share our experiences and voices interactively throughout the globe, we receive the chance not just to bring visibility, but to breathe life into our stories.”
Saba Chaudhry Barnard, USA
“For years, I tortured myself trying to blend in, trying to stand out, trying to “find myself” within these little boxes. But it’s impossible. Instead, I make art that is, I hope, less categorized and reductive, reflecting that the boundaries we create between us and inside of us are, in fact, an illusion. So my work is not so much about defining Muslim women, or anyone, but undefining them. About undefining ourselves and connecting to that universal something that exists within all of us.”
Sophia (American Beauty) in An-Noor.
Together, let’s do some undefining. Share these powerful pieces of art and words from Muslim women to stand with them as they shatter stereotypes and challenge discrimination.
Explore more voices and art from Muslim women around the world in MUSLIMA.