More than a Muslim Woman

I was reading Muslimah Media Watch’s post and thinking about identity. In particular, my own identity. Let me start by saying I’m annoyed with news programs like the one referenced in the post that name shows about Muslim women “Behind the Veil” or “Beneath the Veil.” GIVE IT A REST…PLEASE! Can non-Muslims stop worrying about what’s beneath my “veil” or behind it? How many programs are there that feature non-Muslim women and name it “Behind the bra” or “Beneath the shirt”? You see where I’m going with this one, right?

Anyhow,  I personally dislike the way non-Muslims and Muslims alike reduce a Muslim woman to her hijab and to her identity as a Muslim woman.   Yes, Islam governs the way I do most of the things in my life (or try to do anyway.) But like many people, I have multiple identities:

I’m African-American (from the Midwest but have a southern slant since my mom is from the South)

I’m Jamaican (from the country, part Jamaican Indian-a ‘coolie gyal’ to some, part Black)

I’m “western” in thinking and to some extent in values

I’m a convert to Islam (and I didn’t convert because I was dating or married to a Muslim man)

I’m also:

A college graduate

A professional

A poetess

A fashionista

A B-girl

A former carnival reveler

A former dancer (not classically trained)

A bookworm

A “quasi-feminist”

An activist

A Jamerican bad gyal

And so much more. Most importantly, I’m a human being (even if I sometimes feel like I’m from another planet, lol.) Since I’m a human being it means that I will falter at times. I will waver. I will do things, think things, and say things that are not conducive to my way of life (Islam.) Both Muslims and non-Muslims  need to realize that wavering (or ‘backsliding’ as some call it) is part of the religious experience. We all have tests, struggles and temptations.  Mine aren’t necessarily the same as someone else’s. Sometimes I fail, sometimes I succeed. If I do fail or if I’m stuck momentairly, it doesn’t mean that I’ve “left the deen” or that “I’m not Muslim anymore.” 

I’m tired of being exoticized by the media. And I’m sick of people trying to force me into a box.


14 responses to “More than a Muslim Woman

  1. Amin, amin, amin! Say it loud, sister!

  2. To a certain extent we Muslim women should take the blame, we politicise the hijab and describe it as part of our identity. The debates with non-Muslims about hijab not being oppressive but a choice is getting tiring and meaningless also.

  3. Assalaamualaikum-

    Yes, what you wrote is so true. People like to put people in boxes to control them.

    Non-Muslims do it to Muslims. Muslims do it to other Muslims especially sisters. So much of it is out of fear and the bulk of it is because a little bit of knowledge is quite dangerous.

    We have so many faux-scholars walking around spreading all types of ill -conceived crap and most of the time it is to make them feel powerful.

    Do you know how many khutbahs I have set through where people put down education, mock PhDs and a woman’s capacity to really be a revolutionary force in our communities?

    Here I am spending most of my time working my butt off in my program, maintaining my home, commuting & struggling in a society hostile to me as an African-American, a Muslim and a woman. But that’s my own rant : )

    There is nothing more beautiful than being a free-thinker. It’s sisters like you who need to be heard so don’t stop being who you are. Sisters like me appreciate your unique perspectives and all the dimensions of your person. Your humanness is what makes you beautiful, Masha’Allah.

    We have to live our lives knowing that we will make mistakes along the way but understanding who is the ultimate judge : )

    And oh yeah, the veil thing is so played. Enough is enough is enough.

  4. Great post!
    lol @ “Behind the bra”


    Women In Islam Versus Women In The Judaeo-Christian Tradition

  6. multiculturalwannabe

    Hi 🙂 great post. I agree with you. I think you would like Amartya Sen’s book “Identity & Violence” 🙂
    Anyway I just found your blog. I would like to read more of you.

    Take care!

    Hanna, 20

  7. asa.
    hmmm….spam! what a waste of energy. anyway…back to a comment from a real reader. JAK for the link to the post and article. i will have to take a look. insha Allah, all is well with you.

  8. Heh, in college, our MSA planned to submit articles to the school newspapers for Islam Awareness Week. A brother wrote the article titled “Islam Unveiled” or something along a similar line. I just about blew a gasket and proceeded into a 5 minute rant about how overused and cliched the veil reference was. Yeah, after that, brothers steared clear of me, ha.

    Me, I’m a perpetual slacker and and FUNdamentalist.

  9. Thanks Sumayyah.

    Hijabisoverrated I challenge you to a danceoff! 😉

    kaalimaat, I agree with you. Part of it is our fault . I do take hijab as part of my identity but it’s not the sum total of who I am.

    multicult., thanks for stopping by. I’m going to check into the book you referenced, insha’allah.

    muslimahlocs, ws. I deleted the spam. (Guess that one slipped past me). The video is worth watching. I think all of the women did a great job. As MMW noted, the reporters focus on hijab and why some women chose to wear it or not was tiring.

    rahmah, you’re also a Shukronline stalker. But don’t worry, I am too. 😉

  10. Hey great article. I agree with you totally—we are not flat, genric one-dimensioanlly characters. And people should regard as individuals with different personalities. But you know what hurts the most is when our own, Muslims reduce us to our hijab or lack of it. Why can’t everybody just leave us alone. And I’m not just blaming the misgonist men out there, but women too. Women who look down on others because they don’t wear the veil and women who look down on you because you wear the veil.

    This is why I love female bloggers—you speak for yourself and who you are. These are voices that us women want to hear more from— other women!

    P.S. I thought I was the only free-thinker, I’m so happy I’m not. When Muslims and non-Muslims ask me what sect of Islam I follow, I just say I’m a free-thinker, I don’t like boxes.

  11. ok, i know this is off topic but is it me or is Shukr online getting a bit out of control with their prices? 97.00 for a dress thats on sale? a regular cotton dress without much on it in terms of design? are they serious!! heck, my friends a lawyer and she buy Brooks Brothers shirts that NEVER wrinkle for 65.00 a shirt. I have shukr stuff that rips with ease, is a pain in the)&)( to iron and I’ve noticed they are using thinner fabric as the years go by.

    I understand cost go up but so has your customer base for sure. If you want to charge pimp prices then the fabric and the contruction have to be of high quality not the other way around. You wan’t Kenneth Cole, and Coach prices then you need to make products that truly reflect that price.

    ok i’m done lol

    P.S. sis you don’t want to see me in a battle. I can still up rock with the best of the b-girls and i just had a baby. lol

  12. I’m laughing out loud at “Behind the bra” and “Beneath the shirt.” Brilliant!

    Totally with you on the beyond/behind/beneath/under the veil/scarf/burqa – it is getting SO old. Some girls at my university were running a student-directed course this year on representations of Middle Eastern women, and they called it “Behind the veil” (or along those lines…) I told them they should have called it “Get over the veil” instead 😉

  13. I definitely agree with “multiculturalwannabe”, you should read Amartya Sen’s “Identity & Violence” — I am quite sure you will find it interesting.


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