By HIBBA MAHMUD
April 3, 2017
“Instead of placing an emphasis on the physical beauty of Muslim women why not make a video that showcases Muslim women of intellect, thought, and character or celebrate their own intellect and character while not capitalizing on the hijab?”
By now, I’m sure we have all seen the video posted by Mona Haydar, a poet, activist and Islamic spiritualist. The purpose of her music video is to celebrate the hijab and hijabis in general.
The lyrics are saying “wrap my hijab” and that Muslim women are always wearing the hijab no matter what obstacles they face–and they look fabulous doing it. It is similar to a Muslim version of a song by Willow Smith (Whip My Hair)
This video has been met with a lot of praise along with criticism as many women find it offensive and contradictory to what the hijab means according to them. Many people seem to question how this video relates to the struggles of a Muslim woman and if it actually highlights the significance of the valuable work those women are doing.
In my belief, the video seems like a distasteful and cheap attempt to normalize the hijab for the mainstream and promote a “hipster” vibe to the hijab. The lyrics are subpar and, apart from the fact that it is an extremely uncomfortable music video featuring an expressionless woman stroking her pregnant belly as she “raps”.
Many people seem to question how this video relates to the struggles of a Muslim woman and if it actually highlights the significance of the valuable work those women are doing.
The video seems to be praising hijabis for being different yet they are simply conforming to the standards of society in the process. Perhaps, this is a tool to change the meaning of the hijab in the current day, but it is not the best approach to change it.
Wrap My Hijab was released around Muslim Women’s Day which is a day to celebrate Muslim women. Instead of placing an emphasis on the physical beauty of Muslim women why not make a video that showcases Muslim women of intellect, thought, and character or celebrate their own intellect and character while not capitalizing on the hijab?
Muslim Women have pioneered throughout history being some of the greatest warriors, scholars, and thinkers, including Mona. Yet she created poor quality music, rapping about hijabis and how much “swag” we have. It seems to be marketing the hijab in a way that only promotes external beauty and swagger.
Although the video is supposed to represent Muslim women, it seems to highlight the “aesthetically pleasing” version of hijabi women. A version of hijab that is profitable and artistic. One where the hijab is being appropriated and changed to fit a standard of beauty and relevance, that may not necessarily emphasize the actual meaning of hijab.
This version of hijab is seemingly promoting beauty and aesthetics rather than promoting the character and intellect behind the hijab. People should know that the hijab is not simply an “artistic scarf” but there are a lot of principles that encompass it.
We can sit here and say that we need to stop defining hijab and stop telling Muslim women what to do, but let’s be real: Islam provides guidelines to both men and women on how to act.
The purpose of this article is not to speak from an Islamic perspective, rather if a rap video on Muslim women is bad and promotes a message that a large portion of Muslim women don’t agree with, it should be criticized and addressed.
How can we promote that we are different when we are selling ourselves like a commodity conforming to the same standards that all women are held by?
Is this video any different than Gigi Hadid wearing hijab on the cover of Vogue Arabia to look exotic and artistic?
I’m sure these women in the video are all intelligent, talented individuals and by no means should they restrict themselves. However, we need to stop promoting Muslim women just for the sake of being hijabi Muslim women. It’s not about the hijab, it’s about the person under it.
While the whole world keeps focusing on our hijab, why not take attention away from it and to our capabilities as strong Muslim women?
*This article was edited since publishing on April 4th, 2017 12:15 PM*