"Somewhere In America," these fierce and fly Muslim girls rule the urban landscape on skateboards, in high heels, and in hijabs, to the beat of a Jay-Z soundtrack.
They're "mipsterz," or Muslim hipsters, according to the Facebook page, which describes them, among other things, as:
A Mipster is someone who seeks inspiration from the Islamic tradition of divine scriptures, volumes of knowledge, mystical poets, bold prophets, inspirational politicians, esoteric Imams, and our fellow human beings searching for transcendental states of consciousness. A Mipster is an ironic identity, one that serves more as a perpetual critique of oneself and of society.
Reactions have been mixed, with some finding the video problematic for its focus on the appearance of the fashion-forward women that star in the film, among other reasons.
I am not here to pass judgment on anyone, whether it is a woman who struts the streets with no clothes or a woman who walks in black from head to toe. But I am here to judge a trend that is pairing “swag,” “hijab,” and empowerment in a tightly wrapped bundle that conceals what hijab truly encompasses. The women in this video are strong and demand respect. The trends this video echoes are not. -Fatima Waseem
The process of creating ‘normal’ is also stripping us, especially women, away from central parts of our faith. The Mipsterz video is hard to stomach for so many because it throws the increasing Islamofashionista culture into your face. Catwalk ready, catwalk strut and catwalk ‘tude seem so antithetical to what we know and expect, sometimes zealously, as Islamic modesty. This isn’t about policing what we wear and how or about casting judgment, but about the sort of culture we’re creating for Muslim women’s dress that is no diferrent than the images and lifestyles sans hijab we criticize. -Sana Saeed
The use of Jay-Z's uncensored lyrics has also been criticized, though a clean version has also been released.
But others are applauding it for its aesthetic beauty and depiction of Muslim women as modest, cool, and fun. It paints a picture of American Islam which isn't often seen, despite its reality.
Twitter is abuzz over the #Mipsterz conversation, and some are urging others not to pass judgement so quickly.
One response to the video comes from one of the girls actually in it, Noor Tagouri, who wrote on Facebook:
I enjoyed seeing the cool senses of fashion and recognizing faces of people who I admire. I get it. This song isn't exactly appropriate, and I do believe the song choice is the main reason many people were thrown off about it. If it's the way girls are dressed in their hijab, then, you really need to just accept the fact that hijab is a personal choice and everyone interprets it differently. Would it have been better to see an even MORE array of hijabis? Probably. But the video came out and though there was/is much criticism, there is also a lot of good feedback, esp from people who viewed hijab as "oppressive" and disempowering. So, I've decided to take the positive from this video and leave the negative.
And starting meaningful conversations is always worthwhile.
Here's to a voice in full color, to the rich tapestry of our collective experience, to the embraces and the rejections and all that lies between. Here's to a space brimming with the music and verse of a thousand cultures. Here’s to fostering a sincere, loving, caring community who values you beyond the company logo on your business card (if you even have one). A network of Muslim hipsters who come and learn and grow together, and sometimes just kick back and chill for a while as we style out and let our amazing energy fill the world with awesome. -Mipsterz
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Nusayba was of one of the first advocates for the rights of Muslim women. Notably, she asked the Prophet Muhammad, "Why does God only address men (in the Quran)?" Soon after this exchange, the Prophet received a revelation in Chapter 33, Verse 35 that mentions women can attain every quality to which men have access. The verse also conclusively settled that women stand on the same spiritual level as men. She was viewed as a visionary who transcended her own generation.
Rab'ia al-Adawiyya (Iraq, 717-801 C.E.)
Rab'ia was an eighth century Sufi saint who set forth the doctrine of "Divine Love." Rab'ia was born into a poor family, orphaned at a young age and was eventually sold into slavery. One night, while her owner witnessed her bowing in prayer, a lamp hung above her head without support, so he freed her. When asked why she walked down the street with a bucket of water in one hand and a lit candle in the other, she replied, "I want to set fire to heaven with this flame and put out the fire of hell with this water so that people will cease to worship GOD for fear of hell or for temptation of heaven. One must love GOD as GOD is Love." She is widely considered to be the most important of the early Sufi poets.
Fatima al-Fihri (Morocco, unknown-880 C.E.)
Fatima was the founder of the oldest degree-granting university in the world. After inheriting a large fortune, she wanted to devote her money to pious work that would benefit the community. Thus, with her wealth she built the Al Qarawiyyin mosque. From the 10th to 12th century, the mosque developed into a university -- Al Qarawiyyin University. Today, the Guinness Book of World Records and UNESCO recognize this university to be the oldest continuously operating institution of higher education in the world.
Sultan Raziyya (India, 1205-1240)
Sultan Raziyya was the Sultan of Delhi from 1236 to 1240. She refused to be addressed as Sultana because it meant "wife or mistress of a sultan" and only answered to the title "Sultan." As she solidified her power, she believed that appropriating a masculine image would help her maintain control. So she dressed like a man and wore a turban, trousers, coat and sword. Contrary to custom, she appeared unveiled in public. Sultan Raziyya was known for her belief that the spirit of religion is more important than its parts. She established schools, academies, centers for research and public libraries. Photo: Students of Sultan Razia Girls School in 2002.
Nana Asma'u (Nigeria, 1793-1864)
Nana was a princess, poet and teacher. She was fluent in Arabic, Fulfulde, Hausa and Tamacheq and well versed in Arabic, Greek and Latin classics. In 1830, she formed a group of female teachers who journeyed throughout the region to educate women in poor and rural regions. With the republication of her works, that underscore women's education, she has become a rallying point for African women. Today, in northern Nigeria, Islamic women's organizations, schools and meeting halls are frequently named in her honor. (Photo: Fula women.)
Laleh Bakhtiar (USA, 1938-Present)
Laleh's Quran translation, "The Sublime Quran" (2007), is the first translation of the Quran into English by an American woman. Her translation incorporates alternative meanings to Arabic terms that are ambiguous or whose meaning scholars have had to guess due to the antiquity of the language. Notably, her translation of Chapter 4, Verse 34 has gained a lot of attention. She translates the Arabic word <em>daraba</em> as "go away" instead of the common "beat" or "hit." Her Quran translation is used in many mosques and universities and has been adopted by Prince Ghazi Bin Muhammad of Jordan.
Shirin Ebadi (Iran, 1947-Present)
In 2003, Shirin became the first Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. As a judge in Iran, she was the first woman to achieve Chief Justice status. However, she was dismissed from this position after the 1979 Revolution. As a lawyer, Shirin has taken on many controversial cases and in result, has been arrested numerous times. Her activism has been predicated on her view that, "An interpretation of Islam that is in harmony with equality and democracy is an authentic expression of faith. It is not religion that binds women, but the selective dictates of those who wish them cloistered."
Dr. Amina Wadud (USA, 1952-Present)
In 2005, Amina was the first female imam to lead a mixed-congregation prayer. This act caused a shock wave to run throughout the Islamic world. Some viewed it as an awakening and a return to the equalitarian way of Islam. Others viewed it as an offensive innovation. According to Amina, "The radical notion that women are full human beings is already inscribed in Islam by our notion of <em>tawhid</em>. So the binary that tries to give women less than full human dignity is transformed into a relationship of equality and reciprocity." Despite individuals' views on the subject, she has created a platform where diverse Muslim views can be voiced.
Daisy Khan (USA, 1958-Present)
In 2005, Daisy founded the Women's Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE), the only cohesive, global movement of Muslim women around the world that works to reclaim women's rights in Islam using a human rights and social-justice based framework. Further, in 2008, Daisy spearheaded the creation of the Global Muslim Women's Shura Council, which is comprised of eminent Muslim women scholars, activists and lawyers from 26 countries. The Council's statements have informed numerous university curriculums and legal opinions. Daisy is viewed as a credible, humane and equitable voice within the global Muslim community.
Anousheh Ansari (USA, 1966-Present)
In 2006, Anousheh became the first Muslim woman in space. When asked about what she hoped to achieve on her spaceflight, she said, "I hope to inspire everyone -- especially young people, women and young girls all over the world and in Middle Eastern countries that do not provide women with the same opportunities as men -- to not give up their dreams and to pursue them. ... It may seem impossible to them at times. But I believe they can realize their dreams if they keep it in their hearts, nurture it, and look for opportunities and make those opportunities happen."