"Somewhere in America" is a new music video out by Sheikh and Bake productions made by Abbas Rattani and Habib Yazdi, showing the diversity of how Muslim women choose to wear the hijab. The video seems to have caused a bit of a backlash within the conservative Muslim community so I wanted to give my opinions on it. The background song playing is off Magna Carta Holy Grail by Jay Z, and it depicts Muslim women doing a bit of everything, all the while wearing headscarves. I love the video for a variety of reasons, including the fact that I'm a Mipster, so let me get started.
The video depicts a diverse group of Muslim women who choose to wear a hijab, and truly "own" it. Some of them do so while in designer clothes and high heels, others wear loose dresses, and some don fencing gear. The video is geared towards female empowerment even though the general sentiment about a hijab is that it is a form of oppression. You can still dance, ride a motorcycle, skateboard, and just have fun with your friends without having to compromise your beliefs. For that, I applaud all of these girls and those who helped create it.
The visualization in the video is also amazing, which shows a group of women who are presenting themselves as they are. It's showing that Muslim women are normal women. All of the women here are doing something to break stereotypes about their hijab by doing something unexpected of a veiled woman. Most people wouldn't know that Muslim women are doing any of these things unless they are in tune with the Muslimah culture.
Beyond that, it's a symbol for how the hijab is not something easy to define or represent. For some women it's a decree, to others a struggle, and to some a joy. Veiled women represent nations, ideologies, identities, struggles, and experience, so it's a true testament to not judging a book by its cover. It forces you to analyze it before passing judgment.
Another great thing about the video is that it highlights Muslims, not Islam, which is something that is usually seen as one, but could not be further from the truth. There are books, lectures, and debates that you can find about the religion, but they're not celebrating Muslims as individuals. That's the real point of the video to me.
The choice of the song was one of my favorite aspects of it all despite its reasoning eluding people. People are judging it because it's by a rapper, Jay Z, but if you actually listen to the lyrics it actually makes a lot of sense. The song is a social critique on racism, racial stereotypes, and classism. What Jay Z is literally trying to tell people is "You didn't want me here, but look I'm here anyway and I'm doing good," and "Miley Cyrus is still twerking" is talking about how even your daughters want to be like us. So if your daughters want to be like us, then how can you be racist against us? The song selection was perfect.
Personally, I feel a video like this should be appreciated because it's allowing these women to be represented in the way they want. It sheds a playful light on everyday Muslim women, and takes away from the black and white idea of a woman who wears a hijab versus one who doesn't. It's asking us to take a deeper look into how we view Muslim women, and that is something we need to start a bigger discussion about. This is a remarkable display of various identities that embrace themselves, are empowered, and know what Islam means to them. So take a peek with an open mind, and prepare to be entertained!
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