internet culture

What does it mean to be a modern Muslim woman? A website offers some hints

Speaking the language of the current generation, MuslimGirl.com fights stereotypes.

The cartoons narrate Ramzan experiences that are recognisable the world over: like, when fasters are ignorantly asked if they forgo food to lose weight, or when they get halitosis from not drinking water, or the guilty pleasure they feel at eating twice after dark. There’s a universality to the illustrations but also a sharpness.

Created by the British-Bangladeshi illustrator Nasima Ahmed, the series was commissioned by MuslimGirl.com, the top web publication for Muslim women in the US. The women in the illustrations speak the same language as MuslimGirl and its young readers: on the site, for instance, the sections are called #Blessed, #Problem, #Lit (for literature), and #Fierce.

While #Blessed is a repository of information on what Islam means to a modern Muslim, #Problem is a registry of hate crimes against Muslims in the US and reportage on campaigns underway to combat this problem. Over the years, it has published stories on gay imams, and anti-black racism in the Muslim community.

We've all been there in #Ramadan 💀 Part of the Muslim Girl X @moosleemargh #MGRamadan series ❤

A post shared by Muslim Girl (@muslimgirl) on

The website was started in 2009 as a project in the bedroom of Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, then a teenager, with blog posts by her friends at the mosque and her own thoughts on what being a Muslim girl in an American high school meant.

“Growing up, I felt so alienated by society for my religion that I would lie about being a Muslim,” said Al-Khatahtbeh, in an interview to Teen Vogue. “Starting MuslimGirl was not only my response to the lack of accurate representation of Muslims in the media – it also became my way of asserting my narrative as an American Muslim to the public and reclaiming my identity.”

With more than 55,000 followers on Instagram and over one lakh followers on Facebook, Al-Khatahtbeh has come some way in achieving her goal. The articles on her MuslimGirl.com simplify the concepts of “fatwa” (religious rulings in accordance to Islam), halal and explore the area of halal fashion. It recently collaborated with an American beauty brand to create halal-certified nail polish for Muslim women.

Al-Khatahtbeh was aware that in post-9/11 America, the words Muslim and terrorist had become coupled in the minds of some Americans. Just nine at the time the Twin Towers crashed, she was ostracised by friends – but instead of getting embittered, she resolved to redefine the narrative of what it meant to be Muslim, and years later, started Muslimgirl.com way to explore the experiences of Muslims in US.

“We feel a threat to our lives every time we step out of the house,” said Al-Khatahtbeh in an interview to Stylelikeu.com. “Airports are a ‘humiliation’ and subways are filled with potential harassers.”

Over the years, the MuslimGirl team has combated Islamophobia innovatively. Shortly after the 2015 attack on the office of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, Pamela Geller, an American anti-Islam campaigner, organised an exhibition of offensive drawings of what people associate with the name Muhammad. So, MuslimGirl decided to help Geller.

“We thought, why not push back against the hate – with love?” says the MuslimGirl team. “Muhammad is the most common name in the world. Chances are that all know a Muhammad. So, let’s draw Muhammad. Let’s honour his diversity. Let’s celebrate his many different faces. Let’s elevate his humanity. In a bleak world where the Pamela Gellers are the ones with the mic, let’s shine some light on the good. The result was people drawing funny little portraits of their friends and colleagues.”

Play

This Ramzan, MuslimGirl published several explainers – such as, how to give zakat – and a series titled “30 Outfits in 30 Days” that showcased Muslim fashion designers and brands.

In October 2016, Al-Khatahtbeh released her memoir, titled Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age. The writer Forbes in an interview that the book’s goal was to have “Muslim girls’ eyes ‘brighten up’ when they saw they were represented on a bookshelf, a sight rarely seen. But also make accessible to non-Muslims, the humanity of Muslims living in the US.”

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Get ready for an 80-hour shopping marathon

Here are some tips that’ll help you take the lead.

Starting 16th July at 4:00pm, Flipkart will be hosting its Big Shopping Days sale over 3 days (till 19th July). This mega online shopping event is just what a sale should be, promising not just the best discounts but also buying options such as no cost EMIs, buyback guarantee and product exchanges. A shopping festival this big, packed with deals that you can’t get yourself to refuse, can get overwhelming. So don’t worry, we’re here to tell you why Big Shopping Days is the only sale you need, with these helpful hints and highlights.

Samsung Galaxy On Nxt (64 GB)

A host of entertainment options, latest security features and a 13 MP rear camera that has mastered light come packed in sleek metal unibody. The sale offers an almost 40% discount on the price. Moreover, there is a buyback guarantee which is part of the deal.

Original price: Rs. 17,900

Big Shopping Days price: Rs. 10,900

Samsung 32 inches HD Ready LED TV

Another blockbuster deal in the sale catalogue is this audio and visual delight. Apart from a discount of 41%, the deal promises no-cost EMIs up to 12 months.

Original price: Rs. 28,890

Big Shopping Days price: Rs. 10,900

Intel Core I3 equipped laptops

These laptops will make a thoughtful college send-off gift or any gift for that matter. Since the festive season is around the corner, you might want to make use of this sale to bring your A-game to family festivities.

Original price: Rs. 25,590

Big Shopping Days price: Rs. 21,900

Fashion

If you’ve been planning a mid-year wardrobe refresh, Flipkart’s got you covered. The Big Shopping Days offer 50% to 80% discount on men’s clothing. You can pick from a host of top brands including Adidas and Wrangler.

With more sale hours, Flipkart’s Big Shopping Days sale ensures we can spend more time perusing and purchasing these deals. Apart from the above-mentioned products, you can expect up to 80% discount across categories including mobiles, appliances, electronics, fashion, beauty, home and furniture.

Features like blockbuster deals that are refreshed every 8 hours along with a price crash, rush hour deals from 4-6 PM on the starting day and first-time product discounts makes this a shopping experience that will have you exclaiming “Sale ho to aisi! (warna na ho)”

Set your reminders and mark your calendar, Flipkart’s Big Shopping Days starts 16th July, 4 PM and end on 19th July. To participate in 80 hours of shopping madness, click here.

Play

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Flipkart and not by the Scroll editorial team.