THE VIBRANT WORLD OF MUSLIM FASHION

A must-see show at the Cooper Hewitt celebrates these exquisite designs

BY WENDY MOONAN

Muslim fashion is big business. Statistics from a 2016-2017 report by Thomson Reuters and DinarStandard, a global strategy firm that focuses on the Muslim market reports that Muslim women spent $44 billion on fashion that year, which represented 18 percent of the total estimated $243 billion spent by all Muslims on all clothing. By 2024, DinarStandard estimates, Muslim consumers will spend $402 billion.

Before it closes on July 11, try to catch “Contemporary Muslim Fashions,” an exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City. Not only are there dozens of gorgeous shimmery brocade, silk and satin gowns from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Middle East and Europe, but also hip hop-inspired contemporary sportswear, videos of interviews with young women Muslim designers (half under the age of 40) and fashion videos. There are examples of haute couture that Westerners like Karl Lagerfeld, Valentino and Oscar de la Renta adapted for their Middle Eastern clients, and affordable dresses sold at Macy’s and Uniqlo. The show is the last stop on a tour that began in San Francisco and then moved to Frankfurt. And sadly, though the museum just reopened June 10, the show is only on view for just a month at its final New York City stop.

It is an important show. “Contemporary Muslim Fashions” is the first major museum exhibition to focus on contemporary Muslim dress around the world—and it’s long overdue.

The origin of the show was kismet.

“It was one of the things I had in mind before coming to San Francisco in 2016,” says Max Hollein, the Austrian curator who became director of the de Young/Legion of Honor Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco that year, where the show originated. (Hollein is now director of the Met.) “It was the first time I was at an institution with a textiles collection, and because I had gone to Tehran a lot as director of the Sta[umlaut]del Museum in Frankfurt and spent considerable time in Istanbul and seen very fashionable women there, I got interested in Muslim dress codes.” (His wife, the Austrian architect Nina Hollein, is a fashion designer who founded her own label, NinaHollein, in 2009.)

FULL ARTICLE FROM SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE

History of women’s rights in Islam

Women’s rights have been a controversial topic throughout history. In Islam, men and women have similar rights, and in some areas women actually enjoy certain privileges that the men do not. In terms of property, married and divorced women have been given rights, and in fact at each turn they have been considered and provided for as appropriate. It is true to say that Islam gave women rights that are unparalleled in the history of women.

Prophet Muhammad said, “A person who is blessed with a daughter or daughters and makes no discrimination between them and his sons and brings them up with kindness and affection, will be as close to me in Paradise as my forefinger and middle finger are to each other.”

The Holy Quran repeatedly proclaims men and women’s equality in spiritual status: “But who so does good works, whether male or female, and is a believer, such shall enter Heaven.” (Ch.4: V.125)

Regarding education for girls, Prophet Muhammad said: “It is the duty of every Muslim man and every Muslim woman to acquire knowledge.” On the economic front, Islam entitles women to possess money, property and other assets.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE PITTSBURG POST-GAZETTE

History of women’s rights in Islam

Women’s rights have been a controversial topic throughout history. In Islam, men and women have similar rights, and in some areas women actually enjoy certain privileges that the men do not. In terms of property, married and divorced women have been given rights, and in fact at each turn they have been considered and provided for as appropriate. It is true to say that Islam gave women rights that are unparalleled in the history of women.

Prophet Muhammad said, “A person who is blessed with a daughter or daughters and makes no discrimination between them and his sons and brings them up with kindness and affection, will be as close to me in Paradise as my forefinger and middle finger are to each other.”

The Holy Quran repeatedly proclaims men and women’s equality in spiritual status: “But who so does good works, whether male or female, and is a believer, such shall enter Heaven.” (Ch.4: V.125)

Regarding education for girls, Prophet Muhammad said: “It is the duty of every Muslim man and every Muslim woman to acquire knowledge.” On the economic front, Islam entitles women to possess money, property and other assets.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE POST-GAZETTE (PITTSBURG)

Young Muslim women are leading environmental movements grounded in their beliefs

Weeks prior to the lockdowns and closures that came with the COVID-19 pandemic, UN Secretary General António Guterres said 2020 would be a “pivotal year for how we address climate change.”

Revamped emission goals were expected from 196 countries, but with international meetings postponed due to the pandemic, the stark reality is that 2020 is one of the hottest years recorded.

Widespread action based on a deep connection between people and the Earth may be the space of hope. In researching what motivates Muslim women to connect with the Earth and lead environmental activism, I’ve discovered courage and deep conviction to be driving forces.

Young Muslim women are transcending boundaries to create spaces of activism. Their efforts are acts of worship that integrate social and political realities.

Islam and eco-consciousness

Historically, Muslim scholars coupled their study of nature to their understanding of Allah (God). The Qur’an articulates how eco-consciousness permeates every aspect of life and explains nature as a complete, complex, interconnected and interdependent system. It highlights the importance of recognizing and preserving the mizan, or balance.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CONVERSATION

Who are you calling ‘vulnerable’? Muslim women and inclusive humanitarianism

Ahmed Al-Dawoody

Saman Rejali

In generalizing groups as homogenously ‘vulnerable’, we risk closing our eyes to existing spheres of power, diversity and capacity that exist among populations affected by armed conflict and other situations of violence. By going beyond broad monolithic categorizations and instead accounting for the specific needs, risks and capacities of affected people through an intersectional framework, we can tailor our humanitarian activities and include affected populations as active agents with dimensions beyond their vulnerability. In this post, Ahmed Al-Dawoody, the legal adviser for Islamic law and jurisprudence at the ICRC, and Saman Rejali, Thematic Editor at the International Review of the Red Cross, explore intersectionality between gender and Islam, drawing on the works of prominent Islamic female scholars and leaders to profile how Muslim women affected by conflict go beyond the mould of ‘vulnerable women’ and exercise power and agency over their lives.

There is a shared concern in the humanitarian sector, which has almost evolved into a mantra: we must protect ‘vulnerable groups, particularly women and children‘ and uphold the rights of ‘the most vulnerable‘ in compliance with international humanitarian law.

The aim is commendable: let us be of service to those who need it the most and designate our resources accordingly. However, it is time to be more specific about how we use the label of vulnerability, and in so doing engage in more inclusive humanitarian action by considering the specific perspectives, abilities and needs of the affected people we aim to serve. What sets women apart from children? Are all women and children equally vulnerable? How about women — do they all face the same needs? And — more to the point of this post — what about Muslim women in armed conflicts and other situations of violence: should they be lumped together as homogenously vulnerable, or should we instead look to them as the agents of their own lives and follow their lead?

FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIEFWEB INTERNATIONAL

Muslim Women don’t need saving

Gendered Islamophobia in Europe

Upon declaring a Global War on Terror in 2001, the US administration claimed that the “fight against terrorism was also a fight for the rights and dignity of women”. In the years that followed, western political discourse regularly referred to the need to “free” apparently oppressed Muslim women from the shackles of their religion and way of life, reviving political and societal debates about head coverings, integration, gender equality, secularism, and neutrality.

Relying on Islamophobic stereotypes, and with no regard for the rights to freedom of expression or freedom of religion, laws and policies were introduced in a number of European countries, which banned the hijab and/ or niqab. In perhaps the most flagrent example of just how entrenched Islamophobia has become, European states, in effect, began legislating on Muslim women’s bodies, dictating which clothes they could or could not wear.

Download the full report here.

In the post 9/11 era, political discourse increasingly pointed towards an apparent incompatibility between what it is to be European and what it is to be Muslim; it seemed impossible to be both. Although anti-Muslim rhetoric has implications for all Muslims, much of the legislation rolled out and the policies implemented either specifically target, or disproportionately affect, Muslim women.

Much can be said about the increased policing of Muslims collectively and the systematic targeting of Islamic places of worship, but Muslim women, in particular, have borne the brunt of state led, racist laws and policies. Those who wear head coverings and Islamic attire are easily identifiable and have thus become easy targets. Following bans on Islamic dress, Muslim women have found themselves increasingly vulnerable and exposed to gendered Islamophobic attacks, while their rights to religious freedom, freedom of expression, equality and non-discrimination have been sidelined or ignored. Attacks motivated predominantly by religion and gender have largely been normalised.

FULL ARTICLE FROM TNI.ORG

Marvel’s first on-screen Muslim superhero — Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel’s alter-ego — inspires big hopes

Amid the stress of a rising second wave of COVID-19, comic book fans found something to celebrate this September. Marvel Studios announced the casting of its first on-screen Muslim superhero, Kamala Khan, the alter-ego of Ms. Marvel.

Much like Canadian teen actress Iman Vellani who was plucked for this role, Kamala has been a virtual unknown outside of comic fandom despite being a sensation since her series debut at the top of comic book sales charts in 2014.

It should be no surprise then that Marvel Studios decided to capitalize on this success and signed Kamala for her own TV series on Disney+ for an anticipated debut in late 2021 or early 2022.

As a researcher who has examined Muslim superheroes in American comics, I find Kamala to be the most intriguing of all American Muslim superheroes. She has an ability to destabilize stereotypes of Muslims while reinforcing ideas about American exceptionalism. In the hands of different writers in various comic iterations, she has appeared as multi-dimensional and stereotype-breaking, but also as a one-dimensional figure that advances Islamophobic themes.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CONVERSATION

‘Muslim Women Are Everything’ Turns the Page on Stereotypes

Dr. Seema Yasmin’s book, born from her frustration with narrow, one-sided narratives about Muslim women, breaks apart tired old tropes.

Francesca Donner

By Francesca Donner

  • Published Nov. 23, 2020Updated Nov. 24, 2020, 11:51 a.m. ET

— Dr. Seema Yasmin, author of “Muslim Women Are Everything”


Tahani Amer, an engineer who grew up in the suburbs of Cairo, endured a string of rejections before she finally secured a job with NASA’s Aeronautical Research program.

Marah Zahalka, Noor Daoud and Mona Ennab — members of the Speed Sisters, an all-female car racing team based in the Palestinian territories — defy expectations with every race they win.

ADVERTISEMENTContinue reading the main storyhttps://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Gisele Marie Rocha is the unexpected face, in a niqab and burqa, behind Eden Seed, a thrash metal band in Brazil.

Tahani Amer dreamed of becoming an engineer. She is now at NASA.
Tahani Amer dreamed of becoming an engineer. She is now at NASA.Credit…Fahmida Azim

These women are validation of the premise behind Dr. Seema Yasmin’s new book — that Muslim women can be anything. The book, “Muslim Women Are Everything,” was released earlier this year.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES

For Muslim Women in Niqabs, the Pandemic Has Brought a New Level of Acceptance

“People now see that covering your face is a symbol of safety and protection.”

Things feel different for one Baltimore-area Muslim woman lately when she shops at her local Trader Joe’s. A Muslim woman who observes niqab—aace veil that masks her nose and mouth—she has noticed fewer people giving her looks, probably because they’re covering their own faces too. “There’s less staring and hateful comments,” she said. “Before, as a niqabi, I would stick out. With the mandatory face masks, niqabis are being more accepted.”

For Muslim women accustomed to being the only people in their communities covering their faces in public, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought an unexpected, and welcome, change. A niqab is different from a CDC-endorsed face mask, and worn for a different purpose, but it now stands out far less—and the women who embrace niqab may have reason to hope it will continue to be more accepted even when the pandemic is over.

For those who observe niqab, it is considered to be an act of devotion to God, and a form of modesty and protection. They are a more common sight in Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and have been a cultural flash point in France, where they remain banned in public even as COVID mask laws have gone into effect. Even as American Muslims become more visible in Congress and in pop culture, Islamic attire like the niqab or a burqa can carry a stigma.

“The attitude of most people is of repulsion toward this piece of cloth,” the Baltimore-area woman said. “They view it as unnecessary, scary-looking, ultra-orthodox, and oppressive. I’ve always felt isolated, judged, and uncomfortable wearing it. Just like with everything, this current pandemic has changed things for niqabis, veiled-face women.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM VANITY FAIR

What ‘Hala’ gets right and wrong about growing up Muslim in America

c5709340-98b6-4391-ac0c-d04c21af442e-Hala_Unit_Photo_06Disclaimer: I don’t speak for all Muslim-Americans, but I can say that at least a good amount of us are tired of seeing the stereotypical Muslim girl portrayed over and over again.

And that’s exactly what “Hala” does.

Minhal Baig’s new film (in theaters Friday in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Columbus, Ohio, and Louisville, Kentucky; streaming Dec. 6 on Apple TV+) focuses on a first-generation, 17-year-old Pakistani-American girl of the same name (played by Geraldine Viswanathan) whose conservative parents expect her to marry a nice Muslim boy. Her parents had an arranged marriage, don’t want her hanging out with boys because reputation, her mom practically forces her to pray, but Hala is a “rebel.” She falls for the white boy in her class, goes out at all hours of the night with him and eats non-halal meat (halal meat is prepared according to Islamic law, kind of like kosher).

Surprise.

FULL ARTICLE FROM USA TODAY