These Muslim Women Are Breaking Musical Barriers While Covered
This troupe of Muslim women hip-hop dancers who wears niqab and high-tops and wants to change accepted narratives about Islam and Muslim-Americans in the United States. They are aptly called, 'We're Muslim, Don't Panic'.
The hip-hop group is led by hip-hop dancer and choreographer Amirah Sackett.
In a recent interview with Bust, the Chicago-based teacher says her group's dance routines, which has been featured in music videos for rapper Brother Ali, and combines hip-hop with modern dance, "are about flipping the script."
"I wanted to educate others and reflect the beauty that I know and love in Muslim women," she told the magazine. "Yes, there are oppressed women in the Muslim world. Women are oppressed the world over. These are our mutual struggles."
Amirah hopes to empower Muslim-American women and girls who experience discrimination. And truly so, at one performance for a middle school audience, a young girl screamed out, "You are beautiful!" at Amirah and her group.
"She saw us in the abaya, niqaabs, and headscarves, and she loved us before we even moved. After the performance, she came on stage and hugged me, and told me she was from Saudi Arabia. She had seen the image of her family and country and she loved it. She had so much pride," Amirah told Bust, recalling the event.
Watch their impressive hip-hop dance routine to Brother Ali's "Tight Rope" below.
Skip to 01:10 for the actual dance routine.
Then there's 'The Hijabi Chronicles', a hip-hop collective of Muslim women in the United States taking on stereotypes about being Muslim, and women — one rhyme at a time
The group's founder Alia Sharrief and other artists associated with it make it a point to address current issues, particularly as they relate to matters of race and gender.
The objective of the group, Alia explained to AJ+, is to convey that Muslim women belong in hip-hop, even if the genre has traditionally been male-dominated as well as generally frowned upon in more conservative corners of the Muslim community.
"We're knowledgeable, we have rhymes, we have soul, and we have something to say."
Back in 2014 in a feature on Muslimah Montage, an online platform for Muslim women, Alia wrote, "I rhyme about helping people, protesting, speaking up for humanity, having dignity, and self-respect, to say the least." You can read the full post here.
Watch The Hijabi Chronicles in action below:
Next is 42-year-old Gisele Marie, a badass Muslim woman, who plays heavy metal — while covered from head to toe in burqa — on a pink-polka-dot Gibson Flying V electric guitar
A granddaughter of German Catholics, Gisele converted to Islam in 2009 a few months after her father passed away. She grew up in a house of instruments, trained in classical piano, and has fronted the heavy metal band "Spectrus" since 2012, reports Reuters.
Speaking of wearing the burqa, which is a constant reminder of Allah for her, Marie says it has made her more reflective in her everyday life.
"People do not expect to see a Muslim woman who uses a burqa, practises the religion properly and is a professional guitarist who plays in a heavy metal band, so many people are shocked by it," said Marie, as her burqa has spurred a mixed reaction. "But other people are curious and find it interesting."
While speaking to MailOnline, the burqa wearing, guitar shredder said, "I do not care about people looking at me because I wear the niqab, but I hope that people understand that Islam is just my religion and music is my profession, and indeed these two things are only my personal characteristics."
Watch Gisele play her Gibson guiter below:
The last but certainly not the least is 14-year-old Stephanie Kurlow. She's an aspiring ballerina and the only thing setting her apart from every other ballet dancer is her hijab.
Stephanie plans to become the world’s first ballerina in a hijab.
She started training as a ballerina at the mere age of two and has showcased her talents at the Riverside Theater until five years ago when her family converted to Islam.
While it was hard to merge ballet with her new religious path, still "everything made sense for me in Islam," she says. "I like to be modest and I like to keep my dignity. I like to know the purpose of my life. I like to live a healthy lifestyle and avoid harmful things."
While there are haters, both within and outside the Muslim community, who say that Muslims shouldn’t dance, Stephanie now practices 30 hours a week at her mother's performing arts academy called the Australian Nasheed & Arts Academy, which caters to Muslims, minorities and other people who simply want to dress modestly.
"There no one questions children why they dress or look a certain way," Stephanie said.
"[The hijab] is a part of who I am, and represents the beautiful religion that I love. If people have the right to dress down, then I have the right to dress up. I believe [the hijab] covers my body, but not my mind, heart, and talent," she was quoted as saying.
Watch the Hijab-wearing ballerina in action below:
The women listed above are may be covered, but as this Instagram hashtag puts it, they are covered in freedom <3
Inspiring, right? Do share it with your circle of family and friends to let them know about these amazing Muslim women breaking barriers with their incredible talents.
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