Resurfacing to share this glorious image:

Despite her satin tights, even Wonder Woman has bad hijab days!

Even Wonder Woman has bad hijab days!

The December #20 issue of Sensation Comics features our badass heroine representing the Justice League on a space ship traveling to the first human settlement on Venus. She arrives straight from a relief mission on Earth, saving children in the Punjab from raging floods.

Natch, she’s still wearing her dupatta and baggy kurta pants. Because, you know… she’s awesome:


Once introduced, she soon realizes that she’s not only battling Venician monsters, but sexism served with a condescending tone of misogyny.  The leader of the ship “welcomes” her by lamenting the fact he got her instead of Superman.


“Nice boots….”

I finished the final zip on my knee-high leather boots and stood up to an incredibly friendly smile greeting me in the middle of the regular post-Jummah shoe chaos. While being jostled and pushed, I smiled back and said thank you — vaguely distracted as women and children dove in between us to claim their shoes before rushing over to the community lobby for veggie samosas and hot chai.

With one eye on Ivy as she struggled to put on her shoes (on opposite feet, and emphatically by herself!), my new friend and I briefly spoke about where I got my boots and how they looked “steampunk.” Which, covered in rivets and a classic Victorian brass heel, is exactly the style I’m wearing these days.

Of course, the topic of my boots and the random recognition of my favourite neo-Victorian genre, made this the most exciting conversation I’d had at the mosque in a very long time. And was an instant spark of light after a previously long string of negative experiences.

Especially seeing as I was just about on my way out the door. Fully prepared to add this mosque to my growing list of places to which I’d never return.


Ivy and Eryn just being kids in the mosque gym.

An hour earlier we were singing Eryn’s favourite “going to the mosque song” in the car and I was excited to be finally attending my first Jummah in almost six months. The last time we came to this location was for ‘Eid ul-Fitr, and my heart burst with joy and pride when the imam delivered an incredibly inclusive khutbah on mental heath. This mosque represented an island sanctuary in an ocean of disappointment and judgement.

And it was a harsh betrayal when I was asked to leave the main prayer hall.


There’s a half eaten bag of halal marshmallows sitting next to me, and if I have to eat the rest of it to get this edition of the roundup out to you, then so be it.

Despite a few amazing weeks with Muslim musings on the permissibility of performing Hajj using a Robot double, creeping sharia’ masquerading as a fashionable medical mask, a fatwa against a one-way ticket to Mars, a UK Tory councillor expelled from his party after comparing Muslim women to garbage bags, International Muslimah Fashion Week cancelled amid claims of fraud, and the opening of a German Halal Fry Haus in Toronto while FEMEN tried to *yawn* get Muslim women in Berlin to strip naked for freedom — basically only two items consumed the hearts, minds and social media activities of the entire Islamosphere.

Eesa-gate and Alice in Arabia.

So grab some hot chocolate before the marshmallows run out, and enjoy!

Screen shot 2014-03-23 at 11.51.33 PM1) Do you remember “Not Without my Daughter“? You MUST remember “Not Without my Daughter.” Even if you have never seen the movie, you might have a vague sense of its plot line because it is so ingrained in American pop-cultural stereotypes of Muslims and Arabs.

It doesn’t really matter that this movie was made in 1991 (NOT in the early 80’s folks. Big hair continued for a very long time). Or that it was met with intense criticism and, by all accounts, was a box-office flop, or that Sally Field won the Razzie Award for Worst Actress for her role as a white-woman-surviving-life-behind-the-veil. “Not Without my Daughter” was one of nearly 350 films created in the span of 30 years that depicted Arabs and Muslims as evil terrorists, rich oil sheikhs, belly dancers or oppressed movie props.

What matters is that this movie represents a standard plot outline for the inclusion of Muslim characters in film and television — limiting this inclusion to the irate, angry terrorist and the voiceless Muslim woman.

Last week, ABC Family proposed AND canceled Alice in Arabia — a “high stakes drama” about a rebellious “good” Muslim American teenage girl kidnapped by her extended royal Saudi Arabian family and forced to live with them survive life in, under, through, beneath, surrounded by, within, astern, on the other side of, yonder, backside, lost to, intra-, behind the veil.

But thanks to the combined awesome power of Muslims, Arabs, allies, and concerned interest groups online, ABC fell to the immense pressure from negative responses and got the message that it just wasn’t cool to rely on tired stereotypes to win ratings. So they did the honourable thing and blamed everyone:

The current conversation surrounding our pilot was not what we had envisioned and is certainly not conducive to the creative process, so we’ve decided not to move forward with this project.

What were they expecting? Confetti and a ticker-tape parade with FEMEN floats?

Now, was this show intended to bridge gaps, educate younger viewers on American Muslim Interfaith Dialogue, or perhaps just have a snappy, alliterative title? No, according to the show’s creator, it was “meant to give Arabs and Muslims a voice on American TV.” Awww. Precious. Because outside of token characters on Community and Degrassi Junior High, there are no positive Arab or Muslim voices available for television. Right?

Wrong. From the fantastically brilliant star, Miss Sara Yasin:

There’s an entire generation of creative Arab-American itching to tell stories that fall outside of the usual narrative. There’s Rola Nashef, who wrote Detroit Unleaded, a romantic comedy about two first generation Lebanese-Americans who fall in love. There’s also Egyptian-American filmmaker Jehane Noujaim, whose documentary about Egypt’s 2011 revolution, The Square, earned her an Academy Award nomination this year. There are performers like Maysoon Zayid, a Palestinian-American comedian with cerebral palsy. Or Dean Obeidallah, another Palestinian-American comedian and filmmaker, who has dedicated his career to flipping the narrative around Muslims and Arabs in the United States. And the list goes on and on.

Alice in Arabia never saw the light of day, but I’m certain it’ll be revamped in some fashion for another episode of Law and Order, Homeland, or maybe, if we’re really, really lucky, networks will figure out the importance of having authentic voices as a part of the planning process to create a nuanced and engaging show.

Or, you know, just schedule re-runs of Little Mosque.

womenhateeachother12) From the writers who created your favourite sitcom “Shaykh Yerbouti” and the award winning cooking show “Shaykh and Bake,” comes a new mini-drama guaranteed to ignite community passions: Shaykhdown.

Here’s a brief summary: Abu Eesa, a popular Islamic teacher from the Al-Maghrib Institute made incendiary and violent misogynistic, anti-feminist, and racist comments to ridicule the occasion of International Women’s Day over several Social Media channels.

One post was so horrific, people claimed it should have come with a trigger warning.

Naturally, when the online response was less than positive, the “scholar” used some passive aggressive male privilege to sort-of apologize and say it was all just a joke that feminist and secular-types are just not going to understand.

After the initial shock with a lot of people (myself included) asking, “who IS this guy?” an incredible outpouring flooded Facebook and Twitter. There are “millions of people like Abu Eesa out there who find it funny to demean, mock, and belittle women’s struggles.” Sick of hearing “jokes” made at the expense of marginalized voices in memes and from the minbar, Eesa-gate was a perfect opportunity for people to discuss issues of leadership accountability and rape culture.

And while some lamented that people on both sides of the debate should have taken the discussion offline instead of starting a petition to fire him, others claimed that Abu Eesa should have stopped while he was ahead instead of going for an “abashed articulation of male supremacy.”

Regardless, the entire affair became a great conversation starter on the the importance of responsibility and how we can understand and define feminism of the western and Muslim-type.

The Islamic Monthly had a brief history of Feminism and stressed that community leaders have a responsibility to not make cheap comments. Naheed Mustafa of CBC/Radio-Canada wrote an impassioned open letter on how Abu Eesa is making brown men look like clowns through his casual misogyny. Hind Makki wrote that rape, physical assault and female genital mutilation are topics that should be beyond the scope of acceptable “jokes” within the context of Islamic educational institutions. Many stressed the obvious: women’s rights are human rights and that women deserve respect.

Obvious, right? But this is why we need Feminism AND basic Islamicquette. Because the obvious doesn’t come easy when the norm to ridicule and belittle is supported by an entire patriarchal “joke” system. Or when *soft patriarchy* attempts to make things right by claiming women are actually really awesome when men help them achieve their potential (really? gee thanks guys).

Which is why throughout all of this, so many people stressed: “Speak that which is good or remain silent.”

**”soft patriarchy”™ Laury Silvers 2014.

3) And finally, after the dust settled, people got back to the Islamosphere’s other favourite stereotype-bashing pastime: belly dance.

Check out Why I can’t stand white belly dancers, I STILL can’t stand white belly dancers, and Muslimah Media Watch’s fantastic roundtable on the time belly dance broke the Internet.

And here’s a little 90’s Eurodance cultural appropriation to start your week off right:

This is the third post in my ongoing series on the media stereotyping of Muslim women.

There are amazing media makers in the Muslim blogosphere and this is by no means a comprehensive list of all the fabulous people out there challenging stereotypes. In fact, I’ve had to split this post into two in order to include everyone. Stay tuned for Part II.

If you have a favourite example that’s not represented here, please share it in the comments below!   

Muslim women and mothers are creating online spaces to challenge popular, negative stereotypes and to celebrate their empowerment. Intentionally or not, they’re propagating dialogue with authentic voices — encouraging the creation of positive narratives of Muslim women, for themselves and their families.

My own work in this area began three years ago — when I was inspired to start this blog on Muslim feminism and motherhood after breastfeeding Eryn at the mosque.


A two year old Eryn looking over the barrier at the ISNA mosque.

My first daughter was born with a very persistent, demanding nursing attitude. From day one, she would hit my breast, cough and sputter, screech and complain until the flow was to her liking. Needless to say, struggling with her kept me from nursing in public for months.

Until the day we needed to take a pit stop at a local mosque.

Men and women traditionally pray separately in a shared prayer hall — but over the past 30 years, barrier use across North America has increased dramatically, with 72% of Canadian mosques erecting some kind of partition — or relegating the women’s prayer space to a separate room, like a balcony or basement.

The reasons are complicated, ranging from cultural expectations, personal preference, to religious conservatism.

Connected to the rise of the barrier, unfortunately, is the gradual exclusion of women from the mosque and the creation of hostile spaces.

So there I was, the only woman in attendance during the afternoon prayer, sitting behind a thick curtain with a room full of men on the other side. The mosque was so silent you could hear a pin drop — and that’s when my daughter wanted to nurse.


And while she coughed, and sputtered — slurped and gurgled for everyone to hear, I simultaneously got over my fear of nursing in public, and embraced the moment as a feminist act. I may have been excluded and segregated from the main prayer hall — but oh yes, my presence was impossible to ignore.

I felt it was important to take issues like this online to create and join spaces to discuss misogyny and patriarchy found in some of our communities. To share experiences and address ambiguities regarding women’s roles in Islam from within and without.

Because yes, while the media loves to paint a picture of the oppressed, covered Muslim woman, it is over-simplified. Muslim women are not defined — or oppressed — by what they wear on their head. The hijab is not the source of women’s oppression.


Mothering in Ramadan can be difficult without support. And it’s not just the demands of children, work, cooking, family or guests that can effect a mother’s participation — but also the immense personal pressure to find and create time for worship. Especially during the last 10 days when moments of solitude are at a premium for people to really focus on prayer, Qur’an and dhikr.

In our second post in this ongoing series on motherhood and Ramadan, I offer some thoughts on the larger social and religious constructions that can prevent mothers from enjoying a more fulsome spiritual experience and look at the benefits of empowered mothering.

Nursing and reflecting in an 'Asr glow.

Nursing and reflecting in an ‘Asr glow.

Three dessert spoons break into a molten chocolate lava cake — satiny, near-black cocoa ganache spills out, mixing with raspberry coulis swirls and vanilla ice cream. Savouring the moment and sighing into our coffee cups, we soon start laughing over a shared love of decadent sweets.

I’m sitting with two other mothers — one from Yemen, the other from Kenya — reuniting after a long time at a cafe in Kuwait. We have seven children (and one on the way) between the three of us. In a rare moment we’re finally alone together without our kids to distract us (except for a new sleeping baby and Ivy who is occupying herself quietly with a snack). After getting caught up on each other’s lives, I direct the conversation toward experiencing Ramadan and the delicate balance between the demands of motherhood, family and personal spirituality.

A pregnant Samiya complains that she barely has time to read the Qur’an. She’s feeling divorced from Ramadan this year because she is not fasting — and with a house full of visiting relatives, she often finds herself in the kitchen. Today her back and sciatic nerve pain is especially bad and she wishes someone would simply offer her a seat so she can relax and focus on herself, her prayers and the growing baby. She’s really hoping to attend Qiyaam-al-Layl, the night prayers, with the other adults in her favourite mosque during the last 10 days of Ramadan, but will probably end up praying at home. That is, if the kids cooperate and go to bed on time. “Alhamdulillah, caring for children is a form of worship,” she sighs.

Bushra has a slightly different outlook and experience this Ramadan. She has somehow found the strength to fast, despite breastfeeding her new son and running after her two other children. And while God has blessed her in this regard so she can enjoy the act of fasting — she is especially looking forward to what comes next, when her children are old enough to look after themselves. Right now, she’s trying not to stress too much about doing any extras and is just concentrating on her children. But she won’t be caring for little ones forever and needs a plan for the future. When I ask her about what she intends to do when that time comes, she says simply, “Ibadah.” Worship.

Then she reminds us with a serious intensity:

O you who believe, let not your wealth and your children divert you from remembrance of Allah. (The Qur’an 63:9)

There is so much emphasis on the elevated position that mothers hold in Islam, that we’ve created a culture taking the institution of motherhood for granted.


scarfThis story absolutely breaks my heart.

Breaks. My. Heart.

Last week a Muslim woman in France suffered a miscarriage after being violently attacked in an apparent anti-Muslim motivated assault. Two men harassed her with anti-Islamic slurs, ripped the headscarf off her head, cut her hair, and repeatedly kicked her in the stomach — even after she allegedly told them of her pregnancy and begged them to stop.

Some media refer to this as “burqa rage” or “veil attack” — when one becomes so angry, upset and offended by the sight of a Muslim woman’s head covering, that they react with violence and lash out at the woman wearing it.

But it’s really just a catchy media phrase for Gendered Islamophobia.

Women in headscarves are immediately identifiable as representing Islam and due to the media reliance on negatively stereotyping Muslim women and the current anti-Muslim climate — women may experience deliberate gender-based violence, harassment or prejudice.

Muslim women then become the conduit by which others can exert their fear, prejudice and ignorance. In that moment women become voiceless, actionless objects, representing everything “we need to fear from the terrorists.” In this context, Muslim women are completely dehumanized.

Even the terms “burqa rage” and “veil attack” do Muslim women a disservice by reducing the experience of violence to the headscarf. As if it were only a piece of cloth that was left lying in the street. As if this attack has no impact on this young woman’s memory of motherhood. They didn’t attack a veil. They attacked a person.

On Monday I’ll be speaking about media stereotypes of Muslim women and the consequences that negative images and Islamophobia have on Muslim women and their families. My talk is part of a “Mega Conference” on motherhood held by the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement (MIRCI) — a feminist scholarly and activist organization on mothering run through York University. And I’ve been hijab-deep in research for weeks in preparation.

I’ve been looking at how Muslim women and mothers are responding to these stereotypes online — creating spaces where they celebrate their empowerment and work towards countering negative images of Muslim women. Intentionally or not, they’re propagating dialogue with authentic voices — encouraging the creation of positive narratives for themselves and their families.

This means, of course, that I’ll have a lot to share with you in regards to some pretty awesome happenings in the Muslim blogosphere. Something I’m pretty excited about. So keep an eye out for a new blog series filled with stereotype smashing and lots of blogger love.

cuppaArtists have an amazing culture of expression.

They speak with hands, fluid shoulders and in a language that I’m not used to hearing. Language that is emotive, tactile and descriptive — such that you can taste the words coming from their mouths — feeling their physical presence.

Which really makes for an interesting afternoon.

I had the utmost pleasure today to co-host A Feminist Tea Party with the amazing Caitlin Rueter and Suzanne Stroebe. Our weekend of tea, sweeties and conversation started last night when Eryn and I joined the installation for a discussion on what makes art feminist — which was absolutely inspiring and had me dreaming of second- and third-wave feminism and the power of objects to convey messages — be they intended, real or imagined.

It’s been encouraging, educational as well as a privilege to enter into this discursive space in order to meet new people, share ideas and learn from each other.

Using FEMEN’s recent Topless Jihad and the anti-FEMEN counter protest as a starting point, we talked about Muslim and other feminism(s), how intersecting groups could work together in positive ways, but also whether FEMEN’s “sextremist” protest is an effective vehicle.

Here are some of the thoughts the group shared. We didn’t solve the world’s problems or draw up secret plans to blast the Earth with equity. I mean, c’mon, we only had an hour. But if you feel inspired to add your own thoughts and ideas to these snippets, please feel free to join the conversation in the comments.

When I think about the Play of protests, with the attention-grabbing tactics of protest culture — like colourful costumes, drums, huge puppets — it makes me think protests can also be a platform for creative energies. That using the body can be part of a large political issue, but that the message also has the potential to get lost in a picture printed in a newspaper.

When you use your body as a form of protest, you have to be cognizant of all the consequences. You may just want one thing to be heard, you know, your message — but if you’re sending something else out there, if you’re willing to do anything that’s publicity-seeking, that it gets the attention of young men… You may want them to listen to your message, but is that really the way you would engage them in a meaningful way, in a graceful way?


teapartyFancy some irony, sweeties, tea, and riveting conversation?

I have the honour of co-hosting a unique art installation, titled, “A Feminist Tea Party: Straddling the 49.”

The exhibit, as imagined by two phenomenal artists Caitlin Rueter and Suzanne Stroebe, is a participatory, multi-faceted collaboration to engage and raise social consciousness in the set of a midcentury tea party.

Sounds like a blast, no?

This is the 15th installation and the first time the artists have ventured into Canada!

At each event, we invite a new group of guests and, with them, a new conversation. We hope to engage with each of our guests, asking them to experience the space we have created, to perform within it by playing our game, to learn from each other in an open, supportive space for dialogue and, finally, to witness our collaboration and join us to make it their own.

[The exhibit] draws on the iconographic heritage of contemporary representations of women—sex and service, the consumer and the consumed. The gallery is recast as a home, an open forum where essential and discomfiting issues can be discussed freely and with a sense of humor.

I’m incredibly excited to be a part of this project — and hope that if you’re in the area, you’ll join us for an informal conversation on Muslim Feminism!

On June 15 from 2-3:00pm I’ll be facilitating “Hijabs VS Boobs: Adventures in Muslim FEMENism” — an informal discussion highlighting the various ways Muslim women are portrayed as walking contradictions or stereotypes of oppression — and how debates over the hijab often overshadow the work being done to champion women’s rights by Muslim women and their allies. What do Muslim women want? Can someone practice Islam and also champion women’s rights? And how can feminist groups work together, be intersectional, and celebrate difference?

The exhibit is at the O’born Contemporary Art Gallery in Toronto (just a short jaunt from Ossington Station) from June 14 – June 16, 2013.

Pop in to add your voice to the conversation, have a cuppa, or just come to say “hi.” I’d love to see and hear from you!

So much for colour coordination.

The other day the Hubby took Eryn so I could have some well-deserved girl time with a good friend. We had a fabulous date at a swanky restaurant — two Muslim girls drinking faux cocktails, laughing into our high-calorie salads, passing a chubby baby back and forth, and gossiping about our respective academic-stressed and dirty diaper strewn lives.

By the time I got home, Eryn was fast asleep — worn out by her own lovely date with Baba. He let her watch TV, they learned some sign language, then they went to the mosque before laughing into halal burgers and acting all cool playing with pretend mobile phones at a local cafe.

We’ve been extremely successful with potty training over the past month and recently started venturing out without diapers. So naturally, after finding out how the evening went, I just had to ask about bodily functions:

Me: So how’d it go?
Him: She had to pee when we were at the mosque. While I was praying.
Me: Oh no! What did you do?
Him: Well, I tried speeding up, but it was going to take too long. So I left prayer and took her to the bathroom.
Me: You stopped praying? You gave salaams?
Him: No. I left prayer, took her to the bathroom, came back to the musalla and picked up where I left off.
Me: Can you even DO that?
Him: *shrug* Not sure? Guess it’s time for a fatwa.


Happy weekend everyone! We’ve finally recuperated from Eidoween and have a bunch of fun stories for your reading pleasure. So sit back and enjoy some fierce women, romantic Muslims, some historical Hajj and a little ideal Muslimah trolling that’ll have you snorting tea out your nose.


1) Focus and breathe and stretch and Olympics. With this mantra, Amna Al Haddad is one woman I would not want to mess with.

The New York Times recently profiled this fantastic 22-year old athlete from the UAE along with her team mate Khadija Mohammed, the first female Emirati lifter to make the Olympics.

According to the article, a tough training schedule isn’t the only thing these women have to deal with. Negative attitudes about women weightlifting in their country include the belief that they’ll turn into muscular meatheads — thereby making them unattractive to male suitors. Because it’s not their athletic talent that’s important — no, it’s their marriageability. The team also deals with the stereotype that weightlifting only attracts masculine women, and *GASP* lesbians(!!!!)

“A lot of women say, ‘Wow, look at her body,’ ” Al Haddad said. “They ask me how to get lean, and when I say I weight lift, they get scared. But it’s the 21st century now. I don’t want to get married until I make the Olympics.” …

At a recent workout, Al Haddad, in the company of a male trainer, wore full arm and leg compression skins under her shorts and a short-sleeve shirt with the word “beast” printed in bold across it, a concession to tradition.



Seriously, don’t mess with a woman who can clean and jerk 100 pounds in the air. Keep lifting ladies.

2) There is nothing more romantic than receiving an early morning kiss from the Hubby — complete with shaggy hair, scruffy beard, and the dulcet sound of babies yelling. Probably because that’s about the extent of romance in our house.

Half the world away, Kamila Khan has written a terrific article about the lack of “romance” in her life for the online Australian mag Mamamia. In “Confessions of a Muslim Romantic” she recounts growing up in front of the television learning unrealistic expectations of romance:

I can literally quote you every conversation in the Breakfast Club. Sure, I was sent to madrasa and learnt how to pray, but there’s no way a Saturday morning learning Arabic could replace my Saturday night with 21 Jump Street. This is where I learnt all my morals, my standards and my expectations…

After all, from our religious tradition came the Taj Mahal (made by a male out of love for his wife); came the poet Rumi (a male truly in touch with his feelings); and from Arabic came the word ‘carat’ (to measure the size of my future wedding ring). It was impossible then for any Muslim male not to have romance in his blood, right?

Yeeeaaah… I didn’t mind getting my ideas about romance from Johnny Depp and Rumi either. *wink*

Go read and comment on her piece, it’s a hoot guaranteed to make you remember the 80s fondly and grab your partner in a hopefully baby-food-spaghetti-stain-free embrace!

3) Single ladies, listen up! You know those nights when you’re sitting all alone on Twitter re-tweeting Mona Eltahawy, or stalking random cat pictures on Facebook wondering at the ripe educated age of 28 when you’ll find that NORMAL Muslim to complete half your faith? Well, according to a now popular post on MuslimSpice, that IS why you’re all alone! Apparently, the worst women to marry include women on Facebook, Twitter, non-virgins, non-hijabis, the daughters of gas station owners, and feminists.

So instead of giving the troll more link love, here’s a mind-blowingly awesome, satirical rebuttal piece by Sara Yasin over at Muslimah Media Watch in the voice of the slow jam Imam:

You’re using social media: It might be time to axe your Twitter and Facebook accounts, because your online presence is probably warding off potential suitors. It has been proven, by many studies, that no Muslim woman can resist logging into a social networking site without making posts about getting lost in Tariq Ramadan’s eyes. Of course, all conversations held by females are useless, and men only use social networking sites for the important business of men. If you’re using it for professional reasons (trick statement: your only valid role is being a homemaker), then that might be OK — but I’m afraid that I would have to recommend doubling up on your prayer to avoid falling prey to the Internet’s slippery slope.

Oh God it’s true, it’s so true. I get so lost in Tariq Ramadan’s eyes. (I even have a signed copy of his book! *fangirl squeeee!*) Guess I’m on the hairy path to hell.

4) Hajj rapid-fire:

5) Finally, possibly the oldest recording of a Qur’anic recitation. Surah Duha as captured by Thomas Edison’s newly-invented cylinder phonograph, and set to a collection of pictures from pre-modern development Mecca.

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