*dusts off computer*

Amazing! It’s time for another edition of the Muslim roundup! For new readers, this is one of my favourite blog features where I scan the media for the ridiculous, the outrageous, the amazing and the most fabulous articles about Muslim women and Islam in general and throw a bunch of informal snark into the mix.

This week we look at fashion, fierce fitness, hijab appropriation, and as always, some truly badass muslimahs.


1) Be fashion forward, shocking, and controversial — shine bright like a diamond while wearing Islamic attire!

Singer Rihanna sporting a pseudo-abaya and black hijab.

Singer Rihanna sporting a pseudo-abaya and black hijab.

This week, R&B pop artist Rihanna caused a bit of a stir when she joined the burqa-swag-exploitation ranks of Madonna and Lady Gaga by engaging in a little Muslim appropriation. Authorities at Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque asked Rihanna and her staff to leave the premises after an impromtu photo-shoot on the mosque grounds.

Like most places of worship, the Grand Mosque has protocols in place to maintain sanctity, order, and the privacy of worshipers. Allegedly, Ri-Ri ignored these protocols by entering through an area restricted to visitors, not identifying herself to mosque officials for a private tour, and not obtaining a permit for a photo shoot that had her in various non-mosque-appropriate-poses. After the photos were uploaded to Instagram, the mosque released a level-headed and general statement explaining the incident, saying that “a singer” who was taking pictures “that do not conform with the conditions and regulations put in place by management,” left after being asked to do so. Seems pretty innocuous, right?

Naturally, the media buzz is generating SHOCK and AWE about what she wore — an “Islama-chic” black jumpsuit, hoodie, and burn my hijab, MAKEUP!! *gasp*

From the Globe and Mail:

[In the photos] Rihanna is also wearing eye makeup along with bright-red lipstick and nails – modern fashion accessories spurned in the bustling Islamic city.

Really. Really? Globe and Mail? Obviously the Globe and Mail has never, ever spoken with an actual Muslim woman living in the Gulf region. The literal birthplace of red lipstick.

Look, you want to wear hijab out of respect and take the 100 fils mosque guided tour, go for it. But Rhianna’s instagram betrays just how little she actually thinks of Muslim women and the hijab:

"Bitch stole my look" reads the caption as Rihanna give some cut-eye to some passing women.

“Bitch stole my look” reads the caption as Rihanna gives some cut-eye to passing women on their way to pray.

Nice. Just stay under your umbrella the next time you want to fetishize and sexualize Muslim women’s clothing for your personal fashion shoot Ri-Ri.

"Memories of Childhood" by Selina Roman.

“Memories of Childhood” by Selina Roman.

2) Also cashing in on the grand “burqa swag” narrative is The Burqa Project — recently covered (HAHA) by online art magazine Beautiful/Decay.

In 2009 Selina Roman started documenting the burqa in various poses. Yes, you read that right. She’s not documenting Muslim women — but the burqa.

According to the article, Roman, a former reporter-turned fashion photographer, hopes to offer her audience a different view point, a new way of seeing:

Although the Burqa is shrouded in religious significance, I take it out of this context in an attempt to explore these other attributes. Instead of showcasing it as an oppressive garment, I place the Burqa in idyllic Florida landscapes to let it float and billow. In turn, it becomes an ephemeral and weightless object removed from its politicized context.

I guess there are no idyllic Afghani landscapes to let the burqa float and billow? Oh wait, here’s one. The burqa is an inherently oppressive garment? Here are some Afghan women who might argue that the source of oppression lies in patriarchy, gender discrimination, and religiously-justified misogyny — not in clothing.

Is it art? Is it life? Is it objectifying the already objectified? How meta.

3) Move over spray tanned, bikini-clad celebrity bodies — here come some seriously fit and fierce hijabi fitness instructors.

Zaineb and

The fierce and fantastic Zainab and Nadine.

I never thought I’d say this, but the Daily Mail has a really great article on the first “Islamic” fitness DVD. Meet Nadine Abu Jubara, a personal trainer, and instructor Zainab Ismail (THE hijabi drill sergeant). Together they make up the team behind Nadoona — a fitness and health support website geared primarily toward women concerned with modesty.

The motivation behind the website and soon to be released fitness video came when Nadine lost over 50 pounds after changing her dieting and fitness lifestyle. Finding there were few Islamic resources in this arena to support her, she decided to create her own.

Women, not just Muslim women, tend to use modesty as an excuse to neglect their bodies. Long sleeves and flowing tops shouldn’t mean flabby arms and love handles. And, a strenuous workout doesn’t require machines and a crowded gym full of spectators.

The Nadoona website reads like a regular fitness resource. Upon first glance, you probably wouldn’t notice anything particularly “Islamic” about it — except for maybe saying “bismillah” before starting on your fitness journey, and the YUMMY “Fit for Allah” smoothie. They have a 30 day challenge, hijabista events, and even workout instructions for men. And the hard work and intention to regain health seems to work, according to the testimonials.

I’m totally in love with these women! They are my heroes for the week. They are fierce. FIERCE!! TIGHT!! Makes me want to workout for Allah for a living!

Check out the body-pumping DVD teaser here:

4) Finally, I did a thing.

Langston Hues is an amazing Muslim visual artist and photographer, and he’s working on a book commemorating the emerging faith-driven culture of modest street style being seen in magazines, runways and on streets worldwide. The write-up on his website explains:

It is the first book to visually document this ever growing international trend that has exploded from the streets of Kuala Lumpur to the alleys of New York City. Profiling some of the top ‘hijabistas’ this is a must-have inside look into a twenty-first-century genesis of a faith driven style.

Now, I wouldn’t call myself a top hijabista — just an urban chic mom trying to hide spilled yogurt with animal prints and looking fabulous while babywearing.

Langston was amazing to work with. He’s incredibly humble, funny and talented — and I’m so honoured and thrilled to be a part of this project.

Check it out, and try to guess which one is me:

My closet is conspiring against me.

I’m in that awkward phase of in-between — it’s not quite winter enough for a turtleneck, but it’s not warm enough for a maxi dress.  I’m also sick of wearing mommy cardigans embellished with flung spaghetti and overly patterned nursing tops.  My jeans have holes in the knees from crawling around on the floor. I’m missing my old semi-formal work attire.

So my closet is conspiring, and this directly impacts my hijab.  I’m having a bad hijab day.

Wearing the hijab isn’t easy. Especially for the fashion conscious.

I’ve been advised that one should keep a three colour minimum when assembling an outfit. Floral prints or houndstooth should be saved for accent pieces, and when in doubt choose black. When adding a layer to your head, this really complicates things.

I sometime agonize over the colour of my hijab. Recently at a good friend’s wedding, I lucked out when I found a lovely dress and purple sequined pumps to match. But it took me forever to find the right scarf. The dress has deep purple flower accents, do I go with a deep purple solid? No. It’s summer, a purple head screams winter. What about a Turkish floral print? No. There’s way too much going on already on the dress. Black? Maybe, but it’s summer!

Then there are the days that I have to take the colour and patterns of the baby’s clothes and carrier into consideration or risk looking like a circus clown. You can’t even go with the same colour for the entire ensemble — unless you enjoy looking like a giant blueberry, eggplant or banana.

Then depending on the coverage needed, there’s styling to consider.  Are you wearing a turtleneck or a low v-neck?. Do you go with the Spanish hijab? Babushka look? Dupatta? Amira? Kuwaiti Beehive? Or something more funky?

Sometimes it can feel like you need a team of specialists to help research and construct your hijab for the day. Is it windy outside? Raining? Are you headed to the airport and need to minimize pins so you don’t set off the metal detector? Will you be playing frisbee? Dealing with children tugging on just about everything?

Luckily for me, there is yet another article covering the, “ZOMG Western, veiled, Muslim women are fashionable and causing a stir in the Islamic world” trend in the media. This time it’s the LATimes reporting on an emerging hijab stylist in Cali.

Atik has taken the Muslim head scarf, often known as hijab, and turned it into a canvas for her fashion sensibilities, with ideas inspired by designs from Forever 21 and H&M as well as haute couture runways and the pages of Vogue and Elle. Showing her latest design at a mosque was her way of gauging sentiment on scarves that go beyond the limited fashion realm they have thus far inhabited, such as floral and geometric prints or lace and beaded embellishments.

Atik sees the fashion industry’s treatment of the hijab as staid and lackluster. She wants to make the scarves edgier, with fringes, pleats, peacock feathers, animal prints.

Eeee. Really? I love my animal print hijabs — they really shake up a blazer/work pant mix.  But peacocks?  Maybe I’m getting old.

I’m really excited for Marwa Atik.  She’s a young entrepreneur and she’ll go far insha’Allah.  Too bad the article just HAS to compare her with a conservative viewpoint on hijab:

Eiman Sidky, who teaches religious classes at King Fahd mosque in Culver City, is among those who say attempts to beautify the scarf have gone too far. In countries like Egypt, where Sidky spends part of the year, religious scholars complain that women walk down the street adorned as if they were peacocks.

“In the end they do so much with hijab, I don’t think this is the hijab the way God wants it; the turquoise with the yellow with the green,” she said.

Oops. Peacocks again. Just once I’d like an article to be written about a successful Muslim fiashionista without resorting to the arguement that styling your hijab is new, revolutionary, defeating the purpose of modesty, or antithetical to what hijab is supposed to be. We really have to stop positioning the Western hijab against a conservative voice.

Hijab has always been a personal expression, even if you decide to only wear drab browns and blacks. Again people, fashion in the hijab world is nothing new.  Islam in North America continues to define itself — and cultural expression through the hijab is just one way we’re doing it.

Back to the fashion for a moment. They’re very nice, but yeah, I must be getting old:

This just seems like way too much material for me.  I can just imagine getting a face full of hijab every. single. time. I stoop to pick up a dropped toy.  And maybe it’s the baby, but the style is pretty reminiscent of a bib.  Ok, I might be able to get away with a GINORMOUS bow on my hijab (my fav out of the bunch). And the Victorian ruffles are nice, but how often can you wear a Victorian-inspired outfit in a week?  Yes, yes, every day if you’re a vampire.  So how often should you wear ruffles?

Seeing that I can’t stand to have my scarf bunching around my neck, I guess I’m just not fashionable enough.  Ooh, does that make me a conservative?

Image Credit: Vela Scarves

Younger, Westernized Muslim women are seeking out trendy styles, with one Orange County student selling designs inspired by Vogue and Elle. But some critics wonder whether the stylish creations defeat the purpose of modesty.

This is my husband.

This is his man skirt. It’s not to be confused with a man purse or mandles. It is literally a skirt for men.

Unlike a kilt or sarong, it is rarely (if ever) worn by women.

It’s called a futa and is part of the male essential wardrobe in Yemen.

He claims it’s comfortable, roomy, and one size fits all — so it can grow with him. They apparently get better with age.

I am a huge fan of the futa. Not only can we joke about who wears the pants in the family (that would be me in the futa case), but it’s dead sexy.