Earlier this year, international fashion magazine Cosmo, as well as American women’s beauty magazine Allure, published articles trying to dispel stereotypes about Muslim women.
One of the main beneficiaries of these articles was a website called MissMuslim.
Looking for a Muslim website that’s not related to politics or business is a chore. And for Muslim women, there’s much more to their culture than religion alone—something a lot of people in the Western world struggle to look past. But understanding the way that Muslim faith plays a part in sex, health, beauty, and fashion is something that hasn’t fully been addressed—until now.
With the creation of website missmuslim.nyc two months ago, founders Jenan Matari, Shannon Melero, Nihal Al Qawasmi, and Mehar Rizvi want to shatter stereotypes of Muslim women. It’s currently the most controversial website in the Muslim community, serving as a safe place for women to read about “taboo” topics, like dating, sex, relationship advice, mental and female health, as well as fashion and beauty. MissMuslim aims to show people that there’s not just one kind of Muslim woman: Not all women wear hijabs, or even identify with the conservative lifestyle that the Western world would expect. “We all just look completely different, and we were tired of being generalized and stereotyped, so we thought we’d introduce the world to a bunch of unique women,” says Matari. At the end of the day, the founders of the site want to fiercely show the beauty and diversity that come with being a Muslim woman. For example, “Going to the gyno is such a taboo thing to do as a young Muslim woman,” says Matari. “I’m all about visiting that doctor because your health is so important, female-anatomy-wise.” MissMuslim is really the only site to focus on this area.
Alawa is one of a handful of young Muslim women trying to flip American media’s portrayal of Muslims as male terrorists or oppressed women from faraway lands. There are 3.3 million Muslims in America, according to a recent report from the Pew Research Center (Pew estimates that number will more than double by 2050), and a significant portion of them are Millennial women. A 2011 Current Population Survey by Pew found that 59 percent of adult American Muslims are 18 to 39 (compared to 40 percent of non-Muslim adults), and 45 percent are female. Alawa and her cohorts at MuslimGirl, MissMuslim, and #GoodMuslimBadMuslim are using their publications to show the complexity of the Muslim experience by producing Muslim-centric viral content around dating, faith, makeup, music, body issues, family, and politics for their booming audience.
Cosmo also featured an article written by one of the co-creators of MissMuslim, Nihal Al Qawasmi: 12 Ignorant Things Women Who Wear Hijabs Are Sick of Hearing.
Nihal proudly announced a collaboration between the two sites.
And here’s the problem (because you knew I was getting to one): This new darling of the young, hip crowd and the face of a younger generation of Muslims feeling misunderstood, has shown herself to be an antisemite and Israel hater who supports terrorism.
Translation: “we look like Jews..but we’re missing a yama[l]ka.”
Translation: “The country is ours and the Jews are our dogs.”
Perhaps realizing this kind of antisemitic rhetoric is not good for business, Nihal has more recently instructed others to differentiate between Jews and Israelis or Zionists.
There’s also the support for terrorism.
There’s more here.
I’d say Nihal is hardly the person you want representing a new, chic face of Islam.