Harlem born-and-raised rapper A$AP Rocky sent shockwaves through the Muslim community two weeks ago with his Instagram tribute to his mom for Mother’s Day.
The 31 year-old rapper posted a picture of his mother adorning hijab with the caption “MOMZ❤️.”
The post garnered more than a million likes and surprised thousands of fans who were unaware that Rocky’s mother is Muslim, as the rapper himself rarely speaks about his religious beliefs.
Nonetheless, supportive fans left heartwarming comments beneath, posting “salaams” and “mashallahs” for the rapper’s mother. As for Muslim Twitter, stans were still trying to process how one of most popular rappers of the past decade was secretly connected to the Ummah.
Yooo why I’m I just finding out that ASAP Rocky’s mom is MUSLIM 🤯
Others pointed out that Rocky was actually serving Muslim realness for a while now, citing Rocky’s iconic red carpet look in which he wrapped a silk scarf around his head in a hijab-like fashion.
But beyond the comments and comedic Twitter craze, Rocky’s post served as an important reminder to society that having a Muslim identity is nothing to be ashamed of and should be allowed to exist in mainstream media, without it being a big deal.
Oftentimes, Muslims are ostracized from the media, and even if they are given representation, they get boxed in by limiting and stereotyped identities.
Ramy Youssef came to my attention through another show starring an Egyptian-American. In Mr. Robot, Ramy had a recurring role as security analyst Samar who regularly bragged about his fake sexual exploits. He gave me a chuckle interacting with Rami Malek’s stoic Elliot.
A little later, I noticed Youssef on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, making his network television debut performing stand-up. In earnest, the thing that captured me about him was his invitation into the intricacies of the Muslim-American experience, the confusion of being told who you are by others, and simply in finding the commonalities between people. Even more compelling, was his analysis of the struggles of maintaining the traditions of faith while living in a modern and secular society. So when I saw he was working on a A24 show executive-produced by Jerrod Carmichael, I was excited to see his his full range.
Of course the show falters occasionally and has some generalizations, but there is a consistent universal perspective that pervades the first season. As a Muslim kid from a Pakistani household, the show doesn’t exactly capture my experience. I’m not from Jersey City, I’m not Egyptian. And while I’m aware the show is fictitious, each episode embodies an autobiography of how myriad Muslims feel in this county.
I’m not Ramy, and yet I feel like we’re one and the same.
Ramy offers the chance for the disparate parts of our community to empathize with each other, in a way that doesn’t make any of us feel like outliers. Throughout the first season, the show presents some key moments that are particularly poignant for us Muslims. Here are five that stuck out to me:
Episode 1: Between the Toes
“I’m in this little Muslim Box in your head. I’m supposed to be the wife or the mother of your kids. But I’m not supposed to come.”
After a date with a Muslim woman surprisingly gets too intimate, Ramy gets called out for his hypocrisy. In truth, this is where the show managed to display its means of creating dialogue but also its hindrance. Earlier in the episode, Ramy hides his adherence to his religion for the sake of finding comfort in his non-Muslim endeavors.
After being set up to meet a Muslim Egyptian girl named Nour at a restaurant, Ramy and Nour get intimate. Ramy is surprised by her sexual desires, and Nour rightfully gets frustrated at him. The irony of this scene is that he denies this woman the same understanding he pursues in other women. He enraptures his expectations and limitations in perspective of Muslim women in American and Egyptian culture onto her.
However, this insight seems to hold onto the perspective of restraint. This is the instance where the show offers its first glimpse into what women within the Muslim culture experience. While this show does excel in its juxtaposition and revealing hypocrisies of people, it incites consistent reminder that Muslim women are limited. Within my personal experiences, while heavily biased is not true. I’ve interacted with Muslim women that are leaders and pioneers within their fields. They are so much more than just their limitations, and while this show plays at this we don’t get that moment of liberation beyond it.
This was observed in two episodes that focused on the characters of Dena, Ramy’s sister and Maysa, Ramy’s mother. Throughout the two episodes there is consistent lack of agency, especially within their erotics. For Dena, it is her confounding restrictions towards expressing her sexual desires. Specifically, the boundaries that are in place for her while her brother roams freely. For Ramy, he is given the male privilege to traverse through the world exploring his sexual identity. With Dena, she doesn’t even have the vocabulary to comprehend certain acts of intimacy despite their prevalence within American culture. With Maysa, it is a woman who was once vibrant and beautiful who became chained to the mundane life of a housewife.
The truth is, this is a commonality amongst Muslim households. However, I do tire of constantly seeing things feed into the lack of agency Muslim women have. Inherently, I find this to be untrue, but I hope for this to be the beginning of Muslim women having a larger representative voice and narrative within media.
Episode 8: Saving Mikaela
“Think of the children. They’ll grow up confused. They won’t know who they are, because they won’t know their land! They need to know their roots. They need to grow up learning Islam, or they won’t lead the right path!”
Some of the greatest stories we are told as kids are the ones about our parents’ lives before America. For those who still remained in the country, they take pride in knowing their national identities.Returning to the homeland has always been this romanticized theory of finding oneself.
For most, the idea of returning to the motherland is this retreat. For Ramy, it’s a genuine escape into belief. The beauty of this show is seeing Ramy’s existential crisis of his actions. Having been confronted by his own father about the extended affair he took part in, Ramy is chastised. His father relates to his son the journey of coming to America.
Worse, is his father telling him that he was wrong for leaving. In truth, the scene is powerful for the generational admittance of the confusion first and second generation Muslims, especially those immigrants must plunder through.
Episode 4: “You fit in just fine”
This is by far the most brazen episode of the show. Throughout the episode people are pushing Ramy to align themselves with America. Not only that, but they are excluding him from being an American. Being a pre-teen is awkward enough.
In its most controversial and subversive episode of the season, a young Ramy has a discussion with Osama Bin Laden. In one of the finest moments of surrealism to combat David Lynch, we take a look at one of Ramy’s conflicts. One side is torn for not being able to live like other Americans, and another wants to honor the heritage and people he comes from.
Within this scene, the show offers a concise moment of capturing someone’s own internal struggle for defining what they want to do as someone who doesn’t fit in. It is a decision of who he is to the whole world. In earnest it’s an acceptance of his own identity. Ramy never hides his beliefs, but instead sees how he can incorporate them into his definition of America.
Episode 3: A Black Spot On The Heart
“You know the Prophet (PBUH) said the dopest thing in a hadith, ‘when a believer commits a sin, a black spot forms on his heart’. Don’t spend all night thinking about how you messed up. Just think about how you wanna clean those black spots.”
Being hard on yourself is a costly thing. In a moment where Ramy is under the effects of taking too much THC, he finds himself at a mosque. He admits to a congregant at the mosque that he doesn’t feel like he is himself. That he’s just another sinner. In a moment of depth needed for many Muslims, we are told that we are allowed to be wrong. For someone who believes himself to be more superior than others, you’re not.
For most of the Muslims I’ve interacted with their identification with faith has been too strict. The ones that always inspired me weren’t the people that were dismissive or the ones who executed devout faith – it was people who admitted their flaws in faith. Some of them had logic as simple as why not try it? Or I’m probably not going to be able to do anything fun when I’m older. Despite the logic, there was always a desire to be better. Most of these people have been the greatest push for me to understand the necessity of faith in self.
Episode 1: Between the Toes
“Do you think God cares if I wash between my toes?”
In the self-realization of Ramy being a hypocrite for his own judgements, he confides in the same man who judged him for not washing his toes. It’s an earnest expression of faith and the paranoia of not knowing yourself. The show’s thesis is an earnest question of faith itself. But instead of renouncing it, it’s about striving to follow the practice of it.
For years, I hoped to find something that validated my feelings of faith. But I know there are Muslims who don’t know themselves and some who are trying to see where they can just be, shows where they see their lives. I know there are still Muslims who are learning that their faiths don’t make them happier and others who hide behind it. I hope we can all be accepted, if not by each other, at least by ourselves. This, too, is faith. Astaghfirullah.
This past weekend, the world celebrated Eid in quarantine – but that didn’t stop Black Muslims from taking over social media for #BlackoutEid. The hashtag was created by Aamina Mohammed, a screenwriter and producer based in Minnesota, as a response to lack of representation of Black Muslims in Eid style coverage. Now in its eighth year, #BlackoutEid packed more heat than ever this year. Let’s take a look at some of our favorites, category by category!
Better late than never, Eid Mubarak Quite an unusual Ramadan but super grateful to be here. In strong effort to be in my Eid mood, here's me wishing you a life as colourful, breakthroughs from all that you seek and happiness that's unparalleled 💛💚 #BlackoutEidpic.twitter.com/BhK96gjyll
Alhamdulillah, we have lived to witness the sun set on a Ramadan unlike any other in the glorious history of Islam. We experienced Ramadan during a difficult time for the entire world – the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). With so much being taken away from us and having to say goodbye to so many people at once, many of us have been pushed to seek refuge in our deen at its purest form as a chance to remind ourselves of the purpose of our creation, the root word of our identity as Muslims: submission to Allah.
Although we may not be able to experience the adrenaline of our collectively botched sleep schedules colliding as we embrace one another at the entrance of the masjid first thing in the morning, we still have reason to celebrate: self-betterment.
In “Eid Under Quarantine: A Ramadan Reflection” we bring you the stories of women in our community in excerpts from interviews done by Sarah Maung to bring us their own unique story, each of them captured through different mediums.
Each Muslim woman from different cultures recount the shifts in their relationship to Allah, to their deen, and to one another brought on by the pandemic in a series of self-reflections. It is time to celebrate the bright colors of our cultures and our strengthening Iman that make us who we are as individual Muslims and as a singular community.
In these excerpts of interviews, Muslim women express their feelings about COVID-19 and Ramadan.
Saima Usmani // Pakistani // Residency in Neurology
“I never wanted to be the type of girl that had all these ridiculous expectations and was disappointed. So I kept my expectations at the bare minimum. I didn’t care about the reception. I only cared about my bachelorette party and the actual religious ceremony which I wanted to do at my masjid, which was a reasonable request. And I wanted my students to be there, which was another reasonable request because the wedding ceremony itself would be after school, everything was planned out. I didn’t care about the food, I didn’t care about my outfit. I just wanted the people I love to be there.
The one person who was kind of my go-to and I just talked to that person just relaxed me and just made me forget was actually my fiancé.
It was perfect. I didn’t need anything else, it was perfect. It was fine. It was in my house. We had cake, the pictures were terrible, but it was lovely.
In this time, where you realize what’s really important you know you go to work and you see people passing away alone. And you know, you know, crossing over and you think about death, you go home and you have to decide, which 10 people matter to you the most that are going to be there on the biggest day of your life and the only people physically there on the biggest day of your life, you spend in the holy month of Ramadan basically alone, and all those things are beautiful in their own way.”
Lamia Rashid// Palestinian // College Student
“It’s not like a war you know once a war is declared ‘over’ it’s over. You know, COVID-19 is like biological warfare. So when you go out, who knows about the next couple months right, like you could get it.
I could stay in my house forever, but you have to go outside and what if I’m getting groceries and then like I just get it. And then I pass on to my parents that’s the biggest part I feel with all my mental health, it’s the stress of it just being out there and I can’t control it and it could wreck so much damage.
During Ramadan, no matter who you are, no matter what your level of faith, no matter how much you practice Islam during the year we all get together and we’re like alright guys we’re in this together.”
Sharfaa Sabir // Sri Lankan // College Student
“My grandma has always been here for Ramadan, but she’s actually stuck in Sri Lanka because of coronavirus. So this is the first Ramadan without her – even though I think she’d been here every single year I can’t remember a time when she wasn’t here.
I think that it’s never really gonna go back to normal, because now every time I go out I’m so aware of everything that I touch – I’m so used to the way things are right now. I don’t even know how it’s gonna be after. I don’t think it’s gonna ever be back normal.
No one thought it would get to this level, I guess I don’t think that anyone thought it was going to get as bad. It’s just heartbreaking hearing about these families (who have been) separated (and) the people who are being paid under the table (who have lost their income).
And we’re scared for my dad, my dad’s really high risk.”
Ameena Qobrtay // Circassian // College Student
“It was really challenging for me to learn to let go of things that I can’t control, and I say this all the time, to my friends and stuff and they think I sound crazy but I think that was the most challenging thing for me this Ramadan – to really let go of all the things that are literally out of my power.
I think I learned you can’t control everything and that’s a good thing. It’s not meant to be that way – everything’s written.
For a long time I just couldn’t accept it and I would just argue with my family all the time about the way the government was handling things and that’s not very productive either. It’s not my family’s fault.
We don’t have the opportunity to grieve so much over coronavirus losses because we’re in this society that’s so fixated on ‘keep going, keep going, keep going’ – it would be nice to grieve on the loss of life and also mourn the opportunities that we all missed out on.”
Zainab Wiswall // Bengali // College Graduate
“In the beginning (of Ramadan) I was fasting so then that made it hard to go out and do stuff, and around here we have a curfew so once you have the energy and you eat, you can’t go out. Then, after my period I got sick so then I couldn’t fast so that’s probably the thing that’s affected my mind. It feels weird to not fast and it just feels like you’re not doing Ramadan at all, there’s no question, there’s no taraweeh.
It hasn’t really felt like Ramadan to me – unless if you’re surrounded by very religious family where everyone’s really making the effort to have a masjid environment, unless you’re doing a lot of personal effort to just pray all night. It would just feel like a Ramadan that you kind of pass.”
Duaa Ali // Sudanese // College Student
“(This Ramadan) has made me kind of realize how much the community did have an impact on my life. Just in general for me practicing my deen when it came to Ramadan. Before I was so used to going to the masjid then everyone else’s praying taraweeh, I’m going to pray taraweeh.
Whereas when you’re at home, there’s not really that pressure or anyone there around you kind of pushing you to just pray or read Quran or just do good because you don’t really have that community around. I have my family with me and we’ll pray taraweeh while we’re together but throughout the day, throughout actual fast, for the most part I’m sitting there on my computer.
Without the community I don’t feel as obligated.”
Zainab Ali // Pakistani // College Graduate
“The MIST (Muslim Interscholastic Tournament) theme was trusting the process and putting your trust in Allah (SWT). We were complaining about it being so early. But, had we even pushed it a week – we’re the only region this year that I think is able to have in person – that it was one of my last happy memories
I was in the basement eating dates and chugging water and also just trying to complete the exams.
We take so many things for granted, we take the Masjid for granted, we take our socialization for granted. I take the iftar parties that I expect it to attend, those that we expect to host for granted.
There’s that joke, ‘when the shaytan is locked up during Ramadan and you realize it was you the whole time.’ I think it was the same thing opposite to where obviously the angels, and Allah (SWT) are not locked up, Astaghfirullah, but at the same time like all the institutions that I used to get closer to them (Allah and the angels) are locked up.”
Disclaimer: every opinion expressed in written pieces is that of the writer, and doesn’t represent the view of our publication.
The Netflix show Elite is polarizing – some Muslim viewers love it and others aren’t so happy with it. The frustration mainly comes from the fact that the TV show presents a Muslim girl taking off her hijab for a guy, and her drug dealer gay brother’s dillemma with his faith.
For those who are unaware of the show, the main Muslim characters share pretty similar plot lines. Starting off with the hijabi, Nadia, she starts off as a shy new girl at school who only studies and doesn’t want to be friends with others.
It’s safe to assume that the writers were trying to include the stereotype of all hijabis being quiet and not speaking for themselves.
Nadia accidentally spots two antagonists of the show having sex, leading them to make a bet with each other to see if the white boy, Guzman, can humiliate Nadia by seducing her. The both of them end up having feelings for each other and Nadia begins to do things like not wearing her hijab as much and having sex.
This is a common theme in almost every hijabi’s storyline and it’s pretty old to the point where there is almost no point in putting a Muslim girl in a movie or TV show because it just ends with false representation and the girl just being “saved” by a white guy as a “happy ending.”
Things are no better for Nadia’s brother, Omar, a gay drug dealer who starts to fall in love with another main character in the show. I’m sure the only reason Elite made Omar, out of all characters, to be homosexual was to turn him being Muslim as just a dilemma or obstacle in his life.
This should never be presented for any type of belief, especially the ones that are continuously being underrepresented.
There is another gay muslim character that enters the show in season 3 named Malick. Malick starts to date Nadia even though she still has feelings for Guzman. Her parents approve of her dating Malick. Nadia later finds out he is secretly gay and has been hooking up with her brother, Omar… seriously? Talk about family tea!
Malick convinces Nadia to continue dating him. He also ends up proposing to Nadia near the end of the show and she accepts – until the next day when she realizes she doesn’t want to live a lie – but the two remain friends. The season finishes with Nadia still wanting to be with Guzman as well as Omar leaving Malick for his first boyfriend.
Most Muslims would say that these characters are disrespectful to all Muslim teenagers, as the show is in a backhanded way of making it seem to the audience that the religion of Islam goes against any teens’ desires and is practically oppressing Muslims, leaving them with no choices.
NADIA FROM ELITE I AM SCREAMING!! Her character is the stereotypical Western view of Muslim women. Her falling for a racist white boy is classic wattpad bs HOW IS THAT 3 DIMENSIONAL ?!? https://t.co/EuOoh21dF8
The writers of Elite consist of Spanish men, aside from Abril Zamora, a trans woman. None of the writers are Muslim. The problem with this is that it shows that the writers may have used only the preexisting stereotypes they had in mind while making and shaping these characters and didn’t even think about having a Muslim writer to clarify whats right and wrong.
It’s already sad enough that having Muslim characters in films isn’t considered a regular thing, but when they are being represented incorrectly as well, it just makes it worse.
I believe that the show is trying to give off the idea that all Muslims are needing to rebel to live a happy life because otherwise they are nothing but “oppressed” kids. Which is completely untrue.
I think this is a dangerous idea to be spreading too, especially for the hijabi stereotype, since nowadays there are a lot of films expressing the idea of hijabis being oppressed and being unhappy until meeting some white boy that makes her feel “true freedom.”
These films will lead non-Muslims, or even some Muslim girls who are considering wearing the hijab to think it’s just force from parents and will completely change others idea of what the hijab is actually supposed to represent, which is modesty.
Also the show adds to the stereotype of ALL muslims having insanely strict parents, which I find pretty unfair. Sure there are Muslim parents that are strict but not all are. There are a lot of laid back Muslim parents out there who have a healthy relationship with their children.
I’m pretty sure if there were Muslims among the writing crew for the show, Nadia and Omar would probably be completely different characters from what they are currently. I’m also sure that Nadia wouldn’t need or want to take off her hijab at all through the show.
Personally, I don’t think Elite is a bad show, as a matter of fact I find the show pretty interesting. My only issue, along with many people’s issue with the show, is their idea of Muslim teens and how they’re choosing to present them.
Can I just get a TV show where the Muslim woman wears a hijab and abaya, doesn't have or want a boyfriend, doesn't defend her clothing choices, and ALSO solves crime for a living?!? Am I asking for too much?!?
I watched this one show a while back called Skam, and it’s one of my favorite shows of all time because they have a strong and amazing hijabi lead that doesn’t show her as embarrassed of her religion or wanting to take off her hijab (she doesn’t remove her hijab throughout the show.)
It’s also not that hard to create a good plot line for a hijabi. For example, it could be the opposite of pretty much all the hijabi films, where the guy falls in love with the Muslim girl and wants to convert for her.
It’s not everyday you will see a show or a movie wanting to feature a hijabi, let alone a Muslim. I think if film writers are wanting to create a Muslim character, they should respect the religion of Islam and the lives of most Muslim teenagers.
I also believe that Elite should start to introduce a better portrayal of these Muslim characters. The popular show only has three seasons, who knows where it will lead. We just simply ask for good representation.
Despite having an up-and-down relationship — the singer and supermodel reportedly split in 2018 due to their hectic schedules — Hadid and Malik are happier than ever and haven’t “skipped a beat,” said a source.
The couple is currently quarantining together at Hadid’s family farm in Pennsylvania, where they celebrated the model’s 25th birthday this past Sunday.
All 1D stans out there (yes, we still exist) know that Malik will be the third father of the group, following behind the “For You” singer, Liam Payne, and Louis Tomlinson, the oldest member in the band.
With now ⅗ of the boyband as parents, along with the recent rumors that the boys are reuniting for their 10-year anniversary, former 1D fans are searching for their old t-shirts, CDs and One: Direction This Is Us DVDs in quarantine.
The reunion whispers started after fans noticed that the rest of the group refollowed Malik on Twitter.
Though nothing is confirmed yet, fans are praying for a reunion and we could all use a quarantine “W” right about now.
Malik may now have to swap microphones for pacifiers, but one thing’s for sure: Zigi’s future baby is going to be set for life, financially and physically, inshallah khair. With career options like carrying boy bands and strutting on cat walks, this baby has a bright future ahead.
Disclaimer: every opinion expressed in written pieces is that of the writer, and doesn’t represent the view of our publication.
Jeff Goldblum, TV personality and star of the movie Jurassic Park, was a recent guest star on season 12 of Rupaul’s Drag Race. Every judge on the quirky show comments about a contestant’s performance – but rarely do we see comments going as far as to attack a contestant’s religion.
Jackie Cox is an Iranian drag queen whose family has been affected by President Trump’s Muslim ban. After lip syncing to Katy Perry’s song “Firework” while wearing a hijab and dress embellished with the American flag, Goldblum asked Cox, if “Islam is anti-homosexual and anti-woman,” going on to ask if “that complicates the issue” with Cox’s performance.
Goldblum’s statement comes from an inherently fundamental problem that is consistently purported to show that Islam has no place in the West.
In asking whether Islam “complicates” the issue, we can see something more sinister deeply ingrained within the American mindset: Islamophobia. Like all religions, there is a problem with the co-opting of Islam’s sacred texts to be used to justify the agendas of people in power. But, the texts aren’t the problem, it’s the use of out of context phrases and statements that continue to be weaponized in order to paint an inaccurate picture of our religion.
From a fellow queer Muslim who has had to deal with constant ignorant attacks on my religion on campus and daily life, ignorant statements like these are usually the underlying thoughts hidden in comments like “how are you gay and Muslim?”
To be clear, there are millions of queer Muslims around the world whose existences are threatened not by their community but by a Western society that believes they are walking contradictions yearning to be “liberated” from oppressive regimes.
@JackieCoxNYC was making a statement about her Iranian heritage through her fashion and spoke up about the way the Muslim ban has oppressed Muslims. His little comment that "that religion" is anti-homosexuality and anti-woman comes off like a justification for the racist laws.
Cox made our people proud and shed light on the United State’s anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim agenda by stating that “I’m exploding out on that stage because I’m feeling the weight of everyone who’s ever been told they need to go back home where they come from.” By gaslighting her incredible performance, we can see what Goldblum and many others really mean by their comments – Which is to perpetuate an anti-Islam agenda that portrays a religion that 1.8 Billion people follow as a way of life, into thinking that they have no place in the West.
I am here. I am queer. I am Muslim. We are many.
Queer Muslims are committed to show the world that our identities exist, and have been present for centuries, but comments like Goldblum’s push us back to a place we are actively fighting to come out of.
We don’t need to be liberated from our Muslim communities, we need to be liberated from ignorant statements like those of Goldbum and others. As a public figure, Goldblum’s comments can have implications and it’s imperative that he’s aware of that.
Samer Hassan is a queer Muslim currently studying at Columbia University New York City
On Thursday, SpongeBob SquarePants, one of the most popular children shows of all time, shared a picture depicting the cartoons main characters SpongeBob and his sidekick, Patrick, wishing Muslims a “Ramadan Mubarak”.
The upload erupted a buzz of positive outpouring from online users expressing their joy toward the simple gesture.
“Wishing everyone a Happy Ramadan!” read the post, which was published across the cartoon’s social media platforms with over 54 million followers combined.
Funny yet important
Many joked about the message coming all the way from the Bikini Bottom residents, with one twitter user calling SpongeBob a sheikh, while anotherdeclared they no longer need the moon to confirm it’s Ramadan, because SpongeBob did.
Another shareda funny anecdote of how Ramadan would look like there with the beloved starfish Patrick ordering the infamous “Krabby Patty” at three AM, most likely for Suhoor.
Besides the obvious fun, many more welcomed the endeavor the show runners decided to take because of how rare it is to see friendly and optimistic messages towards Muslims.
“It is incredible how far a simple depiction of SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick Star celebrating Ramadan can go in making Muslim Americans feel seen, heard, included, and embraced in American media,” Wa’el Alzayat, CEO of US Muslim political action committee Emgage, was according to The Arab Daily News.
Not Arabic Attire
However, the sweet picture went through a careful examination by online Muslims, especially regarding SpongeBob and Patrick’s choice of clothing. An old cultural ownership debate between Southeast Asian countries Malaysia and Indonesia began around the characters’ Ramadan outfits.
Though everyone took their side of the argument, many pointed their appreciation of considering Southeast Asian cultural references instead of Arabic. This comes in efforts to broaden the view of Islam in the US and around world, in addition to diminishing the mainstream notion that Islam is an Arab religion.
SpongeBob SquarePants has been on the air for 20 years and is the fifth longest running American animated series. The show has generated more than $13 billion in merchandising revenue for Nickelodeon.
Move over, Mona Haydar — there’s a new Muslim rapper in town, a Nike hijab-donning Toronto native that goes by Drake. On April 2, Drake released the highly anticipated music video for his latest single “Toosie Slide” named after a social media influencer who popularized the song.
The music video shows Drake quarantined at his house, an enormous and seemingly never-ending work of architecture that appears to be made almost entirely of marble. As part of his quarantine get-up, he wears a black face mask and, wrapped around his head for some unfathomable reason, what many Muslims on the Internet believe to be a Nike Women’s Pro hijab.
Muslim fans and viewers took to social media and voiced their confusion, with many playfully congratulating the rapper for embracing Islam. Others have jokingly praised him for showing support for hijabi women, lauding him as a Muslim ally. A simple search on Twitter’s search bar using the phrase “drake hijab toosie slide,” for example, will display hundreds of Tweets expressing similar sentiments and jokes playing on the theme of Drake’s supposed identity as a Muslim or Muslim ally.
Of course, if Drake’s questionable headpiece really had been a hijab, this should not come as a surprise to anyone even remotely familiar with the rapper and his affinity for incorporating slang and imagery from other cultures into his music, a habit that some find amusing but others have criticized as a form of cultural appropriation.
In 2015, when Drake was featured on Meek Mill’s single “R.I.C.O.” he rapped the line “[t]hey told me to tell you you mans are some wastemans.” Wasteman, which refers to an idle person with no ambition or prospects, is slang that traces its origins to Londoners of Jamaican descent, a demographic that the Canadian rapper clearly does not belong to. Indeed, Drake has a long and well-documented history of borrowing from Caribbean culture, ranging from his occasional use of a Caribbean accent and slang to the adoption of dancehall moves that he performed most famously in the “Hotline Bling” music video.
Regardless of one’s take on Drake’s tendency to adopt features of other cultures into his music and social media presence, the Tweets and memes that have circulated following the release of his latest video represent a continuation of the Muslim Internet’s long tradition of jokingly transforming Drake into a Muslim, a phenomenon that WIRED even dedicated an article to in 2016. Various pictures of Drake have been edited where it looks like the rapper is wearing a hijab or taqiyah (the skullcap worn by many Muslim men) and used in familiar meme formats to create relatable content for Muslim consumers. Even if he had not worn the hijab-resembling headpiece in his music video, Drake has somehow become cemented as fodder for Muslim memes and Nike hijab or not, Drake will likely continue to be a fixed presence in Muslim-created online content.
The question that this trend begs, however, is why? Why has Drake become a feature of Muslim memes? Born to a Catholic father and a Jewish mother, the irony of the rapper becoming a “Muslim” icon likely contributes to the humor behind the memes. Sporting a black beard like many Muslim men, Drake certainly looks the part too. At their most effective, many “Muslim Drake” memes also implicitly make fun of Drake’s “culture vulture” tendencies, playing on his habit of experimenting with different cultures to cultivate a more unique identity for himself despite having no connection to the cultures in question.
Drake’s music, social media activity, style, and behavior have consistently offered material for Muslims to generate memes transforming the rapper into a pious Muslim, so fans of this niche meme need not despair as “Toosie Slide” is not the last of Muslim Drake.
Last year, YouTube crossed the milestone of over 2 billion logged-in monthly users. Content about everything and everyone is just waiting for you in a black hole of random endless hours of pure entertainment.
A huge chunk of those hours is created by a variety of Muslim YouTube personalities that we follow and adore. The YouTube Muslim community is a representation of what happens when religion intersects with different identities with their own culture, heritage, and traditions.
We want to introduce you to your soon-to-be new favorite Muslim YouTubers repping the game hard while staying true to themselves.
We’ve all been there, the deepest black hole there is on YouTube – makeup tutorials!
With so much out there, Yasmine Simone is just a breath of fresh air. This Muslim beauty-lover has over 100k subscribers. On her channel, she shares stunning makeup trends, advice on skincare, wellness, head wrap styles, and more beauty secrets.
However, what makes Yasmine a true joy to watch is her easy-going attitude and realistic approach to beauty that cuts that is unseen in the Muslim makeup community.
Samantha’s content is focuses on what she learned from her experiences and struggles with Islam and her personal development as an Australian Muslim revert.
Whether it was how she learned to read the Quran or her first Taraweeh experience, Samantha gives her viewers a glimpse of the life of an important segment of our community that does not usually get the mic.
However, this Aussie does not hold back, giving her take on mental health, feminism, abuse in Muslim homes, and other topics. As Samantha says, her channel is “an outlet of self-expression and community,” a community you definitely have to check out.
You’re in luck, because you just read the name of your new best friend. This Palestinian-American is smart, funny and will just leave you feeling all-around wholesome.
From silly parodies to Arabic accent/dialect challenges, your auntie will ask why you’re grinning like a fool at your phone.
Another reason we can’t wait for Subhi’s next upload to drop is because of his willingness to talk about hard-hitting topics like choosing to ignore fear of judgement, losing faith, the struggle of praying, Arab superiority, and plenty more.
They say laughter is the best medicine, and while that is debatable, how funny Abz & Fio is not up for debate.
With their adorable little son, Rayns, the pair stacks up more than 25 million views on their channel, mostly because of their pranking videos. For these, nothing is off limits, and with some cameos from Rayns, you will probably hop from one video to the next just to see who pranked who.
Yet, their content has range, whether it is an upload about Abz being a stay-home dad, the reality of traveling with a baby, or the many fun mukbang videos they have, this little family of three are worth watching.
So, if you just want to forget about your lonely Saturday evening, surf away to their channel and see how they’ll end up your new obsession.
Learn from the brilliant boss woman, Amena. On her channel, Amena lets you in to bear witness to her life as a Muslim Pakistani-British woman, an entrepreneur, a business owner, and a mother.
With her signature “Hello lovelies,” Amena shares her passion for beauty and lifestyle with more than 411k subscribers, in addition to her day to day life, whether it be her family BBQ or spring cleaning her house. When she is not busy running the world with two companies Amena also talks about personal health and marriage.
She just does it all and you will want a front row seat to see it unfold.
You will usually find this quirky man on the ‘gram usually running or traveling. Nadir Nahdi gives a fresh breath of content with his storytelling and humor. Making it as part of YouTube’s Creators for Change program, he lives up to their mission statement as he continues to search for untold stories to shed light on them.
With his creator laboratory, BENI and his worldwide run club – you’re always on an adventure with Nadir.
Our list signs off with Gita Devi, a brilliant blogger turned business woman. From Gen-Z Twitter meme humor to addressing hard-hitting topics, you will see Gita making your day in the most unusual ways. Although based in Germany, you will find that her content varies in Indonesian and English.
From vlogs, covers, beauty videos and skits, you will find that Gita’s content is very versatile and enjoyed by everyone. With a large presence of close to 1 million followers, she has expanded in creating a beauty brand, skin care brand, clothing line and is now an author to her recently released book, “Cups Of Tea”.