“What that hair look like? Bet that hair look nice. Don’t that make you sweat? Don’t that feel too tight?”
The music video for Syrian Muslim-American poet and activist Mona Haydar’s rap song “Hijabi” shows how it feels to be questioned as a woman who wears a hijab.
Haydar’s song showcases how divergent—and empowered—Muslim women of color can be, and it calls out minority extremists who exist within her own religion and anyone who paints Muslims all the same. “Make a feminist planet, women haters get banished,” Haydar remarks in the video—speaking to feminists and antifeminists alike. “Covered up or not don’t ever take us for granted.” Throughout the song, she encourages women to embrace their roots and stand up for what they believe in; in the video, she also appears flaunting her baby bump besides Muslim women of color wearing the hijab in various styles.
In the rap music industry, it is not typical to hear about female Muslim rappers or their point of view. Haydar shares hers with the world—not only as a rapper, but as a mother, author and student finishing her Masters in Divinity. Outside of the music world, Haydar aims to create an open dialogue that addresses Islamophobia.
Meliss Arteaga is an editorial intern at Ms. She studied at California State University Northridge and has a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism and minor in gender and women studies.