And Still They Rise: One Selfie at a Time

Black Muslim women observing the hijab are attempting to reclaim the narrative surrounding black Muslims. PHOTO CREDIT:

BY Arfa Shahid

Black Muslim women are fighting for recognition, one selfie at a time. The hashtag #BombBlackHijabis and #BombBlackMuslimahs has been making its round on social media this week, celebrating black hijabis – Muslim women who wear the religious headscarf – and commenting on the lack of representation of black Muslims.

The social media campaign was started by Instagram users @adifferentmeem and @safurasalam as their attempt to reclaim the narrative surrounding black Muslims. Images and videos of black women in hijab, along with the hashtag #BombBlackHijabis, were uploaded on Twitter, Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr (yes, it’s still alive) on March 11, which was declared as the official #BombBlackHijabis day.

The social media campaign sheds light on the intersectionality of race, class and gender in Islam. Co-organizer of the hashtag Safura Salam wrote a moving piece for Muslim Girl website about why the struggles of black Muslim women are unique, even if similar to other women of color.

Writing about her struggles as a black hijabi, Salam talked about the difficulties of raising her daughter as a Muslim woman, and said she did not enroll her daughter at an Islamic school to “delay her first experience with racism.”

“I didn’t want her to struggle in finding a place within the tapestry of our Ummah. An Ummah where South Asian, Arab, and– to a lesser extent– Persian expressions of Islam pass for orthodoxy, but her own cultural and historical roots are often ignored.”

Race is a topic that many black Muslims, like Salam, feel is not discussed enough, despite the “color-blind” rhetoric that Islam promotes. Some may find that ironic, considering Islam abolished slavery 1400 years ago and granted equal status to all people of color. However, as the #BlackLivesMatter movement takes center stage in the debate on race relations in the U.S., the black Muslim identity has faced its own unique challenges.


#bombblackhijabis #bombblackmuslimahs #melanin

A photo posted by Veiled In Color (@veiledincolor) on

  #bombblackhijabis #bombblackmuslimahs #melanin A photo posted by Veiled In Color (@veiledincolor) on   For example, the use of the word “Abed” or “Abeed” has been a hot debate for many years. The word means a slave to God or Allah. While not offensive in itself – many Muslim men are named Abed – the word when used in reference to Africans constitutes a racial slur. According to some Arab-Americans and civil rights activists, the word has often been used by Arab-Americans to refer to African-Americans. In fact, a 2014 campaign on social media, #DropTheAWord urged people to drop the use of the word. Salam added that she wanted other Muslims to know that “there were, and continue to be, more black Muslims in our Islamic history than Bilal, Ibn Battuta and Malcolm X.” The ubiquity of social media networks has caused the hashtag to go viral, and women of African origin from various parts of the world continue to upload selfies and video-clips on social media, celebrating their history, ethnicity and origins.  



Blerd. 🖖🏾 📸: @yuniqueyunique A photo posted by Malikah A. Shabazz 🎶🎥🖖🏾🕋🕉☝🏾 (@malikah313bk) on

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