Music Notes

Instead Of Letting Muslim Stereotypes Flood The Music World, This Woman Took A Stand Against Them

It's not the first time she's gone viral, either.

A Syrian-American artist took her 13 years of writing experience to the next level by penning a song about the reality of wearing a hijab as a woman.

And earlier in April, the music video for the song went viral.

The song, titled "Hijabi," celebrates Muslim women from different backgrounds and tackles the common questions people have about women who wear hijabs, such as "What does your hair look like?" It also shuts down anti-feminist behavior with lyrics such as "Make a feminist planet / Women haters get banished / Covered up or not, don't ever take us for granted."

Mona Haydar, who's originally from Flint, Mich., calls her music "resistance music" because of its unapologetic representation of women and diversity. She recently told NPR's Code Switch that breaking into the music industry as a Muslim woman has been difficult because many people in her community view music as haram, meaning it goes against their religion. But Haydar has her own thoughts on that.

"You know, I'm not a young person," Haydar said that negativity still exists based on some of the video's feedback. "I'm not this thoughtless person who's just jumping into something. Music being forbidden, I'm not interested in this conversation. Because something that promotes love and light is positive and is permissible. And not only permissible but necessary, especially in the world we live in right now."

Haydar is no stranger to breaking down negative stereotypes about Muslims. After the San Bernardino attack in California and Paris shooting in France, she and her husband, Sebastian Robins, set up a makeshift stand with free doughnuts and signs that said "Ask A Muslim" to encourage positive and constructive conversations for their community.

"Hijabi" also tackles negative perceptions towards women's bodies. In the video, it's revealed that she's eight months pregnant early on in the song, and although artists such as M.I.A. and Beyoncé have made waves with performing on stage pregnant, Haydar said that negativity still exists based on some of the video's feedback.

"The fact that a pregnant woman is in a music video was just shocking for a lot of people," she said. "And I found it really disturbing that people were so shocked. Often, people had more to say about me rubbing my belly than about the actual content."

Still, she believes that challenging stereotypes can make an impact.

"It's actually really powerful that there's a pregnant woman in the video in a song that's all about women's bodies," she says. "It was just very important to challenge that narrative and to challenge that story — that not all women's bodies look the same, and women's bodies should not look the same."

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Watch the music video for "Hijabi" below:

(H/T: NPR Code Switch)

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