“Muslim Women Talk Back.” These words immediately grab your attention, as does the bold bubble-gum pink and black layout of MuslimGirl.net. At the top of the page you see tabs labeled “Faith” and “Lifestyle.” Articles range from the more profound – “Life Without Allah Doesn’t Make Sense” – to the more fashion-focused – “Three Statement Coats to Survive the Winter.”
A website for millennial Muslim women, MuslimGirl.net aims to normalize the word “Muslim” for both Muslims and non-Muslims, as the website proclaims. In today’s world, misrepresentations of the Islamic faith and its believers run rampant in the media. Young Muslims, especially, feel the burden of the inaccuracies the media often presents when speaking about the religion. For “young women living in today’s modern society,” the website wants to create a dialogue – and an honest one at that – about what it means to be Muslim.
CEO and editor Amani Al-Khatahtbeh is just 23-years-old, having founded Muslim Girl at the age of 17. Earlier this year she was included in the renowned Forbes “30 Under 30” List and has been recognized as a “media titan” by the New York Times. On Twitter, the website’s account has over 9, 000 followers, while Amani herself has 21K. Almost all articles on the website have long comment threads, with debates and open discourse taking place.
For many millennial Muslims, growing up with stereotypes about Islam seems to be the norm. Beginning with 9/11, when the majority of millennials were still children, and now with the attacks in Paris, Muslims face persecution and widespread Islamophobia. The emergence of Islamophobia, in part, led to Muslim Girl’s intention of transforming such notions.
Amani spoke to Teen Vogue about this, stating, “Millennial Muslims are simultaneously targeted and invisible.”
“I feel like [Islamophobia] doesn’t affect me now because I live in a fairly secular country and I’m in a secular school,” said senior Saif Kureishi. “However, I do see negative connotations pertaining to Islam represented in the media, especially in the more satirical publications like Charlie Hebdo. I also see it in the current elections happening in the United States – there’s a lot of Islamophobia and xenophobia present.”
In the current US elections, Islamophobia has been running rampant; from the candidates themselves to the people recognizing the harmful language being used, this close-minded approach to religion is becoming a major issue. Websites such as MuslimGirl work to change this mindset, which is partly why it is so important for those outside of this faith to read such articles.
Writer for MuslimGirl.net, Hasnaa Mokhtar, recently wrote, “Today we raise our children in the face of Islamophobia — and it’s scary.”
Amani has also placed a distinctive feminist voice on her website and all content. Earlier in January, she, along with nine other millennial women, was named one of Teen Vogue’s 10 New Faces of Feminism.
Sara Maher, the site’s lookbook editor, spoke of the feminist premise. “It’s incredibly important for young women, too, because it speaks to the liberation of women as a whole,” Maher told Refinery29.
It is clear from her website that feminist content is a vital undertone to take note of. Two years ago, a columnist wrote about how wearing the hijab is not connected to Muslim women being oppressed. “The reality of the situation is that if the woman herself wishes to cover her head, she is not oppressed.”
Other pieces highlight issues that women – not just Muslim women – face every day, such as sexual consent.
Ultimately, Muslim Girl is intended to empower Muslim women, to give them a platform to speak for themselves and resources to hear the voices of other Muslim women.
“Muslim women talk back, and the world deserves to hear what we have to say.”