Shattering stereotypes: Speakers explore Muslim-American experience


By Cosette Shachnow

On Jan. 17, the Hijabi Monologues took place in Union College’s Nott Memorial.

The show was invited by a variety of campus organizations to raise awareness through storytelling about contemporary Muslim women.

The actresses were Kamilah, Sahar, and Jamarah, a diverse group of women who are academically accomplished, talented, religious, and surprisingly average.

While the audience learned that the hijab is a traditional head covering worn by many Muslim women across the United States, the focus of the show is not a “simple piece of clothing.” Rather, the performance was a compellation of different Muslim-American women’s humorous, touching, and relatable experiences, told as if they were the actresses’ own.

Kamilah joked about the single football game she attended while she was a student at the University of Miami, which is renowned for its football team. She told the audience about leaving the game early to pray and also spoke about her cat that she named Sexy.

Sahar spoke about the shame she felt when her room was messy and she also told us of her several male friends who made it their mission to protect her against male attention.

Jamarah shared her woes about finding her son a bride and struggling with her identity.

As a group, the actresses also discussed the “fine art” of being hit on by men.

The show provides Muslim women with a voice because it gives audience members insight into their most personal experiences. For example, Sahar shared the story of her father’s arrest for being an accused terrorist and how the police subsequently confiscated her computer. Jamarah shared her reaction to her son’s death and told the audience of her heartbreaking grieving process.

The audience heard about the womens’ struggles to be benevolent Muslims, daughters, mothers, and students. Despite being religious, these women also shatter stereotypes about being Muslim, by reminding us that some also curse and have sex.

“The hijabi is a piece of fabric. Not a magic wand,” said Kamilah.

The most important piece of wisdom that the women is that people should approach the hijabi-wearing woman as they would approach any stranger—as a potential friend.

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