Today you’ll find entertainers that cater to every available genre. Some work to deliver a perfectly crafted message, while others do it simply for the grand performance. Artists of every culture, race, and identity have the opportunity to express themselves in the realm of music and dance. But is there space in these diverse and rapidly growing industries for Muslim women who cover?
Amirah Sackett, the artistic director and creator of veiled dance group We’re Muslim Don’t Panic, thinks so. She along with two dancers, Iman and Khadijah, seek to challenge the stereotypes about Muslim women being oppressed by performing hip-hop routines in traditional Islamic attire.
The trio gained a lot of attention in 2012 after they were featured wearing black abayas in a controversial music video by Muslim rapper Brother Ali. His song, “Mourning in America,” quickly reached 1 million views on YouTube, and a political debate mentioning war, ISIS, and Islam exploded in the comments section.
Since 9/11, Muslim women have been the victims of anti-Muslim discrimination and hate crimes in the West, and throughout the world.
We’re Muslim Don’t Panic focuses on combating Islamophobia by educating the public regarding Muslim women and their roles in Islam through dance performances, educational lectures, and public workshops.
Sackett’s main goal is to foster understanding, knowledge and tolerance between Muslims and non-Muslims. “I wanted to open people’s eyes to a different image of Muslim women,” she said. tweet
Despite their honest efforts, We’re Muslim Don’t Panic has also faced some online criticism, mainly from Muslims who feel that women dancing is not part of Islam. One niqabi sister on YouTube opposed the group’s mission entirely. She wrote, “I totally disagree with the whole concept of facing the stereotyping towards Islam in general or Muslim women in particular by dancing…yes there is a big space in our religion to having fun, but women dancing isn’t one of them, as a Muslim niqabi women I refuse to be presented that way.”
Either way, Muslim women who are visible and active in the community can be seen as a positive. There are plenty of news articles recognizing passionate Muslim women; these are proof that individuals like Amirah Sackett are successfully contributing to the process of ending Muslim stereotypes.
Whether it’s in abaya, hijab, or niqab, the fully covered ladies continue to dispel negative ideas and spread knowledge about women in Islam at a time when Muslim women, particularly those who choose to cover, are being targeted.
What are your thoughts about a Muslim dance group? Weigh in below!