Nihal Al Qawasmi is the Co-founder and Editorial Director of Miss Muslim, an inclusive online platform that takes charge with conversations about love, sex, fashion, politics, and more. Here, she shares her story as a ground-breaking connector, which ultimately led her to create a thriving community through vibrant story-telling and engaging teamwork.
I identify as a storyteller— but I often remind people that I’m a storyteller that doesn’t forget to tell their own story, too. And I believe that’s something that a lot of people forget. Every individual should be given the opportunity and platform to share their story, not have their story told for them. I think that’s important. That’s where MissMuslim came from. It was an idea between like-minded and strong-willed women who were sick and tired of bigotry, the patriarchy, and other Muslims who were too afraid to represent and associate themselves with the not-your-typical-Muslim Muslims. What we’re doing at MissMuslim is essentially breaking down those walls within our own communities and beyond and making sure that people everywhere start getting comfortable with our presence — and accepting the fact that not all Muslim women are the same.
This is especially important for me because as a hijabi, often times, people only see the headscarf. With the hijab, comes of all of these great expectations and standards. While I do understand that there’s a big responsibility on my shoulders when I wrap my headscarf every morning, I still want people to acknowledge that I’m a human being and I represent myself and only myself when I walk out my front door everyday. It’s not fair to belittle the headscarf into this cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all entity that is supposed to be the symbol of Islam all at once. I love my headscarf, but it’s not the symbol of Islam. I believe the symbol is your Islamic character – the way you carry yourself — and of course, modesty. Which, news flash, is more than just a piece of cloth.
When people click on our website, the first thing I want them to realize is that inclusiveness is big on our list. To the point where you don’t even have to be a Muslim to experience the sisterhood-like bond within our team. You just need to identify as a woman. No matter your walk of life, we welcome all. I want our words to enlighten people and inspire them to think just a tiny bit outside the box next time. This goes for both our Muslim and non-Muslim communities. I want people to recognize that when you stop objectifying Muslim women by only seeing (or not seeing) the headscarf, you then realize how beautifully diverse and extraordinary we all are. We’re not asking for your validation, but we want you to understand that we all deserve a space to exist comfortably.
And we sure as hell weren’t going to wait for someone to offer us that space. So we did the next best thing, and we created it. MissMuslim is the proud home of some pretty badass ladies. We are the rebels, the misfits, the tokens, and most importantly, the game-changers. And we’re not going anywhere.