In a time where ignorance is not bliss, there are outlets to help break the stigma in the most oblivious. In this time of xenophobia, take a look at the people who are truthful representations to break the negative stereotypes. A good place to start? New Jersey native Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, a young author, fashion guru and online tech entrepreneur is a prime example of that. And if you couldn’t tell already, she’s a young Muslim woman.
At the time of the 9/11 attacks, Amani was a nine year old girl. Despite the looks from her peers, Amani entered puberty and decided to wear the hijab. The Islamic teachings state that once a child enters puberty, he/she is responsible to begin following their religion more closely (for example, once they enter puberty, they are permitted to begin fasting during the holy month of Ramadan).
Islam preaches modesty, but women are not specifically required to wear a hijab. A woman who does not wear a hijab is just as much of a Muslim as those who do. Kudos to the brave and amazing sisters that do. For any young Muslim girl, Amani agreed, it was a tough decision and can sometimes lead to a sense of isolation.
Reality check: Al-Qaeda are pretty crappy people. Islam is such a peaceful religion. The acts of terror that are being taken out are in no way a representation of Muslim people around the world. Muslims are being misrepresented and as a result are disgustingly mistreated in our society today. Amani had the ambition and dream to change the extreme level of Islamophobia while she was in high school in 2009, when she created her blog muslimgirl.com, which has now transformed into an online community for Muslim girls all around.
The blog began as just that - a blog for Amani and her friends to express their feelings. They hoped the blog would push the boundaries and change how society viewed the real message of Islam and showcased the young woman exactly as what they are - beautiful, powerful, and educated American women who were about to make their mark. Since its debut, the blog has transformed widely into something that is much more than just an average blog. Amani serves as the founder and editor-in-chief and she now has 50 amazing writers who, thanks to its success from investors in recent months, she can now pay for delivering their stories, tips, and opinions on anything from the perspective of a Muslim woman. They range from beauty tips to sexuality and often include taboo topics that need to be spoken about in the Islamic community, but was nearly impossible to find discussion on before MuslimGirl came into expression. They are issues that are extremely real and should be addressed; for the young girls who don’t necessarily have the outlets to speak about these issues, MuslimGirl is there for them. The blog truly flourished in 2015 when they expanded their volunteer staff (who, as previously mentioned, are now paid for their labor of love!) and were able to transform it into a true publication that has taken flight to something much more than Amani ever imagined back in 2009. It is stressed that MuslimGirl’s audience is not just for followers of Islam, but for everyone. I encourage all of you to check out the website - it’s a wonderful place to get education on Islam and in general, a great blog to follow. All the editors and writers publish wonderful content that goes beyond typical journalism and reporting. Read it, I promise you’ll enjoy yourself and you’ll realize, they’re real people after all - just like all of the Millennials who have been growing up in this era.
Amani is now a 23 year old graduate of Rutgers University. In October 2016, she published her memoir Muslim Girl to change the typical market and give young Muslim girls something to relate, laugh and even cry to. With her success, she made it onto Forbes 30 Under 30 list. She has attended radio and news segments in the past two years, sitting next to many notable names while making a name for herself and when she isn’t busy with her own blog, even writes
columns for The Huffington Post, Teen Vogue, and Forbes. Amani is most definitely making history by creating the first common media network written by a Muslim woman, for Muslim and non-Muslim women alike. It holds as a sustainable source of female empowerment in a time when we need it the most during this absurd time of discrimination. She isn’t different, and that’s what we’re trying to relay. Hopefully you’ve paused reading this article to go over to MuslimGirl and have noticed, the blog is pink, she attends BeautyCon and uploads her selfies with Kim Kardashian. Amani shows us that being a Muslim feminist who is fabulous and fierce is beyond epic.