20 Muslim Women to Watch in 2020

The Village Auntie

— As told to Jessica Daqamsseh

Angelica Lindsey-Ali, or the “Village Auntie,” strives to empower Muslim women through reclaiming traditional cultural approaches to sexuality and feminine gender identity within an Islamic framework. She has over 18 years of experience in public health, and over 20 years of experience training women in wellness from a West African perspective. Lindsey-Ali holds a degree in African and African American studies from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and is a certified sexual health educator.

During the time of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), sex was a part of life that was discussed openly and without shame. Lindsey-Ali believes the subject of sex has become taboo in modern Muslim communities to the spiritual detriment of Muslim women and men alike. Through her social media platforms, workshops, and online resources, Lindsey-Ali discusses sex (including optimizing pleasure in a physical relationship and creating mutually beneficial intimate relations between spouses), as well as body awareness, sacred movement, and the cultural history, meaning, and technique dances from Ghana, Mali, Senegal, and Guinea.

Although the “Village Auntie” movement talks about sex, the platform’s ultimate aim is empowerment and reclamation of culture. She uses sex to bring people into the conversation, but the actual movement has a higher purpose for Muslim women. In an interview with Haute Hijab, she said that “[…] it’s the inter-generational transmission of feminine values and a recognition of unique feminine power” not sex itself that drives the movement.

Recently, Muslim Girl discussed with Angelica Lindsey-Ali what inspires her, and what her future hopes and goals are for the movement:

MG: What is your biggest inspiration behind the work that you do?

Angelica Lindsey-Ali: My biggest inspiration are my daughters. I am the mother of four children, two of whom are girls. Seeing the role of motherhood from a personal perspective really shifted all of my intentions. I want to create a world in which they do not have to disrupt or break down walls that I am currently working to dismantle. They inspire me daily to do, think, and be better.

MG: What has been the best lesson that you’ve learned along your journey?

The best lesson I have learned is to rise above the fray. There will always be someone who wants to dissuade me from doing this work or who lobs criticism heavy handedly. I can’t respond to every critique and I don’t need to. I focus on those who uplift the work and it has made my journey so much brighter.

What is the most important challenge you choose to overcome as a Muslim woman in your field? 

I choose to overcome the idea that talking about sexual health and education is improper for Muslim women.

We deserve to establish agency over our own bodies, and education gives us the foundation we need.

We have a right and a duty to arm ourselves with knowledge about our bodies from both a religious and societal perspective. We deserve to establish agency over our own bodies, and education gives us the foundation we need.

What’s the one message you hope to deliver to the next generation of Muslim girls? 

You are not limited by religion, culture, or age. Find your passion, learn it, and live it. The Mothers of the Believers (RA) gave us the blueprint. All we have to do is actualize it!

What do you wish you could say to yourself 10 years ago? 

Don’t ever be afraid to share what you know, because people are waiting for someone just like you.