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I Was Called a Whore Because of This Photo

I Was Called a Whore Because of This Photo

All day, I’ve been blocking Muslims on Instagram. Men, women and children, most of them from the Middle-East.

Why? Because a modest instablog, Modestroute, that showcases Muslim women around the world, decided to repost one of my photos (above).

In the photo, I am fully clothed in all black–a faux leather jacket because I’m poor,  a shirt and a pair of jeans. I also have on hijab and black lipstick. My fist is balled high in the air and my eyes are closed. I originally posted the photo back in the summer to bring awareness to racial and social injustice. It’s a dope photo, and I got 15 mosquito bites from standing in the tall grass that day during the shoot.

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Instead of people liking the photo or just scrolling past my Black face and my fat body, they went into attack mode, swarming not only the photo on Modestroute’s page but on my personal page, too. “This is haram,” a Muslim man posted.

 I originally posted the photo back in the summer to bring awareness to racial and social injustice.

“Sorry, but how is this modest?” another user asked.

“She’s gorgeous, but she can cover up more,” said a Muslim girl who hadn’t worn hijab in her profile photo.

“Muslim??? Feminist??? Make up??? Wallahi end of times is NEAR!!!” one person exclaimed.

One user argued, “Her clothes are more modest than many other Muslim girls out there. Trust me.”

“She doesn’t represent Muslims,” a girl said.

If I hadn’t represented a real Muslim woman, then who was I at all?

On my personal page, the jabs were worse. Users sought out photos and trolled in the comment sections. They said I should cover my body for the sake of Allah (SWT), that what I wore wasn’t proper hijab and I was even called a whore and shaitan (devil). They said I couldn’t possibly be Muslim. The last comment hurt most of all, that, in the eyes of others, my Islam was so deeply rooted by what I chose to wear…or not wear.

If I hadn’t represented a real Muslim woman, then who was I at all?

After the attacks, I blocked so many folks that I lost count.

I’ve written about this before, but I am so very tired of having to validate my Islam. I’m tired of the “are you Muslim” question when my bio clearly states “Muslim Feminist.” I’m tired of Arab-speaking Muslims treating me as if I don’t know the rules of Islam because I’m Black, asking me if I celebrate Ramadan or if I know the Al-Fatiha by heart, and then clapping like I’m some kind of circus monkey when I reply “yes.” Why isn’t saying that I’m Muslim enough for others? When did we move into an era where we have to prove our closeness to Allah (SWT) or spirituality? And, why do some Muslims feel the need to be super-Muslim and correct every perceived wrong and cross every T? We are in a time where everyone is an internet mufti accredited by Sheikh Google.

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Guess what? I know the rules of proper hijab as stated in the Holy Book, but I choose not to do it. Instead, I choose to wear tight jeans, leggings, turbans, lipstick and nail polish. It is my ultimate choice how outwardly Muslim I’d like to look, and that choice doesn’t make me any less of a Muslim. I’m sorry to burst your Islamic bubble, but I don’t go around harassing Muslims who choose to wear abayas or niqab just because I don’t wear it. Nor do I judge them solely based on what they wear or how they wear it. Newsflash: there are bad Muslims who wear modest clothing. There are bad Muslims who have full beards. There are bad Muslims all around the world. Then there are also good Muslims, who may look like me.

Why isn’t saying that I’m Muslim enough for others?

When we get down to the root of Islam, there is a correct way to guide a Muslim to the straight path and bashing someone on the internet is far, far away from it. You are not helping me dress more modestly, nor are you helping me strengthen my spirituality or faith. You are only harming yourself.

We are so worried about appearances of Muslim women and girls that we forget the essence of Islam. The outer appearance is only a small portion of our belief system. Our religion encompasses all levels of spirituality from low to high, and we all struggle with different trials. I may struggle with clothing, another may struggle with speech and yet another with greed.

Should we all just start calling each other haram? Should we all begin trolling one another? Maybe we should check our intentions and understand that there is much more to a Muslim than his/her way of dress.

 

XOXO,

Leah V

View Comments (25)
  • Sister, I just wanted to tell you that you look beautiful, strong and inspiring in your photo, masha’allah, tabarak’allah. I’m so sorry that you became a target for anti-black racism dressed up as “piety”. It’s a true jihad to bravely wear hijab in this contemporary environment of weaponized white supremacy – an admirable strength that you obviously have (which I do not). You should only be applauded for your choice and for your strength and beautiful humanity. I pray that you are rewarded infinitely for your bravery and for your many good deeds. Through your courage and your obvious commitment to social justice, you are the picture of an ideal Muslim (in my humble opinion). For the sake of yourself and the countless young women looking up to you: please stay strong and stay true to yourself!!

    • *stands and applauds*

      “Weaponized white supremacy” is exactly right. May God bless you, Leah, for standing up to it.

      • My note to the “professor” addressing her note and your applause of a standing ovation with her accusation of the US being “weaponized White supremacy.”

        Please get real – ignorance is dangerous. Being informed is empowering. Cheering with the heart and not the head – doesn’t lead to a “win.”:

        It is this American, “environment of weaponized white supremacy” that gives Leah the freedom to pose and write as she chooses. Professor, what do you think would happen if she pulled this stunt in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, Iran . . .?

        Supremacy is a toxic idea that doesn’t stem from a skin color but from an ideology. It pairs fantasmically with Islamic ideology. Long before there was an “environment of weaponized white supremacy” there were Africans captured by Muslims to be abused and sold as slaves. Think Eunuch, little Black boys who were kidnapped from Africa and forced to endure penile removal to serve Harems of predominantly White women slaves captured from Europe.

        https://www.salon.com/2001/04/06/segal/
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/empire_seapower/white_slaves_01.shtml
        And slavery in the Muslim world against non-Muslims is happening today:
        https://www.nytimes.com/201

        So the irony that you applaud the hijab as a form of bravery in a country of people who really are not White supremacists but who truly allow those to live and let live. Would you applaud the “sister” who removes her hijab in Iran and goes for that type of resistance – even if that gets her into a jail or mutilated with acid to the face? Or is applauding reserved for people who simply exercise their civil liberties extended to them in the country they live in while disparaging said country?

        Professor – it seems you need to go back to class.

    • It is this American, “environment of weaponized white supremacy” that gives Leah the freedom to pose and write as she chooses. Professor, what do you think would happen if she pulled this stunt in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, Iran . . .

      Supremacy is a toxic idea that doesn’t stem from a skin color but from an ideology. It pairs fantasmically with Islamic ideology. Long before there was an “environment of weaponized white supremacy” there were Africans captured by Muslims to be abused and sold as slaves. Think Eunuch, little Black boys captured from Africa who were forced to endure penile removal to serve Harems of predominantly White women slaves captured from Europe.

      https://www.salon.com/2001/04/06/segal/
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/empire_seapower/white_slaves_01.shtml
      And Islamic ideology abusing people as slaves still exists:
      https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/19/world/africa/libya-migrants-slavery.html?_r=0

      So the irony that you applaud the hijab as a form of bravery in a country of people who really are not White supremacists but who truly allow those to live and let live. Would you applaud the “sister” who removes her hijab in Iran and goes for that type of resistance – even if that gets her into a jail or mutilated with acid to the face? Or is applauding reserved for people who simply exercise their civil liberties extended to them in the country they live in while disparaging said country?

      Professor – it seems you need to go back to class.

      • If you don’t like people being proud of being Muslims, go back to 4chan and reddit. Yes, of course he would applaud the “sister” who removes her hijab, because this is about including people, not spreading lies and slander about other people’s religions. GTFO, Nessie. We don’t need you here.

        • I’m actually very proud to be an American and value the secular civil liberties that allows anyone to practice their religion (in a benign way). My response was to a “professor” condemning the very country that allowed Leah to post herself wearing a hijab.

          Many women in Iran are getting arrested this week for taking off the hijabs they have been forced to wear in public. Where is the support for them? Yeh – it is easy to criticize the place, America, that gives civil liberties – but I don’t hear anyone on these pages – no guests posts or anything in support of the young Muslim mother in Iranian custody for being in public without hijab so that she can make Iran a better place for her daughter.

          Perhaps you would tell her to GTFO, too – but she can’t write here – she is in Iranian custody (and Iran controls media – not so different from the way many Islamic lands do).

          If you think I said something untrue in any of my posts, please let me know and offer correct information. I aim to be precise.

          • No, I wouldn’t tell her to GTFO. That’s because she doesn’t slander other people’s religions. Also, I have actually talked to a Muslim Sheikh and no, Islam does not condone FGM, for starters. Also, Muhammad was monogamous for 25 years, meaning, he stayed with that businesswoman, whose name was Khadija, who supported him and encouraged him. Most of the wives after Khadija’s death were widows. One of his wives, Aisha, contributed a great deal to Islam, as she narrated 2,210 hadith, or secondary holy books. Safiyah, you mentioned, was indeed a slave at first but eventually came to actually love Muhammad and remained loyal to him until he died. Muhammad also defended her against anti-Semitic comments people made against her at the time. Also, after Muhammad died, one of his widows, Hafsa, preserved the first collection of the Qu’ran until it could be distributed.
            So yes, he did conquer some of his wives in war, but he treated all of his wives very well. Also, women played a fairly key role in the development of Islam.
            Think about that before you go foaming at the mouth at how sexist Islam is.

    • And the irony or the biggest example of a gratuitous race hatred you are trying to stir up here is that there seems to be no mention of Leah’s detractors being “white” but Muslims who have rejected her idea of being a Muslim. This is about a clash of ideology. I don’t twitter, but I haven’t seen it as a clash of color regarding this tweet until I read your post.

  • Salam sister. Anyone who is too obsessed with the looks or actions of others is simply doing it because they are trying so desperately hard not to look at themselves or their own lives!! Realize… some people are just haters, plain and simple!! Every race and religion has good and bad!! As a woman, as a Muslim, you are amazing and represent yourself wonderfully!! The religion is perfect, but it’s people who make it imperfect!! Remember that, always!! Be strong my sister!!

    • How is a religion perfect when every nation that holds a majority of people who have been conquered into that religion – is now a human rights pit? Is there one Islamic country whose citizens are free from fear from the government harassing or arresting them – or family harassing or threatening them over any combination of what they think, what they wear, who they love or how they write or how they pray? No.

      Maybe Muhammad thought that his religion was perfect because he could take women, like Juwayriyah bint Al-Harith, Rayhana bint Zayd ibn Amr, Safiyah bint Huyayywere as prisoners against their will after conquering or killing their loved ones, but my guess is – those female “companions” of his , whether succumbing to be wife or remain se x slave, didn’t exactly think Islam was perfect. I’d bet many people who really know what it entails don’t think so either.

      I do agree with your sentiment of telling the writer to be strong. I just disagree that Islam is perfect. Then again – I think perfection is overrated (though kindness and love of life is not).

  • Its that age old thing isnt it…what is YOUR islam? We know what is the absolute correct “shari’ah” Islam, but we all choose our own ground. Thats the way of the world, we are all learning. The issue is being yourself and putting yourself out there in the public space that draws attention to YOU. Then, people will judge. Thats part of being part of that space. Why they judge, what they say, its actually wholly irrelevant, because you made a decision to be a part of it – you have to roll with it. Everyone and everyone will judge. They will always judge. The bottom line is everyone is on their own journey and everyone with a little knowledge of Islam does not have wisdom to be able to teach that Islam to others as the Prophet SWS did. You are correct in that – people are Internet junkies and everyone is a sheikh Google, but there is also a lot of outward truth in online knowledge. How you spread that knowledge is the key. We should be proud of each other, support each other, encourage each other and give love to one another. THAT is the way of the Prophet SWS. We don’t do that. We hate. We judge. We destroy. That’s why we are where we are as a muslim ummah. We don’t fulfill our rights to ourselves and to others – and God can see that.

  • I don’t understand how a strong and determined woman wants to capture the “essence of Islam.” I cringe when I read the names of the women that Muhammad acquired, often after killing the men those women loved. He changed many of their names so that their past would be erased (much like destroying all Buddhists structured in Afghanistan, Hindu structures in Pakistan, trying to rename the ancient Jewish Temple ruins and burial sites in Israel, converting the Hagia Sofia into a mosque and on and on and on).

    For example, when you take Juwayriyah bint Al-Harith, Muhammad’s 8th wife (9th “companion” when including his sex slave count). He renamed her this prisoner (after marrying her) after he conquered her Arab tribe – aiming to wipe away her identity and the identity of those who she loved. Where is the essence of feminism when Muhammad’s first wife was a businesswomen, long before he determined that he would conquer people as a prophet and force them to accept his word upon pain of death? Rather debunking the idea that he brought women’s rights. His most empowered “companion” was his employee and first wife pre “prophet” times – and subsequent female “companions” like Juwayriyah, Rayhana bint Zayd ibn Amr, Safiyah bint Huyayywere often prisoners of conquest and forced to satisfy his rather insatiable lust.

    I’m dumbfounded at how a strong and determined woman really aims to credit Islam for her strength as a women, when historically and currently – it just disenfranchises women. This is evident when looking at Muslim women living under Islamic rule, forced to wear niqab or burqa, often missing their clitoris, violently and unhygienically cut from them at a young age to deprive of pleasure when forced to service a man. They are not empowered (or very few are). American Muslim women are empowered – Western Muslim women are empowered – thanks to secular laws and liberal values – not because of ritual methodology, a set of laws and a belief system dreamed up by a psychopath to forward his goals and benefit his male soldiers were often equally barbaric. Be strong – but know why you are.

  • Leah, I think you have a special knack to make any idea look cool. It’s a powerful talent to be used with care – because people will follow.

    You should not have had to endure such personal attacks. Whatever anyone does, there will be haters and supporters. Just make sure they are supporting what you really believe in. Make sure you really believe in the ideas you want elevated. I see a lot of paradox which can be dangerous in the overall picture.

  • All followers of the Muzzy Death Cult need to go the fuck back to the Eastern Sandlands and never come back. #ERADICATETHEMUZZ #FUCKMOHAMMED #BURNAKORAN

  • same tbh…one thing my teach told me has always stuck with me…originally an Arabic phrase but I only remember the English rn: leave what do not concern you

  • Yes, primitive muslims will label a girl as a whore just for driving a car or wearing pants. Indeed a primitive backward bunch of people

  • You do not have to be of Arabic descent and wear a Niqab to be Muslim. Islam is not some selective club, it’s a beautiful religion promoting peace and opens its doors to anyone with good intentions. I know practicing Muslim girls who do not wear the hijab and I know black girls who are also practicing Muslims but they wear hijabs/niqabs. We shouldn’t be steorotyping people because of the color of their skin, gender, religion, and so on. I agree with Leah, and I feel a shame for how my Islamic brothers and sisters reacted horribly to her photo. I saw nothing wrong with it, she’s covered and still beautiful. She’s an example of empowerment and for change.

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