Instagram, @nailahdean28

This Art Project Captures the Heart of the Muslim Marriage Crisis

Tahira Nailah Dean, a Black American Muslim Lawyer, writer, and activist recently launched her passion project with a team of brilliant Muslim women in the form of a three part photo series. Launched on September 3, 2021, “The ISMs Project” is meant to bring awareness to the marriage crisis in the Muslim community. 

“In hopes of humanizing this issue, I found four women to represent four of the isms I believe are at the heart of the crisis: sexism, ageism, racism, and colorism. While this is by no means an exclusive list of the isms and other causes of the marriage crisis, I thought it was a good starting point to illustrate some of the barriers to marriage.” 

What started as a personal project for Dean became a collaborative effort when she assembled her team of both single and married Muslim women, who also experienced these isms that exist within the community. 

The team is comprised of Tahira Nailah Dean as the creative director, Qamara El-Amin as photographer, Hauwa Abbas as the videographer/PR, Laterry Mohsin as the costume designer, and Nebia Zeroual as the design artist/stylist.

The team’s goal is to create a form of sisterhood between Muslim women that challenges the status quo. In conversation, Dean discusses how so many women she met and interviewed for this project have dealt with the effects of these isms. She realised it was rather concerning to call women out for being “too opinionated” or “too educated.” Dean called it a basic misconfiguration in our society that may be the root of the problem. 

“You’re not too Black, not too educated. These are issues put on us, they are not us.”

The women pictured for these series are survivors of these issues in the Muslim community. We are often so lost in our bubble that we don’t recognize how women around us are living these experiences. By photographing them, Dean hopes to depict the reality of the situation which allows open communication surrounding the topic. Says Dean, “Biases can only be destroyed through conversations.” 

The first photo published on Dean’s Instagram on September 3, 2021 featuring a 34-year-old Egyptian Canadian who represents ageism.

The second photo published on September 4, 2021 features a 32 years old Latina-American Muslimah representing sexism.

The third and last photo of the series published on September 5, 2021 titled “Why Can’t They See Us?” features two women, representing racism and colorism.

The concept of the photos was a combined effort between Dean and her photographer El – Amin.

To learn more about what this three part series represents, check out Dean’s website.

Dean hopes that with the right funding and awareness, she can continue this project for a second time where she will discuss sizeism, ableism, and the stigma of divorce.

If you are interested in supporting the second edition to the series or becoming a research partner, contact