Can a Muslim woman be a hipster? A group of young American women created a Facebook page called Mipsterz, and released a video last week that sparked a huge discussion on the Internet. Evidently, a Muslim woman in hijab, with stylish clothes, skate boarding or climbing a tree or fencing to Jay Z’s “Somewhere in America” is a big issue for many people: some condemning, some celebrating,
The mipsterz video shows that it is possible to be a hipster—or to belong any other subculture—and still conserve a Muslim identity. Here is how mipsterz define themselves on their Facebook page,
a mipster is someone at the forefront of the latest music, fashion, art, critical thought, food, imagination, creativity, and all forms of obscure everything. A Mipster is someone who seeks inspiration from the Islamic tradition of divine scriptures, volumes of knowledge, mystical poets, bold prophets, inspirational politicians, esoteric Imams, and our fellow human beings searching for transcendental states of consciousness. A Mipster is an ironic identity, one that serves more as a perpetual critique of oneself and of society. A Mipster has a social mind, and yearning for a more just order, a more inclusive community unbounded by stale categories, unwilling to plod blindly along in a world as obsessed with class as it is unmindful of its consequences. The Mipster is a bold, yet humble mind, open to disparate ideas and firm enough in conviction to act, speak out and drop the hammer when the time is right.
And their music video is a reflection of what some Muslim women in American think about being a young female, free and stylish, an individual, and of course an American. The video forces the viewer to rethink what it means to be an American Muslim woman.
Mipsterz and their video challenge the long held stereotypes about Muslim women. And this challenge ostensibly is not only against non-Muslim subjects. Many Muslims are, however, uncomfortable with this video as indicated in the comments section of the video distribution platforms, such as youtube, Twitter, Buzzfeed, Facebook. Some of those who criticize the video see it as inappropriate for Muslim women because it contradicts “Islamic” values; some go so far as to condemn these women as heretics and question their Muslim identity. Another group likes the idea of mipster but dislikes some of the profanity in Jay Z’s Somewhere in America. (A “clean” version of the video now appears alongside the original one on youtube). But of course not all reactions are negative. Many commentators welcome the video with appreciation, and see the hostile reactions as a reflection of gender politics: Would so many people react if the women in the video were Muslim men? Muslim Americans hip hop artists are praised for their public performances, political statements and self-fashioning. In contrast, mipsterz, which is further evidence of the adaptability and changing character of Islam over time, have come under attack because they challenge not only the Islamophobia, but also patriarchal conservativism among Muslims.
No one can know what this group and their video would evolve into; but they triggered a debate which will surely inspire other young Muslims—”Somewhere in America”—for whom religious identity need not necessarily be set in opposition to other sorts of lifestyles and cultural belongings.
The video, Somewhere in America #Mipsterz: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68sMkDKMias
Facebook page, Mipsterz: Muslim Hipsters: https://www.facebook.com/Mipsterz
Their Google groups: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/mipsterz
On News: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/02/mipsterz-somewhere-in-america-video_n_4374182.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false
On Buzzfeed: http://www.buzzfeed.com/regajha/a-group-of-muslim-hipsters-made-a-video-thats-really-really
Contributed by Abdulhamit Arvas