When I was asked about my position on the Iraq war, I responded that I felt we were in Iraq needlessly. After an awkward silence, the inquisitor, shamefaced, admitted he had meant what I thought of the war as a Muslim, not as an American.
As a Muslim? Well, my personal opinion as a Muslim, an American, and a human being remained the same- the war was unnecessary and unjust.
This small exchange with a stranger left with me a simple but profound realization: people want to know what Muslim American women think. About the U.S. war on Iraq. About marriage. About fashion. About everything. I didn’t quite know what to do with this epiphany so I stored it away in a corner of my brain, allowing it to percolate.
By late 2013, the realization had boiled into an idea— I would create a website where Muslim women of all colors, ages and ethnicities could share their stories. Thus Muslimah Montage was born. This platform profiles well-known Muslim females from across the globe– women who are writers, human rights activists, politicians and mothers. Each profile includes a photo, a video, links and answers to specific questions I give the women.
You might think at some point the answers and stories of these dynamic females would begin to resemble one another. Not so. Even after profiling about 40 women, each narrative is as authentic and necessary as the one before. And even I am sometimes surprised by the candor and detail with which the respondents speak. They are always eager to share pieces of their dreams and struggles with Muslimah Montage and the result is exactly what I hoped it would be—the profiles humanize Muslim women, each narrative chipping away at long-standing, pernicious stereotypes about them.
In late 2014, after a year of successfully running Muslimah Montage, I was approached by the founder of AltMuslimah, Asma T. Uddin, to join the magazine and bring with me Muslimah Montage. I had always been a fan of the publication and its dedication to commentary about gender and Islam, so it seemed like a natural progression for Muslimah Montage. Within weeks we had melded our two platforms together, allowing for an even larger audience and greater resources. Through this relationship I hope to continue meeting and profiling groundbreaking women and in the process shatter stereotypes, amplify voices, and change the dominant narrative. Stay tuned for more inshaAllah!
Sabina Khan-Ibarra is a mama, writer, feminist (her own definition) and activist who is currently working on her memoir. She is the Social Media Co-Chair for MuslimARC and Assistant Editor at AltMuslimah. Sabina is also working on creating bereavement services for Muslim communities.