If past year has taught us anything, it’s that the future is decidedly female.
With 2016 clearly in our rearview mirror, we’ve witnessed countless Muslim women making their mark on the world, raising their voices and increasing the visibility of Muslim women in media, politics, art, entertainment, science, sports, and the list goes on.
Muslyfe is kicking off a series called #MuslimWomenMakingNoise, where we highlight badass disruptors who are working tirelessly to make our world a better place.
From advocating for girls’ education, to pioneering new trends in media, music, fashion, and technology, these are just some of the incredible Muslim women inspiring us today.
When Amani Al-Khatahtbeh was still a high school student in New Jersey, she bought a $9 domain name and taught herself HTML to launch the website muslimgirl.com, with a mission to “push back against society’s imposition of ‘voicelessness’ and ‘docility’ on young Muslim women”. Fed up with the way media coverage villanised Muslims as terrorists and muted young Muslim voices from mainstream American society, Amani wanted to reclaim the narrative, creating a space for Muslim youth – particularly young women – to have an honest dialogue about Islam today.
Four years later, the site now has one million unique readers every day, with articles on how to fight Islamophobia during a Trump presidency; anti-black racism within Muslim communities; as well as the requisite hijabi fashion and beauty tips.
Amani doesn’t look like she’s slowing down any time soon, with her critically-acclaimed book, Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age, making the New York Times’ bestseller list last year. MuslimGirl has become much more than a media brand, but a social movement aimed at empowering and promoting the visibility of Muslim women.
For five years, the world watched as the bloodiest war of the 21st century unfolded. What made the Syrian civil war different from other conflicts was that the violence was documented through citizen journalism and smartphones, uploaded for all the world to see.
In 2015, Britain’s Channel 4 News commissioned a young citizen journalist – 24-year-old Wa’ad al-Kateab – to film life inside the besieged city of Aleppo, the focal point of Syria’s civil war. As the bombing intensified and foreign journalists were no longer allowed in the city, her visceral footage captured the bloody aftermath inside Aleppo’s hospitals. The carnage and despair captured on video is so palpable that it will not leave you unmoved.
Wa’ad’s brave, on-the-ground reporting – serialised in a docu-series called Inside Aleppo – brought us closer to the unimaginable human suffering of this relentless and brutal conflict. Her videos have been shared millions of times by news networks and on social media, creating some of the most iconic images of Syria’s civil war.
Watch some of Wa’ad’s groundbreaking work here:
2016 was Yuna’s year. The Malaysian songstress cracked the international market with her third album Chapters, anchored by her single, Crush, a collaboration with RnB heavyweight Usher. Through the emotional sincerity of her lyrics and with a voice as smooth as honey, Yuna has gained a solid fan base in U.S. and is also breaking stereotypes about what it means to be a hijabi and a Muslim woman in the music industry.
Check out Yuna’s music here:
The youngest person to ever win the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 17, Malala’s name has become synonymous with every girl’s right to education. She entered the spotlight in 2012 after she was shot by the Pakistani Taliban for her defiance of their rule banning girls from going to school. Aged 15 at the time, she survived three gunshot wounds – including two to the head – spurring Malala’s activism into an international movement. She established the Malala Fund, which works to secure girls’ rights to at least 12 years of education, particularly in the developing world. The Pakistani teenager continues to be a tireless advocate for young women, opening a school for Syrian refugees in Lebanon and donating money towards girls’ education in Gaza, calling on world leaders to invest in “books, not bullets”.
Watch Malala’s iconic address at the United Nations Youth Assembly: