Influential Muslim Women

Muslim women always appear to be the center of discussions about oppression, freedom, and general criticism both within and outside the Muslim community these days.

As exhausting as it can be to be continually examined, sometimes the only way to break down all those invisible barriers of discrimination is to get out there and start doing something about it!

Here is the list of a few outstanding Muslim women who transform the world one step at a time through their work, from literary geniuses and super-scientists to innovative modest fashionistas and passionate musicians.

Elif Shafak

Muslim Women

Elif Shafak, Turkey's most widely read female novelist, has gained international acclaim for her successful novels that flawlessly blend Eastern and Western storytelling traditions.

Elif was given the coveted Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters in 2010 to appreciate her services to the arts and literature. She crafts narratives and stories that touch on various topics, from Islamic mysticism to women's difficulties.

Aside from being a member of the Global Agenda Council on Creative Economy, she is an accomplished author who also actively participates in international relations discussions and is a founder member of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR).

Nadiya Hussain

When Nadiya Hussain competed on the BBC's The Great British Bake Off, it was a weekly event to see a cook wearing a headscarf on national television. When the British-Bangladeshi chef won the sixth season, the cooking show's cult following catapulted her into the spotlight, and she quickly established herself as one of the UK's most prolific Muslim chefs. 

Hussain has produced two adult cookbooks featuring fusion dishes influenced by Bangladeshi cuisine, two children's cookbooks, and two novels and appearing in a documentary about her life and various culinary shows for BBC2.

Ibtihaj Muhammed

Muslim Women

Ibtihaj Muhammad Ibtihaj made history in 2016 as the first Muslim hijab-wearing American Olympic athlete, winning a bronze medal in the women's fencing team sabre event at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

She began fencing at the age of 13 after her parents searched for a sport in which she could engage while fully clothed and wearing the hijab.

When she's not training, she manages Louella, a design line she co-founded with her siblings after noticing how difficult it was to find attractive modest apparel.

Zaha Hadid

Despite her death in March 2016, Zaha Hadid is still acknowledged as one of the world's most renowned architects, has left a great legacy in her iconic, futuristic architecture. Even if you've never been inside one of her structures, the mind-boggling curves and bends of the outside are enough to make you feel like you're looking at some (literally) out-of-this-world edifice from the future!

It's no surprise that Zaha, a British-Iraqi architect, won the world's most prestigious architectural prize, the Stirling Prize, for the second year in a row in 2010 and 2011. She is also the first and only female recipient of the Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects!

Rayan Al Sulaimani

Muslim Women

Atelier Zuhra, a far cry from the fledgling couture company founded in the UAE five years ago, has already established an internationally recognized brand in the sartorial world, recently showcasing its second collection to a packed audience at London Fashion Week in February. 

While Mousa Al Awfi founded the Omani label, her daughter and CEO Rayan al Sulaimani's entrepreneurial genius grew the Dubai-based company worldwide, attracting a star-studded clientele that includes Sonam Kapoor to Ellie Goulding, who is always ready to wear the mother-daughter duo's glamorous gowns on the red carpet.

Hanaa Ben Abdesslem 

While Arab models are increasingly prevalent on the runways of prestigious fashion weeks and in international campaigns, this was not the case when Hanaa Ben Abdesslem first arrived on the scene in 2011. After collaborating with some of the world's most prestigious fashion houses, including Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, and Vivienne Westwood, the Tunisian supermodel is widely recognized for helping to open the doors to a more inclusive industry.

When she became the first Muslim brand ambassador for Lancôme, the former Vogue Arabia cover star was not only the first Arab model to be featured in the legendary Pirelli calendar but also one of the first Muslim models to join a significant beauty Maison, paving the way for other Muslim models to pursue their big-break dreams.

Mthayel Al-Ali

Muslim Women

Mthayel Al-Ali is known around the area for her modest fashion-forward Instagram account, which has over 700,000 followers, and she is also the creator of Tkhayyal, a Dubai-based creative marketing agency. The Sharjah-born influencer hopes to work with local and international corporations like Nike, Google, and Clinique and regional personalities to help establish purpose-driven social media platforms and continue creating content that empowers other Emirati women.

Dina Torkia

Dina Torkia, one of the first Muslim social media sensations to take over Youtube and Instagram with inventive headscarf styling lessons, modest outfit posts, and vlogs that touch family, fashion, and faith, is one of the modern modest style movement's online Kickstarter. 

After collaborating with top brands like Tom Ford and YSL Beauty, the British-Egyptian blogger launched her clothing line and wrote a book called "Modestly," which explores her dual identities' daily blessings and challenges and publicly modest lifestyle with grace, humor, and honesty.

Rashida Tlaib

Along with fellow Democrat Ilhan Omar, this American-Palestinian legislator made history in 2018 by becoming one of the first two Muslim women elected to the United States House of Representatives. Rashida Tlaib wore a traditional Palestinian thobe passed down from her mother as she was sworn in on a Qur'an at the historic occasion, proudly displaying her ancestry. 

Tlaib's progressive platform, which was nominated to represent Michigan's 13th congressional district, pushes for environmental and economic justice, as well as equal rights for all residents, particularly the ethnically varied immigrant community in her district. 

Kubra Dagli

Who'd have believed that the world champion in Taekwondo is a hijabi athlete from Turkey? Kubra Dagli, who won the Taekwondo World Championships in Peru in 2016, created international headlines!

If you recognize this Turkish beauty, it's because she became an internet celebrity after recordings of her competing in Taekwondo tournaments while wearing her headscarf were posted online.

Kubra has proven to the world that she is a force to be reckoned with, despite critics who criticize her decision to compete in her beloved sport while wearing a hijab.

Bottom line

Summing it up, To successfully promote intersectional feminism around the world, we must pay special attention to the women who are often marginalized. Frequently, Muslim women are at the forefront. 

Our job is to support their voices and give them recognition where they do not have it until this changes. Visit our website and follow our Instagram handle to get weekly updates!

Author: Sara Kamran

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