Hijabi Rap, An Ode to Diversity

NEW YORK – A Syrian American Muslim poet and artist released her first rap music video Hijabi last Monday, a song deemed an anthem for Muslim women empowerment as well as an ode to diversity.

“Given our current administration’s insistence on demonizing and maligning the bodies of women and Muslims, among others, I wanted to get this song out as soon as possible,” Mona Haydar, who now lives in New York, told The Huffington Post on Sunday, April 2.

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“I hoped that a pregnant woman who is obviously Muslim [and] creating art and speaking truth would inspire people and offer some levity, joy and hope.”

The song, Hijabi, was launched last Monday to a huge success.

The opening lyrics say, “What that hair look like? Bet that hair look nice. Don’t that make you sweat? Don’t that feel too tight? Yo, what your hair look like? Bet your hair look nice. How long your hair is? You need to get your life.”

Growing up in Flint, Michigan, listening to the likes of Mos Def, A Tribe Called Quest and Rakim, Hyder sees Islam and hip—hop as intertwined.

Haydar is grateful for black American Islam and its contributions to hip-hop.

“What a blessing it is to me that I can even be a small part of a great legacy in creating culture,” she said.

“The immigrant Muslim community owes so much to the black community, which has been here, practicing Islam, since the time when Africans were kidnapped and enslaved here in America,” Haydar told HuffPost.

“You cannot separate Islam from blackness or blackness from hip-hop or hip-hop from Islam,” she added.

The artist, who filmed her song when she was eight-month pregnant, does not believe that music is forbidden by Islam.

“I’ve studied [Islam]. I’m not a kid rushing into my art. I’m a grown woman who believes that art can change the world,” she said. “I’m not worried about the haters.”

“They’ll get on board eventually and I will welcome them with all my love when they do,” she added. “In the meantime, I still love them dearly.”