Amina and Friends

Amina and Friends
  • Unknown
  • circa 1975

Photo of Umi as a new Muslim with presumably non-Muslim friends.

Notes: When describing her journey to Islam, Umi mentioned that covering as a Muslim woman and not partying as a Muslim were two of the requirements of Muslim practice, as she understood it, that initially held her back from conversion. If you ask any of her childhood friends, they are consistent in describing my mother as popular and that "if you wanted to know where the party was at? Ask Audrey!" While she did end up converting, covering, and stopped going to her usual parties, even as Muslim she was still described as popular and “if you wanted to know where the next Islamic function or affair was: Ask Amina Haqq!”

In my interview with her, Umi called this headscarf style a "bun" and explained it was also a style commonly worn in "cultural (Afrocentric) circles." She also described wearing different styles of head-coverings depending on her environment. Specifically, she explained that when she was with other Muslims, she would wear a khimar that would drape over her bosom, but when she went to work, she wore a bun or a Gele to avoid workplace harassment and discrimination yet believed she did lose opportunities due to her covering.

Of course, this photo is not at work nor with other Muslims, presumably. But when viewed alongside other photos in the exhibition, this photo illustrates how new Muslims navigate old and new social norms (and I should note that while Umi was always a social person, the Umi I knew avoided shaking men’s hands which makes this photo even more interesting!). The photo also illustrates part of the range a range of ways Muslim women choose to cover as I discuss in my own work on Muslim Cool.