A hijabi was in playboy and the world is going crazy
Noor Tagouri in Playboy. Photo from Instagram @ntagouri.
The online Muslim chatter are abuzz in the wake of Noor Tagouri's interview with Playboy. When it first came out, we were delighted. The choice of media didn't really concern us. In fact, it didn't even shock us. We were just delighted that a mainstream media interviewed the well respected Noor Tagouri, an American-Muslim hijabi journalist. We have always admired her and this interview in Playboy didn't even make us go "Oh Allah! No..."
No doubt Playboy has a reputation - one that doesn't sit well with our Islamic teachings. But don't forget, last year Playboy made a public decision to strip away (no pun intended) nude photos from its brand. The announcement was met with skepticism but it has proven to have prevailed and is re-branding itself into a media of true journalism.
In the latest issue, Playboy tackles the issue of race. This comes on the heels of political change in the US. Noor Tagouri was one of the few who were selected to be interviewed on the topic. And rightfully so. Noor is an advocate for Muslim women's rights. She's vocal, she's strong, she's smart and she's beautiful. She was asked about her experience, her aspirations, the current political climate - intelligent questions.
Sadly none of these mattered. Instead, Twitter was abuzz questioning her choice of media and whether or not she had let us - Muslim women - down. Some called her names and questioned her faith and her commitment to God.
Far too often, Muslim women have been told what to do, how to dress, how not
to dress, what to say,..the list can go on. For Noor to stand up confidently and
do her, that should be applauded not degraded.
As much as we were in delight with this interview, this didn't come as much of a shock to us. Personally I had friends sending me text messages on the interview and asking if this was right for her to do. Our discussion on the topic has, up till this point, been between the four walls, but I can't sit back in silence as a Muslim woman I respect is being brought down by her own.
We can go all day debating the choice of media, feminism, religion, Playboy's history, etc. We can stand on the podium like Hillary and list all the good points whilst the opposing team can keep saying 'WRONG' every few seconds (you need to have watched the US Presidential debate to get this joke.). But all that shouldn't detract from the power of Noor's interview. Yes, she was on Playboy, a magazine known for years to have allegedly degraded women. But shouldn't we give its re-branding a chance? And shouldn't we give Noor a chance? Take away the stigma of Playboy, listen to what Noor actually said. She stood up for Muslim women, hijabi women. She was featured in a positive light, an intelligent light unlike the other ways we have been viewed in mainstream media.
Far too often, Muslim women have been told what to do, how to dress, how not to dress, what to say,..the list can go on. For Noor to stand up confidently and do her, that should be applauded not degraded. And definitely not called names like 'hoejabi'. If you want to talk about religion and if you want to question her faith, then ask yourself, is criticizing her and calling her such disgraceful names an Islamic thing to do? Even if you are critical about the association to the publication, don't forget the context of the interview.
Muslim women, hijabi and non, are always caught in the middle of such conversations. In modest fashion, some call us 'oppressed' while others say that we are going against the Islamic teachings. We can't seem to win. There will always be two or more schools of thought. And to be honest, everyone is entitled to their own opinions but we shouldn't be judging the choice of others.
Conversations are changing. Muslim/hijabi women are finally making headlines in the world in a good way just like Anniesa Hasibuan in NYFW. As we stand together against being told what to wear and what not to wear like the ban on the burkini, we should also stand together to support our own sisters especially when they are actually doing something positive. Just like Michelle Obama said, "when they go low, we go high" - no matter what.
Juliana Iskandar is the Editor-in-Chief of GAYA Magazine.