Beliefs Culture

‘Radical Muslims’ clothing line attempts to shatter stereotypes

Model Firman Nazirulhasif wears Boston-based Munir Hassan's clothing line. Hassan has created an entire line of stereotype-shattering clothing for American Muslims. Photo courtesy of Mohammad Izzraimy, Izzraimy.com
Model Firman Nazirulhasif wears Boston-based Munir Hassan's clothing line. Hassan has created an entire line of stereotype-shattering clothing for American Muslims. Photo courtesy of Mohammad Izzraimy, Izzraimy.com

Model Firman Nazirulhasif wears Boston-based Munir Hassan’s clothing line. Hassan has created an entire line of stereotype-shattering clothing for American Muslims. Photo courtesy of Mohammad Izzraimy, Izzraimy.com

(RNS) Radical Muslims. The phrase elicits images of ISIS militants and terror in the desert, perhaps grainy YouTube videos, Kalashnikovs and raised fists.

What about a man in an ankle-length garment and cotton headscarf carving the air with his skateboard?

Is that a radical Muslim?

Along with shirts bearing the “Radical Muslims” image and a Nike-like swoosh saying “Just Dua It” (dua being nonobligatory Muslim prayer, or supplications), Boston-based Munir Hassan has created an entire line of stereotype-shattering clothing for American Muslims.

In an explicit attempt to flip the script on popular images of Muslims and Islamic symbols, Hassan’s own Sidikii Clothing Co. merges cultures in fashion-forward, Muslim inspired designs.

“I’m Muslim, I’m American. I was born both,” said Hassan. “I wanted to design clothing that showcased different pieces of my culture inclusively.”

Hassan started screen-printing his own shirts a few years ago. When friends, family and people on the street started asking questions about his T-shirts, he launched Sidikii Clothing Co.

In aiming to proclaim “a positive message in a negative space” — the company’s motto — Hassan and his customers are part of a wider stream of media resistance against popular, too often stereotypical, conceptions of Muslims in America. Increasingly, individuals and communities are using billboards, graffiti, music, dancing and clothing to express irony, anger, humor and resistance to the status quo.

Clothing can prove to be a powerful communicator of inner convictions, said David Morgan, chair of the department of religious studies at Duke University. “That is because it is a kind of second skin, the skin you opt for, display openly and use to fit into a social body, a collective reality, that matters to you,” he said.

In the context of Muslim clothing, the stock images of Muslims are black-clad men inflicting terror and women covered in burqas and hijabs.

A 2014 poll by Zogby Analytics found that Arabs and Muslims have the lowest favorability ratings among religious and ethnic groups. In a similar vein, the Pew Research Center found that, along with atheists, Muslims receive the “coolest” feelings from the American public.

Model Firman Nazirulhasif wears Boston-based Munir Hassan's clothing line. Hassan has created an entire line of stereotype-shattering clothing for American Muslims. Photo courtesy of Mohammad Izzraimy, Izzraimy.com

Model Firman Nazirulhasif wears Boston-based Munir Hassan’s clothing line. Hassan has created an entire line of stereotype-shattering clothing for American Muslims. Photo courtesy of Mohammad Izzraimy, Izzraimy.com

In such an environment, it’s hard to be Muslim and cool at the same time. Sidikii allows Muslim youth to choose clothing that reflects their dual identities.

The company’s clientele are predominantly Muslim, urban and middle-class Americans. When they wear the bright-colored shirts with “pseudo thuluth” — stylized representations of Islamic calligraphy — the modish Muslim motifs invite attention and dialogue.

“People who are not Muslim ask questions and we are able to start a dialogue,” said Hassan. “These designs give American Muslims a voice and tell others, subtly, we are your friends.”

In fact, Hassan explained, the company’s name — Sidikii — is Arabic for “friends.” In combination with the logo for the company, which is the Arabic letter “o,” the company is a call — “O, my friends.”

Those friends, Hassan asserted, do not have to be Muslim. They can be anything they like. “It’s not ‘Muslim clothing,’” said Hassan. “It’s not for people who share the same religion; it’s for people who share the thought process.

“It doesn’t matter what the media, your friends or family are telling you,” said Hassan. “Explore who you are and share it with others so that other people can appreciate you, whoever you are.”

YS/MG END CHITWOOD

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Ken Chitwood

15 Comments

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  • “What about a man in an ankle-length garment and cotton headscarf carving the air with his skateboard?”

    Please tell me there’s an image of this somewhere. 😀

  • “I’m Muslim, I’m American. I was born both,” said Hassan. “I wanted to design clothing that showcased different pieces of my culture inclusively.”

    I rarely hear a story about an American Muslim that doesn’t make me happy.

    Anything which argues for inclusivity and humanity is a good idea. I especially like that he is trying to break up the status quo – I hope Muslims elsewhere in the world buy these clothes.

    I only hope that Hassan one day realizes he was born Atheist like the rest of us – not Muslim – and that religion is not an ethnicity, nationality or identity but only a choice. And most likely, the choice of his parents.

  • Wrong.

    Human babies are born with an innate biological need to find their parents. All mammals are born with this. Humans are no different – it is for survival!

    Most people grow out of this after a few years as they grow out of their baby hair, baby skin and baby teeth – if they are allowed to.

    But the industry of religion subverts the biological drive for a parent for its own purposes. This is why “Father”, “Mother”, “Holy Family” are indoctrinated into the child brain and it is hard to grow out of once it is stuck there.

    When a person goes to church to pray he is looking for his daddy and mommy.
    The Church fails to tell them this is a vestigial hangover of the infant stage – because the people of the church don’t know any better.

    Biological Science explains all of it. Religion is literally infantile.

  • Well, well, well, Atheist Max.

    You and i have something incredibly in common. EVERYONE IS BORN AN ATHEIST.

    Until they can think and rationalize that nothing cannot make something happen. Atheism is simply lunacy and/or idiocy in reality. But human pride makes reality cloudy often. It’s a common plague.

    The fanaticism of the common practitioner and proponent of atheism is eclipsed only by the fanaticism of Islam and Muslims the demand that EVERYONE is born a Muslim. And in both totalitarian movements others just have to be forced to agree to that. And while Islam and Muslims haven’t quite matched atheism and atheists in the millions of non-adherents slaughtered . . . Islam is still to be utterly feared. But, if some “Muslim” wants to try to engage the world without killing those that reject Islam, than maybe we should give that a pat on the back. But, like atheists and atheism, never turning our backs on them at the same time.

  • Atheist Max:

    “Biological Science explains all of it. Religion is literally infantile.”

    well actually you contradict your own position that what we are born “as” is as an atheist. Therefor. continuing in an infantile state would be to REMAIN an atheist.

    It is so enjoyable to show the utter lunacy of atheism from and example of the the mind and declaration OF an atheist.

    As you so accurately stumbled into, and declare as an absolute and rightfully so, atheism is infantile thinking. And, living and promoting. Etc., etc., etc..

    Max, it is time for you to grow up.

  • Sorry fore the typos. I was laughing too hard to write accurately. The tears (not sad ones) got in the way.

    BB

  • Oh mgoodness”Be Brave”—You are AWESOME!! I envision you and Ol’ Atheist Max having a good old time on this site! (I noticed that he didn’t anwser any of your posts;he’s probably sputtering in indignant at your effrontery,LOL!)—But…go easy on ol’Max-like all atheists he can’t help himself.Keep him in prayer and let him know that he’s loved,God bless him.As for you,Be Brave—Welcome;your brilliance is a breath of fresh air!—PEACE IN CHRIST!!!

  • Be Brave,

    “Max, it is time for you to grow up.”

    You are still holding on to the playground beliefs your mother and father told you to follow.
    I have long abandoned mine.
    In what way does this indicate that I am the one who must grow up?

    You believe this ridiculous story:

    A god turned himself into his own son – named Jesus – to arrange his own torture and suicide (Lamb of god) to create a loophole to save humanity from his own laws and the eternal Hell which he built specifically FOR HUMANITY.
    And if you don’t believe this preposterous story you go to the ETERNAL PUNISHMENT ANYWAY!

    All I say is I do not believe it (Thus my Atheism)
    And I ask for evidence any of this is true. You’ve shown me nothing.

    And you think such a question is LOONEY? The default position is to disregard your story – NOT to accept it!

  • Hi Atheist max,

    Thank you for the kind words about our clothing and our cause. As you have stated, ones identity is a complicated thing with many external factors including friends, family, social and economic stature etc. however, what we attribute to be true for ourselves at the end of the day is always a choice. Of course I was not literally born Muslim but was raised Muslim from birth. A baby is not born with a particular faith, nor are they born without. They are simply born ignorant and if you are say that all babies are atheists then that would mean the foundation of Atheists is ignorance… If that is true than I pray for your guidance.

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