Making headlines as the first mainstream hijabi model who appeared on Kanye West’s runway then again in Sports Illustrated, Halima Aden is turning heads again — this time as a headline speaker at the Reviving Islamic Spirit conference.
— #RIS2019 (@risconvention) December 6, 2019
Taking place December 20-22, 2019 in Toronto, Canada, the choice of hijabi model Halima Aden has drawn mixed reviews from Muslims. While there’s always the group that loves the fanfare of celebrity Muslims, there is also the group of Muslims who are interested in faith for the sake of faith rather than the next fashionable identity brand (which is how some see Halima and social justice Muslims).
Why this is problematic: it tells us #Muslims to take as role models individuals whose public decisions and acts contradict the #Quran & sunnah. Can we please just stop & develop some foresight? What does #RIS2019 presume to achieve by becoming a pop cult convention? https://t.co/q75ImD13Mf
— Nour M Goda (@NourMGoda) December 9, 2019
Though I don’t wear the hijab and understand that Muslim women who do wear one tend to have their own reasons for it, I can sympathize with the frustration of seeing items of faith reduced to markers of diversity or fashion, or embraced by businesses as a marketable item. On that, conservatives, traditionalists, a reformer like myself and even Islamists disinterested in social justice causes, can all agree: Stop fetishizing what some women in Islam choose to wear as part of their faith.
A so-called “hijabi” model, appeared in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue in sexy clothes, contributes to the secularization and fetishization of hijab in the guise of “representation”
— Ismail Royer (@IsmailRoyer) December 9, 2019
While I’m sure Halima Aden is a wonderful person, leaning into bringing on board celebrity Muslims to draw an audience is against what I imagine is the spirit of Islam. We should be led by our ethics and ideas, and not by how loved we are by the material world.