Allah, Asè and Afros: Black Muslim women on hair

Adama Juldeh Munu explores the distinctive experiences of hijab-wearing Black Muslim women and hair care.

Adama Juldeh Munu

“There’s just a lot of intermingling of what it is to be Black, what it is to be Muslim, and what it is to be a woman”

Imani Bashir

Imani Bashir is a Black American Muslim and travel writer based in Mexico. She explains there’s always been a distinctive relationship between head covering, Blackness and faith in the US. “I honestly believe hijab has an ancestral component that a lot of people don’t know and don’t realise. As somebody who comes from multi-generations of Black Muslims in the US, there is a history of Black Muslims who kept their deen (religion) by covering themselves, covering their hair, fasting during the month of Ramadan and during slavery. There’s just a lot of intermingling of what it is to be Black, what it is to be Muslim, and what it is to be a woman.”

“It’s a matter of self-love to have the patience to do your hair when you come out of the shower even though you know it will be covered”

Nabiirah Kaseruuzi

However, when 30-year-old Khadijah Antron who is Afro-Latina, first converted to Islam and decided to wear a hijab, she found it challenging readjusting her hair-care regimen — especially while living in Turkey, a Muslim majority country with a small Black population. “I didn’t have to cover my hair [before],” she recalls. “Covering it causes it to dry [out] because Turkey doesn’t have certain underscarves. The ones they do sell are expensive and there isn’t much in regards to hijab products that cater to natural hair and Black women. But I do all this for Allah and hopefully, the [wider] Muslim community considers [catering to] natural hair women.”

“I started thinking, I’m a Muslim I can’t be doing frohawks under my hijab!”

RaySunshine

“There’s this underlying pressure that the reason you wear hijab is to cover your beauty, often people perceive that to be westernised, so when you take it off and it’s not moving around in the wind, they’re like ‘What’s the point? It’s not like anything anyone would be attracted to.’ Just realising that hijab and natural hair meant something different to people and that it was politicised was a revelation, ” RaySunshine tells me.

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Journalist with an affinity for all things ‘African Diaspora’ and Islam. You can @ me via adamaj.co.uk or twitter/@adamajmunu