As anyone who has admired the tiling on the walls of a mosque or the intricate carvings on its ceilings knows, art has long held a special place in Muslim communities around the world. From Casablanca to Malaysia, our places of worship have been recognized by Muslims and non-Muslims alike as works of art.
But it's not just these spaces that exhibit our talent and artistry, outside of the mosque, famous Muslim artists like Sughra Rababi and Lubna Agha made a name for themselves using their faith and community as inspirations for their work. Today, in every facet of the art world, Muslim women artists are creating, growing, and inspiring others.
In honor of Muslim Women's Day, here are five Muslim women artists making incredible work today who you should know and support.
London-based photographer, filmmaker, and writer Yumna al-Arashi explores feminism and sexuality in her work—and often, but not always, how the two themes relate to the Middle East. Arashi, whose family is from Yemen, has a "strong disdain" for the way that Arab and Muslim women are represented in media and uses her art to highlight their complexities.
London-based multidisciplinary artist Ejatu Shaw tries to draw out the feelings of her subjects in her photographs. In her editorial and documentary work, Shaw uses strong lines and colors that command our attention.
Whether she's using henna, paint, or a camera, NYC-based visual artist and photographer Ayqa Khan makes enrapturing art that honors her roots. Her prints use vibrant colors to depict women doing things like chilling in BDSM gear and discoing in hijab. Apart from her personal work, Ayqa helps run an Instagram account dedicated to uplifting South Asian artists.
Sudanese-American poet Safia Elhillo uses her work to explore identity and colonialism. Her poetry book The January Children expresses the emotions that come with navigating a Sudanese identity in the aftermath of the British occupation. Today, Elhillo travels around the world performing her poetry and sharing the stage with esteemed poets like Sonia Sanchez.
Artist, activist, educator, and curator Morehshin Allahyari uses technology to comment on political and social struggles. Allahyari's work has been exhibited at Tate Modern, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Montreal, and many others. Currently, she's working on a project that focuses on "‘re-Figuring’ as a Feminism and de-colonialism practice" involving 3D printing.