(Featured image credit: Yumna Al-Arashi)
Following the success of #MuslimWomensDay last month, we were inspired to seek out more phenomenal sisters who are making the world their own. After gorging on stories about amazing female politicians, artists, athletes, mothers and activists, we chanced on a Refinery29 post about a handful of female Muslim photographers.
Over the past few weeks on Ummahsonic, we’ve featured a number of very talented artists and illustrators on the site, so you could say we’re currently crushing on all things #aesthetic. As such, when we saw the work of the photographers below, we damn-near broke our mouse attempting to bookmark their Instagrams.
Fortunately the mouse survived, so we were able to construct this breakdown of our favourite female Muslim photographers. All of them have very different styles, but every one of them exhibits a similar vibe: power.
Yumna Al-Arashi is a photographer hailing from Washington D.C. In her Twitter bio she describes herself as ‘Yemeni, Egyptian, American’, and these roots entwine to reveal an incredible diversity in her work.
Her main subject is women: women in the West, the Middle East; women working, women at home; women in traditional clothes, women in none at all. Yet despite the miles Al-Arashi travels, all of these women project a real sense of strength in her photos. Our favourite snaps are portraits of a woman, in a niqab, posing over a Yemeni landscape as if she hung the whole horizon.
Latifa with her daughter, Juriyah, before a soccer game. …soon with #daylightbooks "ARAMCO: Above the Oil Fields" 🌸Ayesha Malik delivers a personalized account of life within Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, a gated community originally created as a home for American employees of the Arabian American Oil Company, now known as Saudi Aramco. Almost everyone is connected to this small town which houses the world's wealthiest company with the world's largest energy reserves. Malik's photographs raise conversations about perception and preconceived ideas regarding a home that is neither fully Saudi nor fully American. Malik shares the surprising warmth, familiarity, and timelessness of this twenty-two and a half square mile place that so many Aramcons call home."🌸 #abovetheoilfields #dhahran #saudiarabia #ksa #saudiaramco #aramco
Born in Saudi Arabia, Ayesha Malik lived in Dhahran, a gated community purpose-built for the American employees of giant oil company Saudi Aramco. While western expats are now in the minority, American influences still reign over the area – a quick google reveals pics of a cookie-cut suburbia that looks more Arizona than Arabian Gulf, and info on local baseball leagues.
Growing up, Malik attended American-style schools with American kids, all wrapped up in an American enclave plonked in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia. Now based in New York, she recently returned to Dhahran to capture the complex community that raised her. Malik’s series ‘ARAMCO: Above the Oil Fields’, depicts a place like few others, where different cultures slip easily between one another.
We’re particular fans of the supermum, hot pink trainers and all, set to cheer on her daughter at a football game.
Nidia Marissa Donyada
Nidia Marissa Donyada is a photographer from Singapore. Her pictures rarely deal with faith explicitly, but thanks to the over-saturated, bubblegum madness laced through her photos, a simple pic of a woman in a veil can take on new meanings.
We’re not really sure what those meanings are, but either way, there’s definitely a sweetness to her pics that we’re relishing. Like downing three too many Red Bulls and feeling like you could run the world.