Mona Haydar: What Happens When a Rapper Wears a Hijab?

March 4 - Sarah Ashlock

FIRST THOUGHT: Out with the Old, in with the New

When you think about a successful person, who comes to mind? It’s often big-timers, right? Oprah. Steve Jobs (RIP). The dude who started Starbucks. Now, what does that successful person do every day? Probably meditates. Eats wholesome food. Styles her hair. Puts on her makeup. Now, let me guess. That person you thought of isn’t you, right? The old definition of “success” meant an outcome or result. Now, we use it as a way to describe—or rather, define—a person. That’s a lot of pressure.

When a successful author and podcaster shared his morning routine, he broke down these stereotypes. He rolls out of bed without an alarm. He leaves his email to the afternoons and leaves his phone on silent until then, too. Today, quiet those preconceived notions of who you should be, what you should be doing. Instead, listen to one voice and one voice only: your own.


You know what they say about assumptions. And, that couldn’t be more true when it comes to cultural and ethnic typecasts. There are about a million Muslim women who live in the United States. Again, if a particular image comes to mind, squash it. The word “Muslim” refers to those who practice Islam, a recognized monotheistic faith. According to The Guardian, a Muslim Bangladeshi-american invented a structural system that would result in the skyscrapers America’s known for. Hip-hop in the 80s and 90s introduced Islam to the masses, with the likes of the Artist Formerly Known As Mos Def and Lupe Fiasco.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Mona Haydar, Rapper, Artist and Activist

I know what you’re thinking: OK, but those are a bunch of dudes. Girl, you know I wouldn’t waste your time only talking about the achievements of men! I want to introduce you to Mona Haydar. She’s a Syrian-american from Flint, Michigan. Yep, that Flint.

Mona’s responsible for one of 2017’s top protest songs, according to Billboard. She’s a rapper, artist and activist, and the creative genius behind “Wrap My Hijab.” NPR says she “breaks the mold” for Muslim rap, and I’d dare say she’s breaking the mold for rap, period.

Mona’s video for “Wrap My Hijab” features a diverse group of women in headscarves. She starts the rhyme with comments heard from strangers asking if the hijab makes her sweat, if it feels tight and why doesn’t she show off her beautiful hair? Five million YouTube views later, the song has become a feminist anthem.

Mona’s music is the next tier in a lifetime of her activism and curiosity. She has a master’s degree in Christian ethics, something she’s used to inform her viewpoint as an American woman.

Back in 2015, Mona made national news when she and her husband set up a stand with free coffee and donuts. A big sign read, “Talk to a Muslim.” It was outside a library in Cambridge, Massachusetts. People’s responses surprised Mona. She had prepared herself for Islamophobia, but was instead met with gratitude and apologizing on behalf of the discrimination she and others have faced. Mona’s art seems to have changed the conversation people are having, and that’s what it’s all about.


Like so many of us, Mona Haydar isn’t a woman who only wears one hat—or one hijab. She’s multifaceted and on a quest to live her life how she wants. After all, Mona said:

"You can't be afraid of breaking out. You just have to do you and people will catch up."

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