The M Word seeks to elevate, amplify, and celebrate the contributions of Muslim Americans to our country’s varied and inspiring cultural landscape. To help us, we are inviting audience members, online followers, panelists, and others—both Muslims and non-Muslims alike—to share their personal experiences with what it means to be Muslim in America.

Today, we feature a video by ‎Bayan Abubakr‎ on the strangest questions she is asked as a Muslim American.



“I think the strangest questions come with my hijab. This actually reflects back to the first one of how my Islamism functions and what being a Muslim means to me in America. So the number one weirdest question I get is that, “do I shower with my Hijab?” And that’s obviously a reflection of the fact that I’m both Muslim and a woman. And another question that I get is why I’m Muslim if I’m black, which I think also represents how my Islamism doesn’t just function within Islam itself, it also functions within a larger context of who I am and my entire identity.”

“So those are the two weirdest questions that I get all the time. The second one I don’t have an answer to. I don’t understand what that means. Why can’t I be both Muslim and Black? Why is it strange for you that I’m Muslim and Black? Well, I know why it’s strange, because Black Muslims aren’t always talked about. Unless in the context of African American Muslims they’ve been asked a lot of questions and given a lot of attention. The first question, I feel like it’s just a dumb question. A lot Hijabis get, “do you shower?” The boundaries of Hijab are always being explored, especially in the places where there are not a lot of Hijabis. I thought that’s pretty New York. Yeah, those are the two weirdest questions that I get.” 

We want to hear your stories! For the chance to be featured by The M Word, submit your own video story with us on Facebook or submit your story in writing here. By submitting your story, you grant PEN America the right to use all still and motion pictures and sound recordings you provide in furtherance of its nonprofit charitable mission, including the right to advertising, promotion, and future marketing of PEN America and its activities via radio, television, video, DVD, the internet, podcasts, PEN America publications, or any other use, by any means now known or hereafter devised, in perpetuity, throughout the universe. 

The M Word is generously supported by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art’s Building Bridges program.