On The Magic Of The Black Muslim Girl Experience


“I was born of a smokeless flame”

In Islamic theology, there is the concept of the Jinn—beings born of a “smokeless” fire in another dimension, beyond human but with the same frailties; neither inherently good nor bad, with a fiendish streak that is documented not just in the Holy Quran but in Hadith, and just as capable of salvation or damnation as the rest of us. Of the five kinds of Jinn—Marid, Effrit, Ghoul, Sila, Vetala—the Sila are considered to be one of the rarest, typified by a seductive feminine energy and shapeshifting capability.

Young Muslims are frequently warned to be wary of Jinns, but it is hard to read a description of Sila and not feel an intrinsic kinship. After all, what is the black Muslimah (young Muslim woman) experience if not a master class in alchemy? How we present ourselves to our communities, and to the world, is constantly transmuting, evolving, shapeshifting, from how we choose to display our faith to how we assert our humanity in a world that expects superhuman labor from us, all while we are just trying to find ourselves. It is this multiplicity that writer and director Nijla Mu’min deftly explores in her debut feature, Jinn, a marvelous coming-of-age tale that examines how a young, black American girl named Summer (portrayed by The Quad’s Zoe Renee) explores her mother’s (played by Simone Missick, who is also an executive producer) new faith and identity, and wrestles to reconcile her multitudes into the new framework with which she has been presented.

Not since 2011’s Mooz-lum has a black American family been the focal point of a celebrated (at SXSW 2018, Jinn won Special Jury Recognition for Narrative Feature Competition for Writing) Muslim-American feature film. Despite the fact that Islam has an estimated 1.6 billion adherents, Muslim onscreen portrayal has been limited to a few archetypes, and even fewer for Muslim women, who are commonly represented by a demure and devout Arab hijabi with very little development outside of their interaction with the male leads. The last few years have been punctuated by the rise of the “secular” Muslim with Aziz Ansari’s Master of None and Kumail Nanjiani’s The Big Sickbut both men’s art has been punctuated by a particular disdain for the religious traditions in which they were reared, with Ansari notably presenting an episode titled “Religion” in which he encourages his cousin to not only eat pork but flout the rules of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. In a refreshing breath of air, Mu’min chooses to pull apart the threads in between the polar opposite experiences, in which she shows reverence for the Holy Quran and the shahada, or profession of faith—lā ʾilāha ʾillā llāh muḥammadun rasūlu llāh, there is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God—but disavows presenting it in a vacuum, instead highlighting the personal conflicts that can arise in Summer’s journey of asserting her individuality, creativity, and sexuality in a world that seeks to define that for her.

For Summer, clarity comes in part with her exposure to the masjid, or mosque—a community of black Muslimahs who have chosen to express their faith as they see fit. Some wear hijab 24/7, some only capitulate in prayer, and some opt for alternative coverings, such as brilliantly colored headwraps and turbans, finding creativity in what is commonly portrayed as an oppressive restriction. Implicit is the acknowledgement that not only Islam, but blackness, is inherently diverse, filled with a swath of personalities and experiences that compel them to shapeshift to their personal pleasure; and no matter their comportment, they coalesce to recite the Surah Al-Fatihah with equal gratitude, engaging in salat and community as one, embracing the strength of their mélange, at times in spite of convention. In Islam, just as in any of the variety of identities that black Muslim women inhabit, fealty is still punctuated by resistance, and advocacy for the inclusion of the voices that are still wavering in the wind persists, as Summer herself experiences when confronted for her missteps in rebellion. 

There is a common misconception that Muslims are uniquely immune to the same temptations as the rest of society, as if a mere declaration of something being haram supersedes human vice. Mu’min boldly flouts those perceived restraints in favor of authenticity through her lead character. Summer traverses a winding road in seeming direct contrast with her mom’s unswerving march—she drinks, she has sex, she wears shorts above the knee, all which cause her to doubt her ability to consider herself a “true Muslim.” Despite the bifurcation, however, it is her mother who performs the dua (invocation) Istikhara to seek guidance, while Summer defiantly presents herself in all of her paradoxical forms—black, Muslim, young, femme, complex—to a rapt audience, reciting: “I was born of a smokeless flame.”

In 2017, Mu’min wrote about her filmmaking experience for Vice, stating thatby making a film where a black girl dances, kisses, and reads the Qur’an, I am resisting.” In just 18 days of shooting, Mu’min dug into the crevices of the black Muslimah experience and pulled out a narrative that is transcendent and boundary-breaking. With fellow Muslimah SZA playing as the credits rolled, it’s hard to think of a more fitting coda to complex narrative of black Muslim woman expression than the notes of a woman who has risen to stardom by openly talking about sex, love, and self-discovery on her own terms. Black Muslim womanhood comes in many forms, and while we may not be Jinn, our ability to give shape to our narratives on our own terms is nothing short of mystical.

Photo by Imani Givertz

Premiering today via NYLON

Small Talks, aka Cayley Spivey, has come a long way since starting a band, then becoming the entire band herself and forging her own fan base from the ground up. On her recent album A Conversation Between Us, she began to unpack any lingering baggage with one particular song: "Teeth." Today, she premieres the accompanying music video exclusively via NYLON.

"'Teeth' is about my personal battle with letting go of the past," Spivey tells NYLON, admitting that it's easily her favorite song off of A Conversation Between Us.

Watch the video for "Teeth" below.

Small Talks - Teeth (Official Music Video) - YouTube

Photos by Joe Maher/Getty Images, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME

Must have been pretty awkward

Taylor Swift and Sophie Turner were guests on the U.K.'s The Graham Norton Show together, which must have been awkward for Turner's husband, Joe Jonas, seeing as he also happens to be Swift's ex. I wonder if his name came up?

The interview doesn't come out until Friday night, but promotional photos show the two sharing a couch. Swift is making an appearance to perform her new single, "ME!" while Turner is promoting her new film, X- Men: Dark Phoenix. But it seems necessary for the two to be asked about Jonas.

Swift was just on the Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this month, where she brought up the fact that she felt bad for putting Jonas "on blast" on DeGeneres' show back in 2008 by telling the audience that he broke up with her in a record-setting short phone call. But, according to Swift, she and Jonas are chill now, since it happened pretty long ago, which means she's probably already hung out with Turner and maybe even gossiped about him with her.

We can only hope that they get the chance to spill some tea on television.

Screenshot via YouTube, Photo Courtesy of HBO

"That's! His! Auntie!"

Leslie Jones has rewatched the Game of Thrones finale with a beer in hand, Seth Meyers at her side, and a full camera crew ready to take in all her glorious reactions. Spoilers ahead, but, if you haven't watched last week's episode already, that's kind of on you at this point.

When Jon Snow started to make out with Daenerys, also known as his aunt, only to stab her through the chest moments later, it was emotional whiplash for everyone watching. And, Jones' reactions—both from her first and second viewing—sum it all perfectly.

"That's! His! Auntie! [gagging noises]," Jones says before making an aside about calling the police if her uncle ever tried to do the same. But then the knife goes in, and Jones screams. "Did you see that?!" Jones asks, "Yeah bitch, that's a knife in you." Meyers points out the funniest part of all: "Why are you so upset about someone kissing their aunt but totally fine with someone killing their aunt?" Jones replies, "Because that bitch needed to go," and, well, same.

Other highlights from the comedians' rewatch include comparing Dany's victory speech to a bad improv gig, predicting that their dogs would have less of a reaction to their deaths than Drogon did to his mother's, and more.

Watch all of Jones' reactions from this Late Night clip below.

Game of Jones: Leslie Jones and Seth Watch Game of Thrones' Series Finale

Asset 7

These lyrics are a lot

Robbie Tripp, aka Curvy Wife Guy, is back with a music video, titled "Chubby Sexy," starring his wife and a trio of models. In it, Tripp raps about his bold choice to find women with an average body size attractive.

The video begins with a series of statements laid over some pool water: "Curves are the new high fashion," "Chubby is the new sexy," "We Out Here." Tripp posits that these queens deserve an anthem, which they do. What they do not deserve is this Cursed Song. As he lists all the names he knows to call them by (thick, thicc, and BBW), one model (who I really, really hope was paid well) squirts some lotion down her cleavage, and Tripp begins dancing.

"My girl chubby sexy/ Call her bonita gordita," Tripp states in his chorus, before going on to compare "big booty meat" to the peach emoji. Another thing he mentions is that his wife can't find a belt that fits her waist, and that's why he calls her James and the Giant Peach. He then tries to dab. Here are some of the other Cursed highlights from his, uh, verses:

Got those Khaleesi curves/ Knows how to dragon slay
She like a dude that's woke/ We like a girl that's weighty
Some say a chubby girl that's risky/ But they ain't met a curvy girl that's frisky
Imma dunk that donk like I'm Andrew Wiggins.
Thick like an Amazon/ Built like Big Ben.

Tripp says one thing in the video that I couldn't agree more with: "She don't need a man." No, she does not. Please run. If you must, watch the entire video, below. Or send it to your nemesis!

Robbie Tripp - Chubby Sexy (Official Music Video)

Photo by Emma McIntyre / Getty Images.

See the promo here

It was bound to happen. The Kadashians and Jenners have committed themselves to letting the cameras roll on their lives, for better or for worse. So if you thought that the Jordyn Woods and Tristan Thompson cheating scandal was off limits, you thought wrong. The trailer for Sunday's episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians was just released, and it involves the famous family working through the fallout of what happened when Woods went to a party at Thompson's house.

The teaser includes the infamous clip of Khloé Kardashian screaming "LIAAAARRRRRR." It's still not explicitly clear who prompted that strong response. She could be responding to Thompson, who clearly isn't always honest. Or she could be reacting to Woods account of the events on Red Table Talk. But the most revealing moment comes when we see Kylie Jenner—who was Woods' best friend before all of this happened—react for the first time.

In a heart-to-heart conversation, momager Kris Jenner says, "For you and Jordyn, it's like a divorce." Kylie only offers this in response: "She fucked up." Based on Woods' version of events—which I'm inclined to believeThompson is the one who fucked up. Still, I'm hoping for some kind of reconciliation between the two longtime friends. Perhaps we'll have to wait until next season for that.

Check out the promo video below.