United Talent Agency

Elise Bellin, Librarian of the Islamic Resource Center, wrote this book review as part of an ongoing series that focuses on a range of books within the IRC collection as a service to the community.

iCover: A Day in the Life of a Muslim-American COVERed Girl

iCover: A Day in the Life of a Muslim-American COVERed Girl by Sadaf Syed © 2012– ISBN: 9780615376875

Nothing is more iconic of the division, general disconnect and misunderstanding between Western culture and Islam than its view on the Muslim hijab. To those of the religion, it is a symbol of freedom, liberation, piety, and respect. To many outside of Islam, it is a symbol of repression, fundamentalism and a people out of touch with the modern world.

In comes Sadaf Syed, internationally recognized photojournalist and portrait photographer, not to mention successful, hijab-wearing proud-to-be-an-American Muslim. Her photo documentary on the lives of real Muslim-American women, iCover, made headlines when it first came out. In it, Syed shows Muslim American women in their everyday lives, lives that every other American in the country can understand, relate to, and respect.

It shows hijabi athletes, business owners, doctors and dancers. There are US Army specialists, judges, musicians, and students. We see women in all different walks of life. From school girls and survivors of the Virginia Tech massacre to brides, new mothers, mothers of special needs children and grandmothers. All are brilliantly photographed with a short summary introducing the woman or girl, her life and an element of what makes her special. We are given a reason for why she has personally decided to wear the covering, and the honorable and modern way in which these women live in our society, no more or less deserving of our respect than anyone else.

It is a celebration of individuality. It is a celebration of self. It is a celebration of what it is to be American in an often difficult time. It is a salute to these women and their lives.

Founded in 2010, the Islamic Resource Center (IRC) is the first Islamic public lending library in Wisconsin. The IRC aims to provide resources to educators, students, health professionals, interfaith groups, and any members of the Milwaukee community that want an accurate understanding of the Islamic faith, its practices, and its people.