Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2017

Access Restrictions


Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Religious Studies

First Advisor

Turner, Richard Brent

Second Advisor

Nabhan-Warren, Kristy

First Committee Member

Supp-Montgomerie, Jenna

Second Committee Member

Whaley, Deborah

Third Committee Member

Smith, Fred

Fourth Committee Member

Hammer, Juliane


This dissertation provides a critical discursive analysis of videos, blogs, and social media posts created by two African-American Muslim women who live in the Southern United States, Najwa Niang and Nadira Abdul-Quddus, who make up the, group, Muslimah2Muslimah. As African-American women who do not speak Arabic, Najwa and Nadira fall outside of normative institutions of Islamic learning. Thus, they have taken to YouTube to create their own interpretive communities based on their interpretations of English translated versions of the Qur’an and hadith. Through fashion and beauty tutorials on YouTube, Najwa and Nadira they perform a new Muslim cool, centering their Blackness, and challenging hegemonic formulations of Islam that subordinate African-Americans. I argue that for Najwa and Nadira, fashion is a form of embodied theology. The use their stylized bodies to reimagine religious authority, knowledge transmission, and the image of Muslim womanhood by centering Black expressive culture. My dissertation provides an important intervention in the fields of religious studies and material Islam, highlighting how debates around race and gender are enacted in everyday life.

Public Abstract

This study explores how fashion functions as a form of resistance for African- American Muslim women. Through analyzing hijab tutorials, outfit of the day videos, and advertisements, I argue that fashion provides African-American Muslim women a means to challenge the privileged position that Arab and South Asian Muslims often hold within Muslim communities, which they use to draw the boundaries of Muslim authenticity. Through their dress practices, African-American Muslim women create alternative modes of knowledge production and transmission, as well as new images of Muslim womanhood that are centered in Black expressive culture. This study contributes to the field of religious studies by exploring how everyday practices are important sites of resistance.


fashion, hijab, Islam, YouTube vlogs


xi, 170 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 159-170).


Copyright © 2017 Kayla Renée Wheeler

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