Saudi Arabia: How do People Perceive Muslim Women?


Two women who state they are Muslims made their own video where they are having a conversation as two women just talking but talking the way they perceive non-Muslims imagine how Muslim women would talk together in private.  The video does contain inappropriate and foul language in parts so you have been forewarned in case you choose not to view it.

I chose to share this video only as a point for discussion.  In your opinion, does this video really touch upon any realities of how Muslim women are perceived?  Or does this video actually perpetuate a wrong impression of Muslim women?

If you are Muslim, how do YOU feel you are perceived by non-Muslims?  If you are non-Muslim, what do YOU think Muslim women talk about among themselves?



28 Responses

  1. I didn’t watch the video. I imagine that Muslim women talk about the same things other women talk about: family, interests and hobbies, work, beliefs and philosophies, current events, books, movies, television, music…

  2. This video is crazy! Are these women serious that they think non Muslims think that Muslim women talk like that???Holy wonder there is a lack of communication if they think like that. WHY would any non Muslim think that a Muslim woman would speak so foul when having a casual conversation with another Muslim? They obviously have little faith in non Muslims. If anything and if they appear particularly religious, one would think that they DON’T speak like that. I am actually offended by the video. They need to get out more and readjsut their narrow minded thinkng…

  3. i agree Oby. I’ve never been around ANY Muslim women who talk like that with each other. I’ve found the conversations to be very respectiful and not all that back-biting and profanity.

  4. I agree with Angelle. I’ve never really imagined that Muslim women are all that different (other than religion, of course) from others.

    I think that the video does both. It perpetuates the stereotype that the women talk about others because the women never really address what they DO usually talk about (unless I missed something, in which case please correct me). However, I think it shows them having fun, being assertive, and being more like others in their actions, which goes against the stereotype of subdued women who are “forced” to cover. It will be interesting to see how these women continue with their video blogging and what they talk about next! 🙂

    As a sidenote: When I first saw women wearing abayas, I wondered why they chose to dress that way. I also remember the first time I watched a woman with her face covered eat at a restaurant. I was amazed that she could do so without making a mess. If that had been me, I would have made a huge mess for sure! LOL.

  5. I also agree with Oby and AB. I didn’t know that such a stereotype existed, but apparently these women did, so I just went with it. Who knows? Maybe it exists somewhere in this crazy world we all live in!

  6. Stupid video. I think they are trying to be funny.
    And failing miserably.

  7. They seem as though they are just stupid kids. Not even worth discussing.

  8. In my opinion, Muslim women chat and speak much the same as any other women in the world. Their conversations are sprinkled with catch phrases just like any women in any other country. How many of us use phrases like “God willing” or “thank God” in conversation everyday.

    These women used the little bit of Arabic they have heard and scattered it into their normal conversation. The obsenities they use are part of some American women’s conversation. I have rarely, if ever heard it come from a Muslim woman, at least not here in Saudi Arabia.

    I believe that this video simply shows 2 women with waaay too much time on their hands. They may think they are being funny, I think they are simply showing their prejudice and lack of knowledge. I am embarrassed to be an American when I see this sort of behavior.

  9. Not offended…what is there to be offended by? I suspect this video was made in jest. Not sure if this is “real”.

  10. Of course it’s fake, look at the stupid way they put their scarves on. Lynn is right, let’s not waste any more time on this.

  11. I agree with Sally’s comment. I’ve been with groups of Saudi women and to begin with there is no profanity. The talk generally focuses on food, fashion, family, children but not any kind of backbiting.

  12. It is worth talking about perceptions and stereotypes.

  13. When I saw the question, I immediately thought that muslimas are different around the world, why would they all talk about the same things aside from what all humans are concerned with, like food etc.? The difference I see between muslims and non-muslims in general is that muslims tend to discuss islam and proper behaviour more; I mean that they seem to try to figure out whether their behaviour is ethical or not a lot more than non-muslims. these muslimas in particular are either black American or they are making fun of poor black Americans. Having lived in ghetto, that is how they talk. Either way, not particularly good comedy unless you are maybe.. about 14 and living in an American ghetto?

  14. @Carol, The video is about 2 women trying to be funny.

    Basically they have some American Muslim convert friends who constantly insert words like Inshallah, Astaghoro allah, Subhan allah etc. in everything they say. The girls in a way are making fun of that silly mannerism. I think many converts over use these terms to prove their commitment to Islam. They often sound like parrots who are repeating these words without the right context. We see it in comments on this blog also.

    The video does not present any wildly held stereo types of Muslims. It is basically 2 women making a silly video which failed in being entertaining.

  15. I used to talk like that! 😉

  16. @Sandy,

    LOL, I bet you noticed your credibility improved by miles once you dropped the “Silly Talk”

    I can actually imagine someone making a video about convert language and call it “Ministry of Silly Talk”. Any Monty Python fan will appreciate it tremendously.

  17. Watching the vid a couple more times, I think they are a couple of young muslimas who are trying to deal with a couple of attitudes non-muslims have about muslims: first that muslims think they are better than everyone else. The swearing etc. is to show that non-muslims think being a muslim just gives you a veneer of goodness, but really, muslims are just like them; they swear, talk about people, and hate it when black men date white women. Second, muslims are foreign somehow. The use of Spanish in the middle and what sounds like an indian accent at the end is intriguing (Their own accents are interesting). Third, that they are somehow fakers might be in play to; all the men are named Abdulla and the thinking really hard for another name and producing “Abdul-Jabarr” was funny (a reference to Kareem Abdul-Jabarr the basketball player who is also a muslim?) In sum, if I am correct about the kind of people they encounter in their daily life, they are struggling with peers who tell them to be what Islam tells them not to be. The rule of the ghetto is to try and bring down anyone who tries to to elevate themselves. It’s a hard fight. May God guide them.

  18. @Moq
    It improved it in certain circles. I still say it some, but not like before. I say it when I mean it not like a compulsive reflex. Except, of course, in front of my MIL when talking about my children. I’m sure you appreciate that scenario!

  19. “I am embarrassed to be an American when I see this sort of behavior.”

    you don’t have to be that embarrassed dear Sally in Saudi for this sort of behavior is not exclusive to Americans. We are all in the same boat one way or another.
    We just got to let go as much as we can when we see such things to keep our heads held high, to keep on breaking the ice between the East & West.
    The fact that people like you still exist is enough to feed respect, tolerance, forgiveness, love, sympathy and more in our hearts.

    American Bedu,
    I am very happy to know that you are going to read my words J
    I came across your blog like four days ago and when I read those lines about who you are, the story of the Canadian doctor & Saudi nurse in king Faisal hospital, the bravery of yours and your husband’s , May Allah’s Mercy embrace his soul, in fighting cancer, and other topics I was like “where have you been Carol or where have I been!”
    You are a great woman. I salute you.

  20. I’m confused, Sandy. Are you talking about convert talk or foul language?

    MoQ, I don’t think I’d find a Monty Python about convert talk funny. A little too close to home!

    And y’all shouldn’t compare how ill bred teens talk to how adults talk, no matter which society we are talking about.

  21. @Lynn
    I was responding to MoQ about the convert talk. I didn’t actually watch the video. I’m not big on foul language.

  22. I haven’t watched more than the first few seconds of the clip. I’d like to comment about the reverts that constantly sprinkle in Arabic terms like inshaallah, mashallah, istaghfirallah,and alhamdulillah. They mean well and are intent not to offend anyone. Trouble is many times they use the words interchangeably and they are best used in specific incidences.

  23. Kinz, see, if they translated these words into their own language they would understand what they mean and use them correctly. Why should their speech be sprinkled with foreign words when the same words exist in their own language?

  24. Because, the intended deity only understands Arabic.

  25. In my experience, we converts use them correctly- though often very liberally.

  26. I used to live in neighborhoods where people talked and acted like that (whether or not they were Christian, Muslim, Atheist, etc.), so I guess that’s why the profanity and everything didn’t bother me. They say they are Muslim women in the video description, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they usually cover their faces. I laughed when they told the one girl to go back inside and she told them they’re crazy.

  27. Bedu said that the women are talking in a manner that they perceive non Muslims think they do…if that is the case the women are laboring under a major misconception…if they are trying to be funny…different story. Then there is nothing to take “seriously”.

  28. I think if you’re not use to being around covered women, it can be a little unsettling. A lot of girls I know relate them to like nuns, and watch how they talk and what they talk about ect.

    I know one girl who is afraid of them…thinks that all covered women look angry and judging…but I think that’s just her fear coming out cause she’s with an arab man..I dunno.
    I think those of us who are raised around it it doesn’t even effect us, I talk the exact same way with my hijabi friends then my non hijabi friends…everything from the MSA meeting to sex. They are just like everyone else.

    I do see some jealous viewpoints sometimes, in the summer, or when they see their husbands or brothers checking out a girl that isn’t covered, but it’s not often. And I think non hijabi women judge hijabis too. Women judge each other ALL THE TIME period. Like a peacock show no matter where you are or what you wear, there will be a girl to talk about it. LOL.

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