I've often admired the resourcefulness with which devout Muslim women combine their faith and a wicked fashion sense.
Tamil rapper Sofia Ashraf, who uses her songs to talk about social rights issues close to her heart, has come up with a hilarious and heart-warming new video called Types Of Hijabis You Will Meet This Eid as a part tribute, part satire on the traditional Muslim head cover.
The video has Ashraf making witty comparisons between the hijab and bank accounts, disco balls, pin cushions, the ghost from Scooby Doo and camel humps. Among other delightful nuggets, Ashraf points out how difficult it can be to hear things when women's heads are wrapped in layers of fabric.
The best thing about it: even as she pokes fun at the hijab and its many variations, it's doesn't sound condescending at all.
Perhaps it was possible for Ashraf to strike the balance between funny and culturally sensitive because she, too, was a hijabi once upon a time. "As an ex-hijabi I can understand the sentiment attached to the hijab. To understand a hijabi, you need to understand fandom. When you love a band, you like to show it. You don't ask a Metallica fan not to wear a band t-shirt to a concert. You don't ask an Allah groupie not to wear the hijab. Although I don't believe the hijab is for me, I do not hold the notion that the hijab is not for anyone," Ashraf tells HuffPost India.
No matter how great the intentions, religion and religious symbols are always a tricky subject and there is always the risk of someone, somewhere, taking great offence to what you thought was an innocuous piece of creative work. "I was constantly second-guessing my jokes. There are bits that I've mercilessly cut out to respect sentiments of Muslims. Despite that, we were prepared for some negative comments."
But the outpouring of love and positivity from women, more than makes up for any kind of negativity. "Hijabis are laughing their hijabs off at it and are welcoming it as a sign of diversity and inclusiveness," says Ashraf. "Women are tired of being branded as a gender that is constantly pulling each other down. The most fun comments are when hijabis tag each other and mention which category they fall under!"