Sadaf Syed stops the stereotypes


Samia Douedari

Sadaf Syed visits Central to talk about her book and experiences to break the stereotypes of Muslim women.

On Wednesday, April 12, Sadaf Syed, photojournalist and author of iCover, spoke at Central about her book and shatters the stereotypes of Muslim women who wear the headscarf as a part of Islamic Awareness Week. 

“iCover is a book to inspire a day in the life of a covered Muslim girl and show the similarities we all have as women, athletes, students or professionals. It gives people an opportunity to see what they’re all about, and it gives the women a good platform to talk about themselves and have a voice,” Syed said.

Syed started as photojournalist in a local newspaper in Illinois; however, the biased notions on Islam after Sept. 11 encouraged her to travel across the United States and capture the stories of Muslim women wearing the headscarf.

“I traveled across the country and did a lot of flying. Emails and public nominations were being sent to have me take pictures and document in various places,” Syed said.

iCover was sold out within months of being published and has been featured by 15 different news sources, including the Chicago Tribune and ABC News. Her accomplishments also led her to being recognized as the leading artist in the White House in Aug. 2010.

Hoping to break each stereotype page-by-page, Syed portrays the images and stories of average Muslim women, such as a truck driver, surfer, biker, tri-athlete and boxer. She captures their voice in her book to display the struggles and fears faced by Muslim women everyday, and she speaks at many different schools to spread the messages illustrated in these stories.

“I recently spoke at Oak Lawn High School, but I spoke at many different organizations and universities, and I have gone all over the local area primarily to talk about my book and the stories of Muslim women in media or women wearing the headscarf,” Syed said.


Courtesy of IMOW Muslima
Asma Azim, a 58-year-old step-grandmother from Pakistan, is voiced in iCover as she talks about her experiences as being a truck driver and manager of mechanics for 12 years.

As one of the leading feminist photographers, Syed hopes to continue breaking the stereotypes faced by Muslim women across the country. She continues to speak at other high schools and universities to represent the women who follow the second leading faith in the world, Islam.

You can purchase iCover here.