Barbarian: If they’re “civilized,” I’d rather stay savage

— D E C O L O N I Z E —

Western standards of beauty currently dominate our world because we still live in the imperial model which continues to colonize and enslave. We resist white supremacy, “western” superiority and colonized ways of thinking and being by LOVING ourselves, generously, beautifully and joyfully in spite of any active or subliminal efforts to make us feel unworthy of love and life. If drones dropping bombs and a war economy are civilized then we are proudly not that. We are BEAUTIFUL BARBARIANS, selflessly savage and uncivilized. We eat with our hands. We smell like the spices we love to eat. We love the Earth tenderly as part of ourselves, not separate, not a thing to simply profit from. We love our hair, our noses, our skin and our own ways of thinking and being. We take back terms like barbarian, savage and uncivilized and wear them proudly as we honor our ancestors. We serve Creator by living in harmony with our selves recognizing that we are completely interconnected and in a state of interbeing, always.

Love – always, Mona
Producers: James Bunton and Corron Cole
Stylist: Feda Eid
Art Direction: Tahereh Mafi
Make up: Shabana Syed
Director: Hadeel Hadidi
Outfitters: Culture Hijabs,
Lola’s Urban Vintage
Zamarut Jewelry
Final Edit: Jude Chehab


If they’re civilized, I’d rather stay savage

We them barbarians
Beautiful and scaring them
Earth shakin rattling
Be wild out loud again
We them barbarians
Jasmine and Frankincense
Feminine invading them
Beautiful Barbarians

Say it again Beautiful barbarian
Say it again Beautiful barbarian
A beast before, now,
they wanna be wearin my skin
We don’t let them win
We beautiful barbarians

Lemme think back, I remember days
On these big lips, oh they used to hate
Now the script flipped Oh, hayy!
They gotta lipkit Kylie J

One hunnit, real talk, that’s what I’m on
If I’m a savage, then you’re a fraud
My chains off won’t be long
see me glowing, Look at God

So fresh and so eloquent, uh
I keep it humble and elegant, ah
Your beauty standard irrelevant
A revolution is so imminent
We keep it joyful and bedouin
I see my momma as evidence, ah
Nobody needs your benevolence, wha??
Feminist planet is imminent, ahh.

We them barbarians
Beautiful and scaring them
Earth shakin rattling
Be wild out loud again
We them barbarians
Jasmine and Frankincense
Feminine invading them
Beautiful Barbarians

Say it again Beautiful barbarian
Say it again Beautiful barbarian
A beast before, now,
they wanna be wearin my skin
We don’t let them win
We beautiful barbarians

Barbarian? that’s how you really feel?
Like you didn’t start war over oil fields?
Opium, poppy seed. Money moves, Cardi B.
Tried to make me hate me for my hips and nose
Now they got imposters, on a spread in Vogue
Not a single feature, that they let us own
Oh they packin fillers, Styrofoam

Ultralight beam metaphysical, huhn
Power no longer invisible, huhn
Your beauty standard is cynical, oh
A revolution is so critical
Power so deep and so mystical
They say the personal is so political, oh
Women our future is winnable
We gotta be indivisible

This nose, decolonize
This hair, decolonize
This body, decolonize
This mind, decolonized.

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man problems

We have (worldwide) man problems:

We love the old trope of the poor oppressed veiled woman and the evil Muslim men who oppress them. Think Sally Field circa 91’ in Not Without My Daughter. It should come as no surprise that by in large the Muslim American response to the Harvey Weinstein saga is  one of disgust, outrage and good old WTF, but of course people will be all, oh wait, but you’re Muslim. Isn’t this just normal everyday life for you?  Reeling from our own shocking exposé of a copuple widely respected American Muslim super star guru guys, it feels like something is in the air. Harvey Weinstein is an archetype. He is a symptom of a sick system.  It isn’t just Hollywood. It’s our churches, temples, masjids. It’s our schools and academia. It’s our sports. It’s everywhere. Let’s stop focusing on Weinstein as if this is an isolated situation and start talking about the system which continues to allow men in positions of authority to abuse their power while violating and being violent towards women, children and yes, in some cases, men.

This is about justice and the abolition of systems which create oppression. This is about the safety to move through the world without fear of harassment or violence.  This is about a global epidemic which we’ve become so accustomed to that we just live with it. Tarana Burke started #MeToo ten years ago, this is not a newfound recognition of the symptoms of this sickness.  Patriarchy is built into the systems in which we operate and the nature of our society. We cannot begin to effectively address violence against women until we question the system which allows it to exist uninvestigated. Patriarchy, like white supremacy, undergirds all our systems like democracy, capitalism etc.

We become complicit agents in that system of oppression when we perpetuate the invisibility of the stories of women.  We say things like “boys will be boys” and when we say that it has something to do with biology or evolution it absolves predators of any culpability or responsibility. Patriarchy is the institutionalized, culturally accepted, standardized structure which places men and women into a hierarchy whereby women are worth less and therefore deserve less.  A social system that dictates that cis white men are entitled to power and domination. Here we could get into traditional gender roles and how damaging they are for a truly just society, but instead I want to focus on something very simple: Justice. Patriarchy equals an unjust society.

I recently released my second single and music video. The song deals with the issue of men in positions of religious authority using their power to prey on young people. I received incredible amounts of hate mail, mainly from men. Women seemed to know that these stories were real and true. Most knew someone who had been in a situation where they had been assaulted or abused. Before releasing my song, I compiled a list of stories about religious leaders across religions, denominations and geographies. It certainly wasn’t exhaustive, but I wanted to make it clear that this isn’t a Muslim problem. This is global human problem.

Last month a  story emerged about a well known religious figure in the American Muslim community which all but broke the Muslim internet. Shirtless selfies and screenshots of texts back and forth between him and his students came and still people wanted to talk about “it takes two to tango.” That neglects the power dynamics at play. He was a world famous leader with millions upon millions of followers that spanned the entire globe. People are so in denial about the fact that this man could be capable of being a wolf in sheep’s clothing, prowling his audiences and classrooms for future girlfriends. The community still wants to put blame on the women involved. Why did they allow themselves to get into that sort of predicament? Blaming women for falling in love with a charismatic famous superstar when it was he was was in fact violating all ethics. But with the patriarchy as it is, we will continue to blame the women, because that is what it is built to do.

When #MeToo broke, another story emerged about an international intellectual and scholar. So many in the community are quick to write off women as unstable and/or attention hungry. Such is the structure of the system.

People will continue to say, but that’s just how men are, they are engineered by biology through evolution, by the chemical rushing through their bodies, by their very DNA to pursue women aggressively. They will say that we are animals and we just have to get over it. It doesn’t take more than a minimal google search to show how bunk this argument actually is and how detrimental it is when we allow it to persist. We remove any ethical framework, which binds non cis men very tightly to its laws when we say “oh, that’s just how men are!” We play into that power structure and even more frightening than that, we absolve predators, criminals, rapists of their crimes. We see people like Brock Turner be made into some type of victim of biology and circumstance, when he is simply, a white male rapist, all those identifiers playing into the system constructed to make it possible for him to walk away from rape with little to no consequences. The system is operating exactly how it’s supposed to operate. The intersection of white supremacy and patriarchy gave someone like Brock Turner with “his whole life ahead of him” a pass because he is a white man. Because we live in an unrestricted patriarchy where white cis men are likely to get away with assaulting women more often than not, even when the allegations are heinous like in case of the rape of an unconscious woman.

In response to Weinstein and #MeToo, Mayim Bialik wrote “I still make choices every day as a 41-year-old actress that I think of as self-protecting and wise. I have decided that my sexual self is best reserved for private situations with those I am most intimate with. I dress modestly. I don’t act flirtatiously with men as a policy.”  A resounding NO rang through my heart and mind  when I read that. #MeToo is not about how we dress or act, It’s about justice and doing away with a system which is unjust. We cannot offer band-aids like self policing; they will not make us safe from global patriarchy. Our response cannot be avoidance. Practices like female genital mutilation don’t go away because we dress modestly or reserve our sexuality to private situations. Workplace harassment and sexual assault don’t go away when we self-protect or are wise. They don’t even protect us.

This week I was catcalled on the street leaving the deli where I got my lunch.  “Hey! Hey! “look at those shoes. oh ya. wearing that suit. I see you. You can’t hide all that.”

A week ago, a construction worked whistled at me at 9am while he works on Jewish Theological Seminary as I walked to my class..

A month ago, I left a party celebrating an Emmy nomination for The Secret Life of Muslims, I was getting into an Uber to pick up my 6 month old baby from the babysitter whena guy walking opposite me, stops in front of me, standing in my way and says, “Beautiful” and lingers there without moving.. I didn’t make eye contact. I wasn’t flattered. I was afraid. I know enough stories that started this way and ended horrifically. .

Every single instance I was dressed modestly, none of my body exposed except my face and hands. These are all recent, not a year, not 5, 10 or 20 years ago. 2017, where the man leading our country said, You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them….I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.” That’s the uninvestigated patriarchy- the patriarchy internalized by us all which makes us believe that if we behave better or dress better, we will not be the next victim.

People will ask, can’t I take it as a compliment instead of getting mad? How can I, when it increases my heart rate and puts me into defensive mode, making sure there are other people around- finding them, reaching into my pocket for anything that might work as a means of self defense. Why do women have to choose to learn self defence? Why do I have to make the choice on nights whether I’m willing to risk the harassment and take the subway? Why do I have to foot the bill, which I typically cannot afford, because I don’t feel safe? Why do I have to worry about whether or not my Lyft driver is going too “friendly”? These are things that cross my mind, not because I am a paranoid or anxious person. These are things that cross my mind because they are fully in the realm of possibility.

Patriarchy is tricky. It tries to make us believe that it belongs to a certain religion, race, class or geography when it actuality it’s a worldwide phenomenon. Once we agree that patriarchy and white supremacy are the two major contributors to all of our human folly, we will do a much better job of uniting and doing away with them. It’s old. It’s tired. Can we just pull the plug now?

I’ve seen posts on social media from men who are taking light of all this. I’ve also seen posts from men who claim they don’t know any men who behave in this way, that it’s all so shocking. This is similar to how shocked liberal white folks were when an open racist and misogynist could be elected when people of color, muslims, immigrants were not so shocked.

People saying we should be patient with people(males) who aren’t ready to deal with these #metoo things because it’s difficult. No. Patience ceases to be a virtue when it perpetuates cycles of violence. I will not be patient. I will instead be in gratitude for the rising courage of those who are sharing and being vulnerable in the face of shaming and slander.

It isn’t about policing women, or sharing stories to commiserate or for pity, it’s about tipping the scales so that we don’t have to deal with this anymore. Violence against women, how they try to make it into a Muslim problem when in reality,  it’s a world wide human issue of the violence of patriarchy.

Mona Haydar – Dog (feat. Jackie Cruz) Video & Lyrics


If you think this song is about
I don’t what to tell you

Sheikhs on the DL
sheikhs in my DM
begging me to shake it
on my cam in the PM
Sheikhs on the DL
sheikhs in my DM
Ridin in that audi
Like a saudi arabian

A teacher? A guru?
Mm, you just some doo-doo
Said I own the whole souk
But you just sell produce
Boy you ain’t got no juice
Boy you drive an old coup
Too little for your ego n i cannot give you no boose

Say my voice is haram
Cuz you getting turned on
Boy you might need Qur’an
Boy you need to turn down
Got my full hood on
Got my full hood on
Sawtil mar’a thawra
Got my full hood on

See them thirsty
Seedy sidis
in their sidi suits
Kufis, turbans
And the prayer beads they rockin too
Twitter insta we can hear those howls
— when sun sets tryna hunt me down

Say you can save my spirit
But you’re a dog at night
We can see right through him
he’s a dog

If I’m all you need
Tell me how come
You gotta wife
Smell that reefer in his kufi
He’s a dog

Not a yummy cookie
No looky looky looky
I am not a rookie
Better watch out for 3aduki
Min fadlak Ghudd basarak
Min fadlak Ikhsha rabbak

Spiritually violent
Deviant but hiding it
You can’t sell enlightenment
Laugh at your entitlement

Panel on women
Only dudes
Um, excuse me
Really? Rude

Emotional terrorist
Thinking that you’re errorless
But you need a therapist
Boy you need an exorcist
Throwin up them Jinns n ghosts
not-fly list
coast to coast

Baby, habibti Pretty please
But you Work at Chuckie Cheese
You get grays
They don’t age
Robbing Cradles
Middle aged

Say you can save my spirit
But you’re a dog at night

We can see right through him
he’s a dog

If I’m all you need
Tell me how come
You gotta wife

Smell that reefer in his kufi
He’s a dog

Sheikhs on the DL
sheikhs in my DM
begging me to shake it on my cam in the PM”
Sheikhs on the DL
sheikhs in my DM
Ridin in that audi
Like a saudi arabian

sorry I have allergies
Allergic to your salary
And when you call me sweety
You are givin me a cavity
Boy you’re too much calories
Obsessed with my anatomy
And your flattery just a mirror
for your vanity

Sheikhs on the DL
sheikhs in my DM
begging me to shake it on my cam in the PM”
Sheikhs on the DL
sheikhs in my DM
Ridin in that audi
Like a saudi arabian

I’m sorry I have allergies
Allergic to your salary
Don’t ever call me sweetie
You are giving me a cavity
Boy you’re too much calories
Obsessed with my anatomy
And your flattery just a mirror
for your vanity

Oh my
You need


Violence against women is a world wide epidemic. It knows no religion, no race, no class, no culture. It is a manifestation of Patriarchy. Shaming victims must end. The cycles of violence must be broken. We must do better. We must. We will.

Criminal imam teaching Qur’an: England

Bikram Yoga sex scandals

Buddhist Monk convicted of 25 counts of sexual abuse: Germany

Priests Sexually Abusive: New York

Rabbi Sexually Assaults students: Brooklyn

Hindu Priest: New York

Chicago Imam Sexually Abusive

Comprehensive list of Yoga Guru Sexual Abuse

Pastors on the Prowl

Jewish Sexual violence cases

Bhutanese Buddhist Monks sexually abused children monks

Mennonite Sexual Abuse and more: Our Stories Untold 

Healing from Spiritual Abuse: In Shaykh’s Clothing

The More Beautiful World

Allow me to introduce myself:
Mona Haydar.
I am the daughter of Syrian immigrants,
A rapper— experiencing cognitive dissonance?
Maybe because we’ve been socialized to believe
That I’m oppressed and in need
Of saving from a savior
By hetero normative delusions of grandeur
Instead of a woman of intellect and agency
Who has made spitting rhymes her specialty
Colonization has made it its project
To project an archetypal image
A limp tepid one that I resist
Because my rhymes spill truth
Like their bombs spill blood
But somehow my people are the barbaric ones
I’m the mother of two beautiful boys,
And yes I been in the news makin noise
Because I’m a poet and emcee
An activist and masters student of theology in this city
But I have a question for you all just out of curiosity
What if our foreign policy was generosity
What if pregnant mamas negotiated homeland security
What if we loved the earth as much as we loved netflix
What if we instated the gift economy and got the money out of politics
What if we sought the wisdom of children in moments of uncertainty
Like when I was in labor with my second and my first told me
Just breathe mommy just breathe. It’s going to be okay.
Or like when he announced very quietly and at random one day
I am a secret.
Yes you are my sweet child of the multiverse.
The norm – not the exception
What if we loved all the babies fiercely
Loving the ones above and below certain globally southern borders equally
Giving them access to the same opportunities
Because we’ve done away with the models of scarcity
Because we know the truth of love’s infinite possibilities
Do you know which baby it will be who will finally find the cure?
Do you know which baby it will be who will finally end world hunger?
Do you know which baby it will be who will put a stop to climate change?
Do you know which baby it will be who will eradicate war with finality?
What if we loved all the babies fiercely?
Would we still have problems with police brutality?
Would we still have people saying that they don’t see color?
Because I see color and it floods my heart with joy joy joy
What if we did away with the projects and gave everyone a proper house
What if instead of dropping bombs we dropped poems
Instead of sending over soldiers we sent over poets.
The potency of poetry takes a nobody and turns them into nobility and not in a nuanced way but noticeably and notably
What if world leaders finger painted until decisions were made
And doodles became laws and songs agreements of trade
What if we bartered for what we needed
What if we all worked until this vision succeeded
I believe this world is possible.
I see it with the eye of my heart
I write from that place when I create my art
The place where we’d no longer need diplomacy
Or politicians who are conscious socially because we’d all be
I’ve been to the future
It lives in the arms of my mother
I’ve returned to share this better way
And it sounds a lot like Bob Marley’s reggae
It feels like Billie Holiday
And I’m so happy to tell you that it’s underway
Because I’ve come with these heart technologies
I come with a whole new cosmology
Replacing all whack theology
With gyn ecology
Yaa gynecology
Loving mother earth like how a woman who knows herself loves herself
Gyn ecology
I went to college see
They taught me
Break it down
Deconstruct the mythology then reconstruct
That’s how you decode the possibility
I’m the archetype of a prophetess
In the incarnation of a poetess
Who prostrates herself to the oneness
The interconnectedness
This is my clinic
Let me administer this shot of
Heart healing modalities
Trauma treating medicines
No payment necessary
No batteries required
Insurance not mandated
In fact insurance is outdated
Instead of bombs blood and dead babies
We want bodies holding bodies in bliss
Class and castes dismissed
The world where love reigns supreme
Like Coltrane and Rumi
Yaaa I’m a groupie
I’m loopy some say naive
But i truly believe in this more beautiful world
And I will dedicate every moment of my life to building it
Because what else have we got to do?
Let’s build that world together.
You down?

Lyrics #hijabiXmona

Hijabi by Mona

Verse 1
What that hair look like
Bet that hair look nice
Don’t that make you sweat?
Don’t that feel too tight?
Yo what yo hair look like
Bet yo hair look nice
How long your hair is
You need to get yo life
You only see Oriental
You steady working that dental
You poppin off at the lip
And run ya mouth like a treadmill
Not your exotic vacation
I’m bored with your fascination
I need that PayPal, PayPal, PayPal
If you want education

All around the world
Love women every shading
be so liberated
All around the world
Love women every shading
power run deep
So even if you hate it
I still wrap my hijab
Wrap my hijab
Wrap my hijab
Wrap, wrap my hijab

Keep swaggin my hijabis
Swag-Swaggin my hijabis
Swaggin my hijabis
Swag-swaggin my hijabis

Verse 2
Me and my hijabi ladies
We was born in the eighties
So pretty like the euphrates
and party like some kuwaitis
Deeper than some diplomas
Current like some hot yoga
Takin back the misnomers and
Teleportin through trauma
Teleportin through trauma
Teleportin through trauma
I been stackin my karma
Nefertiti, no drama
Make a feminist planet
Women haters get banished
Covered up or not don’t ever take us for granted


You’re just jealous of my sisters
These Mipsters, These hippies
These Prissies, These Sufis
These Dreddies, These Sunnis
These Shii’s, Yemenis
Somalis, Libnanis, Pakistanis
These Soories, Sudanis
Iraqis, Punjabies
Afghanis, Yazeedis
Khaleejis, Indonesians
Egyptians, Canadians
Algerians, Nigerians
Americans, Libyans
Tunisians, Palestinians
Hidden beyond the Mekong in laos
Senegalese and Burkina faso