With her Muslim Valentine's Day cards, Taz Ahmed challenges Islamophobia with humour
By Barfi Culture Team
10th February 2018

It all started as a bit of a joke a few years ago.

Tanzila 'Taz' Ahmed, a political strategist, podcaster and poet, wondered on Twitter what a Muslim Valentine's cards would say. She started tweeting a few lines using the #MuslimVDay hashtag and soon the puns started pouring in.

I want to take pictures with you in front of official looking buildings

I have a JI-HARD ON for you

Sending a whole LOTA love your way

My magic carpet can give you one helluva ride

Initially she just printed some and handed them out to friends. But they were so popular that people demanded to know where they could buy more. Inevitably, she ended up setting up an online shop and started creating them every year.

"I was tired of Muslims being put into a box — and tired of being in the box of a non-sexual Muslim woman," she says. "So this was my way of reappropriating Islamophobia."

The 2018 collection

She says her cards subtly touch on disrupting the political mainstream narrative. This year they address issues like the Muslim Ban, calling your Representative in Congress and turning out to protest.

"If these cards make you laugh, but uncomfortably, they have done their job."

Partly, the humour reflects her own life too. She said earlier she always found Valentine's Day as a "little brown girl in America" quite traumatic.

"I was always the girl who didn't get that many Valentine's Day cards. I wasn't popular or cool, I was the Bengali-American kid who looked unlike everyone else around me."

So this is her way of dealing with that trauma and dealing with the political climate. But more importantly, she says, she wants to expose love and romance amongst Muslims to popular culture.

From the 2014 collection

The cards have proved so popular they have been hosted at the Smithsonian APA Literature Festival and the Shangri-La Center for Islamic Arts and Culture.

Taz designs the cards herself, and says that the design and quotes change every year depending on the climate.

"I like to make the cards reflective of the Muslim-American news of that particular year," she said in an interview.

"I have also changed the aesthetic of the cards as I go along, basically reflecting my taste at the time."

Politics clearly runs through her veins. From her base in southern California, Taz Ahmed has worked for 17 years as as an electoral organiser and campaign strategist at 18MillionRising, mobilising Asian Americans and getting them involved in local and national politics.

In 2004, she founded South Asian American Voting Youth (SAAVY), which focuses on mobilising young South Asians.

She also hosts a monthly podcast called #GoodMuslimBadMuslim with friend Zahra Noorbakhsh about the good and the bad of the American Muslim female experience.

The podcast too started off as a joke on Twitter but has now been featured in mainstream outlets including Buzzfeed, Oprah magazine and Wired.

You can buy the Muslim V-Day cards from her page on Etsy. More on her website:

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