|Still Frame from "Mesh Hastanna" - Provided by Rama|
On June 26th, 2020, Musawah which is the global movement for equality and justice in the Muslim Family, launched a campaign that advocates to reform systems that oppress Muslim women and fights for equality and justice for all.
With Egyptian Rapper Felukah on the mic & Syrian illustrator Rama on the Animation, the result is "Mesh Hastanna" which means " I Wont Wait" and it's a track that fights for equality...
I fell in love with the track, the music (that is actually produced by Felukah's brother Malik Elmessiry), the animation...
I had the honor to ask Musawah, Felukah and Rama few questions about song/campaign, please find the answers below and show love:-
re-volt: Thank you for doing this. What inspired you to tackle this issue using rap and illustration?
Musawah: We have been advocating for equality and justice in Muslim families since 2009. This year, we launched the Campaign for Justice in Muslim Family Laws, bringing together activists, scholars, policy makers and civil society to advocate for the reform of discriminatory family laws and practices in Muslim contexts.
As a knowledge-building movement, we have produced a lot of materials aimed at family law reform, but this Mesh Hastanna project was the first time we used rap and illustration together.
It was a learning sprint of sorts, to turn our usual work on its head and come at it from a different angle—of culture, song and illustration—and reach new audiences, particularly young people
who are engaged and mobilized to change our world for the better.
We were introduced to Felukah through one of our national Advocates; she was passionate about the project from the get-go, Felukah in turn was a fan of Rama's on Instagram, and so it all came together quite naturally into what you see today!
re-volt : In what way you think projects like these are needed to start changing minds?
Musawah: The importance of projects like Mesh Hastanna, and artivism in general, is to inspire people to envision other ways of being and doing. As activists fighting for family law reform, we are coming up against centuries of patriarchal thinking and power structures that don't live up to the trajectory of justice in the Qur'an.
The DNA of patriarchy is ingrained into our societies and families, and dismantling it can be arduous, long-term work, in part because it tackles sensitive issues of identity, religion, politics, power.
But it's not enough to point out how our systems are broken; we have to make spaces and spark conversations to imagine alternatives. So we have to show women's stories in ways that resonate on a deeper level than facts, and that help us to change the discriminatory laws that govern our lives.
Art, music, poetry, and culture give us other lenses through which to understand each other and the realities we deal with in our daily lives, which is especially crucial for making visible people on the margins and making heard voices previously silenced.
re-volt: it’s been 3 days since the project dropped, how’s the feedback from the public?
Musawah: The feedback has been phenomenal! People have been playing the video on repeat, wanting to translate the lyrics into local languages, asking for the song as their ringtone and the illustrations as their wallpaper.
The overwhelmingly positive responses show that this collaboration between Felukah, Malik El Messiry, Rama Duwaji and Musawah has tapped into a truth about gender injustice that resonates with people.
It's a testament to the insightful and fantastic work these young artists have put into making this moving video together, and to the necessity of reforming Muslim laws and practices that discriminate against women and girls.
re-volt: What was your initial thoughts when you first were approached to work on this project?
Rama: When Musawah first approached me I was really enthusiastic about their campaign because they represent everything I stand for in terms of raising awareness about taboo issues in our communities and challenging the ideals that we have taken to be as norm in order to create new systems that work with Muslim women, not against them.
I was also a little nervous because this was my first time doing a full length animation, but excitement took over nerves and it was a great challenge! I think the amazing vocals of Felukah really made it come to life.
re-volt: How did the illustration come to life, how long did it take you to complete it?
Rama: The animation is 2,500+ frames long and took me about a month and a half to finish the project, storyboard and all.
Frame by frame animation can be a super time consuming method, lots of people prefer to animate using programs like Adobe After Effects, but to me, the hand made feeling that the frame by frame method creates gives the animation more character and life, so it was worth the labor.
After listening to the song, I pitched the main storyboard to the team, they helped refine it and from there on out it was just about getting the work done, one scene at a time.
re-volt: In What Way You Think this campaign can make a change?
Rama: I think music and visual arts can each be so impactful and attention grabbing in raising awareness about important issues, so when they come together and intersect in the way that they do in the Mesh Hastanna project, hopefully it’ll create an open dialogue about Muslim women’s rights and shift how people see the outdated cultural norms in our communities.
It’s also really important to me that the project is primarily in Arabic, and Felukah did an amazing job in expressing the issues of the campaign all while rapping and singing it beautifully.
I’m always in favor of making more content in Arabic because it never feels like there’s enough, and because I’m always cautious about making work that panders to western audiences, when the focus should be on our own communities.
There are of course English subtitles and (hopefully) a universal visual language because the obvious matter of the fact is, not all Muslims speak Arabic and vice versa, so in addition to the English translations, I added familiar cues in the animation in order to be accessible and speak to not only a wider Muslim community but also everyone else.
re-volt: When Musawah reached out to you and old you about the project, what were your initial thoughts?
Felukah: Initially when Musawah reached out to me and told me about the project, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to assist them, or I wasn’t sure I was the “right person” for this.
The cause hit home, being that I am a Muslim woman myself who grew up witnessing countless injustices to the women around me and learning about the corrupt paradigm we operate in.
I spoke to my mother who strongly encouraged me to challenge myself and write the song for the campaign— the minute I put myself in the headspace of urgency, calling for change and recollecting the experiences I (and those around me) went through, the lyrics started pouring out. My brother Malik Elmessiry caught the vibe and produced the music for this song.
re-volt: Thank you for using your talent to discuss such a topic. How long did it take you to write the song?
Felukah: I wrote the first draft of this song over the course of two nights, but I’ve been meticulously editing and redrafting the lyrics for precision in Arabic and accurate translations in English, for about three months now. It’s been a largely collaborative effort, the entire execution of this project.
re-volt: In your opinion, how much work needs to be on equality in the Middle-East?
Felukah: So much work needs to be done on equality in the Middle East.. I stand by the notion that revolution begins at home and then extends to the streets, the institutions, and finally can change policy. We need to work on our own wiring, as innovative thinkers, artists, or conscious members of any society that desperately needs change. Once our perspective has changed and we’ve come to view social issues as urgent opportunities to build culture, we develop a closeness with the cause we’re fighting for and wind up seeing it through. That is the aim, in my eyes at least.
re-volt: The song addresses the issue and also addresses the fact that a problem like this wont work itself out.. In Your opinion and as the writer for he song, I believe you already contributed to more awareness on this issue, but as felukah, what are the steps needed on ground beyond music to eradicate such mentality?
Felukah: That’s a good question. I definitely don’t think these deep-rooted issues in Muslim societies will just magically fix themselves, and I also recognize that it’ll take the combined, collaborative effort of everyone involved (and even everyone *not* involved) to speak up and create enough momentum to instigate real reform.
Looking beyond music, what this entails is internalizing ideas of assertiveness and confidence in women, highlighting the efforts of men who are supporting the deconstruction of corrupt institutions/ideals, and emphasizing the importance of community building and solidarity. The more we can empathize and learn to see each other fully, the more this reliability will carry over to other facets of life and move us (collectively) to pursue the ongoing fight for equality.
Watch the full video below and stream it on Music Platforms,
let the voice and actions of this campaign reach, push it, be LOUD about when you do so...
Super salute and love to Felukah, Rama, Malik and of course Musawah for putting this together. I am truly inspired..
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Musawah is the global movement for equality and justice in the Muslim family. Since launching in 2009 in Malaysia, Musawah has built a knowledge-based global movement, bringing together activists, policy makers and scholars to challenge the ways Islam is used to justify discriminations against women in law and practice, and to offer a rights-based discourse and framework to advocate for equality and justice for women and marginalised groups living in Muslim contexts.
For more information on the Campaign for Justice and to join our campaign, visit www.musawah.org/campaign-for-justice.