sza opens up about why she stopped wearing a hijab
"Kids were very sure about how they felt about me and how they felt about Islam."
photography zach wolfe
During an interview with The Breakfast Club yesterday morning, SZA opened up about her Muslim faith. She touched on the juggling act she was forced to perform as the child of a Christian mother and Muslim father, growing up in Maplewood, New Jersey. One week she would go to church with her mother, the next the mosque with her father.
"My dad kind of ran the household," SZA revealed without hesitation. "But I still go to church every other week with my mother because he's an understanding… human being."
However, when it came to the topic of why she decided to stop wearing her hijab, it was clear that she had to search deeper for an explanation. "When 9/11 happened, my hijab became a thing," SZA said quietly. "Kids were very sure about how they felt about me and how they felt about Islam. As kids, it was a very separate thing to them like, 'You don't believe in God, you believe in Allah!' when the literal translation [of Allah] is God. It pains me to see all this Islamophobia growing when I know the damage that causes. Where it comes from is a place of ignorance and fear."
SZA has been vocal about her faith since the beginning of her career. During a 2013 interview with Complex, she talked about growing up in a religious household. "I didn't watch television or listen to the radio," she said. "When I was cheerleading and doing gymnastics, my dad made me put on leggings and long sleeves. I was a girl so my dad was like, 'You do nothing.'" But SZA went on to discuss how she eventually blossomed into herself and received her father's support to chase her musical dreams.
It's inspiring to see a popular artist be so forthcoming about a religion that is so often misunderstood by the media and public. At a time when the Muslim community is coming under attack, SZA's candid pride in being a black muslim woman is important.
Text André-Naquian Wheeler
Photography Zach Wolfe [The Collector's Issue, No. 328, 2013]