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As a second-generation immigrant with roots in the Muslim community, I sometimes encounter Muslim-themed memes in my social networks.
They are fascinating to me, because while they share many of the influences familiar to western audiences, they serve a completely different set of values.
These memes reveal a more humorous side of young Muslims that many non-Muslims may not have ever seen before.
They show that cultural barriers are much more fluid than we think they are, and that the Internet can bring together Muslims just as well as Facebook moms.
It’s always the cultural reference that’s flipped on its heel, never religion.
Some of the memes share a common theme, like reactions to Islamophobia: Some reveal a love of Disney characters and their relationships, but not before sloppily retconning them into Muslims with beards and hijabs (Bonus: a makeup artist using her hijab to turn into Disney princesses): Oh, and don’t forget the ubiquitous Minions (Bonus: an original comic about Muslim Minions): These could only have been created by Muslims who have been deeply immersed in Western culture and still hold strong to their faith.
However, Bart still represents a naughty kid and the Muslim idea that interrupting a khutbah is bad remains unaltered.If you’re not very religious or non-Muslim, it all just seems like a perverse appropriation of pop culture to fit the Islamic ideal. To reiterate the theory, for a situation to be humorous, it must be benign and violate expectations.The above memes certainly violate the expectation that pop culture and Islam don’t or shouldn’t mix together. If you’re not a member of that small demographic you might be able to empathize with them anyway and find the humor.The very nature of memes as a visual form poses a problem for some Muslims. Because idolatry is a major sin, Islam forbids depictions of Allah and his prophets.
Images of humans and animals have also historically been discouraged due to a prohibition against drawing anything with a soul.These kinds of memes are fairly conservative in scope, and more or less fall completely within the bounds of Islam. The issue of aniconism is also ignored, indicating less adherence to traditional Islamic guidance on the use of images.