LOS ANGELES,CA, ( 9/20/18) — A Dubai-based company has created a set of dolls that it hopes inspires young Muslim girls to take pride in their faith and become community leaders.
The five Salam Sisters dolls were designed by Zileej, a faith-based creative company, to help Muslim girls feel connected with their roots and comfortable in their identities. The very first shipments of the dolls were sent out to customers in mid-August, the company said.
“We want young girls who don’t often see their cultural identities and faith represented in a relatable way to know that they can be proud of their backgrounds,” said Ansarullah Ridwan Mohammed, co-founder of Zileej.
“We want them to see that all of who they are is uniquely beautiful — even when it sounds like the world is telling them that they don’t have the perfect hair, or skin color, or size, or religion.”
From the left, the five Salam Sisters dolls are Layla, Karima, Yasmina, Nura and Maryam.
The Salam Sisters represent various racial and ethnic backgrounds ― showcasing the incredible global diversity of the world’s roughly 1.8 billion Muslims.
The dolls were given a wide range of interests and aspirations, including journalism, astronomy, art, history, sports and social leadership. There’s Karima, who loves playing tennis and learning about outer space. Nura is described as an aspiring scientist who is also working hard to memorize the whole Quran. Layla is a budding fashion designer and gardener.
The idea for Salam Sisters started with Zileej’s co-founder Peter Gould. He was looking for dolls for his two young daughters that would help them feel empowered and connected to their family’s Muslim identity.
“He wanted to create representative toys that they would love,” Mohammed recalled. “With messages and stories that would inspire them to become leaders, and encourage them to boldly make positive contributions to the world.”
The Salam Sisters dolls are currently being sold online to customers in the U.K., U.S., Australia, and South Africa. The company hopes to open sales up to Canada, the Gulf states, and other countries in Europe and Africa in the near future.
All five Salam Sisters dolls have headscarves that are removable and rearrangeable. Each doll comes with one scarf that is pre-styled and can be fixed in place with velcro, and another loose scarf that encourages girls to experiment with different styles.
Subhi Bora, Zileej’s creative team director, stated it was important to the team to show young girls that wearing the Islamic headscarf can be a beautiful and deeply personal choice.
“This flexibility reflects the lived experience of Muslims across the world, who have been choosing to style their headscarves — and their hair — in ways that are inspired by a kaleidoscope of different cultural influences,” Bora said.
Mohammed said that one of Zileej’s main goals for Salam Sisters is to help young Muslim girls realize that “the world is equally theirs to experience as completely as possible and that their voices not only matter, but must be heard.”
“We would love for all people who see the Salam Sisters to take home the message that having a welcoming mindset to diversity is a beautiful thing,” Mohammed said.