“People have a perspective of Islam, and so [Uploaded] is about showing the many sides of Muslims and showing that we are human. We struggle, we have things that we go through.”
Boshia Rae-Jean is not your everyday woman. She is a black Muslim femcee and is unapologetic about each of those facets. She is a dancer, a songwriter, a model, bred in New Jersey and is proud about that. She is a doula by trade – who, for those who don’t know, is someone that assists women giving birth – and is passionate about every spectrum of life.
It does not often happen that I get to the meet the people I interview. But when Boshia asked me if I had any contacts that I could connect her with in Sydney, I did not hesitate to tell her that visiting me in Melbourne would outdo any contacts she could ever meet. Two missed flights later, we met up in Richmond, Melbourne with artist, Matuse Peace, and videographer, Tim Gardner, for one of the shortest shoots to ever fly to Melbourne for. Boshia was a natural. She was vibrant, exuding energy, which affirmed why I loved what she did. In a world where people are so quick to tell you who to be or what to follow, she refuses to stay in between any lines drawn out for her. She is bold and defiant, yet warm and wholesome, and is a queen on so many levels.
For this week’s Womyn Wednesday, we sit down with Boshia Rae-Jean and talk about her latest album, Young Muslimah, music and her journey with Islam.
For those who aren’t familiar with the term, what does Muslimah mean?
A Muslimah is a woman who has basically submitted her life to worship Allah and is striving to be Muttaqin, which is a strong pious Muslim. A woman who covers is within that as well. Sometimes Muslimahs don’t cover, sometimes they’re just striving to be closer to allah. So [Muslimah] is just someone that submits to peace and worships Allah.
Why did you name your next album Young Muslimah?
I named it Young Muslimah (YM) because it has a lot to do with how I’ve grown into the person I am. It begins in a place where I’m fighting for freedom and justice for my people, and then in the middle of that, I am fighting for myself to save my soul as well. I’m still someone who is growing in Islam, with that being said, I’m still a young woman trying to figure out all of these rules and divine laws to save my soul. It’s like I’m still a baby Muslim, I’m still growing and at the beginning of my evolution.
You have a pretty beautiful backstory when it comes to faith, religion and becoming a Muslimah. Do you mind sharing some of that story with us?
Sure, it all started when I was about 24. It started at around the time when I was really searching. Previously, I was very much into meditation and yoga – trying to find inner peace within my soul. And I met this sister, Fatima Sahara, she’s one of my best friends, and she introduced me to my mentor, Haja Latifa. And I saw Islam from a woman’s perspective. This was the first time that I ever thought that I would see it in such a beautiful way. I had such negative thoughts about it before because I wasn’t sure if it was something oppressive or not.
Finding out more, I found out from these two women that were so graceful and humble and striving and just always seeking knowledge, and I was just so curious as to what made them so devout in wanting to know more to save their souls. I kinda just journeyed from 2014 to 2015. In 2015, I made the decision that I didn’t have to know Arabic or know how to pray [to convert to Islam]. So I [converted] during Ramadan 2015. Since then, I have been constantly learning and searching for ways to better my soul and to please my creator.
On to Uploaded now. There are so many different layers that make up Uploaded. What is Uploaded all about?
Uploaded is about not relying on the media that is portrayed on television and in articles. It is about our youth, the indigo generation, us taking the opportunity to use the internet and to create content that uploads the revolution. It’s about literally seeing the injustice happening and creating content that is actually showing the counter of that, which is basically seeking justice, whether it’s a film or writing articles, pieces, photography. It’s really about telling the truth and us being fearless in doing that, and no longer being controlled by a society that doesn’t want what’s best for us anymore. It’s about us uploading the revolution.
On a personal level, how is your journey with Islam reflected in this song and how Islam receives such negative media coverage in the media?
People have a perspective of Islam, and so [Uploaded] is about showing the many sides of Muslims and showing that we are human. We struggle, we have things that we go through. It’s going through these different struggles and constantly just trying to fight for the sake of Allah but not fighting in a way that’s destroying lives, because we don’t agree with that – that’s not Islam. But [rather] utilizing the media to upload beautiful content about Islam and educating people about it. Uploaded is about showing the truth and showing the beauty of being able to not be afraid of the outcome of telling the truth. I think a lot of people shy away from truth because it ruffles [the media’s] ego. We’re all about ruffling the ego and that’s what Uploaded is all about – showing your truth.
What can we expect to hear from the album?
YM is a positioning of myself in Islam and so you’re going to hear me adjusting to it and trying to make the decision if I should [convert]. You’re going to hear me fighting for freedom for my people and also for women in Islam, and women period. I think it’s important that people understand that a Muslimah is not just someone that will take a shahada but is someone that is wanting to submit to their creator or is naturally doing that as a woman – I really wanted to showcase that struggle of me being someone that wants to save the people and me as someone that is trying to save herself. That is basically the timeline of YM and everything up until me owning being Muslim and being unapologetic about it. It’s definitely going to be an impactful album and I’m excited to put it out.
In terms of Boshia Rae-Jean, what should we expect in the next year?
I want to do a lot more poetry and Youtube content. I’m finding it amazing to be able to put my own film together and actually do a lot of my own poetry. It’s something that I’ve been hiding for so long that I feel like it’s a more intimate version of my performance art. I just started a short film called, Going Higher, that’s based in Brooklyn and is about a girl named Tasha, who just takes the high road and tries to better [her life] and be around better people. That should be coming out within this year. I’m definitely looking to building up my youtube, and putting out different things. I just released a new version of my life on there, talking about my convert story and giving some pointers and advice to muslim women to [help them] stay on their dean and stay focussed and just more content really.
Before we wrap up, let us in on your newest project with Matuse Peace, Zulfiquar.
Right now, we’re working on a project called FUBU – which is, For the Ummah, By the Ummah – expressing our unapologetic energy towards being Muslim. Zulfiquar is a joint project by me and Matuse Peace, and it’s showing these two different worlds because he’s Arab-Australian and I’m African-American. We want to create that fearless energy within our music where people are proud to be Muslim and they are no longer hiding, and they’re not sneaking to go pray or forgetting to pray because they don’t want to be embarrassed. It’s a lifestyle. Zulfiquar is For the Ummah, By the Ummah, and the Uma is the nation. It’s about us promoting peace and showing people the beauty of Islam through culture and through the love of Allah.
Check out the video for Uploaded below and drop make sure to share the love by dropping a comment, like or share it if you dig it!