On Muslim Metamorphosis: Studying the Rajabzadeh Sisters

muslim metamorphosis

The Rajabzadeh sisters, Reyhaneh and Shokoofeh, watched the following TV shows and cartoons while growing up: Sailor Moon, Pokémon, Batman, Power Rangers, Arthur. These shows all have one element in common— elaborate scenes of metamorphosis accompanied by dramatic music. You recall that scene where Arthur morphs into….well, never-mind, maybe not.

You can credit their deft ability to transform themselves to the extensive research they’ve done watching these cartoons every.single.day after school.

In fact, the ability to metamorphosize to almost-American or almost-Iranian is a crucial survival skill. It is necessary in order to reduce the number of times one is flagged at “random” security checks.

Footnote: Please take notes while reading this. Images are available for download for further study.

Let us consider the following:
Now, say, Shokoofeh was on holiday and she is now boarding a flight to head back home to the United States. Assuming she is in an imaginary country where she can just be herself, she would look like this:


She would spend a significant portion of her flight to the United States in this way:

metamorphosis meaning

Shokoofeh would enter U.S. Security looking like this:

Security cleared.

Now say, she is leaving the United States back home to Iran. Well, she would make sure she went through U.S. airport security looking exactly like the image above.

However, she would have to use a lot of spit as makeup remover, and the corners of her hijab as face cloth, and restart the power transformation.

Thankfully, the flight to Iran is 12.5 hours long. Sorry fellow passengers, this lavatory may be occupied for a while.

After a long flight, a wardrobe switch somewhere mid-air, day prayers and night prayers recited, and a final few touch-ups while the plane is taxiing, metamorphosis is complete. Shokoofeh would fearlessly descend the plane, and enter the Islamic Republic of Iran’s airport security ready for a problem-free arrival.

muslim metamorphosis

Note to reader:
Should you witness an almost-Iranian or almost-American metamorphosis in your next flight, please read the following disclaimer: The woman in the seat next to you is not a fugitive who must disguise herself.

This is not an episode of The Americans (though a Muslim version of the show would be great). Please try to pretend like you’re not afraid when she begins to pray. There is no need to request a seat change. If you do, she will appreciate the extra space.



Editor’s Note: Please be sure to follow the Rajabzadeh sisters on Instagram and stay tuned for an MEC exclusive holiday story from Reyhaneh and Shokoofeh! Also, if you enjoy our work, please consider donating to keep us running. You can make a one time donation for as little as $1 on Paypal or you can sign up to receive rewards and behind the scenes info for $1 or more per month via Patreon

Reyhaneh and Shokoofeh Rajabzadeh

Born in Iran, Reyhaneh and Shokoofeh Rajabzadeh were raised in California. Growing up, they were active members of their Muslim community in Oakland, California. When not at the Islamic Cultural Center for Northern California, they were flaunting their unibrows, leggings (before they were cool), extreme pigtails and hijabs in a small, suburban high school all while trying to teach their community about Muslims and Islam.When Shokoofeh is not working on Always Not Quite, she is working on a book and finishing her PhD in English Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. She travels in her books. Reyhaneh is the real adventurer of the family. Reyhaneh is an international speech therapist and performs stand-up comedy internationally in English.In Shokoofeh’s creative writing, in Reyhaneh’s stand-up comedy, and now together in their comics, they strive to reclaim their narrative as Persian-Muslim-American women. Always Not Quite tells the story of their sisterhood while growing up in post-9/11, Islamophobic America.

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