Inside a Millennial Women’s Quran Study Group

women-across-america-road-trip-ashburn-virginia-halaqa-01A few minutes past 3 p.m., after Henna Qureshi and Adeela Khan take a moment to pray, they settle on a living room rug with two more friends to talk. It’s a drizzly July afternoon, and Qureshi, Khan and Freshta Mohammad have gathered in Nafisa Isa’s family home in Ashburn, Va., for their monthly halaqa, an Islamic study group. Isa tucks her feet beneath her knees as she spreads colored pens across the floor for all to share. The topic of the day is “Nice for What?” — title inspired by the Drake song — a theme that women of all backgrounds can relate to.

“As ambitious Muslim women, we have to hold ourselves to high standards of conduct in our lives — whether it’s in the workplace or in community settings — prioritizing being kind, helpful and compassionate above all else,” Isa begins, reading the prompt they’ve each pondered in preparation for this meeting. “How do we react when people aren’t kind to us? How do we assert ourselves and express our emotions in a way that doesn’t stifle us or contradict our values?”

The four women, along with a few other friends, been meeting regularly since 2016, when Isa decided to create a dedicated setting for her peers to discuss Islam and their experiences as Muslim American women. There are halaqa groups across the country, but theirs is uniquely Millennial, Isa says — while they study the Quran, they also draw upon pop culture for discussion topics and add activities like visiting museums and crafting to their agendas. “We have these conversations about faith, personal growth, philosophy, theology, all the stuff that you would expect,” Isa says. “But then we’ll also paint unicorns.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM TIME MAGAZINE

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These Dolls Were Created To Inspire Young Muslim Girls To Dream Big

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Salam Sisters dolls, which have rearrangeable hijabs, are loosely inspired by real-life Muslim women.

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 Muhammad, 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.

SALAM SISTERS / ZILEEJ
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.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST 

Founder of Muslim Girl magazine now writes fiction inspired by human rights, migration and identity

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The shelves lining Ausma Zehanat Khan’s study hold her biography in books.

There’s the leather-bound set of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle titles that her father, himself more inclined to poetry, gave her when she was a teenager. Harry Potter and Terry Brooks epics. Studies of the Quran and human rights reports. And copies of her own books: well-regarded mysteries featuring a Canadian detective who is Muslim and his hockey-playing woman partner, as well as the first part of a fantasy series steeped in Islamic culture.

Khan, the British-born child of Pakistani immigrants, was raised in Canada and is a newly minted US citizen. She explores themes of identity and exclusion, bringing imagination and perspective to the current — and sometimes contentious — global conversation about faith and diversity.

“There’s a thread of continuity in all the work that I’ve done, which is to claim a space for marginalized voices and allow them to speak for themselves,” Khan says.

That work began not as a writer, but as a legal scholar and lawyer. Khan, 49, published her first book just four years ago. Her impressive output since then, which includes a short story featuring her detectives and a nonfiction children’s book about Ramadan, might attest to pent-up creative energy she’s had since she was a teenager. Early on, she tried her hand at poetry and then a Terry Brooks-style fantasy, and in college, she published a few short stories.

Khan grew up hearing Urdu poets reciting at her home in salons hosted by her parents, who encouraged her writing as a hobby. But her homemaker mother and psychiatrist father wanted her to be a doctor. Immigrants of their generation were “very concerned with financial security,” Khan says, adding with fond amusement that she found that “a little bit ironic because they all come from a culture that venerates literature.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM PRI.ORG

These historical women of Islam epitomize strength and leadership

kopftuchWomen’s History Month focuses on honoring the sacrifice, bravery and leadership of the many women who have impacted the world as we know it. In Islam, the role of a woman can become controversial. Many times the practice of social customs gets confused for religious obligations. This can be detrimental not only for the overall view of Islam, especially in the Western world, but also for Muslims themselves, who may be receiving a skewed and ultimately incorrect practice of Islam.

When considering the role of women, we should always look to our most perfect example, our Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and the relationship he had with his wives. More often than not, we think only of men when considering important figures in Islam and their role in securing Islam in this world. However, there were many Muslim women who also heavily contributed to the success, spread and overall beauty of this religion. The Prophet’s (SAW) wives were the beginning, but certainly not the end of this long strain of empowering and inspirational role models.

These historical women of Islam serve as guidance to us in strength, empowerment and leadership:

Amongst all the Prophet’s (SAW) wives, Khadija is one of the most well-known, even in the Western world. Khadija bint Khuwaylid was the first wife of the Prophet (SAW) and was the only one to gift him with children. Beyond carrying his lineage, Khadija helped the Prophet (SAW) become known through her established business. She was respected and well known amongst the people of her time, however, her biggest contribution to Islam was reassuring the Prophet (SAW) and pushing him to accept the message he received from the Angel Jibreel to read to the people. Khadija was the first woman to ever convert to Islam and her confidence and reassurance in his message allowed the Prophet to gain courage and carry out the difficulty that was establishing the religion of Islam.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MY SALAAM

What Quran says about women’s rights

CNS-Catholic Islam CIt is a common misconception that Muslim women are oppressed under Islamic laws.

While this may be true in certain cases, the Quran and Prophet Muhammad’s sayings prove otherwise.

On this year’s International Women’s DayPulse Religion seeks to change this narrative by revealing the truth and honoring Muslim women in the process.

The world sees a veiled woman as someone that is oppressed meanwhile Muslim women wear the hijab proudly
The world sees a veiled woman as someone that is oppressed meanwhile Muslim women wear the hijab proudly

Here is what the Quran and the religion have to say about women’s rights:

Women and men have similar rights

The Holy Book  says: “…and women have rights similar to those against them in a just manner,…” (Holy Qur’an, 2:228).

Whoever does good, whether male or female, and is a believer, We shall certainly make him live a good life, and We shall certainly give them their reward for the best of what they did.” (Holy Qur’an, 16:97).

FULL ARTICLE FROM PULSE 

Muslim women don’t need saving from their religion

muslim womenIn an average week, I deliver presentations to hundreds of people on various topics related to Islam and Muslims. Oftentimes, such presentations yield real changes in public perception of Muslims, but almost as often, I’m confronted with antiquated, negative stereotypes.

I recently spoke to a group of 80 college-educated, mostly liberal women in Silicon Valley, certainly one of the most progressive regions of the United States. I was astonished to find that, despite revelations of widespread sexual harassment of women in Hollywood, the tech industry and other professions in the United States that have spawned the #MeToo movement, what concerned these women most was “saving” American Muslim women — from Islam.

Given that most American Muslims are immigrants or first-generation Americans, the attitudes displayed bore a disquieting resemblance to the xenophobic and anti-immigrant attitudes that are poisoning our body politic today.

FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGION NEWS 

#MosqueMeToo Puts Muslim Women “Between a Rock and a Hard Place”

9d13b754-628d-47b1-b49c-e5fb4223d272For Muslims who grew up in the West, a mosque can be the only place where you get to be yourself. As a member of a highly politicized minority group, being with other Muslims can feel like the only way to not have your identity assigned to you. Like other places of worship, a mosque is more of a multipurpose building: karate classes, basketball in the parking lot, you grow with the community of regulars. We celebrate holidays and birthdays together there, mourn those who passed together there. The mosque is my home away from home, the congregation is my extended family, and Muslims from other mosques feel like family I just haven’t met yet.

So you can imagine my shock after reading through the seemingly endless stories attached to the #MosqueMeToo hashtag. I was overcome with shame for letting so many of my Muslim sisters down. It’s not that I haven’t been following #MeToo—from Harvey Weinstein to Matt Lauer to Roy Moore, the movement has been formidable. But like every grassroots movement, it’s contested with defensive deflections, particularly when it comes to your own doorstep. And I get it, it’s very easy to be defensive, especially when your experience of a place has always been one of warmth and home. But now is no time for defensiveness. Crimes were committed in the holiest of places for Muslims, and it’s time for accountability.

FULL ARTICLE FROM SLATE