Saturday, March 10, 2018

Women's History Month with Author & Educator Umm Juwayriyah

It's 2018 and it's Women's History Month. As a Muslim woman, contrary to public opinion and gross stereotypes throughout the world, I've been loved, supported, guided, mentored and educated by wonderful Muslim women! Since the inception of Islam Muslim women have held enormous and valuable roles in our communities world wide. Much of what we know of the life of the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him) was memorized by his youngest wife, Aisha bint Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with her). While his first wife, Khadijah bint Khuwaylid (may Allah be pleased with her) who the messenger of Allah (peace and blessing upon him)  was known to be a intelligent and wealthy business woman that supported her younger husband emotionally and financially.

Today Muslim women around the world continue to strive for excellence both spiritually and professionally. Islamophobia isn't our story. Neither is war or domestic violence. Poverty isn't our story either. Those strings of fabric are only pieces of our quilt of life. Muslim women are women! We are diverse. We are courageous. We are thoughtful. We are mothers, wives, single and ready mingle young and old women! We love Islam. We love our prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him) ! We love to pray! We love our families. We love our Muslim men and boys! We love our hijabs and we love shopping for them, too! We even love going home and taking off our hijab and chilling - carefree! We love our sister-friends and we value lazy days sleeping in and waking up to a good cup of coffee or tea! 🙂🙂🙂🙂

Muslim women are women!

We struggle. We have attitudes some times. We might fight or yell or curse, too! We make poor decisions! We fall for the wrong guys! We get divorced.  And even when we make the good relationship decisions - we don't like our husbands every single day! We hide food for our kids so we can have it later. We may even eat last piece of cake! We don't like our husbands every single day (two times worthy)! Yes, we get hot in our clothes during the summer - but so do you, too!

Muslim women are women!

We are Tried and Tested -- and we are also blessed with amazing, beautiful, loving, creative, and fun lives, too!  This Women's History Month get to know some Muslim women, it just might change your life. Just like following American Muslim women are changing lives and spreading awesomeness in their communities:

1. Anse Tamara Gray

As the founder and director of Rabata, Anse Tamara Gray supports positive cultural change through individual empowerment, spiritual upbringing of women by women and the revival of the female voice in scholarship. Rabata provides online classes and workshops for Muslim women taught by Muslim women on Islamic and secular issues that afforded and accessible. She runs around the world - literally - bringing Muslim women and non Muslim together to help break down misconceptions. She is champion of Muslim fiction and even opened one of the coolest bookstores in Minneapolis: DayBreak Press Global Bookshop and Gathering Space. Alhamduleelah, every time I see Anse - no matter is going on or how wacky her day has been - she is smiling and warm and supportive. So for that reason and so many more this women's history month, I celebrate my sister-friend for her love of Islam and her love of women and education and books!

2. Chaplain Matiniah Yahya, M.Ed is the founder and director of the New England Muslimah's Get-A-Way Retreat, Educator, and one of the first Muslim women chaplains at Yale-New Haven Hospital  - and I love her for the sake of Allah and myself. I have known sister Matiniah most of my life, Alhamduleelah!  For over 40 years she has always, always loved helping sisters through New England build and learn and grow!  Allah has blessed her with so much energy and love and vision, Mashallah! I  have had the honor of working with sister Matiniah on many projects, including the Muslimah-Get-A-Way youth program and I have never left her presence without gaining something beneficial, something kind, and something supportive.   

3. Atiyah Angela Havens is an educator, fashion designer, and the owner of Amatullah Treasures - a boutique of clothing and accessories that helps Muslim women and non Muslim alike shine, dazzle, and feel modestly beautiful. Atiyah, a Brooklyn, NY native has helped bring modest fashion to the forefront of Philadelphia and surrounding cities.

4. Fashion Designer Jenneh Mariam Williams is the owner of AL Mujalbaba Fashions and a fashioner designer from Queens, NY. For decades sister Jenneh traveled with her fashion all across the United States to Muslim events, programs, workshops and retreats to sell her designs of jilbabs, hijabs, and accessories. I actually bought with my own money my first jilbab from sister Jenneh back in the mid 90's! Her garments and hijabs are famous! I once saw a sister in Kuwait with one of sister Jenneh's outfits on and I knew from across the street that it was indeed a Al Muljababa New York outfit! I never pack a travel without atleast one or two of her hijbas - their that important and so is sister Jenneh for helping and supporting a generation of Muslim women dress well and feel good! 

5. Sohadah Mohammad is the owner of Madina Therapy, LLC! I was first introduced to sis. Sohadah while was working in Madina, Saudi Arabia as a Speech Therapist. Now that sis. Sohadah has relocated back to the States she has brought her experience and care for the special needs and elder community with her and opened a much needed agency right in Eastern Massachusetts. "Currently, we are serving the Massachusetts and Rhode Island areas through skilled occupational therapy, Hijama Cupping, Special Education Consultations, Disability Advocacy, Mental Health Life Coaching, and Spiritual Care with 1:1 in person services and online.

6. Asiya Jamilah Nasir is the founder of J.E.S.S.I.C.A Cares an empowerment program that targets Muslim girls in New York, Philadelphia, and Delaware. J.E.S.S.I.C.A Cares offers empowerment workshops, 8-10 week academies, book clubs, community initiatives like feeding the hungry, visiting the sick in the hospital, and spiritual classes for Muslim girls as well. Sister Asiya's mission is help encourage Muslim girls to understand the honor of being a Muslimah. 

7. Sr. C. Islaah Abd'al-Rahim, M.Ed is an author, educator and principal of a Muslim school, community worker, and historian from Baltimore, MD. Sister Islaah has worked many Islamic and public schools  in Baltimore and New Jersey, she is a member of sister committee of Masjid As Saffat and the largest and longest running Muslim Women's Conference. She has presented at many conferences and workshops on education, Islam, and Muslim women for over 30 years. She is also serious with her poetry and has penned and staged several plays. Mashallah,  I think I was about 11 or 12 when I attended one of her plays and had one of light bulbs moments - "I can do that, too!" I absolutely love her lectures and her care and love for the Muslim community! Sister Islaah is a beautiful pearl in our community, Mashallah and if you can get to Maryland this April to sit in one of her workshops at the Women's Committee of Masjid As Saffat Conference - you won't regret it, enshallah!

8. Natasha Somalia Hair Care is a brand, a business Muslimah, a hair stylist and an author - and I LOVE IT! Seriously, for those who have read my first novel, The Size of a Mustard Seed  you know the back drop of  the story and where all the tea was drank was in the hair salon, Covered Pearls. Well, sis Natasha Somalia is the owner of Covered - The Salon in Philadelphia!  Not only that, sister Natasha has her own line of hair vitamins and hair products as well! I cannot wait to try this sister's products this summer and get a hair appointment as well! If you have tried her products or have had your hair styled by her, please send us a review! 

9. Sakina Abdul Malik has been a long time Muslim homeschooling advocate in upstate New York. She has helped many Muslim families of multiple children successfully homeschool their children into careers and college. Now Sakina has taken her years of experiences and love of educating Muslim children back to her hometown of Philadelphia and is working with the New Madina Learning Institute! If you read the blog you know that I am also homeschooler who advocates for Muslims in the West to establish collective learning co-ops, centers, and schools so that our children learn together to love love, support, and work in our communities. So I am excited and pleased to see Masjidullah's New Madina Learning Institute flourish and help raise the next generation of Muslims with the help and support of sister Sakinah!

10. Author Emma Apple  is such a cool sister with so many talents, mashallah! She is the an award winning artist who just happened to illustrate my first children's book, Hind's Hands ~ A Story About Autism which is a book that is near and dear to both of our hearts for similar reasons. She is the founder of Blue Hijab Day for Autism Awareness and she is author and illustrator of the charming Owl & Cat on Islam books! Not to mention we both have daughters named Hind/Hend - and Autism parenting Mamas advocating for inclusiveness and awareness, she is super easy to work with! Make sure check out her books! 

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