On January 14th, 2017 Nisa Homes held a Muslim women’s networking event bringing together some of the best and brightest women the Vancouver Muslim community has to offer. We put together some of the main lessons our team learned at Bloom! with the hopes of rekindling the excitement and encouraging more action.
I’m pretty sure growing up, you, like me, were taught that the first words revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) were “Read, In the name of your Lord, Read…” and as such, being constantly reminded that we are the Ummah of "Iqra'", the Ummah of “Read”. Yet, how many of us can say we read more than a couple of articles here and there? Or maybe just the Quran during Ramadan?
Sadra Sarfraz, from The Statement Cake, posed a challenge for us all to read at least 12 books in 2017. I think it's pretty doable - that's one book a month! And it can be in any field, and in any length! Just get the ball rolling and before you know it you'll be reaching for a book rather than the remote. The Nisa Homes team has decided to take on this challenge, will you?
PS. Stay tuned for a list of must read books written by Muslim women.
2. Dare to compete
One thing Nour Enayah, from Flock Interiors, said that really stuck with me was: "Competition can be tough, but our sustenance is written by Allah (swt)." It's something we are also taught in our Islamic tradition;
“If you were to rely upon Allah with reliance due to him, then he would provide for you just as he provides for the birds. They go out in the morning with empty stomachs and return full.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhī]
People often shy away from competing in a field when they see that so many others are already in it. But if you have a concept that you feel passionately about, go for it! Everyone brings a unique perspective and vision so don't undervalue what you can bring to the table. There will always be naysayers. The most important thing is to believe in yourself, focus on what you are doing and let the work speak for itself.
3. We rise by lifting each other up
Daring to compete doesn't mean we should reinvent the wheel, or go at it alone for the name and fame, rather than work together to do something bigger and better. Where collaborating and working together is possible, give it a chance; two eyes, two heads, and two sets of hands are always better than one. The only way myself and Nisa Homes could have come this far is through the support, encouragement, motivation, and mentorship of my sisters out there. That is what community means, that is what empowerment means.
When one Muslim woman succeeds, that is an achievement for all Muslim women. It creates a ripple effect because representation matters! If you can't see it, you can't be it. It's hard enough navigating the uncharted territories of today's world, with the political, economic and social climates changing by the minute, it only makes sense to work together to learn where all the ditches and potholes are.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” —African Proverb.
4. Avoid labeling
Muslim women are much, much more than walking, talking hijabs or Muslim billboards. As much as the media would like us to believe otherwise, Muslim women have shown us time and again how amazingly brilliant, smart, and accomplished they are. This article is a small example of that. Yes, we are #unapologetically Muslim women first and foremost, but we're also mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, businesswomen, students, teachers, designers, social workers, friends, mangers, employees and everything in between! It’s about time we create spaces to cultivate all those other facets of our personalities, especially now when we as Muslims, especially Muslim women, are labeled and placed into one homogenized box to justify hatred, racism and oppression.
While conversations about who to marry or not to marry, or what we should or shouldn't wear are important, they don't solve many of the real issues Muslim women in the West face on a daily basis nor do they cultivate our ambitions or growth. By limiting our conversations to these issues only, we are doing exactly what we hate being done to us; limiting our whole existence to walking, talking Muslim billboards.
5. Bloom where you are planted, wherever that is!
The focus of this event was never to help us be good employees or climb the corporate ladder, but it was to encourage excellence wherever you are! Whether you’re a stay at home mom, a student or an employee, you need to find and follow your passion! As Tanweer Ebrahim from Nisa Helpline put it; "do what you love, put your whole heart into whatever you do and you will go places". This is another of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh):
"Allah loves to see one's job done with itqan (excellence)." (Muslim)
“Do the best as if you see Allah, if not, Allah sees you.” (Bukhari)
Ultimately, if you don't love what you are doing, if you don't have a fiery passion, you won't be able to put in the long hours it takes to excel or feel fulfilled and happy.
We hope this was beneficial for you, whether you attended the event or not, and we hope it will motivate you to do and be more. Finally, don't forget to practice some self care, you can find tips here: Just Do You - A Muslimah's Guide to Self Care.
So what did you learn from Bloom!?