Since 2017, I have been following Muslim Women For’s work and have observed this organization’s wonderful contributions to serving the Muslim community in North Carolina. In September of 2022, I was hired as a Charlotte Community Organizer to contribute to voting and civic engagement efforts state-wide by leading calling and texting campaigns to educate Muslim voters with the information they need to vote.
It is beautiful seeing healing and intentionality in Muslim Women For’s 2022 work. Intention means that every action I take has a meaning and purpose behind it. Being exposed to Muslim Women For’s organizational framework has taught me about intentionality in practice. I am exploring how setting my intentions affects the Charlotte Muslim community, my life, work and relationships.
2022 has also marked three years since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. Since then I have been reflecting on the way material conditions have altered our day-to-day lives and relationships. I started considering more and more questions about myself and my identities: What are my personal values? Who are my people? What is my purpose? What is my role in my family, in society, in the ummah and the world?
These questions are not easy to answer; they require inward and outward reflection. Answering these questions required me to reflect on hard truths about relationships in my life and to address harmful behaviors. I reflected upon my priorities through the years. What principles have been guiding my thoughts and actions? So much time has passed, and I didn’t know I would change so much. What would my younger self think of me today? Am I content with where I am in life right now?
I reflected upon colonialism’s impact on our minds and how it has changed the narratives of what Islam is and what it stands for. Why do bodily autonomy efforts exclude hijab in their activism? What does it mean to be the only Muslim voice in an organizing space? Is it my responsibility to represent the entire ummah in one space? What do people mean when they say that an immigrant or refugee has been ‘Americanized’ since moving to the U.S? Why is the U.S, specifically the South, painted with particular connotations, despite the South being home to a powerful history of resistance? This reflection took time, honesty, and deep reflection, but allowed me to start seeing my religion in a new light.
Today, I reframe my Islamic beliefs as revolutionary; addressing social issues, calling for justice, accountability, and liberation. I am relearning what Islam is and how to practice it with kindness and ease. I am prioritizing honesty, clear communication, family, community, and silliness & joy in my life. I am stepping out of my comfort zone and holding myself accountable, while also being gentle with myself and allowing room for growth.
An opportunity to practice this new value arose through this annual report introduction. I was excited but unsure what I wanted to write, worried about speaking too personally. Being vulnerable with someone you don’t know is scary, but I believe this type of vulnerability is what helps community members relate to each other and come together for their collective goals. Having shared what I have shared with you today, I hope that my words resonate with you.
It is vital for us to tell our truths and share our stories to uplift others and challenge the colonial narratives about who we are. Telling our stories and speaking our truth can and will grant us freedom and a better future where we find collective healing and liberation. Now, I know this must begin with ourselves first. I invite you to read about the work that Muslim Women For did in 2022 and I hope that our efforts at honesty, accountability and reflection empower you to liberate and rediscover yourself with us in this work.
Supporting Muslim Women For’s Work
We invite you to contribute a monthly donation to Muslim Women For. We hope to fundraise $3,000 by the end of May 2023.
We ask that anyone who has benefited from attending Muslim Women For programming and has class privilege commit to a monthly donation of $10 or more to sustain our work.