No Damsel in Distress Here: Taking Action in Trump America

Not even 24 hours after Trump winning U.S. elections, the level of open racism, reports of sexual assault and violence towards disenfranchised and minority groups escalated to a disgraceful level for 2016 standards.

If you’re still in shock, grieving, or angry over these results. It’s OK.

Let yourself heal. But after that, be a boss. Empower yourself to take action.

If you’re wondering what in the world could you possibly do anything about something that feels out of your hands or have no control over – we’ve collected some valuable insights from our favorite Muslimah leaders, shakers and movers and made an action list just for you:

  1. First – stay calm, get educated, be connected. We’ve technically been dealing with terrible decision making by our government for many years (wall street bailout, wars, etc), but we will stay resilient and informed. Don’t panic and be depressed forever either. Take this energy and channel it into action that comes from an authentic place. Not to overwhelm or overburden yourself, take action that will let you be YOU – to who you are and why you care so much. Rest assured, this man has made a whole bunch of “promises” he cannot keep. –  Van Jones.
  2. Be unapologetically Muslim. Do not let people tell you or let you feel less worthy because of your beliefs. Even if you disagree with the outcome of the election, you can protest anything you want. Do it safely and respectfully, but if you feel strongly about it – just do it! – Linda Sarsour.
  3. Don’t hesitate to take precautions. If it makes you feel any more empowered – purchase pepper spray or take self-defense classes. See this list of 47 Safety Tips of Muslimahs.
  4. If you experience any form of harassment or assault, please please report it to the police, ACLU and CAIR. File that police report in person. If you think it’s a waste of time or useless, it at least provides real data and a quantitative basis for analyzing hate crimes that have been occurring. Then file hate crimes with ACLU and CAIR – they are there to support and represent you.
  5. Boycott racists businesses. It doesn’t cost you a thing – literally. Don’t take or bring your money to establishments that degrade you or any other human. Call out any racist remarks or harassment – especially on review pages like Yelp or BBB  – The Love Life of an Asian Guy.
  6. Ignore bullies, they want a reaction. If you see or hear harassment in the streets – ignore the perpetrator but engage the victim with a conversation. Call out hate speech when you hear it… in your living room, at work, with friends, in public.
  7. Increase your activism, civic engagement or simply stay informed. Almost half of America did not turn out to vote this election season. Important propositions (like in California – the death penalty, rising drug costs and legalization of marijuana) and worthy Senate and House of Representatives (like Ilhan Omar, the first Somali American woman legislator in the US) were being decided by voters and your vote counts more towards these issues!
  8. And last but not least, if you find out someone has made the decision to remove their headscarf during this time, make duaa and support each other. We know first hand how hard it is to be visibly Muslim during this time. There’s no reason why you should believe to be better or more righteous than the person who chooses to do it.

“The work of unmaking violence begins with us—when we confront the violence, fear, and hatred in our midst. Even small acts can remake the world” ( 

Do you have any thoughts/action ideas to add to this list?

Combatting Sexual Violence

(featured image taken from

By Raeesa Ashique, Blog Contributor 

The summer before I moved for university, my parents warned me repeatedly about walking home after dark, and told me to never walk alone. Now, let’s be honest: if I wanted to act on this advice, I’d have to skip class to get home before dark. Not to mention I’d never study, as I work best on campus. But they had a right to worry – we’ve heard too many horror stories about campuses, and it has instilled a sense of caution.

Alhamdulillah, I have always felt safe at my school, but the terrible truth is that campuses have become associated with violence and assault, sexual assault in particular. Let’s just take a moment to absorb this. Sexual assault cases are common at a place of opportunity and education, of personal and academic growth. How is this acceptable at an institutional level? How are students supposed to learn if they don’t feel safe?

Emma Watson, actress and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, addressed these issues in her speech to the UN last month where she was introducing HeForShe’s Impact 10x10x10 plan. This initiative will include ten heads of state, ten global CEOs, and ten university presidents in the goal of erasing sexual violence from university campuses. She pointed out that inequality definitely exists in post-secondary institutions, although they should be a “place of refuge that takes action against all forms of violence”. She then questions the current culture on many campuses which send “the message that sexual violence isn’t actually a form of violence”.

I am very passionate about this topic, which is how I found myself sitting in a presentation a couple weeks ago on the topic of sexual violence, social justice, and compassion. I would like to share the story I heard, and a few words of wisdom.

Dr. Rachel Alicia Griffin is a survivor. She is now an associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies at South Illinois University, cross-appointed in Africana Studies, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She is the recipient of several awards, and has published in several journals. She travels the US doing keynotes and workshops on sexual assault, and has come to Canada several times as well.

She delivered a powerful, emotional, and compelling presentation, sharing her story of being raped in her own bedroom as a high school student by a boy she liked. She stayed silent for years, doing everything she could to feel better. She tried to be the best, the brightest, and the prettiest, but nothing could take away her feelings of worthlessness.

Seven years later, she finally told a peer support advocate at her university. The girl responded with, “I believe you. What happened to you was not your fault.”

Now imagine if, after years and years of silence when she finally built up the courage to open up, this girl had doubted her. If she had instead responded with “Are you sure?” or “I don’t believe that.” Dr. Griffin says this girl saved her. The woman with the PhD who travels the country to speak, the woman who has made something of herself and learned to live with her past, would not exist if not for this girl’s response.

So remember this, if you are ever in the situation of the peer support member. Be supportive, and keep your doubts to yourself. Dr. Griffin says that, as humans, it’s perfectly fine to doubt a person’s story, but that isn’t our place to vocalize. Never question whether they’re telling the truth. You don’t understand the damage you may unintentionally do.

Remember this as well, if you are ever (God forbid) on the other side of the table. It’s not your fault that something terrible was done to you. It is not your shame, and it should not be your shame.

Which brings me to the next key point from the presentation: compassion. Dr. Griffin says, “Survivors are people just like me and you. We have hopes, dreams, and fears… Survivors can be anyone and can be anything.” It’s never okay to blame survivors because of what was done to them. Remember that they are people too, and deserve the same treatment and respect.

She talks about how perpetrators are also human, and therefore also deserve compassion. A lot of perpetrators feel scared and alone after realizing what they have done, and therefore should not be demonized. Dealing with the situation should be left up to the law.

Finally, campuses need to make an effort to actively prevent sexual violence, because without this effort, they are effectively condoning it.

However, this is not only a campus problem, and we need to promote the conversation in all settings. It’s an uncomfortable and touchy topic, but it needs to be addressed much more than it is. We need everyone aware if we ever want to see real change. As Dr. Griffin says, “This is an all-hands-on-deck journey.”

As a society, we need to make sure that survivors feel safe coming forward and saying, “I am hurt. I need help.” We should all do our part in building this accepting and positive environment.

At Ahfif, we host sales that give part or all of the proceeds to organizations that advocate for human rights, such as our recent Warehouse Sale that donated one new clothing item for every order to the Grateful Garment Poject. This organization’s mission is to make sure every victim of a sexual crime is provided with whatever they need such as clothing, toiletries, snacks, etc.

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Follow Raeesa on Instagram at @raeesashique

Follow us on Instagram @ahfif and @bossmuslimahs to see what we’ve been up to! 

Using Women’s Bodies as a Battleground

Photo taken from The New York Times

Thoughts on the Burkini Ban

By Aishah Waheed, Blog Contributor 

With the recent news surrounding the burkini ban it is easy to forget our true values of religion and what our main focus should be on. We are always being suffocated with physical-appearance-obsessed news on a daily-basis. Whether it be covering too much or covering not enough (and as of recent, the validity of wearing no-makeup!), this subject is given so much importance that it is easy to be so focused on this and forget other aspects of ourselves that are more significant.

We spend time, (as society tells us to do!), obsessing over  just our appearances, but even then it feels like we’re on our own hamster wheel as you’re always trying to keep up with what society deems as appropriate. Society and the western cultural norms criticises its own kind so you or I coming with our hair covered or with our loose clothing isn’t going to sit well. Sometimes we will win, other times we will have others norms imposed upon us.

It’s time we stop looking for acceptance in places where we will not find it. It’s time we start focusing on the real you, which is your inner self. That is the most important and precious part of yourself yet we are not taught to beautify it. It is that beauty which touches hearts and souls and is the solution to the breaking down of the barriers and walls that society has created.

Improve yourself to become the best version of yourself. That is the greatest gift to you from you and the best thing about it, you can be in any place across the globe, in whatever situation it does not matter, as this change is within you. It is something you and only you control.

I’ve seen caged souls in so-called free countries and I’ve seen free souls that are caged in prison-like countries. Freedom starts from within, it is knowing that no one or nothing is more powerful and more loving than God. It is cherishing that love and building that connection with Him knowing Him and Him alone controls everything. It is knowing that you only need to find acceptance with Him.

So with this thought in mind, I leave you with this beautiful quote :

“The best revenge is to improve yourself.” – Imam Ali (May Allah be pleased with him)

Check out this site that promotes a methodology in self-evaluation, removing of ego, and beautifying of character.

Follow Aishah on Instagram & Twitter

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Follow us on Instagram @ahfif and @bossmuslimahs to see what we’ve been up to! 


Featured photo taken from

“Time to get in formation ladies! Donald Trump says the reason Ghazala Khan didn’t speak at the Democratic National Convention is because she wasn’t allowed to. Let’s lift our voices together to enlighten him about the true nature of our voices!” -Edina Lekovic

Muslim women have been tweeting and posting using the hashtag #CanYouHearUsNow.

We have compiled multiple articles you can read from to learn more about this campaign, and how Boss Muslimahs all over the world are denying Donald Trump’s perception of Muslim women.



Get involved-share a little bit about who you are and how you speak out using the hashtag #CanYouHearUsNow!

Follow us on Instagram @ahfif and @bossmuslimahs to see what we’ve been up to! 

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You, Me, and Colonial Standards of Beauty

By Sumayya Tobah, Editor

I was seven years old when I was given my first Barbie. I was visiting my grandfather in Cairo, Egypt, and he took me to a toy store to buy a birthday gift. Having been denied a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Barbie doll by my parents, I knew what I wanted. I chose “Dentist Barbie,” because she came with a chair, dental tools, and a white lab coat. I justified it by telling my parents the woman has multiple degrees — she must have her life together.

My parents tried to explain their thinking to me.

“Sumayya,” they said,”You’re never going to have blue eyes or long blonde hair. Your waist will never be that tiny, your chest and hips will never be that perfectly formed, and your knees will bend. We don’t want you saddled with unrealistic expectations of what your body will look like, or what should be considered beautiful. You are beautiful the way God made so, so long as you are clean, healthy and happy.”

Okay, I said. Can I have my Barbie now?

Obviously, as I got older, I became more acutely aware of what they were talking about. It can’t come as a surprise that body image is always near the surface of a teenage girl’s mind. I was lucky enough to get through my formative years without some kind of destructive eating disorder, but I can easily count on my fingers the number of girls I know personally who did. It’s a scary thing.

But when it comes to women of color, it’s more than that. We’re consistently told that if you don’t fit into Western (or as I’m going to refer to it from now on, Colonial) standards of beauty, you’re not beautiful at all. Light skinned, light eyes, straight hair — I think we all know what I’m talking about. This standard of beauty has been internalized by our communities. We see it when our grandmothers tell us not to stay in the sun too long or we’ll “get dark.” We see it when our light eyed friends are fetishized by the older aunties. And we see it when expecting mothers pray for their daughters to be born with straight hair and light skin rather than strong hearts and quick minds.

Women of color also come in colonial flavors, mind you. We are also fetishized if we are found to be non-threatening and apolitical. If our eyes are the right shape, we have a cute accent and our hips can be described in a Shakira song, we get called “exotic.” Let’s get one thing straight right now; it’s never okay to refer to a human being as exotic. That word should be reserved for parrots and mangoes.

When it comes to standards of beauty, many of us remain internally colonized. In fact, in general, many of us are internally colonized. We don’t notice because we’ve known no other way of life, but our lives have been irreversibly marked with Western fingerprints.

And not that I’m an expert on how to remove these metaphorical shackles, but I’ve come to a couple of conclusions as to how to at least get by.

Firstly, know your roots. My family is mostly Egyptian, and that accounts for my almond shaped eyes and how quickly I tan in the afternoon sun. I have been told my entire life that I have my grandfather’s nose — not exactly the compliment every young girl wants to hear. But it wasn’t until I learned about the struggles my grandfather went through after leaving his little Egyptian village until I visited mosques in Cairo with my unbreakable grandmother until I began to see my own people through a lens untainted by Western penmanship, that I began to see myself as beautiful. These eyes and this skin have survived too much to be brought down by my low self-esteem. I am beautiful because of my story and how I came to be is beautiful.

I once had a woman tell me that I would be so much prettier if I “relaxed my hair.” I told her, my hair descended from fighters, it doesn’t want to relax.

I may have been going through an Alex Haley phase at the time, but the sentiment still stands. I have no doubt in my mind that we, as people of color, as colonized peoples, all have incredible stories nestled in our family trees. Once you know them, it’s difficult to see yourself as anything less than astounding.

Secondly, surround yourself with narratives and perspectives of other people of color. A few years ago, I made the decision to only read books by people of color. I had just graduated from an English undergraduate program and was a little sick of having an all-white, all-male syllabus be hailed as the best that literature has to offer. I began reading more books by women, books translated from different languages, books about history written from alternate perspectives and viewpoints. Not only did it change how I saw the world, it really changed how I saw myself. Writers like Zora Neale Hurston, Louis de Bernieres, Elif Shafak, Isabel Allende — these voices add such color to a bland literary landscape and should be celebrated for the magic they create.

I took it one step further this year and started buying magazines with only women of color featured on the cover. This wasn’t even a conscious decision though, it just sort of happened. I suddenly found myself uninterested in reading about women who had very little in common with me. Not that I have tons in common with Kerry Washington or Nicki Minaj, but still. When these women talk about tackling discrimination in the workplace or facing white privilege on a day-to-day basis, I find myself subconsciously nodding along.

Finally, (and this one might make you a little unpopular) when you notice these colonial, destructive tendencies in someone else, say something. I’m not saying disrespect your elders because they want you to come in from the sun; these cultural tendencies might be a little harder to shake. So let’s start with our peers — compliment their differences, their imperfections, their beauty in its natural state. But let’s take it one step further. Compliment their goodness, their resilience, their courage, and strength. After all, those are the qualities that survived decades of imperialism and oppressive colonization.
These are the qualities that last. Well, and my grandfather’s nose.

Follow Sumayya on Instagram and Twitter @thisissumayya

Follow us on Instagram @ahfif and @bossmuslimahs to see what we’ve been up to! 

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