How to be a Grown Woman

By Sumayya Tobah, Editor

I’ll admit, I’ve had a lifelong obsession with Peter Pan. The idea that I could be pulled away from my everyday life and whisked away to an island where I’ll never grow up or worry about grown-up things fascinated me longer than I’d care to admit.

But growing up happens to us all. Whether it creeps up on you through the years or happens overnight, it happens to us all. We all grow up.

I asked my Facebook friends the other day if there was a moment, however fleeting, that they felt like a grown up. I was curious: what does it mean to be a grown-up? What does that look like to different people?

The answers varied, from eating ice cream for breakfast or sleeping all day without accountability, to paying taxes and moving away from home. Other answers included taking care of yourself when you’re sick, paying your own rent and being called “auntie” by a young child. All answers incredibly valid, all lending a piece of perspective to an entirely unique experience.

For me, it was the moment I fixed the toilet.

I was away from home for an internship, and while I was also paying my own bills and doing my own groceries, I cannot describe the sense of pride that came with fixing my own toilet. Keep in mind, I am not a “handy” woman. I once used tape to fix my cracked laptop. I also once used tape to fix a cracked window. I tend to keep a roll of tape in my purse. But being on my own and only having one toilet, I knew what I had to do. No one was going to take care of this for me, I had to figure it out on my own.

When the toilet was flushing properly again, I called my mom. I left my best friend a voice note. This was such a defining moment for me. I fixed my own toilet.

So what is it that makes you a grown up?

I chose to write about this because I have yet to fully figure it out. Despite having graduated and being a part of the “grown-up world” for some time now, I still don’t know.

Here’s what I always thought: being a grown-up means putting someone else first, but also knowing when to put yourself first. It means knowing when to compromise, but also knowing when and how to stand up for yourself. Always be honest, except for that little white lie. Eat healthily, but don’t forget to treat yourself. And the golden rule: keep it all together.

This sounds a little bit like the ramblings of a crazy person. How can all this be possible? There must be some kind of secret formula to attaining this “adult” status that our parents and colleagues seem to have figured out.

Ultimately, like anything, being a grown-up is about achieving balance. But I now see it a little differently than I used to.

Instead of seeing adulthood has having to maintain balance in my qualities, I now see it as a state in which I have to maintain balance in my moments. For every moment you have to pay your own bill or fix your own toilet, be sure to have a few moments where you eat ice cream for breakfast or spend the whole day in bed. For every stressed-out Thursday at the office in a necktie or heels, be sure to spend a Sunday in your PJs, eating pizza and watching bad TV.

Being a grown-up means balancing the perks and the obstacles. It’s about knowing when you can act like a kid.


But again, I’m still waiting for Peter Pan. What could I possibly know?

Follow Sumayya on Instagram and Twitter @thisissumayya

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

S H O P  N O W

#BOSSMUSLIMAH GIVEAWAY- What Does it Mean to be a Boss Muslimah?

By Sumayya Tobah, Editor 

I’m going to be upfront about this from the start — there is no one way to be a Boss Muslimah.

She doesn’t come from a specific global region. Muslim women from all over the world are doing amazing things, no matter where they’re from, where they grew up or where they’re living now. Whether you’re a little bit of a nomad (like me) and those are all different places, or you’re a hometown girl and been in one place your whole life, you can still be a boss.

She doesn’t have a look. Although many do wear the hijab, an equal fraction choose not to. And the Boss Muslimah does not buy into society’s obsession with what women wear. Hijab, no hijab, niqab, shorts, bikinis; society is obsessed with policing, discussing and analyzing the exterior of Muslim women the world over. Not only is this incredibly annoying and tiresome, but it causes us to forget about the real issues and concerns of Muslim women. The Boss Muslimah knows this. She supports the choices of her sisters and fights those who pressure them otherwise.

She doesn’t have a set level of religiosity. Part of the beauty of Islam is that it allows for a range of opinions and interpretations. And as human beings, our spirituality is fluid; it fluctuates and moves freely, and the boss Muslimah allows her sisters (and brothers) the freedom of living without judgement and is in constant remembrance of her own humanity and imperfections.

She’s totally allowed to feel flawless every once in a while though.

She doesn’t have to be outgoing, or quiet. She doesn’t have to be a social media star, or a total hermit. She can be all kinds of wonderful, brilliant, ambitious, wholesome, outrageous, sensational and free.

She just has to be.

I have met boss Muslimahs with hands rough from working all day. They have sturdy bodies and stubborn minds. I have met boss Muslimahs with aching back from carrying their children. They work, pray and breathe for their families. I have met boss Muslimahs with tired eyes, eyes dry from classrooms, board rooms, courtrooms and operating rooms. They are our professors, teachers, doctors and mentors. We all know them. They inspire us;  the more we recognize them and celebrate their qualities, the more we can embody those qualities and become an example to the next generation of Muslim women.

With this blog, we hope to recognize not only the numerous boss Muslimahs in our lives, but also the little quirks and qualities that make us total bosses.

#BOSSMULIMAH GIVEAWAY

What makes you a Boss Muslimah? Share a picture, on Instagram,  of yourself or of someone in your life and tell us why you (or they) are a #BossMuslimah. You will be entered into the Boss Muslimah Giveaway to have a chance to win a collection of Cotton Wool Scarves!

Remember to: 

-Post a photo of yourself or someone you know with the explanation.

-Use the hashtags #bossmuslimahs #ahfifgiveaway!

Follow @bossmuslimahs on Instagram 

-Enter by August 5th for a chance to win!

Follow Sumayya on Instagram and Twitter @thisissumayya

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

S H O P  N O W

Nine Muslimahs To Inspire You This Ramadan

By Sumayya Tobah, Editor

As much as I love Ramadan, I can’t help but notice our somewhat crippling pattern as a Muslim Ummah to glorify the past. Yes, Islamic history is rich with figures like Umar Al Khattab or Usama ibn Zayd (RAA) who can inspire and motivate us, but there are so many great and motivational speakers living today that we can draw inspiration from.

We are especially prone to this pattern when it comes to women; while I congratulate our speakers and scholars for attempting to be more inclusive and combatant against the “Islam is oppressive” trope, I cannot read one more article about Khadija, Aisha, or Sumayyah (RAA). Believe me, I love these women: they were the bedtime stories I was told as a child. While other girls wanted to be Britney or Christina, I wanted to be Fatima, daughter of the Prophet (PBUH) or Nusaiba, the woman infamous for going to battle by the Prophet’s side. But as I grew older, these stories left something wanting. I found myself craving more.

There are so many phenomenal Muslim women making strides in the world as it exists today. These women are fearless in the fight against Islamophobia, hate and racism, giving the modern Muslim woman (and men, quite frankly) a voice they can rely on.

In an attempt to single out and credit just a few of the voices who have helped keep me strong and focused, here are the some boss Muslimahs you should read up on this Ramadan:

Amani Al-Khatahtbeh: Founder of MuslimGirl.net., Amani recently spoke at the United State of Women Summit in Washington D.C. When introducing herself on a panel that included Billy Jean King and Shonda Rhimes, Al-Khatahtbeh said, “It’s not lost on me, that if I were a Muslim woman in another part of the world, I might have been restricted from getting [an] education or my headscarf would have been regulated by laws that would have either imposed it on me or forced me to take it off or my voice would have been silenced by a drone sent in large part by the misrepresentation of Muslim women today.”

So. Much. Fire. Not only is Amani totally unapologetic about the realities facing Muslim women today, but she’s using her platform to raise these issues in a calm, cool and collected manner. I was in the audience during this panel, and I almost literally felt my jaw drop to the floor. What a boss.

Asmaa Hussein: After her husband Amr was killed in the protests that took place in Egypt during the summer of 2013, Asmaa used her writing to cope, collect, heal and inspire. Her book, titled, “A Temporary Gift” had me in tears with almost every page. Her reflections on the short time she spent with her husband, as well as the time that came immediately afterwards, are beautiful, deep and so relatable, a reminder of the fragility of life and the mercy of our Creator. In it, she writes, “You don’t have infinite opportunities to do the right thing. The timer in your chest that is your heart is not just pumping blood through your body; with every beat it is counting down to the day you will return to the One to Whom you belong.”

When we’re young, we tend to feel infinite. I am guilty of this more than most; I put off what I know I should do today and assume I’ll have years to get it right. The fact of the matter is I might not. And you might not either. This reminder is so important, especially as we go through the years of our youth and become the people we will be (inshaAllah) for many years to come.

Ibtihaj Muhammad: Though her list of attributes is long and impressive (mashaAllah!) Muhammad is best known for being the first Muslim American Olympian to compete with the hijab. In a time where Islamophobia runs rampant, especially in the United States, Muhammad understands the condescension many hijabis face as a result of wearing the religious garb. “I’ve flown to domestic competitions, and T.S.A. agents at airports have spoken to me in demeaning ways, as if I’m foreign, because I wear hijab: ‘Do—you—speak—English?’ Muhammad recently told The New Yorker.  “How do people like this exist?” she asked, more in disbelief than in anger. “I’m productive, educated, and representing my country at the Olympics, but they question where I belong.”

This is a struggle faced by young professional Muslim women on the daily. Please make no mistake ladies, you are right where you belong.

Dalia Mogahed: Not going to lie, Dalia Mogahed has always been a little bit of a girl crush of mine. Not only is she the Director of Research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding in Washington, D.C., but she was also selected as an advisor by current United States President Barack Obama on the White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. MashaAllah. Her list of appearances is staggering, from TED Talks, to The Daily Show.

In her impressive TED Talk titled, “What do you think when you look at me?” Mogahed says, “Now, is closing down mosques going to make America safer? It might free up some parking spots, but it will not end terrorism. Going to a mosque regularly is actually linked to having more tolerant views of people of other faiths and greater civic engagement. And as one police chief in the Washington, DC area recently told me, people don’t actually get radicalized at mosques. They get radicalized in their basement or bedroom, in front of a computer. And what you find about the radicalization process is it starts online, but the first thing that happens is the person gets cut off from their community, from even their family, so that the extremist group can brainwash them into believing that they, the terrorists, are the true Muslims, and everyone else who abhors their behavior and ideology are sellouts or apostates. So if we want to prevent radicalization, we have to keep people going to the mosque.”

I had the pleasure of meeting Dalia when she had an appearance on Aljazeera’s show The Stream (shout out to my Streamers!) where I fangirled so hard, I could barely string together a comprehensive sentence. Dalia, if you’re reading this, keep doing you. And I’m so sorry.

Maryam Monsef: The word “refugee” seems to be thrown around so casually these days. Ripples of impact hit Europe and North America last summer as the realities of the “refugee crisis” just began to make headlines. There was a lot of fearmongering, talk of what “these people” will bring to our countries, with anti-immigration sentiments and protests at an all time high. In the midst of all this turmoil and tragedy, and perhaps unbeknownst to the majority of North Americans, newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed his cabinet — which included a young Muslim woman who came to Canada as a refugee.

Maryam Monsef moved to Canada in 1996 from Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, and is now the Canadian Minister of Democratic Institutions. She was appointed along with nine other Muslim members of Parliament, the largest in the country’s history. It was hard to not get a little teary watching her get sworn in during the ceremony in November 2015, juxtaposing her position now with the struggle she had to overcome to get this far. Especially in the Islamophobic, sexist playing field that is today’s political landscape, her story is no small feat.

Rania Khalek: If you haven’t heard of the Electronic Intifada, you best pay attention. As an “online news publication and educational resource focusing on Palestine, its people, politics, culture and place in the world,” EI kept me sane during my formative years, flipping through the newspaper screaming, “Where is the news about what happened in Gaza last night!!??”

As an associate editor, Khalek is one of the most prominent female voices on the page. Her coverage on everything, from the American election, the Palestinian struggle, BDS and a range of other issues. She is an integral part of any educated and informed Twitter feed, and she and the Electronic Intifada continue to do tremendous work in bringing both the Palestinian struggle and the American Muslim narrative to the forefront. Give them your attention.

Linda Sarsour: Linda Sarsour is the role model I wish I had in high school. Today’s Muslims seem to be split into two camps: the first being the scary, angry, threatening, “bad”  Muslims we unfortunately see too much of on the news, and the second being the apologetic, assimilated, smoothed-edges, “good” Muslim who is never angry, never too political, and never rocks the boat. I struggled with this (and still do at times) as a politically aware young Muslimah. Where is the narrative for young, empowered Muslim women who are rightfully pissed off about foreign policy? Women’s issues? The plight of the American Muslim? These didn’t exist for me growing up. If you didn’t want to be flagged as a national security threat, you apologized or you stayed quiet.

Sarsour challenges this. As the Executive Director of the Arab American Association, Sarsour has been called every name you can think of, from “Champion of Change” to “Homegirl in a Hijab.” She is a self-described “racial justice and civil rights activist,” and she’s backed this up too. Sarsour was seen at the front lines of a range of political events and protests, from Black Lives Matter to Bernie Sanders.

She recently told Elan Magazine, “In the United States they talk about freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of religion and we’re given mosque opposition laws. People talk about freedom of speech as if they are only western values. If you were to travel the world there would be no one who would tell you, ‘I love to be censored’. Everyone values freedom and democracy and freedom of expression. Everyone, if they could, would want to have those things. But to make them seem like they are western ideas, for me I think they are the values for anyone across the world regardless of their race, religion, national origin but unfortunately that’s not the conversation we’re having.”

Key Ballah: Another Muslimah using her voice in a unique and provocative way, Key Ballah is a writer whose poems may be short, but they hit deep. Her two books, Preparing my Daughter for Rain and Skin & Sun are two of the most bookmarked and frayed in my collection. There have been too many times that I found myself unable to express myself, but found my feelings articulated so beautifully in her pages.

“Mourn the lives,

Grieve the tragedies

But be careful not to lick

The colonizer’s wounds.

His flag

Is too soaked

With the blood

Of your ancestors

To wave so proudly

Over your head.”

— Key Ballah

I remember the exact moment I was when I first read that poem. I remember what was happening around, what I was wearing and of course, how it made me feel. I get chills every time.

My Mama: If you read my earlier post, I fully believe that we can draw inspiration from the Muslim women in our daily lives. Everyone has their own struggle and everyone finds strength in their own way and to me, that’s very inspiring. That being said, my mama is pretty amazing. After completing her Undergraduate degree, she went on to do her Masters while married with two kids (I still don’t know how she did it — I can barely remember to feed myself). And after all her kids were more or less self sufficient, she went back to school to complete a third degree. What a boss, MashaAllah.

Even though she had five kids (all naturally, we’re always reminded when we get snippy) she remained the most informed person I know. It wasn’t until I moved out that I realized the pains it took both my parents to raise us as educated, compassionate, self-loving individuals. Yes, we were raised without Barbies (to avoid warped body image issues) and Disney Princesses (for the most part — because I can save myself) and at the time, little seven year old Sumayya didn’t appreciate that. But hindsight is 20/20 and sometimes I find myself jotting down notes from my childhood, in an attempt to repeat the same steps when faced with my own children (inshaAllah).

My mama raised me and my four siblings in the most tumultuous time to be an American Muslim. We grew up consistently being told by society that our religion was backwards, that our people were stupid, our men were abusive and our women were ugly and oppressed. And through all of this, my mama (and Aby, my dad, of course) made sure we were brought up in a home filled with laughter, safety and love.  And in a world that tries so hard to make us young Muslims hate ourselves, this is no small accomplishment.

 

Follow Sumayya on Instagram and Twitter @thisissumayya

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

S H O P  N O W

 

 

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑