Let’s Talk Leadership – A Muslimah’s Perspective
Channel: Fatima Barkatulla
File Size: 86.47MB
Panel Discussion with Cambridge University ISoc
Episode Transcript ©
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Over the past year for disadvantaged students across the UK,
welcome. And now I'll hand over to my heart
as long to come, everyone. So I Maha just to introduce myself and I'm an impulse student here at Cambridge. And we're gonna start with talking about academia, then go into balancing responsibilities with family, and religious duties, and then finally, navigating blacksmith. So I'm going to start with navigating academia. And I've got an open question for all the panelists, which is, how did you balance practicing whilst being a student? And with that in mind, could you consider how did you stay motivated? So like, we're all students, and we might find it like really difficult to keep on top of practicing whilst working and dealing with the pressures of university, but also
like pressures, social pressures and peer pressures, like things like drinking and going out to parties and things? How did you manage to keep on top of your religious faith whilst being a student? So whoever wants to go fast?
Shall I pick someone?
Fatima, please, go ahead.
Okay. smarty comm everyone, I think I'm actually a mature student. So my undergraduate study I did
in Egypt, and then when I came back to the UK, I carried on but I really wanted to study Islamic Studies classically, before going to Western academic setting. And I think that's really helped me a lot. And I would really recommend that especially students who are embarking on Islamic Studies, Islamic law, anything related to Islamic history, etc.
Would, either alongside it, or before they go into it in the western setting, and study classically with scholars, you know, with people who have your mind who have Taqwa because it's not just the information, right, where we're not just there for information. And obviously, when subject is being tackled academically, first of all,
there is a veneer of objectivity in western academia, I'm going to be really frank about that. But when you actually there, you realize that actually, things are being seen from specific from a particular perspective. And, of course, other academics have talked about this, anyone who's familiar with the work of while Halak will know that he's often pointing out that, you know,
secular settings are not neutral, you know, they come, they come with the perception, or people perceive them as being neutral, but they're not, especially in the West, which has a history of treating the, you know, Islam, and Muslims as the other. So, you know, I'm just gonna be really frank about that. Because if people embark on Islamic Studies, without having
Islamic mentors, without having to your scholars, people have human and darkwa, who are supporting them and helping them to actually understand Islam properly, and to live Islam, then your faith can be very badly affected. And that's not because what you're being taught is true. It's because it's being taught to you from a particular angle. So I think for me, having mentors throughout this process, you know, even as a mature student, I've got lots of mentors, lots of Islamic scholars, as well as sisters who are, you know, ahead of me, or people who are more senior, etc, having those people to,
to go to and say, you know, I'm finding this difficult. I'm finding this emotional, because sometimes it's very emotional as well. Right? Like, just last week in Islamic law, we studied
women's rights, and the way that they prefer presented Islam and women
was that she passed.
And in another class, you know, the teacher said, you know, Muslim women are not allowed to be scholars, these kinds of them at the front of your class, by a professor in from the profit can really affect you if you don't know your religion properly. Right?
So I think it's really important for all of us to take the time to attend classes, to have mentors, and to strengthen ourselves from within with knowledge and with the company of pious and good people.
Thank you so much. I think that's really valuable advice. And it was touching on a lot of things. I was actually going to ask you later. So you've already tackled like some of my questions, because I was going to ask both you and Marina about how to, if you if you study something, and you maybe decide later, you want to go into more Islamic field. So for example, Marina, you've gone in after studying music, right? You went into Islamic music. And, obviously, Fatima, you're studying Islamic law. So just how to navigate that, because a lot of us are studying at Oxford. So we don't have that chance to really study something that's to do with all faith, and maybe later down the line, we
might want to do that. So I come from a law background. And I've always thought about studying Islamic law. So maybe if both of you could just answer how you decided to do that. And, you know, how was it especially Marina, you studied here? How did you make that choice? How did that happen? What did what were the next steps? How did you find your feet and explore the more Islamic side of your field?
Sure, so you aren't right and also wrong in the kind of way I came to this. But So interestingly, to me, when I was at Cambridge, I was actually an undergraduate medical student, as opposed to a musician, and I was planning on becoming a doctor. And in as many of you will know, if you know, lots of medics, which I'm sure that I sock is full of.
In third year, you get to choose any subject within the medical sciences tripod, like you can pick any subject, like microbiology, or psychology, or whatever, but you can actually pick any subject in the university. And I knew a lot of people who've had kind of taken that loophole and studied theology or history or what have you. So I decided to study Arabic, Middle Eastern Studies during that year. And I guess during that year, I kind of had my little spiritual epiphany thing, kind of, there are so many doctors already, why don't I study Islam become showcar, something like that. It was a little bit naive, I guess. But Hamdulillah, I then decided not to pursue clinical medicine,
much to the disappointment of quite a few people. But then I kind of went down a traditional Islamic sciences route. At that point, I didn't actually know that I wanted to look into music and Islam specifically, I wasn't sure actually, when I first started practicing Islam, I really distanced myself from anything musical that I'd done previously, because I did a lot of music in school things like this. Before I was practicing, and then I think I just wanted to get a broad overview of Islam. So I went to a very traditional seminary here in Birmingham, and I went abroad did some Arabic courses abroad on summer, summer, Arabic intensive things like that. And I think it just, I think,
for lots of people, when they come to find their sort of passion are what they're interested in. It's not like, oh, I've wanted to do this since I was 16 years old. It's a journey that slowly develops over time, and you have a certain amount of
soul searching and flexibility that you require when you're in your 20s kind of figuring out what it what is it that I want to contribute. And the more I followed the Islamic Studies trajectory, traditionally, the more I realized that kind of some of you may come across the concept of Iki guy is this Japanese concept of you know, when you have an overlapping mash of things that you know, something that you can be paid for something that you're passionate about, something that the world needs, all of these kinds of things when they come together, and you find something that you can really make a contribution with. So I realized that the one thing that I was really excelling in
within the general Islamic studies that I was doing was written recitation, and that read and that sort of stuff, all the melodic things that I'd been trying to shun away. And I thought so why is it that I kind of older music and orchestra and choirs and things I used to do at school? Why was I shunning those away? Why don't I try to unpack that a little bit more. So then I decided to go back to Oxford to do my Masters after I did my traditional Islamic Studies. And it's kind of just gone from there. And it slowly developed, as opposed to being a very clear cut thing that I want you to do.
That's really, really interesting. Thank you for sharing your journey. And I think, sorry about getting that wrong. I still find
like, I didn't know what every all of you did, because like, it wasn't all on your LinkedIn.
But thank you for sharing that. And Fatima, did you want to add something? Yeah, I just wanted to say, I'm going to be a bit tough on students and say that I don't think there's any excuse to not study Islam today, right? We're living in a time when, as students, I know if you really want to you learn a language. You, you know, if it wasn't for lockdown, you'd be traveling, you'd be doing all sorts of things. When we really want to do something, we make time for it, right? And so I think every single Muslim
And especially every single student should make the time to at least learn the fundamentals. Right? How do you how to pray? What is the flip of Salah? How do you recite Quran properly? You know, it's an obligation on us to be able to recite the Quran without making major mistakes. Right? So these types of things, especially, and then our creed, right, Islamic theology, understanding what the lines are between what is what becomes outside of the fold of Islam, and what is within the fold of Islam. These things are really important because when you know them, when you go into any world, any sphere, it doesn't matter how convincing something sounds, you have the protection that you need to
know what the boundaries are, right. So I would really urge all the brothers and sisters out there to, you know, register for an online course, there are so many, you know, chefs Mohammed chef, Akram nadwi. has, has classes.
I went to the Bryan college and I studied the check Akram nadwi.
And then went into went to so us, but I found that just having had that background
has been everything, you know, and I think when we lack any kind of connection with the classical scholars, what happens is
we feel bombarded, you know, from every direction. And one more thing, I think, come your company is really important as well, you know, so yes, we go into university and
you know, Subhan, Allah, sometimes you have a very friendly people, friendly professors, you know, you have lots of kind of things around you that you could be attracted to, and be pulled into all sorts of different directions. Now, if you have a court of friends, and you have people, you know, we have this concept in Islam of stuff about the solid hand, the companionship of righteous people, if you have that core group of people who remind you of Allah,
it doesn't mean they have to be boring people, you know, doesn't mean they have to be like, you know, people who don't ever have any fun, people who like to have fun, but they also remember Allah, and they remind you of Allah. That's like the perfect mix of friends that you want, you know, people who are going to help you to stay on the straight path.
Thank you for sharing that. And I think a lot of us can relate to that, especially being students at Oxbridge where we are surrounded by people who are quite different from us. And then we come to ISOC. And we find people from a really similar background with a similar fate. I think it's nice to have that reminder that it's so important to surround yourself with those sorts of people as well. So thank you, I'm gonna go to my next question, which is just about finding your niche and your passion. So if maybe shahida and Faria could take the lead on this, because it seems like your fields are quite male dominated, and there won't be necessarily many visibly Muslim, ethnic minority
women. So if you could maybe just tell us, when did you decide to go into these fields? And what's it like being a minority in that field? And if you're still a student, you can tell us a bit more about that as well. But maybe if you can go into that, so shahida, would you like to go fast?
Yes, I'm gonna give me a slightly different perspective, because I didn't go to university. So everyone assumes I did, but I didn't. And I was married off at the age of 18. So I've got four children, three of them, went through university, my daughter, inshallah, next year, she'll be going to university, but from a mother's point of view, seeing them go to university, seeing the kind of temptations the distractions, and for me to be there for them, I think that was hugely beneficial for them. Because having a university like does bring all sorts of challenges. And I think just being there for them, and sort of steering them in the right direction. And I think that's, you
know, that's been the most rewarding thing of being a mother for my children at that age.
They're all adults, you know, my daughter will be going into her next phase, going to university next year. And I'm just trying to sort of
advise her to reach her full potential, and do the things that in a male dominated society and while it is challenging, and for me, I have to say that
it's just making my voice heard but in a in the right way, rather than shouting and making my voice heard, and I think it's just been
As I said, quite challenging, but Alhamdulillah, you know, to have a position to be invited to be a trustee of the Cambridge central mosque, I think, I never imagined that I would be asked to do that. And
Alhamdulillah it's been rewarding, you know, to be part of these decision making. And, you know, watching the moss develop. And as I said, Before, I was born and raised in caves, I was literally born about 200 meters from the mosque. On Mill Road, there was a is a care home now. So I was born there. And my father came in 1957. So he, he was one of the early East Pakistani settlers. So East Pakistan later became Bangladesh in 1971. And I was literally born two days after the independence. But at that time, I, we remember that
my father used to have Juma prayers in his living room, because the community was so small, there wasn't a mosque at the time. So we saw the first mosque open in I think it was 1981. On Chesterton road, there was a house that turned into a mosque. And then my siblings and I, we went there for our
Arabic classes on learn to Islam, we learnt Arabic, but in those days, it was very difficult to even
learn Arabic, but but we did our humbly Lama and my parents, they really
made sure that we did learn Islam, we did learn Arabic, but we learnt it in a different way. And it was challenging. We didn't have these textbooks, you know, we didn't have everything that you can have today online. And so as I said, just earlier, there is no excuse to to learn, we've got all the resources now. And it's, you know, it's all available for for all the students. So, you know, just moving forward, I think it's, it's knowing how to challenge the male dominated society. And it is, you know, quite difficult, but Hamdulillah, it's a learning curve for me. And to be able to be part of that, and part of the decision making rather than what someone else make that decision. And I do
have to say that when I was appointed as a trustee,
and it came out of the blue for me, I didn't expect that at all. There were certain people in our own community who thought, why have I been asked to be in that position. And I think it's, you know, of course, you're going to get that when it comes to, you know, some of our brothers that they probably thought that they should be in that position as well. But Alhamdulillah, I think it's been a very rewarding experience. And I do hope that other sisters in the future will come forward and have these positions, because it's really important processes to come forward. And I encourage that my daughter, who's 17, that, you know, make your voice heard, but in the right way, and we do have
to learn Islam, so we can challenge these
Muslims because they do tend to think we are oppressed, you know, and I think for me, being a trustee that's really helped open doors with non Muslims, because they saw me in that position, and they see me in that position, and they think, Wow, we never knew and Muslim woman could be a trustee of a mosque. So you know, hamdulillah It's been an amazing journey. And I hope to continue that.
Most of life, thank you so much for sharing that story. And I actually, I did my undergrad at Cambridge, when before the central mosque was here. So I do remember, praying and a regal, remember is offering drama in this hall that was actually in a church, it was not the best, not the best situation, but Alhamdulillah now we have the mosque, which is so beautiful, and it's so nice to see women like you on the on the trustee board. So thank you for sharing that anecdote. And Faria, would you care to give us more of an insight into what it's like being someone visibly Muslim studying engineering?
Yeah, of course. So it's interesting because when you're in sort of an I haven't, I don't have career experience as a student, but
it's interesting when you're in a lecture hall, and you're basically there and hit earlier like hijabi out of 150 people The fact is that you do stand out and, and whether your tutorial and you're the only ethnic minority, that sort of thing. And so immediately that attention is drawn to you. And it's really, it's really a matter of like the attitude that you approach these sort of scenarios with. For example, like if you if you this attention is being drawn to you is about what you do without attention are you actually going to turn that into respect because respect has to be earned in itself. And you do that by preparing well by being by being like a model student by
by working hard even. You'll find that you need if there's a range of working there was a working hard
But it's it's not about what you do in order to earn that respect, because they will only be looking at you because all you're the most different person in the room.
But handwriting in these sorts of environments is very
highly educated environment versus Oxford or Cambridge or in in actual, the actual workplace, you will be surrounded by the intelligent and well read people. And if anything, I found my own papers and work experiences. People are they're very English about it, they're in as soon as you say always, okay, if I go like proof preemptively, like 15 minutes free, they're like, Oh, yes, yes, of course, please go through, we don't want to like to serve you at all that kind of thing. So they're very excited about it, they don't ask too many questions.
Which I find find quite entertaining, even. Um, but you will be faced with scenarios where you feel that because like, you're the only like, woman in the room, or the only Muslim that you sort of have to become an ambassador, Ambassador for all Muslim and all women essentially. And so your opinion really matters. And that's why you need to be careful with the words you use, the actions you take, and how you conduct yourself. Because that what you do will actually influence how other people are treated beyond your urine, their new sphere, they immediately around, because if, for example, you're in the workplace, you're dealing with women in the workplace, a second Muslim woman comes in,
they're gonna cheat, start treating similarly to how they you're currently being treated. And you just can think to yourself, I'm happy with how I'm being treated and what I want someone else to go through that too. And so reflecting on that you should make any t 50. changes, raise the issues whenever you see them come.
Right, thank you. I think that's like really valuable advice that we can all identify with. I think we'll move on to the next section, just so that we're not running out of time. So Eric, do you want to start the next section?
Q. First of all, I realized I didn't actually introduce myself. So I'll do that. So I'll go over a rig. And I'm a fourth year engineer at Trinity College, Cambridge. And yeah, that's enough. Um, I think one of the questions I'm going to pose with you is, in terms of family pressures, slash maintaining, like work life balance, whether that's in academia, or at work, or so on, how have you found that like, how do you strike the right balance? I'm sure it's been challenging at times, would you like to share?
Marina, would you like to stop?
it's always difficult, as in, I'm sure, whichever situation you're in, whether you're a student with no children, whether you're, you know, a young mom, with your kids, and you're trying to do something, or your children have already flown the nest, but you've got other kinds of responsibilities with the children, there's never an easy setup to get on with your life, right. So you always have to find the right strategies for the season that you're in to balance the different responsibilities that you have. And so I found that extremely challenging. So during the last, so I'm 31. Now, so it's been the last decade, essentially, since I left University, I've had three
children, as well as doing my Islamic Studies and my master's degree. I remember doing my master's degree at Oxford with two under fives. And it was it was tough. And you know, you have to rely a lot on family support, I used to, you know, my husband would pitch in a lot and I wouldn't be my children with my sister in law, and my mother in law sometimes and, you know, you can't, you can't expect yourself to be a superwoman, when you are trying to balance the responsibilities of work, study and home. And you should never make yourself an island or expect yourself to be a superwoman. Because it's very easy to, especially when we're speaking to such you know, such a well educated and
ambitious young people as yourselves, you know, Oxford students, you have a lot of passions and a lot of potential as well to do amazing things. However, you are human. And at some point, if you keep pushing yourself to be amazing, and just keep going, keep going, keep going. burnout will set in or worse. And it's really a blessing that mental health has become so stigmatized in recent years, it's really important. And whether your students are overworked or whether you're trying to balance family life with your job, or whatever it is, it's really important to look after yourself and realize when you're doing too much. And I really, after my master's degree, I was really burned
out, to be honest, and I wanted to pursue my PhD at that point, but I just couldn't, I had very young children and I was chopping block with them. And now the pandemic everyone is homeschooling their children, it's just it's very difficult to manage. My youngest son is one year old. So all the things that I'm doing currently are very much part time. They're very much with the long game in mind. I think when we're in school in university, we look at the projects that we do or
assignments that we're working on, on a sort of week to week basis, you're thinking about, okay, what's gonna happen next few days, in the next few weeks, maybe you're thinking about a term in advance. If you're very organized, you're thinking about your files and a couple of years from now. But when you kind of when you exit University, and you get into your career, your family life, the long game is decades. You know, you're not thinking about what's happening next week, sometimes I don't even know what day it is, to be fair,
you're thinking about, you know, when my children leaving the nest, 20 years from now, what will I be doing them. So it's very much about having goals for the long term, about keeping those goals in mind, keeping yourself centered, and also just trying to balance the different aspects of your life, whether it's your family communal obligations, and then in terms of, you know, just personally mind body spirit, making sure that you're looking after yourself very well. That's what I would say.
Yeah, it's a tough life, but such a life. Um, Fatima, would you like to give your two cents on this?
Yeah, I'm similar to Sister shahida, I actually got married when I was 19, I was engaged when I was 18. And one of the things my husband or my perspective has been at the time asked me in our marriage meetings, is, you know, the coffee, the Tea Party thing set up, right. And he asked me,
because he could see that I was very ambitious. And I really wanted to study. And I've known since I was 15, that I wanted to be an Islamic scholar, and I wanted to do a PhD, those were the two things I knew I wanted to do when I was a teenager, I've even got a diary in which I'd written that.
But I really wanted to get married, you know, I was ready to get married, and I wanted to get married, and I found the right person. So my husband asked me what will happen if there's ever a clash between your studies or your ambitions, and family.
And one of the things that I made, and it was very good that we discuss these sorts of things, you see, one of the things I was very clear, that I made very clear, is that my family will always come first. And I think the mindset that we will need to have is that
at different stages of life, different things are your priority, you know, when my kids were little, so from the age of when I was 20, to about 30, something, I had small children, you know,
like four, I've got four children on the law. And I devoted my time to them, because I could see that that's what was required of me at the time. I did continue studying, but I did it in a very, very part time way, you know, and using all sorts of different means, you know, and that's one of the great things that we have in our times. And now my son is 19. And I'm about 40.
And we're both at uni together, right? So he's he's just started uni, and I'm, he, he kind of avoided going to the same uni as me, I noticed
when the why. But, you know, we're both at uni together now. And all of my children are a lot older. I mean, they're a bit more independent, you know. So, I will say that I am glad that I invested those years. In my children, even though I would say the society around us, and the culture around us, pushes us to think of children and motherhood and being a wife, as a little side project, you know, is the thing you do on the side, while you're doing the main thing, right, which is supposed to be your studies and your career. I would encourage all of us to question that narrative, you know, because as I was listening to a lecture of the professor Jordan Peterson, and he was saying
something that was very surprising, actually, he said, society lies to young women. Society lies to young women, and tells them that they're not really going to care that much about being married and having kids and that having kids is not going to be a really big part of their life. So I'm going to encourage you all to be really realistic. And understand that our last panel dialer gave us a clock, you know, a body clock.
That is a real thing. You know, I work with Hsu, and they tell me about sisters, especially sisters, who are getting older who come and say, you know, I really wish I got married when I was younger. Okay.
I know that's not a popular message for
Have a woman today to give to other women. But you know, I'm your sister in Islam, and I want to be really honest with you. And so I would really encourage all of us to start questioning, you know, what society has encouraged us to think of as our priorities because
having a family is a project, you know, it's a project. And there's nothing more meaningful than raising the next generation of human beings who are going to inherit this planet.
Nobody tells us that, as women. Nobody says that to us, right. And so I'm here to tell you that.
And I do encourage you to listen to a recent podcast that I did with Jeff Haytham, on my YouTube channel, you can find it in which he talks about this topic, you know, the topic of motherhood.
Okay, so, so in summary, what I'm saying is, at different stages of our life, there are different things that are a priority. There's no point trying to kill yourself doing everything, right. I'm so glad that I devoted those years to my children, because I'm going to be real with you. breastfeeding is not easy. You know, looking after kids, and raising them. And in the I raised children who I wanted them to be happy with, of course,
that that's a challenge in itself. Right? That takes somebody it's like, it's like a project manager. So I would like to see one of our sisters, especially because we're talking about sisters, consider motherhood as a leadership role. You know, see motherhood as a leadership role and realize that you have, you know, that saying, right, how does it go? The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, right? rules the world, we not only rock the cradle, we are the ones who instill the next generation with everything, you know, so I want us to really start seeing motherhood as an intrinsic part of womanhood. And realize that, yes, you know, I love academia. I love serving my community, I was
director of an Islamic conference, I've been involved in power, all my life, I've written a book, we've got two other books on the way, there are other things to do. But they don't all have to be done at once. And at different times of our lives, different things need to take priority, and they're like getting married young, having children. Now my kids are older, we can study together. So I'm the law.
shahida, would you like to respond to this?
I can totally relate to sister Fatima. I have my children when I was young. And I spent many years at home looking after them. Because I thought we both decided my husband and I that we would look after them, you know, I wanted to be there for them after school, do things with them. And that is a very important job as a mother is the hardest job in the world. You know, it comes with so many challenges.
So many difficulties. But as children grow older, their needs change. So fast forward to where I am now. I'm coming on to 50 my children are older. And it's it just makes it easier for me to be able to do the things that I want to do. So I'm an author, I've written one book. That's something I do on the side, I also have a day job as well. And I think, you know, being able to do lots of different things, it it does require a you know, a balancing act, it's not easy, you know, I still have to do my things that I do at home. But I also make sure that because my children are older they do their bit too. And I think is important, especially for boys that they also contribute to doing
things around the home because it's not just a woman's job. This is I think the view that a lot of
Muslim families have is it's a woman's job. It's a mother's job to do the cooking, the cleaning and everything else. But you know, I've taught my children. No, it's, you need to help me because I'm not Superwoman. And I can't do everything that I'm supposed to do at home. But I think, you know, I'm glad that I was there for them when they were younger, because I think that's when the relationship develops strongly with a mother and child.
And I'll humble I can say that, you know, my children are our good friends. You know, we can talk about almost everything and I'm there for them and they
Know that I'm there for them, if they ever need anything, and I can get them to do things, you know, go out shopping and do the things I don't need to do anymore. So I think is because they're older things are a lot easier for me. And that's why I'm able to do the jobs that I'm doing. I'm also, I work with the Museum of Cambridge as well, I'm an advisor to trustees there. And I, we've also recently launched a charity and my brother and I, helping those who need help in our community, those who have been affected by the pandemic give giving them food or fuel support is called the Korean foundation. And we launched that in my late father's name, but I'm able to do that, because I
have the time to do that. But I think going back 20 years, I don't think I would have been able to do all this, it's not an easy job, being a mother is probably one of the, as I said, the hardest job that any woman can do, but I'm glad I had one when I was younger, and I still have the energy and I can, I said to them, it's my turn now to have a life, you know, I want to be able to do my things and, and they support me, and they can see exactly what I'm doing. So I hope that, you know, going forward with, with sisters, and especially my daughter as well, you know, do the things that you want to do. But there's, you know, it can be done later in life. And this is exactly what happened
to me, you know, when my daughter was,
I think three or four years old, that's when I first started to write my first book. And the reason I did that was I spent a lot of time at home. And it's something that I wanted to do. And it developed from that, really so. But I think it's really important for a mother to be there. Because I know there are other sisters who have a full time job, their children are very young. And it's exhausting. But I think it's really important for our mother to be there for a child at every stage of their life. And even with my
my eldest is 30 now, but I still have to be there for him, you know, give that emotional support and, and be there as a mom, but I think it's humble. It's a rewarding experience. So I just hope that now I can continue to do that the things I want to do and as their needs change even further, but I will still be there for them. And they know that. So yes, it's it's a hard balancing act, but it can be done. And it's about time management, and how you focus on that and how you want to do that. So that's all I want to say. Thank you.
Thank you both for sharing your stories. And I think it's really useful to hear from people who balanced both because sometimes you think it's either or like both of you said, so. It's really nice for all of us, especially as girls to hear that. And just one last question about balancing responsibilities and things. I wanted to ask you guys, how do you find the balance of preparing for the afterlife with pursuing worldly ambition, worldly ambitions? Especially because all of you are really successful in your fields? And how do you balance that? So Faria, would you like to answer that first?
Well, this is a question I constantly think about as well. So it's, it's really, it's quite difficult. But of course, our courses are very intense. And right now, we might find this in policy will probably look after ourselves, at times really exhausting things. But I think it's really important to keep to at least repeat, repeatedly do some more things on a regular basis, for example, might be what you recite before you go to sleep, those sorts of things. It's developing those habits over time will for sure, pay off it installed in the future, if you can just get into this practice. And a lot of these practices I learned, learned abandoned that just through the
Islamic community that you have at university, we're learning from learning about that from like, very inspirational, motivational people around you. And so yeah, exactly. And I think it's, I think there's sort of a misconception maybe that people think, Oh, I'm studying now. And then I'm going to do like, they kind of create this divide between Islamic Studies and your actual university degrees. But I really do encourage people to think about their studies as a form of worship because you're utilizing skills and intelligence Allah has blessed you with in order to you need to think about what your intention is, when you're doing your work when you're doing your degree work. Are you
doing it because you want to get really rich when you get on then? No, that's the point intention, but if your intention is Oh, inshallah I hope that if I study hard here, then I can pursue a career and provide for my family and etc, and also to make the most of what I was destiny with, then you then have a different perspective as to how you like approach your work. Your work is insane. Like this is a completely separate thing to your faith. And I think that's something that people really should like refresh their mindset when it comes to like their academics
Thank you for sharing that reaction, we move on to the next section. Yep, thank you, actually relating to foreigners like responsible considering, like your education as part of Islam, like there's a hadith in the melodica de la Arjuna had heard the tolerable and hot day of job like, angels put their wings down to the seeker of knowledge until, like, being proud of what they do until they return. So it's like not seeking knowledge is in itself worship in a way. So I wanted to ask you guys about
Have you ever faced any form of discrimination in your professional work, and also dealing with male colleagues? And just in general, most Well, a lot of fields are male dominated, and that can be quite difficult to navigate. I know shahida has met have brought up this a bit but like, do you have any stories you want to share with us? And yeah, who would like to start?
I should probably pick
Fatimah Would you like to go?
Yeah, well, when it comes to my dad is a is a Mufti. So I would say that there's two ways of looking at it. I've had men who have been my greatest supporters. Okay. So my dad, the sheoak have studied with, you know, my dad took me all the way to Egypt, he motivated me to seek Arabic knowledge of Arabic etc. And, and by the way, I just want to say about that Hadith that you mentioned, the scholars of Islam actually say that had the youth is specifically for knowledge about Islam knowledge about the deen. Yeah, the angels put their arms around you for knowledge of the deen. That's not to say that other types of knowledge are not beneficial, but that had either specifically
about, you know, knowledge about Allah and His Deen. But the way to make your knowledge as Tafari was saying,
a means of great reward is your intention, right? Through intention, the smallest of deeds can become huge. So yeah, I would encourage, just as a side note, I would encourage students to really think about, you know, how am I going to be a tool for the sake of my community, for the sake of Allah? Am I going to use this knowledge because we have a history of amazing engineers, architects, artists, thinkers, you know, intellectuals, we, we have that history. So, and all of that was necessary to build a great civic civilization, right? So all of us have a role to play in that. If we make our intentions huge, then whatever sphere that we're in, can become an act of worship.
inshallah. So back to the topic that you mentioned. So I've had supporters who are men. And yes, like, when it comes to working with male scholars, I have found sometimes, some of them are quite reticent, I would say, to, to involve a sister, right.
But the approach that I decided to take is not to see the shoe, and the male scholars and you know, peers, even as the enemy not to see them as competition even right.
But instead, to see them as collaborators, you know, so what I've been doing is building really good relationships with scholars all over the UK, and even all over the world, actually, because I had the opportunity to travel to various countries. And wherever I go, what I do is I try to reach out to whoever the scholars are. So for somebody else who might be whatever field you're in, you know, but for me, it's obviously Islamic scholars, reach out to them, build good relationships with them, and collaborate with them. And so I don't have this kind of feeling that I'm in, you know, they're kind of like in the way, in fact, what happens, I think what's happened is sometimes there probably
has been some mistrust, you know, between shoe you, and maybe their perception of sisters, okay. And depending on what culture they come from, you know, I tried to bet all of these kinds of things in mind and not come forward in a kind of aggressive way. Do you know what I mean? As if I've got a chip on my shoulder as if, you know, I'm like, trying to
push them or criticize them, but I will criticize them in private. You know, I have that by building that good relationship with them.
I have the opportunity to phone shift so and so and say, Tim, you know, I think this needs to be done, or I don't think this was done properly or, you know, I don't need to do that in public, I don't need to make a fuss out of it. And I think sometimes some of the shoe, maybe they've had experiences where, you know, they've had bad experiences, basically.
So I think it's about trying to change attitudes slowly. And I found once you have the qualifications, your qualifications speak for themselves, right? When you have the qualifications. So once I graduated, and the writings that I'm doing the work that I'm trying to do, even in academia,
some of my professors, they're actually Islamic scholars as well, you know, so they did their studies, Islamic Classical Studies, and now they're professors that might be in human rights law or whatever. But they've got that background. And now they can recognize your talent, and to help nurture it, you know, point you in the right direction when it comes to different areas. Recently, I've been setting up a Muslim women's organization, soon to be launched in sha Allah. And
I was just on the phone to one of my she'll, you know, check the picture, Audrey is one of my longtime mentors. And he's built an amazing organization, Massey mission, you must have, you might have heard of nzdf, right, the National Soccer Foundation, and lots of projects, people don't realize he was actually the key founder of all of that, right.
And so somebody like him with his experience, me having a good relationship with him, means he can be my mentor, I can ask him, how do I do this? You know, I don't know how to do this. I've never done this before in my life, what are the pitfalls, and he, frankly, tells me what I need to know. So I think as with most professions, and most lines of work, building, having good networking skills, right, even with you,
and building good relationships, where people trust you, and you can trust them. That doesn't mean you have to sugarcoat everything. But when you criticize them, they know that it comes from a place of care, not a place of, you know, trying to, I don't know, seek attention or whatever. And I think all of that speaks volumes, and then being properly qualified, also speaks volumes. You know, because sometimes I think in our times, people want to have the status, but they don't want to do the work. You want to have the status, but you don't want to do the work. So sisters, often they come to me, they say I really want to be an Islamic scholar, I really say okay, so you've got to go
and learn Arabic. And you can see their face drop at that point, you know, they don't want to do the boring bits. They don't want to do the difficult bits. But you don't get to that level. Until you do you have those firm foundations until you go through the process, right. So don't try to seek a status. before your time, I would say, you know, get the qualifications, do things really properly.
That's something that Chrome is always saying to us, you know, do things really properly Don't rush. Look at Yusuf Alayhi Salaam, he was in the prison. It didn't matter how long it took, he wants to clear his name that was more important to him than expediency, right and getting out of prison. So he often said to us, you know, things happen in the right times. If degree takes this much time, do it properly, don't rush it be excellent in every stage that you, you know, participate in every area of your life. And Sharla that, that then speaks volumes, whether you're a woman or a man,
just yet. So collaboration and focusing on being good at what you're doing to begin with. I'm Marina, would you like to answer the question? And also, can we please? Just because of time, could we keep it concise? Thank you, of course. Yep. So in terms of I've not really had any significant working roles, but I could talk about kind of hierarchy idemia. And I think we've talked a lot where I think Southern vitamins already talked enough about the kind of traditional Islamic setting. So I think I touched on a little bit on academic settings. For example, when I was doing my masters at Oxford and treading the path into PhD academia, I think it's not so much discrimination, but one
thing that we will have to overcome as Muslims is the fact that a lot of
the way that career progression is set up as in our Western secular context is
It's kind of like doggy dog, you have to push yourself forward. And within an Islamic paradigm, the prophetic model is one of servant leadership, right? You're not supposed to seek leadership roles. So how do you balance that? There's a really good book by the late hours. I mean, he was one of the founders of muraki Consulting, and he was one of our trainers at when I was in the sound nation. And, you know, he died very young. And it was very sad, just a few years ago, a year and a half or so. But his book 1111 prophetic values of leadership, some of the exact title, but you'll find it if you look for it, it's got very good advice on like, how the Prophet celerity of synonym
was the leader, and how we can embody that in our leadership positions, because there is that difficulty, isn't it? Am I supposed to put myself forward? Am I supposed to be confident? Am I supposed to have this CV that's just oozing with all my good, you know? How am I supposed to balance that? So it's just trying to find alternatives to the normal Western way of doing things? Or similarly, for example, in the department, if you go into academia or any career, actually, there'll be a lot of schmoozing and networking and people get to know each other over cocktails or what have you. And you're thinking, How do I balance that because obviously, some environments are not
appropriate. But I still need to make professional connections. So what was the other party was mentioning about actually being very well qualified, and just letting your qualification speak for themselves, but also going out of your way to provide alternatives in terms of building your career? So those are the bits of advice I would change on?
Does that I'm going to look for that book. That sounds great. Um, I think I'll move on to the next question. And it'll be the last question I would love for all the panelists to respond to it. And it's, do you have any anecdotes that you'd be willing to share where you felt particularly celebrated in your place of work or education? Just like to add on a positive note? shahida? Would you like to speak first?
Yes, I think the highlight of my life would be when I had my first book published, because I spent
six years trying to get it published.
I think, once that happened,
that's when my career sort of took off. So it was only what nearly nine years ago.
But as sister saying, it's, I think it's showing what you're capable of doing. Rather than telling people what you're capable of doing. It's through your actions. And humbly law I've built up so you know, good connections, good networks, through my own work. And this, this is something that I wanted to do, you know, based on my own choice that I wanted to do this. And it opened a lot new doors for me. And I think it's,
you know, just going back to your earlier question, we are going to face challenges and criticisms. And there's always going to be someone who won't like what you're doing, or someone who will criticize whatever you do, you're not going to please everybody. But I think
the main thing is, are you doing it for yourself? Or are you doing it to show people, and that's something that I sort of learned over the years is that this is something that I wanted to do for my own satisfaction. And it's something I felt very passionate about, I'm very passionate about history.
But I could never imagined I would ever do that. So, you know, things took a different turn in my life. And I think the things that I've managed to do or humbly, like it's taken me in lots of different directions. But I think, you know, we will always assist as be faced with challenges from the men in our society. And it's not just our Muslim community is every society you know, that there are
all women are faced with lots of different challenges. So we can't just say that it's within our own community. But I think it's, it's something that we have to deal with, we have to be patient. And it's through dialogue, you know, how do we make that connection with people? And, you know, speaking to them, and, you know, I have to say, you know, I've faced Islamophobia through the work that I've done, but I've always felt that dialogue has helped. It's always been, rather than shouting down or challenge them, you really have to understand how you're going to challenge someone like this. But I always felt that it worked for me is by having that dialogue with these people. And I'll give you
one example. There was a lady who came to our mosque.
I used to deliver the tours and she she came along and she had a lot of misconceptions about Islam and
And then after I delivered the tour, and she said to me, she thanked me because she said that because of the tour that I did. And how I spoke about our mosque and Islam is changed her perception of Islam. And is just to hear something like that from a non Muslim. For someone who really despised Islam, she did say that, and she still got some of your message every now and again. But Alhamdulillah it's, again, through dialogue, you know, it's how you present yourself to people. It's how you portray Islam to other people, because that is another factor as well, when non Muslims are looking at you all the time, especially when you put yourself out in the public as well. You know,
what is it that you're doing how you present yourself, and I think it's really important to, to show that we are good Muslims, and what we do is beneficial to everybody, you know, we're reaching out to non Muslim communities as well. So
we are going to be faced with challenges. And I just want to say, don't let challenges put you off, because no, life is easy. You know, Allah throws all sorts of things at us. And we are tested all the time. But it's how we pass these tests and how patient we can be, and is about patience as well. So
I just want to say to everyone at whatever you decide to do. Good luck with that, and, you know, allies with you all the time. And as long as you put Islam first, you know, in your life, you will be successful. And I think that's really, really important is to have that as the number one focus.
Okay, thank you.
Marina, would you like to go next?
Yes. So in terms of a time where I felt, you know, some accomplishments have been celebrated, I used to do quite a lot of events in the community where there would be like a female speakers conference locally. So mind bending, and things like this. And I remember doing the Quran recitation at the start of one of these events, a few years ago, and after the conference, a sister came to me. And she said to me, You know, I had no idea that sisters could recite like that. And, and you're not even Asian, Arab. So she was just, she was very surprised. And I think that was inspiring to her. But then what it made me think was, well, she's the one who came up to me, but who knows how many
other kind of lives are touched by your example. And monologue, just touching on what's been mentioned few times in this talk panel, about intentions and how they are so fundamental, because, you know, if I had done that event with with an with a, you know, a rusty intention, shall we say, then all of the people who benefited from that event or that talk or took something away from it, I wouldn't gain any of that measure.
Whereas every time we do any action, and then there's a roll on effect. And other people benefit from that, and they benefit others, and they benefit others, and so on, you're going to get all those rewards if you have the right intention for it. So whatever role you're in whatever project you're in, always strive in every single thing to have good intentions, because you have no idea what little comment you make, or what what small, you know, email you forward, or even something you forwarded on WhatsApp, you have no idea who's going to take benefit from that later. If you made that with the right intention, inshallah, you'll be accruing so many rewards for everything that
I love that. I'm not around. Would you like to go next?
Yeah, I was gonna mention that. I think, you know, sometimes somebody will send me an email, especially if they've read my book, or listen to a talk or something that maybe I didn't really pay that much attention to at the time. But obviously, there was a message there that I really wanted to give.
And they'll say something like, you know, you really helped me.
You helped me to stay on the straight path, you change the way I fought. Once I received a letter from a non Muslim lady who read an article I wrote for the times, and it was quite a combative letter, you know, quite negative about you Muslims, right.
And I replied to her, and I think I've published it somewhere on on Facebook. And when I replied, she replied back saying, you know, you've really changed the way I was thinking about this. And he really put my heart to rest. And I think those things are really special, very special. But one of the things maybe because I've come late to academia, one of the things I get a lot of satisfaction from is writing an amazing paper. And my professor telling me that I've changed his mind about something. I think, nothing beats that, especially because it's in Islamic law.
Sometimes we have non Muslim professors, and maybe they were looking at something in a particular way. I think you can't really overestimate or underestimate, right? The,
the value of being able to express yourself well, and learning to do that. And I think that's what you need does, right? teaches you how to express yourself properly. So if you're willing to speak the truth, and not just say what your professor would like to hear, or hate, and you you're willing to learn to express that really excellently. It's very satisfying to get a distinction and be told by your professor, that you made him a better scholar or helped him see something in a particular way. So yeah, I think that's been giving me the most satisfaction at the moment. I'm the law for that, but that's great. And Faria finally with you.
My career is still young, but I would say,
regarding a moment of accomplishment, I couldn't really say it. It's like a moment in time. But it's been humbling, incredibly rewarding developing the online tutoring startup I'm working on because she needs he started it. In March, he was sort of actually built off the back of community tuition, we should do an ISOC. And then we thought, like, you can't really go back to town. We can't go back and Trinity. So I don't know if you call it Trinity in Cambridge, but summertime.
So we thought, Okay, how can we support his children, and then it was then we thought, Oh, well, we can actually spoil a lot more than just the children in Oxford and expanding them and it helped and then expanding the tutor base, even it so it's been incredibly rewarding. We get messages from the parents and the families who feel really supported and feel like, because education is seriously one of the biggest losers this past year. So having that additional support, and having those interactions with the young children has
really made it all worth it humbler and shallow, we're hoping to grow and grow a lot more and expand, expand. So it's, it's it's a growing project, but it's hundreds, and one of the best stick adventures have sort of evolved upon say, inshallah, however, continues to grow. And we keep at it.
Thank you, oh, that was really, really interesting. And it's nice to have a bit of touch of positivity, and seeing that there are like good sides to all of this as well. We'd like to move on to the q&a now. So if anyone in the audience has a question, could you please turn on your cameras? If you're okay with that and ask a question. If not, you can directly message on the chat or directly message me or read. I want to start off with one simple question. Actually, a lot of you mentioned books that you either wrote or had read, if you could pop the names of those books in the chat. That would be really, really lovely. Because I think it's just so hard to find good Islamic
books to read. But does anyone have any questions?
What do you guys think I actually have a question. So Marina and Fatima, you both were as the scholars. First of all, I don't know if you remember, but I actually messaged you a long time ago asking you for interview advice, my Z's interview, and you're really, really helpful. But I just thought the disease Foundation, which fund masters if anyone doesn't know, is a really good organization for British Muslims. And I was wondering if any of you know of any other organizations that are good for helping access for Muslims, because I feel like there's a lot of diversity programs more targeted towards race. And if there's anything any of you can think of, for Muslims, I
think a lot of us would benefit, knowing that if not, maybe you could just tell us a bit more about your experiences as a scholars or anything like that.
So I mean, I can just speak briefly about the disease foundation. So they've had quite a few cohorts, I was in the 20 1718 cohort, which I think was about the second or third year that they were running. So in our year, there were only 10 of us, and you before that even less, and I think they were using their associates as a testing ground How well did these monster scholarships work? And what kind of model can we use? And then suddenly, a few years after I had done that program, they kind of said, boom, 100 scholarships, let's do it. So, you know, they're they're really pushing for getting a lot of talented young Muslim people to go into master's programs in different fields,
especially in public policy work and teaching and all those kinds of areas where we really need to an educated, articulate Muslim presence. So I really recommend that as the foundation for anyone who is interested in pursuing higher education after university just because not only do they, you know, provide your financial support, but they also really, really care about you as a
Individual they invest in you. Just earlier this evening, they had a zoom call for Aziz alumni for meeting, you know, prominent Muslim educationalist. And she had lots of advice for us about, you know, Muslims in, in Britain and education in modern days. And so yeah, I mean, in terms of other organizations, and nothing's coming to mind right now, but as its foundation definitely are feeling a huge niche. And even if you don't get specific, like funding from them, because although they're doing a lot of scholarships, it is competitive. And you can still very easily get advice from them. And, you know, there are a lot of networking links that you can make through contacting the right
sorts of people.
Oh, yeah. So with these Foundation, I think, I think recently, they've actually narrowed the number of subjects that they're
taking applications for. You can look on their website.
There's two other
ideas that come to mind. But they're very specific to I would say, people who are pursuing Islamic subjects, right. So one is gift of knowledge. Okay. Now, the ones I'm going to mention, they don't necessarily give full scholarships, but they are looking for people. Or they have said to me, that they're looking for students, so that they can just support them in some way in their journey, right. So, so there's gift of knowledge, I don't know what the link is, you're gonna have to Google that gift of knowledge and maybe look up, I don't know, Islamic scholarship or something. And there's also sought off, turn off scholarships. And turn off is the publisher, the book publisher,
you might have come across some of their books, you know, they publish classical kind of translations and things like that. And they are looking, they said to me, you know, if you know of any sisters who are looking to study Islam further, they would be, you know, happy to find a way to support them. So you can go to the draft publishers website, and I think somewhere on that website, there is,
you know, a link.
Thank you for that. I think a lot of us, especially because we're, some of us might be finishing off uni and stuff. So you might be thinking about masters. So it's good to hear about the scholarships. Does anyone have any questions? You can you can like private message me or read. So you don't have to, like, face every word and say your name or anything? And oh, I've got a question.
Okay, so Faria, and Marina, you both were on your respective AI socks, and it'd be interesting to hear about your experiences. And if you had any particular challenges.
Far Yeah, sorry. Do you want to go first?
Sure. So I just yesterday, I was president in actually, in my second year, I was the Islamic wellness office, I don't know if you have an equivalent role in the Cambridge eisah. Essentially, our responsibilities were organizing interfaith events, and discovery as long as we pull it out. And then, in my third year, I was president, which was interesting, because very, incredibly rewarding. And one of the best experiences
I've never had so far, it was incredibly educational, to be able to work with these people. And it really gives you a whole wealth of experiences that you will reflect and learn from for many years in the future. And so I think you're probably coming around election time at the moment. So I do encourage any freshers engineers to definitely consider rolling eyes. I just plug for committee for years.
it was, it was challenging. It was probably warding, but challenging. And I hadn't been assistant president for 810 years. I'm not exactly sure. But it had been a while. And so there were challenges that came with being the fastest in a while, in fact, that sort of cohort.
The main challenges which is trying to understand the brothers needs, because they're very bad at disease, you know, the divide between the brothers and sisters side.
And so in order to brothers tend to keep to themselves so that was a challenge. 100 we had a vice president had any outspoken brothers on our committee. So Chang sort of challenges were overcome over time. And I know it can be very daunting to
sort of assume leadership in a Muslim community like that one that I looked up to you more than anything, and I didn't see myself as being like a spiritual leader or anything like that for this community, but you should take
you should take comfort or
respecting the fact that people have instilled that trust in you, and you should use it well, and as long as you conduct yourself in a respectful manner, then that was respectful builds upon itself. And people will listen to your opinion and if any concerns you have about being like, how can I control the committee, that kind of thing? How can I look after brothers, when I don't really understand, I haven't really worked with them in the past, those sorts of things will like become easier over time, if as long as you develop those relationships, you don't try and create these huge barriers between them, between
between the different like sets of the community essentially. And so it is it these sorts of roles of leadership are challenging, and you're lots of things that were thrown your way that you aren't exactly prepared for that you should seek the guidance of previous members of the community, the ultimate senior members of the community, and also the show, if you have the regret very blessed, and Oxford and Cambridge to have this incredible show you're so you should make make the most of them to seek their guidance and advice. And it's no there's the idea of always lonely at the top. But factors like there are so many people you can look to for comfort and for guidance whenever you
need it, especially when you're navigating Islamic circles.
Thank you, I think that's really useful to hear, especially because a lot of us on the committee will have been on the committee and stuff. And Reena, if you could answer that question. And maybe also, something that I would like to ask about being on ISOC is that sometimes I'm a bit hesitant to put my icep role on an application because the Islamophobia you might face so I'm a bit more proactive about this sort of, then like things that don't really share my background like the Cambridge union or JCR or something, but talking about being part of like your religious society. Was that something that ever when you were applying for jobs or anything? Was that something that
you ever, like, held back a bit? Or were you quite open about that role? Because it's such a major role?
Sure, of course. So I'll just ask about first, because you just asked it, I think every single application that you make you end up tweaking that application, based on what is it that you're applying for, as in I've got multiple copies of my CV, from when I've applied to very different sorts of things. So for example, I might have applied for a role in a mosque to teach, or I might have applied for some kind of like copy editing, like a freelance position. And in those things, you bring in the different kinds of experiences that you had, sometimes you think, Oh, well, I was involved in this idea is that relevant, or I did this cause is that relevant. So it's always about
just trying to balance
the pros and cons of bringing in that experience, sometimes it may be appropriate to leave out that you're involved in it as long as you're not because you're thinking, Oh, I'm going to be discriminated against I'm, I'm not proud of my religion, or anything like that. But just because it's less relevant to the application, and you are all very accomplished young people, I'm sure that you'll have plenty to fill your CDs with. And so you shouldn't ever feel bad that sometimes you're feeling that you don't want to include that, even though it is significant. And as Faria was saying, it is a big responsibility being on a on a society committee, especially the Islamic Society,
because it is not just any society, it's kind of entwined with something so integral to us as people, our spirituality and faith, it's important. And I guess, in I think when I was the president of Cambridge, I saw there hadn't been a system before. And I just, I kind of took it in my stride. I didn't try to feel too daunted by that fact, I basically told myself that, look, I'm not here to be an imam of any sort. I'm not here to try to provide spiritual leadership for people this is most, it's mostly a logistical position, you're helping to manage a group of people who are putting on events who are inviting speakers who are providing their various services to students. And so when
you see it like that, and you employ those principles of servant leadership, you tell yourself, I'm just here to fulfill a role. People think that I'm the best person to do this at the moment. And that's what I'm doing.
Like, there was one incident where a brother was concerned about shorter meetings. And he said that, oh, you know, we need to make sure that in our Constitution, we include something about having a number of the genders present at each meeting to have a quorum of sisters present. And he said, Oh, it's because this is important, because it's about homework. And I and I said, What does that mean? I don't know what it means. So about seclusion, about having, you know, when you have men and women together, that you should have at least two women in each gathering, not just like five men and one woman present or whatever, right? And so I was clearly not the most like this is before I did any of
my Islamic Studies. I didn't know Arabic, I barely knew how to read the Quran that point. And so I was definitely not the most islamically knowledgeable person to be leading the ISOC. But it was it was there because you're doing a job for people and you shouldn't see yourself but Oh, because I'm on the ISO committee. I somehow have some importance. It's really just about you've been selected to give a service. So keeping that humility in mind is really important.
I think it's so useful to hear both of your stories especially because
You went to Oxford to say, you know what I thought dynamic can be like, I think Camille had a question. Come on, do you wanna ask that question? Um, it was, it was very similar to the one that asked before. And I just want to say thank you to everyone. And the words that you've said, there's definitely stuff that I agree with him. And I think it's important for students to know, we don't really have big conversations and, you know, topics like motherhood, I think it's something that we should be thinking about something that maybe we aren't thinking about that much.
I guess my question would be then, um, for someone who is relatively immature, which I guess I'd apply to most of our members, what would be something that would lead you to reaching?
I guess, a great degree of maturity? What what should be something that you should aim to develop yourself in? which can help you end up upon?
Is that question for me?
Yeah. So I would say, one of the things
I think traveling has been probably the one of the greatest maturing things for me, living in Egypt,
oh, my God, it was an experience. Okay. And I think,
travel, you know, one of the things that the scholars of Islam in the past, they really considered almost like a rite of passage, is traveling. So if you can, when you can, now, you know, the moment we're in the pandemic, but afterwards, the more you can travel, the more people you meet, the more you get a deep understanding of Muslim communities and even non Muslim communities.
You know, I think that really has a maturing
effect. And then I think, just going through the various stages of life, you know, I don't think anything is as maturing as becoming a parent, you know, there's like, the ultimate, and there's like life before you became a parent and life after you became a parent, right? Because for the first time, you're not number one in your life, you know. And so, I think, you know, facing each stage of life with courage, and with willingness, not delaying your childhood, your adolescence, your, you know, youth not delaying it too much, and keeping it kind of elongated as maybe society because sometimes encourages us to do and facing each stage, courageously, and with consultation of your
All of that, I think, has a maturing effect.
And keeping our elders close to us, as well. You know, our parents, Pamela, they've got one of the things everyone should do is interview their parents, you know, if you get a chance, sit down with you, I sat down with my dad last year, I said, Dad, I want to know everything I want to know about your childhood. And you know, it's really hard to get him to talk. Like, it's almost like that generation, you know, they just, they just want to keep it all
in themselves. But then I found out so much about myself through talking to him. And also, you kind of understand why they did certain things, you know.
So no matter who your parents are, give them the respect to kind of sit down with them and say, What was your childhood? Like? What was what happened to you when you were young? What are what's the advice that you'd like to leave in this world? And you learn so much from that.
So hope that helps.
That's great. Thank you, Mary. Um, did you want to ask a question?
I'm sorry. Um, first of all, I just want to say thank you to the panelists for taking the time today to be here with us, because has been very beneficial to him, like Avaya experiences, and I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say very grateful to have had this opportunity. And my question, kind of directly links that can also it's our immaturity and the fact that there's difference in expectations placed upon men and women in like everyday life, and there's different standards. And so in your professional academic workspaces, have you ever noticed that double standard and it's the
So how have you sort of dealt with that, like being treated differently from your male counterparts? How have you dealt with that?
Um, well, I would say that when I was doing my traditional Islamic Studies, there was always an expectation that
sisters are going to get married off soon. So let's give them a lighter version, you know, they've seen a light, you know, aqidah light, because they just need enough to teach the children and, you know, then they're going to get married, often, they'll be busy. So I guess it's just trying to overcome expectations that other people set for you by having your own internal compass of what you want to accomplish. Because, as we mentioned earlier, you know, not everyone's going to like what you do or not everyone's going to be supportive, necessarily. So when you have your own internal compass of what you want to accomplish, then you'll be more you'll be more firm in your intentions
and things like that. So I guess connecting your intention with our last panel dialer is a really strong way to do that. Because when we are swayed too much by what other people think things like this, then you're more likely to face trouble. Whereas if you have your own internal compass for what you're aiming for, then inshallah you can stay true to that path and not be
deterred by others inshallah.
Guys, this is Aqua here for that. We have two more questions, and where we should have stopped about five minutes ago. So I'm just going to quickly ask these questions. One can be answered both actually, both questions can be answered by Fatima and one can be for Fatima and Marina. So the first question is for Fatima? Where would you recommend that a sister should study if they want to study Islamic law abroad? Are there any issues regarding studying abroad? So for example, the need for her maharam? And also the other question was
for I guess, for Fatima, Marina, there, do you have either of you have the intention to write a tafsir having studied them in the past?
So, Fatima, would you like to go first?
So for studying Islamic law, land Guinea as in Sharia abroad?
I mean, there are there are options there are, you know, there's Egypt.
Of course, like your, your journey would start with Arabic. So you want to find somewhere where you can learn Arabic very well, that's going to be your first priority. And Egypt has quite a lot of Institute's where they teach classical Arabic. Remember that the Arabic that the street, people speak on the streets is not the same as the Quranic Arabic, and sometimes that confuses people. So what you want to do is actually start right now, if you really want to study Islam, don't wait to go to a Muslim country. There are so many institutes in Egypt that do online classes, very good I like Ivan have is I still have a tutor from Egypt, who I do have classes with just for compensation, or
for studying a particular book in Arabic. So you can start that right away, because that's something essential. But obviously, there's a lesser University, there are universities in Qatar.
I don't really know anyone who's managed to get into universities in Saudi Arabia, like all Korra.
So I guess that it's harder that you have to either both husband and wife both have to enter. I don't think you can do it by yourself.
And sometimes there are informal setups as well, right.
But what I would say is, in terms of, first of all, do your research really well try to find people who have been to that particular place and really get information from them.
When it comes to the macro issue,
regardless of whether you follow that opinion, I personally don't travel without a maharam.
But, you know, I know that some scholars do allow it if the journey is going to be saved. And you know, if somebody's going to meet you on either end and things like that, there's certain considerations
regardless of that, having lived in Egypt by myself,
even though I used to travel with my dad, or and then later on, nice to visit with my husband. And it's really hard living in those countries as a woman, you know, I think it's really hard living there as a man as well. And I got I got tricked, swindled.
I almost got married to somebody, you know, I mean, stuff happened. That, that you wish I could write a book about. And, and that happens, I would say it's it, women are more vulnerable, you know, in those places. And so regardless of whether,
you know, you believe it's allowed to travel with them or not,
I would always encourage sisters, to try to live in those types of places with somebody. So either with parents or with a sibling, or, you know, in the end, I was with a group of with a group of sisters who were older than me. And that was really good. But there's strength in having a man there with you, you know, in those settings, just to kind of get through the admin itself, you know?
So yeah, my advice would be if you can try to convince a brother or somebody in your family to go with you.
But in the meantime, don't stop you're seeking knowledge, you know, try to get into contact with institutes in those countries. And start now, you know,
exactly. Thank you so much for that. And Marina, did you want to answer the question about taxes? Or if it's not something you've thought of, you can just quickly say that?
Sure, so I'm not at all qualified to vote at all, as in the level I've studied, in terms of my Islamic Studies, there's kind of like, it's like the baby level of being introduced to all the various Islamic sciences, but then to be able to see it as like, notoriously one of the most difficult subjects because not because it's technically complicated, but because it's so weighty, if that if you're going to talk about what a laws book is saying, you have to have an extreme mastery of all the different areas of Islamic sciences, you know, you have to be an expert in Arabic, Arabic grammar, you know, Bella and, and kind of other kind of Arabic idiom what they used to mean by
certain things, and then Islamic law, because the rulings from the Quran and all of the historical aspects of things, you just have to have like a mastery really to be able to speak on the Quran. So the way I'm approaching my Islamic Studies is to cover my thunder in my individually, bigotry knowledge, and then to try and pick a niche. So I really want to tackle kind of the music issue within the Muslim community. And even though that doesn't make me necessarily like a scholar, in the traditional sense, I feel like that's
a more valuable contribution for me at this point in my life. inshallah.
Can I just add that, yeah, I think it's really important for all of us to think of things that haven't been done, you know, like, like, there are so many Tafseer books, and we trust the scholars of Islam, we don't have the narrative that certain people have that, you know, that the Quran has been only looked at from a male lens or something like this, right? We believe in the consensus of the scholars as being something from Allah. So I don't think
I think all of us have to identify where will our talents be used in the best way for our times. And for me, one of those areas is books for children.
And that's why I wrote my book, Khadija, because there was really hardly any books for girls that really gave them our Islamic role models in a compelling way written in a very kind of in like literature, you know, so I think all of us need to find something that is the need of our time that we're good at, and not just reinvent the wheel. Right.
Thank you for that. I think that's a really inspirational comment to make. Mohammed had a question. So Mohammed, would you like to ask it?
Just circle her again, to to all the panelists, I'm sure I could check with the sentiments of other people on the call. There's a lot of useful insights that on topics that I know about, but from a perspective, I've never considered, I've got a question for for Fatima. Based on one thing she she said earlier in the talk, which is about raising children to become half in court on
sort of what advice do you have to raise a child to go about that process, but I think almost more importantly, like to actually have a love of Quran while doing it. Because I can imagine, let's say speaking from my experiences when I was living as a designer when I was young, I was doing it well because my parents were telling me to do it rather than having an attachment to the Quran itself. So like how to how to get the attachment but then also go through the whole process.
Does that preparing for the question? And yeah, we I mean, part of having a vision for your life has got
To be a vision for the next generation as well, right? Because we're gonna be the parents of the next generation. So that's great that you're even thinking about these things. And we need fathers to be as engaged right?
In fatherhood, as we want mothers to be, right. So I think when it comes to the Quran, passion is infectious. You know, if you're passionate about something, you can't help but make your children passionate about that thing.
But if you just see something as a tick box exercise, then you're going to convey that as well. Right. So I think some things that helped, in my experience, were, that I felt very strongly that my son should know Arabic, as a language, because I didn't really like the experience as a young person reading the Quran, without understanding it, you know, for so many years, we just read and read without understanding until I went to Egypt. So and I remember the first time I understood a verse of the Quran, in Egypt, and I was in salah and, and I couldn't stop crying because it you know, it's such a powerful thing. So I think children are like sponges, they can learn languages, they can
learn so much, you know, so why why would we not try to empower them with Arabic from a young age. So I think that really helped my son learning Arabic alongside learning Quran, and then having those pauses and talking about what we're memorizing, you know, telling them the stories from the Quran, letting them understand certain words, and what the connotation is behind those words. And also having a community I think, especially with boys, they really needed other boys who, you know, like, their gang, right? of people who really supported them, because often school isn't the place, if you if you're trying to go to a non Muslim school, they're not really going to get encouraged much from
that setting, in HIF. So they need to have another group of people, right, who do who do see the value in that, having parties, having rewards, all of that, I think, you know, all the things that a parent will do to motivate their child in any area, I think just apply that to the Quran.
And another thing is to visit to visit Muslim lands, you know, to keep our children connected with their heritage, because I think the thing that really connected me with the Quran was going to going on right as a child with my dad, and him telling us the story of sort of abusive, you know, in the nighttime during those times, and actually going up the mountain where profits and loss and and went to the cave. And so it wasn't just abstract, you know, it like it's real. I've been there. I've seen it.
I've tasted it. So I think all of those things that immersion, I think all helps.
Thank you. And I think that's a really great place to finish really positive and everything. And we have gone over about 15 minutes, I feel bad for everyone. So wishes are coming here for all of you coming. This has been really lovely. I think all of us have really found this a nice, rewarding distraction from work, but also like just something to remind us that work doesn't matter as much and we should be focused on religion. So thank you so much, and the books that you will send we're going to post those in the whatsapp group chats so all of you can take a look at them. But yes, so thank you so much for coming. Thank you to Sarah ish, Rosana and Marian for organizing this. They
put in a lot of work for this. And, yeah, just Asana alaikum