Channel: The Baba Ali Show
Special guest Yasmine Mogahed joins Baba Ali in discussing:
- the challenges of being a Muslim female public speaker
- balancing life, family, and being a da’ee
- the importance of female scholars
© No part of this transcript may be copied or referenced or transmitted in any way whatsoever. Transcripts are auto-generated and thus will be be inaccurate. We are working on a system to allow volunteers to edit transcripts in a controlled system.
verbally Show Episode 13 the challenges of being a Muslim female public speaker. This podcast has been brought to you by half our deen.com a Muslim marriage website designed for those who want to find that other half privately because the only people that should know you're looking to get married or people who are looking to get married. Try half our Deen today with 376,228 likes on her Facebook fan page 159,000 Twitter followers and over 1 million views on YouTube you asked me Mujahid has quickly become the most popular Muslim on the internet. It's already hard enough being a Muslim public figure but add to that that she's also a female then the test becomes even more challenging
because society puts your every action under the microscope. How hard is it to be yesterday with jarhead? Well, we're about to find out.
For cultural Muslims have confused the masses and speakers are forced to be politically correct.
Hey, man, why you're serious? This is just a podcast.
Sometimes I don't want to be verbally I just want to be Ali. And I think a lot of Muslim public figures are often behind the microphone feel the same way. I remember many years ago, I was attending a wedding and people started recognizing me. Pretty soon a bunch of people were walking up to my table wanting to take pictures and get autographs. I felt so bad because I felt like I was becoming a distraction at the wedding. But the bride and groom were good sports about it. In fact, the bride at that wedding was none other than yesterday Mujahid My guest today is actually yesterday Mujahid and she needs no introduction, but I'll give one to her. Anyways, she received her
bachelor's degree in psychology and her master's in Journalism and Mass Communications. She also taught Islamic Studies and serve as a youth coordinator. She's currently an instructor for a magnet Institute, A writer for The Huffington Post and international speaker and author where she focuses most of her work on spiritual and personal development. It's not uncommon to have an event sold out just because her name is on the flyer. So many women will come to the event because her talks have made a real difference in their lives. If I had to describe you asked me Mujahid in one word, it would be hope. Her inspirational messages on Facebook are contagious and shared all around the
world. Interesting enough, it's very hard to find a Muslim sister that doesn't like her. And that says a lot about her and her character. But there is a flip side of being a Muslim public speaker, and that is having the whole world paying attention to your personal life. Well, today, Yasin vagi is going to join us and going to tell us some of the challenges of being a Muslim, a female, and a public speaker. Welcome to the Bob Marley show. Assalamualaikum balakrishna. You know, one of the big misconceptions out there is that your book, your talks, and your lectures are gender specific, but they're not. And even I, myself am guilty of that, because I didn't know any better. And even in
the introduction, if you listen to it, it sounds like it's very gender specific. Because a lot of sisters come to your events. Can you tell us where that misconception comes from? Well, that I think that there is this general misconception that if a woman is speaking, then only other women can benefit from her. And I think that that's kind of just the general idea. This is sort of like, Oh, she's a woman. So therefore the people who she's speaking to are other women. And while I think there's absolutely nothing wrong with having a target audience of other women, in my case, it is actually isn't the case where my target audience is just other women. My message is actually very
universal, and it's not gender specific. And so one of the things that I found, and I've heard from the like, in the feedback that both brothers and sisters benefited a lot from the lecture. So I think one of the I mean, I don't know what what I would call it, but I do think it is a general assumption is that, you know, since I'm a woman that it would be other only other women who would really benefit but that that really hasn't been the case and from the law. And I think it is a misconception because people assume that okay, if the females are going to go and talk, they're probably talking about his job or something to do with like 50 issues during the menstrual cycle,
and we guys don't.
And interesting enough, I was listened to one of your old podcasts. And that's actually one things I was looking at before I actually started my podcast. I was seeing what other Muslims have done and yours was very, very good Hamza, like the one you did, Muslim Central audio carries it for all the listeners who are listening, you can listen to many of us means lectures and talks, they are on iTunes, if you just type in her name, you should be able to find it. And the last one I listened to was what to expect after your wedding. And that was very interesting. And you take those live calls was that difficult, or was that? What was that like? Well, you know, I think that as a public
speaker, you just have to get
You stood up because you take live questions in your lectures. And, you know, it's just something that you kind of learn to do. So I mean, I think I got used to having to take those live questions anyways in my talk, so it wasn't much different to take the live calls and most of the time, I'm able to, you know, kind of, kind of wade through them. I will say this, you know, since this is the body show, sometimes, sometimes it's very hard not to laugh.
sometimes, very hard, but I will say that I am almost 100% of the time very successful at not laughing. All that one time, there was only one time I literally could not keep myself from laughing Oh, you have to share a story.
Oh, God, okay. It was a question that I got in one of my lectures. She's still laughing.
Question was so creative and so hilarious. I literally had to laugh for a while for it could even address the question, which is horrible, because I never do that. I've heard it yet. Yeah. So the dilemma of the traveler is always answered, we know that you know, the dog, the traveler is most of the jab. But what about if a woman travels without her mom is hurt, so I filled in to be answered?
Like, I can't even believe where this question came from. But just so many things are just like even the idea, just kind of the way that we take every single rigid and literal even idea of a woman traveling without her mom and the idea of like the difference of a scholarly opinion. But then just to think that God wouldn't answer our two at the answer I gave to her after I was able to compose myself. The answer that I gave was, even the law of shape on was ample. Like, I think probably He's worse than a woman.
Even if that was, even if that was how, like, even if you follow the opinion, that's not allowed, you know, check on stores. So yeah, so that's kind of the idea of just the way that we think that was probably the only time I had a little bit of difficulty composing.
Okay, so you officially last on the above Alisha.
I'm sorry, I couldn't finish. And she's talking to a woman who travels all over the world. So it's just the whole thing was just very strange.
It's not easy being a Muslim public speaker, and it's probably even more difficult being a female. What's one of the challenges you face being a female Muslim public speaker? Well, I would say I mean, there's, there's different aspects to this question. It's a good question. There is the aspect of being a public speaker being in the public eye. And then there's the added benefit of being a woman. I think that in terms of being a woman, obviously, there are those who feel that, you know, women should not be in the public sphere. And I will say this, we are extremely blessed in the United States. I mean, I have traveled to different countries. And I can say that there is some of
that in the US, I've had almost no issue in regards to having restrictions from me as a woman, you know, in terms of my speaking, there's definitely places that I have traveled, where it wasn't exactly the same, you know, the culture is a little different in some parts of the UK, for example.
But in general, like a story's coming up, oh, god, oh, god, you don't even want to Oh, yes, I do. Live in your shoes. So like, I can show you one of my stories, because living in my world is so different as like a male public speaker, but yours is probably a whole different. Mine is a bit different. But you know, in terms of that, like, I will say that here and there. There's these kinds of like comical type things that come up. But for the most part, I will I mean, I do have to be fair, for the most part attended into like, like electronic data has facilitated this matter. Even my class when I started my unmethylated class. At first, we were trying to decide whether it was
going to be only offered for women, or if it was going to be open to anyone who want to take the class. And I'm doing that, like, I really think we made the right decision. And from the very beginning, it was open to both brothers and sisters. It's very important that we set an example that, you know, we have a long tradition of female teachers of women scholars, and if we're gonna take that legacy away, this is our legacy. And, you know, Subhanallah, there's one scholar in the UK, who has studied and researched the female scholars since the time of the Prophet syslinux, and has written over 55 plus volumes in Oxford library all about the female scholars since the time of
the Prophet. And really what he found in his research is, this isn't something new, you know, they want to say that this is devout. Like, I saw this one meme that someone made of me, it was really, really funny. But basically, it was like a picture of me. And then they have like, wipes off my face. You know, cuz we can't show on the face, of course. And then like at the top, it said something about a hidden beta or something like that. This is like, this is like an innovation, like having a woman teacher isn't enough. It's not an innovation. It's not something new. This is actually going back to the tradition. This is actually our legacy. This is our authentic legacy. You
know, the people
Thinking that way, are actually the ones thinking in a backwards way, even more backwards than 1400 years ago, because we're together years ago, we had female teachers, and ever since then that's been our legacy until very recently, where we've lost a big part of that legacy.
Yeah, look at how many heads came from Asia.
much information we learned from her, and how much would it be, would have been lost? If we didn't take what we learned from her from generation to generation to generation? Absolutely, and can't count the sisters? No, it's true and not only hurt because a lot of people will say, Well, she she was told, you know, to be behind the veil, and, and there's a whole discussion about what that meant, and what in the different rules for the profit wise economy. But not only her, I mean, even beyond her, and ever since, from the time of it all up until very recently, there is a long history of teachers and teachers who were teachers, and some of our greatest scholars like didn't associate
me and didn't pay me and they have been teachers. For some reason. It's not common knowledge. And there's this hijacking of the discourse about it, but it's actually not grounded in history. It's just not grounded in the sources. It's, it's kind of like the people with the loudest roar, you know that he must be right? Because they scream the loudest doesn't mean they're actually correct. So that's very true. We learned that by watching the crazy people on TV that claim to represent the rest of us. So Exactly. So you're right, it is a struggle. I mean, to be honest, I think more of the struggle that I face isn't so much being a woman, but more just being a public speaker. And being a
public figure absolutely comes with its own set of struggles, one of which I was actually just reflecting on realizing how I just literally on my flight back, I had a crazy experience on Sunday, I actually got stuck in the airport overnight because of the snowstorm. And so it was a really, really crazy flight back my shoes, were killing me ended up having one point just to walk around in my socks in O'Hare. I mean, it was just the whole thing was really, really interesting.
With your socks, I was I was
you're obviously not following my Facebook, I posted a status. But I'll tell you a strange story that happened to me. I mean, I was going through TSA in Canada nuts. Yes, I was going to their security, their border control security. And they said, Hey, aren't you Baba Ali? I'm like, Yeah. Can I take a picture? With their border control? Security? I'm like, is this a trick? Okay, sure. And then all these other people come around, hey, I am taking picture with like a bunch of border control people. And I'm in the middle, which is awkward smile. And then I cross over the border of Canada. And then the US people greet me with their type of greeting, please come with us security
questions. And then I'm sitting in a room by myself. I'm like, this is so bad. Cat is so cool.
I'm American citizen, you get a different kind of greeting, and
welcome to the USA. That's hilarious. So what do you do? Yes, me, like you're walking on your socks and your hair. It's just your cup of tea, you can take a picture with you and your socks.
It actually happened in Newark, someone came up to me. If I'm walking around in my socks that I put it on my Facebook, I'm like, that's it. I just, I can't walk in these boots anymore. I'm walking and I thought, Oh, no. And then they were canceling flights. And then they call me or you have to stay overnight, and we can't get you off flight until tomorrow at 10pm. And just like it started to become very surreal, like the whole experience. And I started to think about the process. I sent him up like,
look at me, like, like, I'm like going through this. And it's just so hard. And you don't imagine what he went through, you know, and
But anyway, we learned a lot. Oh, I've had a lot of realizations on that flight that just about the challenges of being a public figure. And a lot of it actually isn't what I imagined it would be what did you imagine it would be? When I say that? I mean that the challenges are not what most people would imagine the challenges to be, I think, at least for me, personally, I mean, there's the obvious ones, you know, the challenges of having to sacrifice, you know, your time and good travel and that kind of thing. But there's something else actually spiritually that I realized, is one of the challenges that I wasn't aware of, I told myself, I really need to start to be aware of this
particular spiritual challenge. And that is that I think that there's this myth, right, that that Islamic work is spiritually filling, when in fact, it's spiritually depleting. And I'll explain what I mean by that. We think that we gain our fuel from our work from our seeking from our stomach work from my activism, when in fact, it's actually depleting of our fuel, and that the true fuel actually comes from my data, that fuel comes from our personal relationship with God with our, from our personal work from our worship, from our projects. And one of the mistakes that a lot of workers fall into is because of the rigorous schedule because of how busy you know we get and how much we
try to give to the community. We actually neglect our personal work. And I think that's one of the biggest mistakes that activists can make
immediates Actually, I feel the reason why we burnout. Yeah, I can totally relate to that because I travel quite a bit, because the whole Bali thing. And those long flights not only take a toll on you, but it's being away from family is being away from friends is being away from your normal routine. And it is exhausting. And that's just one part of it. The other challenge I also have is trying to renew my intention to keep my head straight, because shaytan can constantly whisper to you to try to take you away. Absolutely. And finally, the biggest biggest challenge for me is when the microphones in my hand, I'm trying to remember that everything I'm saying is being recorded. What
I'm saying is for the Hereafter, I'm going to be asked about these things. And I constantly question myself is what I'm saying accurate? Did I just exaggerate that? I'm going through this paranoia in my head when other people don't understand they're just in the audience. But as a public speaker, I realized I have responsibility. I'll also point out, I gave me this gift. But with that same gift comes in accountability.
Like how Yes, I mean, how do you balance that, and everything else in your life? So in terms of balance, I have found that honestly, like, the only way that we can really balance all the different roles, because it's it isn't only me, like, everyone has a lot of rules. It's like, you know, as women, you know, sometimes we're wives and mothers and daughters, and teachers and writers. And I mean, we have all of these different roles than men, it's the same, you know, they have all these different roles that they're balancing. And so I think it's not a unique issue or a unique question to me. But I really what I've found is that to balance all these roles is to have the proper focus.
Because once we lose focus of why it is that we're doing what we're doing, that's when things become scattered. And this is this is, of course, a very deep concept, which actually is mentioned in a hadith where the Prophet Platinum talks about difference between those who make this life their primary concern, and those who make the next slide, their primary concern. And in that study is he mentions that when a person makes dislikes, their primary concern, one of the consequences of that is that their matters become scattered all over this content. So she's very profound that your matters of this life becomes scattered when you focus on this life, which is like Whoa, it's like
mind blowing, but it's just, it's really true. And on the other hand, when he says that when you make the hereafter your primary concern, then the opposite happens. Alissa's, Jim, I love when the home runs at a loss, joins his affair alone manages and takes care of one's affairs and help you to be able to balancing. So really, the answer is that, how do I balance? Well, I don't balance a lot.
For me, if if I as long as I struggle, and of course, this is a lifelong struggle, as long as I hope to have the right intention and the right focus, as much as I can ask for guidance and ask for help constantly. That's the only way that one can even try to be able to balance the role or even to be successful in this life at all. You know, one of the biggest challenges I have of being in the spotlight sometimes, and maybe you can relate to this as well is that we live in a social media world where everything we say is being recorded, pictures are being taken. Sometimes something is taken out of context. And quickly, the mob comes after you they don't even give you the benefit of
doubt. Instead, they do the exact opposite and assume the worse. Right? Right. You ever experienced that as well? Or is it just me? Yeah, I mean, for me, I think if this idea that because I'm in the public eye, and because I'm in the public sphere, people start to believe that there's some sort of experts on your life, home that there's
that there's some sort of experts on you and your and your family and your life. And I just thought it was actually quite comical. Some of the comments that I got, personally, you know, as this like, this, like the fact that you read my 10 word statuses make you some sort of an expert to tell me what I should and shouldn't do with my life.
So I just found it to be very comical, and just, I don't know, we just we have this idea that we understand or that it's almost like we own our public figures, like they work for us, you know, and I think that that's actually a big problem. And it really makes us two issues that I've noticed with the public figure it you know, phenomenon in general. One is that there is this notion that a public figure isn't really human, is that the public figure is like, this symbol, you know, is it like, Is it like a post human like, like the rest of us mortals, but it's just just a symbol, right, a symbol of something. And so they're not really given the permission to be human. And they're not actually
given me the compassion that we're supposed to show this humanity because they're supposed to be perfect. They're supposed to be just the symbol of whatever it is that they you know, that you believe they symbolize. And I really, really think that's, that's extremely harmful. This one dimensional idea that we have, and what it actually leads to, is quite a lack of mercy. Quite a lack of mercy. I mean, it's like angry. Oh, it's horrible. I mean, it's just like you
Know you they have no room for mistakes? No, basically, you make one small mistake, it is put and magnified times 10. And the reality is, we're human beings and the same people who are criticizing us. They're making mistakes too. But they're not online. Oh, yeah. And they're allowed to make mistakes, no one's gonna copy and paste and spread their mistakes all around the world. rars do, right. And this is the idea that somehow if you're a public figure, then that means that before, it's like, there's this, almost like, there's this idea that there was this initiation before you became a public figure you've transformed into an angel. And then once you send the form into an
angel, only then you became a public figure. And it's like, what what, you know, like, I never had that issue. I'm still human, and everyone else is still human. It's the same idea. We put Gabby's in this like, right? It's like, Oh, she did that. And she's savvy, you know, it's like, well, she's still human dude. Like, chill out, you know, this is the same thing with the public figures. And the other problem is, there's this idea of entitlement, like you own the public figure, you know, like, you're working for me, it's like, I don't know, when's the last time you sent me a paycheck? Like, just this idea of?
Like, what do you mean, like, people getting super upset that you didn't answer the message, like, within 20 seconds? And it's like, I can't even think about checking your message, let alone answering it. But it's like, people are very sometimes very indignant, very angry, that you didn't answer their message. And it's just like,
even just those mannerisms, that that that the approach, sometimes these people, it's almost literally like it is you and these teachers work for those people. And they aren't coming through
this attitude of entitlement, and then this attitude of sort of, yeah, that these aren't humans, we own. We own you, you work for us, you know, we work for us. And you know, it's a cool idea that customer's always right, you know, it's like, No, it's just the customer. The problem is, like, Where's your next video? I've been waiting three days. For video, I'm like,
get your money back. If you're like, Well, wait a second, there's no money. Exactly. It's like, wait, wait, wait, why aren't you you know, coming through their customers. And that idea really has to change what the sheoak are doing. First, what the teachers are doing for us is providing a service and they are getting their blood, sweat and tears to provide it. And it really needs to be understood that Yeah, they're human. They're not No, they're not angels. They also need to eat sleep. And you know, like, right, I really think we need like that humanization movement, you know, of the of the public. You know, it's one of the things that's interesting about this podcast is that
a lot of the people who are speakers and they talk about certain subjects that come on this podcast and he talks about unique subjects which indirectly humanizes them right so we had episode was chef Yasser fit where he talks about joking in Islam. That's something that you don't normally hear from chef Yasser ID so yourself you're talking about being a Muslim public figure. This is not a normal topic you discuss? No, it shows that your human side that right yes means sometimes. She's yes me so she's not always gonna use Yes, me Mujahid sometimes she's very.
Yeah, yeah, I am Egyptian after all, I'm sorry, you can't deny my blood. So I want to bring up something that a lot of people have benefit from. And that's your book is called reclaim your heart. For those who are not familiar with a go to amazon.com. purchase this book, the book is amazing. Go look at the reviews, there's 114 reviews, and of the 114. There's 110 that are five stars. I know you can pay for that. That's how amazing it is. So it is the real deal. And can you tell us a little bit about the book for those who are not familiar with it? Sure. So this is a book that I wrote, it's actually kind of like a chronicle of my own journey, because it's a collection of my work over
a fan of about 10 years. And it's basically about the journey that we all have to take through this life in order to get back to God. And how is it that we can survive that journey because a lot of us drown in this journey. There's this analogy that I use in the book of Mmm hmm. Rosie himolla, that this life dunya is like an ocean, and that a lot of us, we drown in it. And the key is that we all have to cross this ocean in order to get to the other side. But how is it that we can cross and live and stay afloat in this ocean without becoming owned, by the way, and that's the whole concept of Reclaim Your heart is that we give our hearts to things we give our hearts to money we give our
hearts status, we give our hearts to things with different we give to other people. And when I say we give our hearts I mean that we allow these things to own us. Not that we love these things because love is part of our Deen In fact, the prophets I send them obviously loved his wife and his children and there's nothing wrong with having a career and there's nothing wrong with even having money. But the problem is when we allow our money to own up when we allow our career to own us
That's why we drowned that's why we drowned in our because these things are actually given to us as gifts upon Allah something that is a gift will become a prison if you allow it to own you instead of you owning it naturally the simple ideas just how can you do it? You know, how do we continue to live in this life without allowing this life to own? No Yes mean as I'm on amazon.com right now, these are the top reviews as showing it says the best book I've ever read. The next one says a must read for everyone. The next one says an exceptional account of self discovery. The next one says best book The next one says totally worth by with explanation Mars amazing as expected new
perspective hamdulillah Mashallah, I mean one review after another review after another review, and these are from both male and female and this is not again, yes means book. And just like our talks are not gender specific, but it's for everyone. So please go and benefit from it. JazakAllah fair. Yes. Me with that. I would like to thank all the listeners who've been listening to this podcast, you stayed all the way to the end and I'm going to give you a link to yesterday's book just in case you guys missed it. It will be on Bubba alley show.com Please tell your friends and family about this podcast just for everyone who's been listening go to iTunes, subscribe, leave me a review so I
can know what you're thinking. This is Bob Lee reminding just in case you've forgotten salaam aleikum wa rahmatullah.