“Mashallah; a life changing event! Met inspirational people! Loved every moment”,
“This was a fabulous event – never been to anything like this before!” and “A lot of barakah at the event!”
This was just some of the feedback from the third UK “Being-Me Sisters” conferences that were held in London and Manchester last weekend.
They were truly special events! Halal events just for sisters, focused on empowering Muslim women to keep their faith in today’s challenging climate.
The conferences were organized by sisters, run by sisters and with workshops and talks mainly delivered by sisters from both the UK and Canada.
But it wasn’t all serious; there were also pampering sessions to give them a well earned break, “Mummy and Me” children’s activities, a bazaar showing the talents and skills of some fabulous Islamic businesses run by sisters and even a fashion parade of day and evening wear abayas designed by two local businesses!
There was something for everyone; touching the interests and needs of sisters of all ages and cultures; professional women, mothers, housewives and students.
The first Being-Me sisters’ conference was launched by Mercy Mission in the UK three years ago. The brand was so successful that it has spread around the world and there are Being-Me conferences now being held in Canada, Malaysia, Australia and this year, for the first time, in Paris, bringing sisters from walks of life together to celebrate their Muslim sisterhood.
The Keynote speaker was Yahya Ibrahim, who is the Chaplain at Curtin University in Australia and also an instructor at AlKauthar Institute (the Mercy Mission educational arm). He gave a succinct talk in response the question often heard by those suffering trials: Why Me? Reminding us of the lessons we can take from the trials that the prophets went through, how they were supported by their companions and the benefits we can receive from our tests.
My best take away from his talk was his last sentence, he said:
“If a trial brings you closer to Allah, it is a blessing, if it takes you away from Him, it was a punishment.” So it’s down to us and how we respond to our trials!
Yahya Ibrahim also conducted a workshop that I sadly was unable to attend, on How to get married and stay married. The sisters who did attend felt it was one of the most practical workshops on marriage they had attended, as he gave great advice on how to test the character of a prospective groom. Sounds like a workshop to keep an eye out for!
There were two other international speakers at the conference, both from Canada; Taiymiyyah Zubair, the daughter of Farhat Hashmi and a teacher at her mother’s Al Huda School and Amal Albaz, a spoken word poet. Both of the sisters gave inspiring and very different inputs to the conference.
One of the most popular workshops of the weekend was the one that Taiymiyyah ran on making the Quran a daily habit. It was wonderful to know that so many sisters were vying to attend that workshop. The talks that Taiymiyyah gave later focused on the heart and how to keep it healthy. She said that the heart is fed by Dhikr (remembrance of Allah), the Quran and acts of worship and we should develop and improve our practice in these areas.
She then reminded us how the heart can be hardened and corrupted by excessive socialization, giving into desires such as having too much sleep and food and also if we are too attached to other than Allah. Despite being softly spoken, her eloquence and the power of her words gripped the audience.
Amal Albaz was the other international guest at the conference. She is a bright and lively Egyptian Canadian student, who I first heard of through her TED appearance. She is passionate about her poetry and through it delivers strong messages that touch the heart of sisters of all ages. She recited three powerful poems for us; Islam 101, Battlefield and Glow, all of which gave us food for thought.
There were three of us from the UK who spoke at Being-Me; Khafayah Abdulsalaam, founder of Ummuka who offers coaching and support for Moms, Saiyyidah Zaidi, founder of Working Muslim and myself who founded the SuperMuslimah Project. All three of us were initially trained as coaches by Muhammad Alshareef and have since gone on to develop different coaching services based on our own interests.
Khafayah, as a Mercy Mission volunteer and speaker, wore many hats during the day. Not only did she give a very powerful opening recitation of the Quran, she also presented an inspiring talk for the moms in the audience, sharing insights into Tarbiyyah (nurturing) children from the examples of the Prophets and her own studies and experience.
One of her main messages was that it is children’s job to push their parent’s buttons and it’s up to the parents to deal with the challenges and work out nurturing strategies to deal with their children. Khafayah’s last role was to conduct a very emotional fundraising for the National Zakat Foundation; the UK Zakat arm of Mercy Mission, when she encouraged the sisters to donate some amazing amounts of money and even a gold ring! May Allah reward them all!
Saiyyidah, as well as running an interactive workshop on setting up your own business; encouraging entrepreneurship among the sisters, gave an important talk. She reminded the sisters that, to succeed through faith, they need to take lessons from the story of Khadijah and the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them all) and the Biography of the Prophet. She said that success also needs a clear road map, to be backed by a sincere intention, have time invested on it wisely, personal development, a mentor or coach and most importantly, lots of dua!
My spot was more interactive than the others, as I was talking about how we as Muslim women can keep our faith, despite all the challenges we face from the media and our cultural practices, and raise our self esteem. I focused on ways we could overcome the diversions caused by the little voice that whispers in our ears; the waswasa (whispers) from Satan or our own nafs, and gave five tools that could be used to overcome it. The sisters left with a challenge to work on overcoming the waswasa that is stopping them move forward on something that would be beneficial.
This was the second Being-Me I had been invited to speak at and it was even bigger and better than last year with a wider variety of activities and speakers.
What I love about this particular conference is that it’s not just a cultural conference for Muslims, but that it focuses on faith and bringing sisters closer to Islam.
May Allah continue to enable the organizers to meet this goal!