Pride is often associated with in a negative way, at times in a reprehensible egotistical manner. But still it is the sort of feeling I have seeing the results of thousands upon thousands of hours of hard work put in by hundreds of Muslim women to create spaces like the Being ME conference.
Eight years in the making, the conference’s main goal is to encourage women in their self-development, to be their best.
Being ME supports women at all life stages – professionals, moms, singles, students, entrepreneurs, and they even offer activities for children while their mothers are in attendance.
But in the wake of the Christchurch shootings, of course, the conference could not continue with just its initial agenda. After all, Islamophobia was already on the table as one of the key challenges facing Muslim women living in the west.
Who are these Muslimah leaders?
Having so many skilled, experienced presenters coming together, it was easy for the organizers to quickly use this opportunity to create healing circles and tackle post-attack trauma, such as the one relating to the Christchurch shootings.
The healing circles were a perfect segue in that personal change; it was the key aspect of this year’s conference, focusing “on how you can change, adapt, and ultimately grow to be your best self.”
In addition to the healing circles – in which women and organizers were able to openly discuss their feelings and fears around Islamophobia, the Being ME also had a richly empowering schedule of presenters.
The first woman to serve as vice-president and then president of the Islamic Society of North America, Dr. Ingrid Mattson encouraged women to contribute to the betterment of their communities and society in her talk “Muslimah Change Maker: Change Impacts The World.”
A deep dive into personal psychology, “Battling Our Demons: Change is Within Me,” was the topic of psycho-educator and repeat presenter Dunia Shuaib.
A different point of view
The need to change oneself and the subsequent way this has a ripple effect to change the world was the subject of the final presenters panel: “Change ME, Change The World.” Among the participants on the panel was Zohra Sarwari, an author, publisher and entrepreneur.
Sarwari had a less-heard take on the deaths in New Zealand. Sarwari is a regular speaker at the Being ME conferences and this year planned to speak on homeschooling, as well as speaking on the panel “The Road Less Travelled: Change Needs Abandoning Sin.” Sarwari says that she had her initial reaction of sadness, her heart feeling affected by the deaths. Her feelings quickly changed: “Moments later I was jealous of these people – what did they do that they died in jummah, in wudu, in sujud? They died a good death. To have a good death, no one knows who will get that.”
“It didn’t make me afraid or terrified. ‘Ya Allah; I thought ‘make me go in sujud.’ These people were special and earned it. I wanted to know about them. What was their secret.”
Look who landed in TO!!! Our first speaker: @Zohra Sarwari is in ‘Da House…’ Comment below on some of your Fav…
Sarwari’s view of the deaths is not an easy one for every Muslim to embrace, but we must consider it. The Christchurch deaths were of the most honorable kind. We must remember to shift our fear away from possible traumas, and remember to fear sinning and Shaytan. To change one’s point of view from seeing things as traumatic to a blessing is one of the greatest ways in which we can empower ourselves.