DALLAS – Young Muslim women in the United States must navigate through numerous complex societal and cultural situations.
Expectations on and assumptions about them can take a toll, and it is important that they have opportunities to develop skills to effectively deal with and support each other in overcoming challenges stemming from being young, female and Muslim in America.
Members of the student group Mu Delta Alpha: Muslimahs For Change hosted the First Annual Young Muslimah Summit 2017 to provide opportunities for young Muslim women aged 9-15 to support and empower each other.
Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir spoke to attendees about struggling with growing up Muslim and finding love for the faith while pursuing her dreams.
“Growing up, I can’t say that I really loved Islam,” Abdul-Qaadir, a Muslim American collegiate basketball player for the University of Memphis, said in the summit held during the weekend.
“As young Muslims, we don’t get to fall in love with our religion because it is taught to us early on. But something in your life is going to happen, when you are going to have to choose the deen [faith], or you are going to have to choose the dunya [life].
Abdul-Qaadir described to the audience how she ultimately found guidance and strength not to compromise her religion and became the country’s first Muslim woman to play college basketball in hijab.
“For so long, I kept asking Allah to help me make the best decision because I was so lost. I was at a point where I didn’t want to be Muslim; I didn’t want to wear hijab because I wanted to play basketball, but I remember praying and praying for so long, and actually feeling something in my heart. It was Allah putting Islam in my heart.”
Motivating Young Muslims
The summit offered activities and motivating Muslim women speakers to mentor and fortify the young women’s religious commitment.
Topics included bullying, self-esteem, peer pressure, social media, leadership, Muslimah excellence as well as health and wellness.
During the summit, journalist and fashion designer Eman Idil Bare talked to young Muslimahs about her educational and spiritual upbringing as well as facing racism and islamophobia in her profession.
Famous fitness expert Mubarakah Ibrahim conveyed the importance of a proper diet and exercise, and assistant district attorney Habon Y. Mohamed presented a workshop on internet safety.
Event volunteer Jahanara Hoque told About Islam some of the summit’s key messages she found interesting.
“When you struggle, remember to pray. When you’re in sujood, ask and keep asking Allah (swt) to guide you and give you what He believes is best for you.”
Parents expressed their appreciation for the summit on the Mu Delta Alpha’s Facebook page for the event.