At the age of 22, American Muslim Bushra Amiwala is making history for being the youngest Muslim to hold a public office in Skokie, Illinois, and the United States as a whole.
Amiwala is a member of Skokie School District 73.5 Board of Education; and she now holds the seat through April 2023.
Her first encounter with polls started when she ran for Cook County Board of Commissioners at the age of 19.
However, she did not make it at the time for some reasons.
“People always talked about how, ‘She’s the young Muslim woman’ or the ‘young Muslim teen running for office.’ With that, no one really knew my name – even in articles,” Amiwala told WTTW.
The young Muslim’s involvement in politics started when she joined various clubs and participated in debates at school.
“It wasn’t until I took an AP Government and Politics class my senior year of high school that I became really interested in politics.”
Prior to her run for office, Amiwala’s interest had always been in volunteering and nonprofit work.
“I was brought up with pretty strong Islamic principles. Charity giving is one of the pillars of Islam,” Amiwala said.
“Giving back to charity is something that I didn’t really have the financial means to do. So for me giving my time is where I was able to bridge that gap.”
Now, she hopes to be an empathetic American Muslim leader.
“Being a Muslim woman in the age after 9/11 and being hyperaware of the different ways some people are treated makes me a more empathetic leader in the world,” Amiwala said.
Amiwala might be the youngest, but there are other young Muslim women who have also made history by getting elected into the US high offices.
For instance, in November 2019, Safiya Khalid, at the age of 23, defeated a fellow Democrat. This made her the first Somali-American Muslim woman to win a seat on the Lewiston City Council.
Nadia Mohamed, also 23, won a seat in Minnesota’s St. Louis Park City Council. On the same day, Democrat Abrar Omeish, 24, clinched one of three vacant seats on the Fairfax County School Board.