Asma T. Uddin

I am a daughter, a wife, a mother of two – and also a lawyer and a writer and an editor!


Who are you?
I am a daughter, a wife, a mother of two – and also a lawyer and a writer and an editor!

Give us your favorite quote and tell us why it means so much to you:

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” – Excerpted from Letter to My Daughter, a book of essays (2009)

This quote captures precisely my take on life’s hardships. My goal is to always use tribulations as a way to make myself better – stronger, more spiritually refined – rather than let them break me down. And that’s a very conscious approach to hardships, something that doesn’t just happen without a plan.

Islamic Perspective:

What Ayah of the Quran do you hold close to your heart? Why

“They (your wives) are your garment [to protect your modesty] and you are a garment for them.” Quran 2:187

To me it reflects peace, tranquillity, intimacy, and gender equity.

What Hadith do you wish more non-Muslims knew about? Why?

All of the hadiths that emphasize the prized role of a mother, and remind believers that “paradise is at her feet.” I think those hadiths capture perfectly the selflessness and limitless love inherent in the act of mothering, and more people – not just non-Muslims – need to more fully appreciate the significance of mothers and parents generally.

The “Ten”:

1. What is your favorite book?
I love most anything by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, specifically “Love In the Time of Cholera.” I went to a workshop recently and was told that my writing reminded them of his writing. His writing must have an impact on way I think and write as a writer.

I’ve also recently discovered Ann Patchett. When I read her memoir, I felt like I could’ve written it (if my craft was so honed!). In between Patchett and Marquez, you will find me.

2. Who inspires/inspired you?
A wide range of people inspire me. Mostly, people who have accomplished tremendous spiritual feats such as Hifz (Quran memorization) or Tajweed. I’ve always found that somehow out-of-reach for myself, and so idealize it.

3. What is the best lesson your mother/mother figure taught you?
My mother taught a lot of things. In the age of Instagram and Pinterest, where we pour over presentation, admire well-plated meals and chic outfits put together craftily, I am reminded of my mother who taught me how to not just appreciate beauty but to also create it. Through my mother I learned how to think beyond mediocrity and envision something extraordinary.

4. What advice would you give your 13 year old self?
I would tell myself to let go of self-doubt. I was bold when I was young, but at 13 and ever since, grew incredibly self-conscious. I am sure that is an ailment not just of age, but also of my being female—always too hard on myself, internalizing societal messages of what is “right” or “possible” for female attainment. I think 13 is probably the age when I started allowing that external message to seep in. So my message to myself at 13 is to NOT let it in!

5. What are your hopes for your daughter and son?
I have a seven-year-old daughter and a two-year-old son. I want them both to be free of doubt and be confident of their abilities. But the most critical thing is to be respectful of others and to treat others well.

6. What is the biggest trial you went through in your life and how has that changed you?
My biggest trial has been my father’s passing when he was 56. He passed away a couple of months after my wedding, when I was just learning how to live apart from my family and be truly independent. The break that happened with my past, with my safety net, was altogether too hard. He was a symbol of strength and a source of support for the family and community, both Muslim and non-Muslim, and the impact of his death reverberated widely.

7. Any regrets? What’s something that you wish you’d thought about more before you did it?
I definitely have lots of regrets and most of them are rooted in my constant self-doubt. I sometimes don’t do things for fear that I will fail. I am trying to get past that now, as reflected in my return to creative writing, which I abandoned some time ago.

8. How do you stay grounded in your work and/or spiritually grounded?
I stay grounded because everything I am doing are things I am passionate about- being a mom, working for a non-profit, and running, which readers tell us has had a significant impact on their spiritual life – all positive, as far as we know!

9. How do you bring about real change?
I think reformers need to understand their audience, be open to the audience’s feedback and criticism. Reformers also need to approach their work without an agenda and in a quest for truth, and for what is right. I also think real change is often – though not always – incremental, and has to be done slowly, without pushing people too far outside their comfort zone.

10. What do you hope to be remembered for?
I hope to be remembered as someone who juggled many things but didn’t allow the juggling act to make her mediocre. I want to be great at one thing, whatever that may be.

Video from Asma about Muslim Women

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