I am currently serving as the Chief Operating Officer of Azizah Magazine, the award winning lifestyle magazine that provides a vehicle for the voices of Muslim American Women.
Who are you?
My maternal background is African-American and my paternal background is Caribbean-American. I identify with both ethnic backgrounds because they are distinctly different and I embrace them both with a deep sense of pride and admiration. I was born in Brooklyn New York, but raised all over the world. I grew up mostly in the United States but I have lived in Saudi Arabia, Sudan, The United Kingdom and Egypt, for most of my adolescent life. I graduated from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey with a Bachelor’s in history. I am currently serving as the Chief Operating Officer of Azizah Magazine, the award winning lifestyle magazine that provides a vehicle for the voices of Muslim American Women. My other passions are entrepreneurship and philanthropy.
What Ayah of the Quran do you hold close to your heart? Why?
“Nor sell the covenant with Allah for a miserable price, For with Allah is a prize …Far better for you if you only knew.” Al-Nahl (The Bees)
This ayat has always served as a reminder to me that my shahada is my covenant or agreement with the Creator to live my life in service to God and God alone, abiding by the Quran and the Sunnah that God has provided for me. I treasure this covenant and I feel deeply blessed to be a Muslim.
What Hadith do you wish more non-Muslims knew about? Why?
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh ) said: “Do you know what is better than charity and fasting and prayer? It is keeping peace and good relations between people, as quarrels and bad feelings destroy mankind.” (Muslims & Bukhari)
I wish more Muslims knew about this hadith because normally people place so much emphasis on the former, charity, fasting and prayer, that they often neglect the necessity to treat each other well, keep the peace, and settle disputes. I believe that disagreements are the tool of Satan to distract us from the ultimate goal and that is pleasing the Creator, and not feeding our egos.
1. What is your favorite book?
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein because it was the first book that I received as a child that taught me about generosity and being selfless for the people you love.
2. Who inspires/inspired you?
My grandparents. They set the tone in our family for the tradition of living a righteous life. They raised their children and grandchildren to be honest, upright, spiritual and responsible human beings. They taught us to always try to do the right thing no matter what obstacles we may encounter.
3. What is the best lesson your mother/mother figure taught you?
My mother passed on 2006, so I have had the chance to reflect on many memories of lessons learned from her life. The two most important lessons would be her selfless giving of her time, love and talents to everyone that she encountered. She also taught me how to endure life’s challenges by having faith, gratitude and dignity.
4. What advice would you give your 13 year old self?
Treasure everyday and live in the moment, because tomorrow is not promised. Tell the people that you care about that you love them and no matter what challenges you face now, things are not as bad as they seem.
5. What are your hopes for your daughter(s)?
I hope that they will always continue the legacy of spirituality and faith that his been embedded in our family tradition for generations. I hope that they will continue to trust God as the guiding force in their lives. That is the key to all of their success in this life and the hereafter.
6. What is the biggest trial you went through in your life and how has that changed you?
My biggest trial has also been my greatest triumph and that would be my mother’s passing. I was an adult but my youngest sibling was only 10. There was a lot of grief for all of us but especially my youngest sister. She asked to live with me, so I basically raised her in my household. Seeing her grow up to become a respectful, honest, righteous and intelligent young lady has been the greatest reward. I know my mother would be proud.
7. Any regrets? What’s something that you wish you’d thought about more before you did it?
I have no regrets. Every experience I have had in life has been ordained by the Creator. Period. Each life lesson has helped me to grow, I hope, into a better servant of the Creator. It has truly been a wonderful life so far.
8. How do you stay grounded in your work and/or spiritually grounded?
I stay grounded in my life’s work by creating a vision for where I see myself in the future. I hold onto that vision and let that motivate me to achieve certain goals. My spirituality is grounded by my deep connection to the Creator as the guiding force for achieving my goals.
9. How do you bring about real change?
Through patience, perseverance and prayer. Also by living your word, by being a good example. If I give advice, I try to abide by it in my own life. People can see these values actualized if one is consistent in her character. Finally, treat people as you would want to be treated.
10. What do you hope to be remembered for?
I was a good person that always trusted in God and was a grateful servant. “(It will be said to some) O, you serene soul! Come back to your Lord well-pleased (with Him) and well-pleasing (Him), So enter among My servants, And enter into My Garden.”
Surah 89, Fajr Verses 27-30.
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