I am a speaker at various events, corporations, universities, and schools, a diversity consultant for different companies, and a communication counselor for couples and families.
Who are you?
As-salamu Alaikum. My name is Suzy Ismail and I am currently a Visiting Professor at DeVry University in the Communication Department where I have been teaching since 2005. I am also the author of several books about relationships in Islam (When Muslim Marriage Fails, Modern Muslim Marriage, 9 to 5: Muslims in the Western Workplace, and others) and I teach Career Planning, Public Speaking, and Writing Workshop at a local high school. I serve as a director on several boards, commissions, and non-profit organizations and am the curriculum developer and lead instructor at the Center for Muslim life. Along with my teaching and writing, I am a speaker at various events, corporations, universities, and schools, a diversity consultant for different companies, and a communication counselor for couples and families. Finally, and most importantly, I am a daughter, a wife, and a mother, alhamdulillah.
Give us your favorite quote and tell us why it means so much to you:
There are lots of quotes that I love, but since I was recently reading some of Nelson Mandela’s thoughts, I’ll share one of my favorite quotes from him:
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
As a teacher, I feel very strongly about the power of education and the ability to change people’s perceptions at all ages just by educating them. There is so much we have yet to learn, but also so much that each of us could teach.
What Ayah of the Quran do you hold close to your heart? Why?
An ayah that is near to my heart is this ayah from Surat al-Kahf:
The meaning of this ayah is as follows:
“If the sea were ink for the words of my Lord, the sea would be exhausted before the words of my Lord were exhausted, even if We brought the like of it as a supplement.” (18:109) Words are very important to me and I love understanding the impact they can have on people. Keeping in mind that the words of the Quran are more powerful than any words that a human can come up with makes me realize the power of the words of Allah (swt) and how insignificant human words really are in the grand scheme of things.
What Hadith do you wish more non-Muslims knew about? Why?
“The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Charity is prescribed for each descendant of Adam every day the sun rises.” He was then asked: “From what do we give charity every day?” The Prophet answered: “The doors of goodness are many…enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one’s arms–all of these are charity prescribed for you.” He also said: “Your smile for your brother is charity.” – Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 3, Number 98
Islam makes it so easy for us to give in charity by way of being good to others. Even a smile carries with it reward. Why wouldn’t we do these simple things for others each day?
1. What is your favorite book?
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It’s a beautiful little book that captures the essence of destiny and how we can journey far in the hopes of realizing our personal legends when sometimes all we need is right at home.
2.Who inspires/inspired you?
All inspiration comes from the One who created us.
3. What is the best lesson that your mother taught you?
To be strong. To always be strong.
4. What advice would you give your 13 year-old self?
Life doesn’t always work out as you planned, roll with the punches and always maintain that sense of tawakkul. Allah (swt) is the best of all planners.
5. What are your hopes for your daughters and sons?
That they won’t feel limited by their surroundings or circumstances. That they will challenge their own fears and think outside the box. And that they will maintain their faith no matter what else is happening in their lives. I hope that they will stay strong and steadfast and no waver in their convictions since the principles of faith will guide them through thick and thin even after we are long gone.
6. What was the biggest trial you went through in life and how has that changed you?
I lost my first child in a late miscarriage and my second daughter, Jennah, was still-born. All through high school and college, I was a planner. It was a shock to me that even though I had planned and planned for the birth of my babies, it didn’t work out as I thought it would. When we buried our baby girl right after her birth, it really put life into perspective and made me realize how often we take the miracles of Allah (swt) such as childbirth for granted. It also made me appreciate my kids today even more.
7. Any regrets or things you wish you thought about before doing?
I never finished my Ph.D. even though I was very close to completion. I decided to delay my degree completion when the kids were young so that I wouldn’t miss out on that time with them when they were little. I didn’t realize how quickly the years would pass by and how the kids would continue to need me and I would need them. Alhamdullilah, I was blessed to still be able to work in my field and to be able to have that flexible schedule as the kids were growing up. Now that the kids are older and I am thinking of returning for my degree, I realize that I would have to start all over again in my studies. If I knew how hard it would be to study again ten years later, maybe I would have tried to wrap things up years ago when I was almost done.
8. How do you stay grounded in your work or spiritually grounded?
Never underestimate the power of prayer. Five times a day we have a reminder of our purpose on earth. Follow through with the prayer and you will definitely feel grounded and reminded of what’s most important in life.
9. How do you bring about real change?
I think each of us has the capacity to change others, to change ourselves, and to change the world. I don’t think it’s an overnight process. It’s the little things. A smile at someone who needs to see it. A kind word at the right moment. A thought shared without knowing how it might impact someone. Educating and motivating someone to do more. Advice given when sorely needed. These are the real factors of change.
10. What do you hope to be remembered for?
Our time on earth is so limited and really like a blink of an eye as compared to the akhirah. As the hadith states: The Prophet (salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “When a man dies, his deeds come to an end, except for three: A continuous charity, knowledge by which people derive benefit and a pious son who prays for him.” I just hope that these three items are things I can leave behind.
Message from Suzy:
More about Suzy: