This post is a guest article by author of Homebound, Humairah Jamil.
Salaam Dear Reader,
Back in March 2021, I attended an online author session featuring Na’ima B Robert organised by Wardah Books. As a fan of her works, I was excited to have the opportunity to listen to her insights and inspiration behind her latest book, Show Up: A Motivational Message for Muslim Women. It was an illuminating session and I was reminded to turn my challenges into opportunities and show up intentionally in every aspect of my life.
Na’ima expressed this powerful sentiment in her book: “How many times, when you think about your own experiences, particularly the challenging ones, have you focused on the difficulty and pain of the trial, rather than the strength and the resilience you showed?”
We learn about the story of Sayyidatina Khadijah (ra) who was a widow and a divorcee, but we know her more as a prominent businesswoman and a pillar of strength for our Prophet ﷺ. We learn about the story of Sayyidatina A’isha (ra) who married young, became a widow, and remained childless, but we know her more as a scholar, a teacher of the religion, and a beloved wife of our Prophet ﷺ.
We hear these stories and it reminds us that, yes, these inspiring women have their own set of struggles, but our gaze is on their traits of immense courage, loyalty and resilience. This makes me think about the power of perspective shift, of positively framing our own narrative, and using our voice to tell our stories that will empower ourselves and our circles of influence. We know that words hold the power to heal, and stories can help to build, support, and strengthen community.
As a reader and writer, I like to think of life as a book; a uniquely written story. Going through life is like flipping the pages of a perfectly written novel. We are all readers, reading our stories, one page at a time. We are all bound by a certain number of pages, with different beginnings, different endings, and different storylines. But ultimately we understand that only the Author knows what's going to happen next. Take comfort in the fact that the Writer knows best.
We just need to keep turning our own book, page by page – not with fear – but with anticipation, resolve, and hope for the adventures and lessons that await. We know that we will reach a denouement where all will be well. Keep trusting that we will overcome our challenges. Keep telling our own stories. For we will never know who would need to hear our experiences of struggle and success, and be inspired to live their own.
It is uplifting to see stories of inspiration coming from our own community of women. In this week’s release, we have the Young Women in Leadership Dialogue’s (YWILD) book, Unprecedented – To the Beat of Her Own Drum. This anthology was written by a team of 50 youth volunteers from the Mendaki Club. The book celebrates the lives of 20 young Malay/Muslim women who have achieved success in their own terms after weathering personal storms.
I have personally spoken with some of the wonderful women featured in this book and I have seen their amazing contributions to the community. It is inspiring to see role-model women using their voices to empower others. Now more than ever, in a time of distancing and disconnection, we certainly need more of us listening, lifting each other up, and connecting with one another through stories. These women remind us to show up and tell our success stories that focus not only on our challenges, but also on our strengths.
May we ever bloom where we are planted and show up in our respective journeys, and may we always empower each other to be the hero or heroine of our own stories.
With love and gratitude,
Pictures courtesy of Humairah Jamil.