There’s something I need the world to know: Islam is for the people, all the world’s people. It isn’t an “Eastern” religion for “Eastern” people. It’s a beautiful religion for everyone who feels pulled toward it. Regardless of what the rest of the world says, there is no hierarchy. Those aren’t my words. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said that.
All mankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab; white has no superiority over black, nor does a black have any superiority over white; [none have superiority over another] except by piety and good action. (Prophet Muhammad’s Last Sermon)
As a black Muslim, I can’t help but notice how we are rarely included in popular depictions of Islam in America. In fact, when most non-Muslim Americans think of Muslims, they think specifically and exclusively of Arabs. This would be understandable if blacks made up only a tiny fraction of American Muslims. This would be understandable if Islam had just recently found its way into black populations.
That’s not the case.
We been here. Some of the earliest Africans in America were Muslim, and we’re no small subset. Blacks make up anywhere from 20-30% of American Muslims (depending on who’s counting), and we’re the largest group (40%) of native-born Muslims in the country (Pew Research Center).
Given those numbers, you can easily see why people feel slighted when people of the African diaspora are continually left out of presentations of Islam in America.
So, instead of complain about it, I decided to do something about it. But let’s be clear. I have no intentions of feeding into the us/them dynamic. On ery’thing I love (threw that in just to show how serious I am), I have genuine love and respect for all my Muslim sisters of every race and nationality, One ummah, remember? I’m all about the we/and dynamic: WE are all Muslim AND we are all deserving of recognition.
With that said, I present to you (in no particular order) 45 + 1 of my beautiful, vibrant, intelligent, shining black Muslim sisters.
1. Yumnah Najah~ jewelry designer
Yumnah Najah launched her jewelry line, Yumnah Najah Designs, at a mere age of 17 in November of 2010. After graduating high school a year early so that she could be free to create, Yumnah spent the summer developing a line that could fuse her love of both painting and bold, bright accessories.
Her business grew quickly, and she has been featured on many style blogs and in print media, like Jet magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Lucky magazine to name a few.
Check her out on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest!
2. Shahidah Sharif~ community servant/entrepreneur
At a young age, Shahidah Sharif began working with organizations such as Muslim Youth of North America and Clara Mohammed School of South Florida; Oakland, CA; and Atlanta, GA. Shahidah has also worked with the Islamic Society of the University of Miami and United Youth Leadership Forum of the Bay Area,
She lived and studied for three years at the Abu Nour University in Damascus through the Mosque Cares Study Abroad Program. She currently serves on the Board of Sisters United in Human Service, Inc. She teaches for the Faith Institute of the Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam. She is also the co-founder and COO of Professional Hajj and Umrah Guides, LLC, organizing annual delegations with her husband for the Hajj (pilgrimage) to Makkah, Saudi Arabia.
Even after having her first child, she continued to go to organize and support the Hajj delegations. She currently resides with her husband Imam Sulaimaan Hamed, son Sultaan, and daughter Saaliha.
3. Dr. Nicole Maisha Monteiro~ psychologist/professor/researcher
Gaborone, Botswana, South Africa
Dr. Nicole Maisha Monteiro has been dubbed by many as the International Psychologist and the World Traveler. She is a mental health advocate who is passionate about raising awareness of mental illness and improving mental health treatment for under-served communities, including Muslims worldwide.
She has worked as a clinical psychologist in Washington, DC and New York, lived/worked in different countries( including Ethiopia, Grenada, Senegal, Bahrain, and Botswana), and presented her work in parts of Europe, Asia, and South America.
She founded CHAD - Center for Healing and Development, where she initially provided psychotherapy to couples and individuals. Now she offers consultation and training, conducts academic research, and writes about various aspects of mental health. She has been published in Sisters Magazine, and her article “More Than One,” was included in the International Museum of Women’s exhibit Muslima.
Check out her blog or follow her on Twitter!
4. Keziah Ridgeway~ teacher/mentor/writer/Muslimah fashion blogger
Keziah Ridgeway has a B.A. in History and is currently completing an M.Ed in Secondary Education/History. She is a passionate high school history teacher, mentor, speaker and writer with published works in Sister’s Magazine and Common Ground News.
Keziah is the creator of Philly Hijabis Killing It (phkidaily.com) and has appeared on the Huffington Post and Al Jazeera’s “The Stream” to discuss hijab fashion and other pertinent Muslim issues. In addition to Keziah’s professional pursuits, she is also a wife and mother of three (and a half).
5. Dr. Muslimah ‘Ali Najee-ullah~ The Fitness Doctor
Muslimah ‘Ali Najee-ullah, Ph.D.,combines her expertise in anatomy and neuroscience with the thrill of invigorating movement, into a health and wellness business, “Fit and Healthy You with Dr. ‘Ali.”
Since the inception of FNHY, Dr. ‘Ali has become a marathoner, finishing in the top 1/3 of over 3,000 runners in her inaugural marathon. She finished in the top half of several 5Ks and has completed a handful of half marathons –one while 5 months pregnant!
She is on her way to becoming an Iron Girl Triathlete, training for her first triathlon this summer. She lives with her husband, Tariq, and their daughters, Tanzeelah and Yusriyyah.
Check her out on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!
6. Umm Zakiyyah~ author/inspirational speaker
Daughter of American converts to Islam, Umm Zakiyyah is the internationally acclaimed author of the If I Should Speak trilogy and the novels Realities of Submission and Hearts We Lost. She is best known as one of the pioneers of Islamic fiction. She also writes under her birth name, Ruby Moore.
Her novels have been used in universities in America and abroad. In 2008, Umm Zakiyyah was awarded the Muslim Girls Unity Conference Distinguished Authors Award. In 2013 she was a speaker at TEDx in Riyadh.
She also does video reflections and blogs aimed at providing emotional and religious support to those in spiritual crisis, and she volunteers her time to help youth and homeless Muslim women.
Check her out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!
7. Tayyibah Taylor~ publisher/editor-in-chief
Tayyibah Taylor is the founding editor-in-chief and publisher of Azizah Magazine. Ms. Taylor has been named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Middle Eastern think tank The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies. She was recently featured in Huffington Post as one of the Ten American Muslim Women You Should Know.
She has appeared on CNN and other news media to comment on current affairs. She has also presented lectures on Islam and Muslim women at national and international conferences, and she has worked on several interfaith initiatives.
In Spring 2010, she was one of eight Muslims to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama in an Islam-Buddhism Common Ground event, and she was invited to the White House Iftar in August 2011. She has traveled to Belgium, Tajikistan and Afghanistan to speak about women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship, and to Jerusalem for studies.
8. Umm Juwayriyah~ author/teacher
West Springfield, MA
Maryam A. Sullivan (Umm Juwayriyah) is an award-winning poet, playwright, and author of the urban Islamic Fiction book The Size of a Mustard Seed and the children’s book Hind’s Hands ~ A Story About Autism. Mrs. Sullivan was also the 2009 Lorraine Hansberry Scholarship recipient for creative writing and the 2011 Harold Grinspoon Creative Entrepreneurial scholarship recipient as well.
Outside of the writing world, Mrs. Sullivan is a certified ESL teacher, operates her own online tutoring service that specializes in creating lesson plans for homeschooling families, and is the founder and creative director of Covered Girls Collective, a performing arts and media literacy group for immigrant Muslim girls in Western Massachusetts. She holds a bachelor’s degree with honors frome Bay Path College and master’s degree with honors from Regis University.
9. Angela Habeebullah~ lawyer/marriage mediator/health enthusiast/yoga instructor
Kansas City, MO
Angela Habeebullah is a family law and bankruptcy lawyer with a soft spot for families and health. She founded the non-profit Family Matters of KC in 1997, hoping that she could help to transform some of the troubled relationships in her community.
She has given marriage education workshops and seminars locally and nationally. She speaks on topics ranging from marital discord and effective communication to self esteem and self actualization. She is also a longstanding member of the Kansas City chapter of The League of Muslim Women.
In her free time, she teaches yoga, works out (a bit excessively), and makes healthy smoothies and recipes. She radiates positivity and encourages everyone to be their best, most authentic selves.
Last but not least, she’s my momma, yall!
Check her out on YouTube and Facebook!
10. Aja Black~ emcee/vocalist
Colorado Springs, CO
One half of the husband/wife hiphop duo The Reminders, New York-native Aja Black is a powerhouse of talent and radiant energy. Her love for her children and husband can be heard in every notes she sings.
Her music speaks to such relevant topics as gun violence, domestic violence, the importance of self love, bullying, friendship, family, ancestry, racism, injustice, and much more.
In a sea of nearly naked women singing about nothing, her presence and message stand out in a most beautiful way. To date, she and her husband, Big Samir, have released two albums: Recollect (2008) and Born Champions (2012).
Check her out on Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook!
11. Fatimah El-amin~ lawyer/judge
Fatima El-Amin, a distinguished W.D. Mohammed High School alumni, was recently appointed as a full judge of the DeKalb County Juvenile Court. El-Amin, who completed her undergraduate studies at Harvard University and her law degree at Emory University School of Law, was appointed by the superior court judges.
Let’s offer sincere dua for her as she plans to take the bench as judge at the end of April.
12. Ibtihaj Muhammad~ Professional fencer
New York, NY
Ibtijah Muhammad is best known for being the first Muslim woman to compete for the United States in international competition.She began fencing at the age of 17. She became interested in the sport because of the uniforms, which cover the entire body. It made it easy for her to maintain her modesty while competing.
She is currently ranked 2nd in the U.S. and has ranked as high as number 11 in the world. Muhammad’s career highlights include 2-time Senior World Medalist and 3-time USA National Champion.
In February 2012, Muhammad was called upon by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to serve on the U.S. Department of State’s Council to Empower Women and Girls Through Sports. As a sports ambassador, Muhammad engages audiences in the United States and overseas to elevate the global conversation on sports as a means of empowerment. She aims to inspire youth and increase the number of women and girls who are involved in sports.
13. Maisha Aziz~ lawyer/judge
Graduating high school at the young age of 16, Maisha Aziz has always been driven. While attending Rutgers, she organized the first Muslim Student Association on the campus and served as the president.
After graduating from Rutgers University School of Business, she went on to earn her juris doctorate from Temple University. She has been a lawyer since 2001, working in the real estate and estate planning sector. She has also worked as a professor at Rutgers and is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
In early 2014, she was elected chief judge of the Municipal Court of Lawnside. She is passionate about increasing women’s political involvement and has received many awards for her work.
14. Malika Bilal~ broadcast journalist
Malika Bilal is a broadcast journalist, currently working for Al Jazeera English. She is the co-host and digital producer of The Stream, based at the Al Jazeera English US broadcast center in Washington, D.C.
Bilal graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism. She also studied Arabic at the American University in Cairo. She is an inspiration for other Muslim journalists looking for their place in the public eye.
Check her out on Twitter!
15. Zarinah Al-Amin~author/entrepreneur/headwrapologist
Zarinah El-Amin Naeem is the author of Jihad of the Soul: Singlehood and the Search for Love in Muslim America. She uses public anthropology to reveal and address contemporary issues facing Muslims in America. She is an active member of the American Muslim community and the creator of the Beautifully Wrapped wall calendar and the Head Wrap Expo, which celebrates the global art of headwrapping. .
Check her out on Facebook and Twitter!
16. Jenneh Mariam Williams~ entrepreneur/clothing manufacturer
Jenneh Mariam Williams owns and operates an Islamic clothing company called Al-Mujalbaba (meaning “the one who wears the long dress” in Arabic). She is proud to manufacture her clothing locally in NYC.
Check out her blog!
17. Sumiyyah Rasheed~ author/entrepreneur/clothing designer/IT professional
Sumiyyah Rasheed is the author of No Money Startup: How To Start An Apparel Manufacturing Company and co-owner of the Atlanta-based production house SWH Apparel.
Recently, she stepped out from the shadows to showcase her design talents through her own brands, including the newly launched Ann-Nahari collection. Ann Nahari is an upscale ready-to-wear fashion and lingerie brand catering to the full-figured woman.
An expert in the Information Technology (IT) field, Sumiyyah has a roster of Fortune 500 clients that span the apparel and footwear manufacturing and distribution industries for whom she creates and implements complex software.
Recently, Ms. Rasheed launched a new venture that combines her passion for fashion and her business acumen with a series of webinars geared toward young designers.
Check her out on Facebook, YouTube, and Pinterest!
18. Iman Khalid~ teacher/world traveler
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Iman Khalid is an international educator who has worked for the last five years as an English teacher. She assists local high school girls in recognizing that the world needs to see them as much as they need to see the world. They exist, and they are a force to be reckoned with.
One of Iman’s greatest joys is traveling. She has visited over 22 countries. Throughout her travels, one life lesson she has run into again and again is, “Seek Allah in His creation and you will find a grand love. The breathtaking piece is when you realize you are immensely loved in return.”
19. Hadayai Majeed~ entrepreneur/community servant/social activist
Hadayai Majeed is an entrepreneur, business woman (profit and non-profit sector), wife, and mother of one adult son. She is one of the co-founders and present administrator of the Baitul Salaam Network, Inc., a 17-year-old domestic violence awareness organization headquartered in Stone Mountain, GA. The organization assists families struggling due being survivors of some form of domestic abuse. She is also very active in her local community in registering people to vote, hosting community forums on health care, politics and sex trafficking (summer 2014). She has been a practicing Muslim since December of 1992 and is married to Abdul H. Abdullah, a local Muslim business owner.
20. Jalila Otto~ Lawyer/Judge
Kansas City, MO
Jalila Otto recently appointed associate circuit judge in Jackson County. She has served as the chief trial assistant for the Jackson County prosecuting attorney’s office, where she supervised more than 20 criminal prosecutors and support staff. She also is cross-designated as a Special Assistant United States Attorney, permitting her to conduct criminal trials in both state and federal court.
In 2010, she joined the United States Attorney’s Office as a Special Assistant United States Attorney assigned to the narcotic and gang unit, focusing on violent crimes.
Otto has served as an adjunct professor at Metropolitan Community College and National American University. She obtained her law degree from the University of Missouri and her bachelor’s degree from Tulane University.
21. Jenny Triplett~ Relationship expert/author/speaker/radio co-host
Powder Springs. GA
One half of Ebony Magazine’s 2012 Couple of the Year, Jenny Triplet is surely leaving her imprint on the world. Along with her husband, she co-wrote Surviving Marriage in the 21st Century, an Amazon bestseller, and co-hosts Prisonworld Radio Hour. They own Dawah International, LLC, a multimedia company that publishes Prisonworld Magazine. She has appeared on Dr. Phil, Ricki Lake, CNN, Huffington Post, MSN, HLN, and many more.
Through her 20+ years of marriage, she works to show couples that happiness is attainable and obstacles are surmountable.
Check her out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube!
22. Jamillah Karim~ professor/author/faith leader/researcher
Jamillah Karim is the author of American Muslim Women: Negotiating Race, Class, and Gender Within the Ummah. The book explores the relationships and sometimes alliances between African-Americans and South Asian immigrants in Chicago and Atlanta. She is also co-author of Women of the Nation: Between Black Protest and Sunni Islam, which draws on oral histories and interviews with approximately 100 women across several cities to provide an overview of women’s historical contributions and their varied experiences of the Nation of Islam. She was recently chosen to be featured in Jet magazine as a young black faith leader.
Dr. Karim investigates what it means to negotiate religious sisterhood against America’s race and class hierarchies, and how those in the American Muslim community both construct and cross ethnic boundaries.
Dr. Karim is dedicated to the cause of her people and carrying on the legacy of her religious leader, Imam Warith Deem Mohammed.
Check out her blog!
Jamillah Karim: “Narratives of Black Muslim women” from Harvard Islamic Studies on Vimeo.
23. Precious Rasheedah Muhammad~ scholar/research/author
Hampton Roads, VA
Precious Rasheeda Muhammad is an author, award-winning speaker, historian, poetess, publisher, and researcher who educates people with diverse racial, religious and socio-economic backgrounds about the rich history of Islam in America and the diversity of the American Muslim experience. She is dedicated to “building community through history.”
She recently contributed her invaluable research to the U.S. Department of State’s new book, American Muslims, which takes an in-depth look at the cultures and histories of Muslims in America.
In the following photo, she is shown at the 2011 Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals (CAMP) conference with Fatima Shama of NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, Dr. Hussein Rashid, and playwright Wajahat Ali. She is a very accomplished yet humble person.
Check out her blog!
24. Angelina Dixon~ Muslim Girl Scout leader
Angelina Dixon has been troop leader for the Muslim Girl
Scouts for the past 5 years. Her service to the youth has
exposed them to various experiences such as camping,
archery, mock Hajj, annual lock-ins, horseback riding and
Angelina’s childhood was enriched through her
participation in Girl Scouts. Being the civic-minded,
community builder that she is, she decided to pay it forward
and provide the same experience for the Atlanta youth. Even in
the face of challenges, like limited resources or support, she
and her fellow troop mothers have contributed to the formation of young
Muslimahs’ lifelong friendships.
She has planted the seeds of civic responsibility in our youth today so that they may be sewn tomorrow!
25. Geneva Belcher-Johnson~ mother/grandmother/beautiful soul
Kansas City, MO
78 years ago, on January 13th, Geneva M. Belcher-Johnson was born in Little Rock, Arkansas to William (“Auto”) & Cassie Belcher. Geneva was the eldest of 15 children. After her high school graduation, Geneva moved to Kansas City and studied Cosmetology at Madame C.J. Walker Beauty School. She’s held her license for over 40 years and still serves clientele.
Geneva gave birth to 1 daughter, Bonita Lynn and had 4 sons: Gregory, Guy, Darrio (R.I.P.), & Karam. Also, she has 11 grandchildren: Asia, Ahmad, Saudia, Lynita, Leland, II, Cassie, Tamera, Myles, Niya, Lil’ Karam and Akil; & 4 great-grandchildren: Rondell, Jonathan, Kelise and Dara.
Geneva converted to Islam during the Civil Rights Movement. She is a faithful, Muslim woman who serves her community. Her motto: “Find God for yourself… Read your word and know your history!” She made Hajj in 2003 and currently attends Al-Haqq Islamic Center. She in farthest left in the photo.
26. Zara J~ author/publisher
After a successful two years in the Urban Fiction genre under an alias, author and entrepreneur Zara J. founded University Publications in 2013. Her debut Muslim Fiction novel, Dowry Divas, became an Amazon Bestseller within 24 hours of release.
Dowry Divas, is a realistic glimpse into a Muslim’s experience of seeking a spouse in the West. Zara J. prides herself on creating exciting, dramatic tales that non-Muslims can enjoy as well. Zara’s next novel, American Boy, is set to release late 2014.
University Publications is committed to delivering entertaining, relevant, and quality novels for the Muslim and non-Muslim community. Look for new releases for 2014!
Check her out on Twitter and Facebook!
27. Sakeena Rashid~ author/fashionista
Sakeena Rashid is a published freelance writer who has interviewed and researched numerous business experts, CEOs, and corporations and conveyed their stories to a global audience. She’s the author of the new e-book The Ultimate Guide to Hijab Style and Fashion: 100+ Resources At Your Fingertips.
Her style guide has earned praise from SISTERS magazine as an “excellent and thorough listing.” Sakeena is a former contributor to The Halal Journal magazine and president of the publishing company Deeni Girl Media. She aims to promote positive and diverse images of Muslim women in media.
Check her out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
28. Ayesha Lites~ social worker/domestic violence educator
Kansas City, MO
Ayesha Lites is a mother, grandmother, and social worker. She is currently employed with the Children’s Division of the State of Missouri. She received a bachelor’s of liberal arts from University of Missouri-Kansas City.
She is an advocate for intact families. She assesses families for safety, risk, and abuse. Outside of work, she collaborates with the Muslim community to address domestic violence in the community. She is passionate about addressing this issues head-on instead of pretending that it doesn’t exist among Muslims.
29. Nzinga Knight~ clothing designer
Nzinga Knight is a black American designer whose style mixes a sense of chic, born of her life as a native New Yorker, with the modesty inspired by her Muslim faith. She has received the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America Award and worked with fashion luminaries such as Marc Jacobs. Knight started her own fashion line, Nzinga Knight, in 2008 after graduating from the Pratt Institute School of Design in 2005.
Nzinga isn’t just a designer. She understands on a personal level how women of faith yearn for clothing that expresses who they are without compromising their dedication to the Creator. She uses her talents to serve her community by creating American high-end designer fashions that fill this need.
As she has been blessed, she knows how important it is to give back. She contributes to the fashion community by offering online classes about fashion design and fashion business courses. She also teaches fashion classes at Pratt Institute. She volunteers regularly, most recently through the youth mentoring program called Mecca to Manhattan. There, she mentors teenage girls and teaches them about fashion design basics.
She was recently selected as a member of Design Entrepreneurs NYC 2013, a targeted effort to support emerging talent. She is also the recipient of a CFDA award, DCA & NYFA grant and the winner of the PowerUP business plan competition sponsored by Citigroup.
Check her out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
30. April Abdul-BaaQee~ photographer
April Abdul-BaaQee is a wife and mother of four who has a deep passion for photography. She doesn’t just take photos; she captures stories. She believes a picture is like a bestselling novel that will inspire generations.
She believes every person owes it to themselves to find what they would do for free and make it a business, their life’s work. She has the loving support of her husband, to whom she has been married for 17 years.
31. Zaaynab Le’Von~ entrepreneur/loctician/spoken word artist
Zaaynab-Le’Von is founder & creatress of EYESEYEcreations, which is primarily an online shop and showcase of uniquely handmade and one-of-a-kind items, including crochet/knit pieces, clothing, eclectic adornments, and natural fragrance oils. Her creative skills (sewing, crocheting, knitting, jewelry forming) are all self-taught.
She is also a licensed braider, loctician, & self-dubbed Natural Hair Therapist who has established a mobile natural hair maintenance and styling service, where she is able to offer her skills to her clients in the comfort of their homes.
Recently, she accepted the position of human resources coordinator for YOU R A CREATOR, Inc. - a community development and organizing initiative.
In addition to these hats, she is also a devoted wife and current student of Islamic knowledge.
Her desire to awaken the spoken word artist that has been lying dormant within her has recently been reaffirmed, and she plans to produce spoken word videos in the near future.
Check her out on Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube!
32. Baiyina H. Khalil~ entrepreneur/executive director
As a graduate of the Miama Clara Muhammad School and the eldest child of parents who transitioned to Al-Islam through the Nation of Islam and, Baiyina has always had a strong sense of who she is and what she is capable of. Knowing exactly what she wanted, she married at the age of 19 and graduated with a degree in English education in 2002 from Florida State University.
She is dedicated to the development of our future leaders, preservation of our ummah, and continuation of the legacy of our ancestors. That can only be done through youth interaction, and that is where she directs her energy and light.
Baiyina is a teacher for the Seminole County Public Schools and founding board member of Sister with Aims in Serving Society
, Most notably, she is the co-founding executive director of Kamp Khalil, Inc
., a Muslim youth camp that provides an Islamic, educational, and fun environment to promote life, leadership, and legacy.
Outside of work, she loves exercising, making people laugh and feel at ease, eating, and being a mother to her son, Kamal, and daughter, Aasiyah. She is also proud to have reached her reached her 14th anniversary with her husband. May Allah bless them with many more!
33. Na’aisha “MalikahB” Austin~ writer/mentor/artist
From an early age, Na’aisha had panache when it comes to the arts and literature. She has been published in Azizah Magazine, and her photography has appeared in Hycide Magazine, Elegant Cloth, the companion book for the PBS Documentary New Muslim Cool, and more.
She operate a blog, The Vogue Life, which has gained international readership. It focuses on high fashion designs, styling tips, urban culture, music and photography.
By day, Na’aisha spends her week developing curriculum and mentoring lesson plans for her “lovely mentees,” as she calls them, in the Sister 2 Sister Mentoring Program at Warith Deen Mohammed High School. It focuses on empowerment, fitness, academics, peer-to-peer resolution, body image, spirituality, college preparation, and so much more.
For her seven years of service at the Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam, she was recently nominated for the Community Choice Awards and for the Michael Id’Deen Youth Service Award.
Additionally Na’aisha graduated from Morehouse School of Medicine’s Parent Peer Leaner Network, which focuses on mentorship, urban family education, brain development and improving literacy rates in African American children ages 0-5.
In addition to mentoring,she works as a prenatal, LDR, and postpartum recovery doula.
Check her out on Tumblr, and Twitter!
34. Shahidah Ahmad~ entrepreneur/educator
Shahidah Ahmad grew up in an environment that emphasized the study of G’d’s creation and how community life is directly connected to our obedience to and faith in G’d. Ms. Ahmad holds a bachelor’s of science in biology and a master’s of education in math and science.
Ms. Ahmad wears many hats as a Massachusetts certified teacher, home-educator, world traveler, entrepreneur and, most importantly, mother. Through her love of math and her time as a math teacher, she started the non-profit organization D.E.E.D.S. Inc (Developing enriching Educational Experiences through our Dedication to Service). Ms. Ahmad uses this organization as a tool to engage children and adults in family-based “out-of classroom” explorations that support and enhance their connection to G’d’s creation.
She is currently facilitating and writing integrated curriculum for The Seedling Book Club project and a Math Exploration series.
35. Ameena Matthews~ community activist
Mother and wife, Ameena Matthews has dedicated her life and career as
a community activist for peace building and social change. In 2006,
Ameena joined Ceasefire. In this capacity, she used her experience
and knowledge in her neighborhoods to seek out and build relationships
with troubled youth who are susceptible to the social norms of violence
that exist on the streets.
Due to her extraordinary work as a Senior Violence Interrupter, in 2009 Ameena became the subject of a national and international award-winning documentary The Interrupters. The documentary features Matthews as a riveting community activist while also showing her nurturing attributes.
Matthews later went on to start Pause for Peace, a program in inner city Chicago that focuses on changing the mindsets of inner city youth. The program includes spoken word, summer school (Young Scholars), summer camp, and counseling. The participants also volunteer weekly at her food pantry at Masjid Al-Hafeez.
Matthews has appeared on countless news affiliations around the world, including The Colbert Report. She received an Emmy for Outstanding Informational Programming for The Interrupters and was honored with the Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom From Fear Medal in 2013. She received both the TedX Heroes award, presented by Illinois Governor Quinn, and The Humanitarian Award on BET’s Black Girls Rock in 2013. She has received countless other awards as well.
Check her out on Twitter!
36. Zakiyah Hayes~ spoken word artist
“Fire” is the best way to describe Zakiyah. She writes poetry that comes from the heart and goes to the heart. She takes her audiences on a journey with her captivating tales of life experiences that
entertain young and mature audiences alike.
At the age of 23, Zakiyah left alcohol and drugs and turned to Islam, which saved her life. Awakened to a new reality and a deeper, wiser understanding of life, she felt the duty to share her struggles and triumphs with the world. Zakiyah believes in self-development through meditation, good behavior, kindness, humility, and obedience to the Creator.
Through spoken word, she conveys to others how they may overcome any obstacles to reach endless spiritual blessings and happiness. She has an unique ability to connect and meet with her audiences on their level of understanding.
Check her out on Twitter!
37. Aja Graydon~ recording artist
Aja Graydon is one half of the soulful husband/wife duo Kindred The Family Soul. She signed her first recording contrat at age 15, but things didn’t take off until years later she and her husband were discovered by Philly native Jill Scott. From there, they went on to release their first album Surrender to Love in 2003.
SInce then, her music and personality have touch hearts the world over. She and her husband decided to share their personal lives with their fans in their web realty series Six Is It.
Check her out on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube!
38. Dr. Jeanette Hablullah~ naturopath/author/teacher/Islamic educator
Dr. Jeanette Hablullah holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and French and has graduate credits in education and psychology. In 1992, she began to study wholistic healing under internationally known Dr. Cristina Brown in Indianapolis, Indiana. She then became certified in reflexology.
In 1995 she received a doctorate degree in naturopathy. She has gone on to complete other degrees and seminars in the field of natural healing. Dr. Hablullah has helped heal people (both physically and spiritually) all over the world.
She has also been active in Islamic work for more than 20 years. She has served as a teacher of Quran and Islamic Studies in schools in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana, including serving four years as principal of a weekend school in Indianapolis.
Dr.Hablullah has spoken to audiences in universities, churches, seminaries, corporate gatherings and high schools and for many years was Islamic advisor to Faces of Faith, an interfaith television show
airing locally in the Indianapolis area. She holds certificates in Arabic Language and is a hifz student (memorizing Quran). In January 2005, she was blessed to complete the journey of Hajj.
She is author of The Magnificent Organ and Orientation to Wholistic Thought. She holds a wealth of knowledge and has a beautiful and calming presence.
Last but not least, she’s my aunt, yall!
Check out her website!
39. Nadira Abdul Quddus~ fashion blogger/YouTuber/DIY’er/health & wellness enthusiast
Nadira Abdul Quddus is one half of the hijabi fashion duo Muslimah 2 Muslimah. Before YouTube grew into the platform it is today for Muslim women, Nadira (and her wonderful co-creator Najwa) made the type of down-to-earth, fun videos that Muslim women yearned for.
Today, Nadira continues to create videos offering tutorials on hijab styles, water-permeable nail polish, sewing, healthy eating, and more. She has encouraged countless Muslim women to be comfortable and confident in their modesty.
Check her out on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter!
40. Dr. Hawa Abdi, Dr. Amina Mohamed, and Dr. Deqo Mohamed~ doctors/social activists
Dr. Hawa Abdi is an OB/GYN (and a lawyer) who lives and works in Somalia with her daughters, also doctors, Dr. Amina Mohamed and Dr. Dr. Deqo Mohamed. In 1983, she opened a small clinic in Somalia. It became a refuge as Somalia devolved into civil war. Her one-room clinic has grown to encompass a hospital, a school and a refugee camp for some 90,000 women and children, she estimates, who were displaced by war.
Dr. Abdi is the founder and chairperson of the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation (DHAF), a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide support and relief to the women and children of Somalia while empowering Somalis to take command of their own future. In 2012, Dr. Abdi was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She also received the Women of Impact Award from the WITW Foundation, BET’s Social Humanitarian Award, and the John Jay Medal for Justice. She is also the author of Keeping Hope Alive: One Woman- 90,000 Lives Changed.
Check them out on Facebook and Twitter!
41. Mara Brock Akil~ screenwriter/producer
Los Angeles, CA
Mara Brock Akil first began her career in 1994 writing for the critically acclaimed but short-lived Fox series South Central. In 1999, she served as supervising producer and writer on The Jamie Foxx Show after writing for Moesha for four seasons. In 2000, Brock Akil created and executive produced (along with Kelsey Grammer) another UPN series Girlfriends. She also created and executive produced the spin-off series The Game. In 2012, Brock Akil became a producer and writer for BET’s Being Mary Jane.
Check her out on Twitter!
42. Naila Lymus~ clothing designer/entrepreneur
New York, NY
Nailah Lymus, a clothing and accessory designer since 2004, has nourished her deep hunger for all things fashion at the youthful age of seven. She uses her God-given talent to accentuate the natural allure of the woman. Being a self-taught designer equipped Ms. Lymus with all of the poise needed to showcase her gift amongst more seasoned designers.
As the owner of Underwraps Modeling Agency, she believes in the beauty of modesty and God consciousness. She has highlighted a market other designers didn’t even know existed. Lymus has hosted many fashion shows and has been a participant in NYC Fashion Week. Her designs have been covered in magazines and included in fashion shows in the US and abroad.
Check her out on Twitter!
43. Intisar Rabb~ professor/Islamic law scholar
Intisar A. Rabb is a professor of law at Harvard Law School and a director of its Islamic Legal Studies Program. She also holds an appointment as a professor of history at Harvard University and as a Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She previously served as an Associate Professor at NYU Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and at NYU Law School as visiting associate professor of Islamic Legal Studies at Harvard Law School, and as a member of the law faculty at Boston College Law School—where she taught courses in criminal law, legislation and theories of statutory interpretation, and Islamic law.
She has published on Islamic law in historical and modern contexts, including an edited volume, Law and Tradition in Classical Islamic Thought (with Michael Cook et al., Palgrave 2013), and numerous articles on Islamic constitutionalism, Islamic legal maxims, and the early history of Quranic text. She received a BA from Georgetown University, a JD from Yale Law School, and an MA and PhD from Princeton University. She has conducted research in Egypt, Iran, Syria, and elsewhere.
44. Mubarakah Ibrahim~ exercise coach/fatologist
New Haven, CT
Many remember Mubarakah Ibrahim (aka the Fit Muslimah) from her appearance on the Oprash show years ago. She shows Muslim women that they should take care of their bodies and not let their covering be an excuse for not cherishing their bodies.
She is the host and organizer of the Burmuda Fit Muslimah Summit (coming up on October 2014),a unique weekend get-away experience for Muslim women to be educated, motivated and re-invigorated to be proactive about their health and the health of their families and communities.
She hosts such programs as the 30 Minute Fat Burn and the Fit Muslimah 40 Challenge. She also offers in-home and studio training for women of all sizes and religions.
Check her out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!
45. Ndidi Okakpu~ Community Developer and Organizer, Social Entrepreneur
Ndidi Amatullah Okakpu is a community advocate dedicated to empowering the socio-economic welfare of the Ummah. She works for the Inner City Muslim Action Network, a community-based nonprofit that works for social justice, delivers a range of direct services, and cultivates the arts in urban communities.
Ndidi served directly for the late Imam W. Deen Mohammed in community organizing and as the coordinator of his Youth Dawah training program. She joined the first delegation he sent to study at Abu Nour Institute in Damascus, Syria under the late Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro.
Ms. Okakpu works closely in interfaith efforts with the Midwestern region of the Catholic organization, Focolare Movement, and served as the Muslim American delegate for their world conference in Castelgandolfo, Italy.
46. Zara~sweet soul/kind heart/budding chef/my daughter
Kansas City, MO
Zara will be starting kindergarten in the fall. She likes to make videos of herself talking about healthy food and natural hair. She also loves cooking eggs all by herself (i.e., with mommy’s supervision).
I couldn’t list all these wonderful, inspirational Muslim women without showing love to my little future Muslim woman.She inspires me in every way because I know she is watching my example.
I pray she grows to be as radiant as the women listed here. I pray she is always confident and grounded. I pray she always strives for excellence and makes wise decisions. I pray her light shines bright. I pray the ummah shine bright. I pray the world shines bright.
Ameen, ameen, ameen.
*Copyright notice: The above biographical sketches have been submitted by the honorees or collected from public websites.I am not the creator.