Speaking your truth and telling your story as a Muslim in the media is not dependent on “breaking stereotypes”. Amina shares the secrets to her work as a storyteller, setting up your own brand (MuslimCreatvs) and what it means to speak up for yourself.
She also shares with us insights into motivation, authenticity and honesty as a content creator and standing up by standing out in your career.
Motivation is a scam. @ayymina_ #success #podcast #motivation #ShareDiversity
Probably the most controversial fight for a long time. After a rally of misused media attention, tribal followership and disrespectful communication, there have been many people who seem to have an opinion on UFC league and especially the two fighters Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor Mcgregor.
You might wonder, why we talk about this here. The context is easy: we are all brothers and sisters and despite our imperfections, we all can learn from each other.
What we can learn from the UFC fighter.
While a lot of people seem to have strong opinions on Khabib, his industry or his behaviour, here is what has to be said: There is a lot of things we can learn from this man, especially as women in the media space.
Disclaimer afterwards because ya´ll forget them anyways if I state them now.
Here are just a few things we want to acknowledge and thank Khabib for. These include specific things that we as influencers, micro-influencers or simply people in a social space can learn from him.
1) Remind people of Allah
We all (hopefully) have that rare friend where we know, “She reminds me of Allah”. We love that friend, and we get both peaceful and shaken when we see her because she reminds us of Allah. Of believing in Allah, of never forgetting Allah, of thanking Allah, or just of being more aware in everything we do of Allah. I truly hope you have that friend if not. May Allah provide you with many of this type, Ameen.
Many people, when they get famous, you see them saying usual words of remembrance as “Alhamdulillah” or “Inshallah” less. We can see it in Youtubers, Bloggers etc who often get famous by niche targeting the Muslim women with modest content and then go mainstream when the brand and follower attention grows. Not saying that is everyone, but we must admit those are more the rule than the exception.
Among athletes, however, we often see words of remembrance increasing. Not always, but often. We can see the connection between Serena Williams and “praising God” increasing especially in situations of triumph, and of course, we remember Muhammad Ali openly speaking of Allah in many of his fights (plus many other fighters as well). The explanation is not one-sided, but from an athletic viewpoint, we know that the bigger the challenge, the more your mind has to grow muscles while your body grows them.
Your mind is always strongest in the remembrance of Allah, in both defeat and triumph.
And remind, for indeed, the reminder benefits the believers.
So yes, we gotta speak about our influence now.
Media influencers in particular (we all know many of them). If you wanna be mainstream because you want to be, be it but not because your followers say you´re acting too Muslim. Where are the “Alhamdulillah”´s and “Thanks to Allah”? I can only hear, “Thanks to my followers” “Thanks to the people out there”. Nobody is reminded of where your success actually comes from because they are so focused on making their follower happy.
2) Do You
We, especially we women, are heavily criticised in the media. For the way we dress, speak, interact. And the issue is, we care too much. We care so much that we sometimes even don´t care enough. Confused? Well, hold up a moment.
We all see Muslim women going the route of feminism, sometimes moderate, often radical or just passive-aggressively. We do that because we are living in a world filled with idiots, and full of misogyny. But our reactions are often not better than those of the people who criticize our every action. We get passive aggressive, we get openly aggressive, we focus on “proving them wrong”, by arguing (with those who won´t listen anyway) or by blogging our hearts off about the injustice we are facing. What we don´t do is us. We are not doing what WE are inside.
قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم “ لاَ تَكُونُوا إِمَّعَةً تَقُولُونَ إِنْ أَحْسَنَ النَّاسُ أَحْسَنَّا وَإِنْ ظَلَمُوا ظَلَمْنَا وَلَكِنْ وَطِّنُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ إِنْ أَحْسَنَ النَّاسُ أَنْ تُحْسِنُوا وَإِنْ أَسَاءُوا فَلاَ تَظْلِمُوا ” .
Hudhaifah narrated that the Messenger of Allah said:
“Do not let yourselves be ‘yes-men’, saying: ‘If the people are good then we will be good, and if they are wrong then we will be wrong.’Rather, make up your own minds, if the people are good then you are good, and if they are evil, then do not behave unjustly.”
Reference : Jami` at-Tirmidhi 2007
If you are in the media, you will get criticism from everywhere. So DO YOU but DO YOU completely, without the outside influence. Have your opinion but don´t start trying to fit everyone’s mould; because, in the end, you won´t fit anyone´s.
That is just human nature, we want to belong. But how about belonging to our creator? That’s the only one our actions need to be depending on. This is what we can definitely learn from Khabib. He doesn´t care about Muslim Twitter or Racist Twitter or Drakes opinion. That guy just does his thing.
He goes out, get´s criticized to be a “rat” because he shows “fake respect”. How can you show fake respect anyways, by being respectful but not respecting your values? Well, if that’s the definition I´m showing fake respect to most of the people I have to interact in the workforce, in public spaces etc. As a visibly Muslim woman, you know what that is. Who cares?
It is narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: Islam initiated as something strange, and it would revert to its (old position) of being strange. so good tidings for the stranger.
Sahih Muslim 145
Why is Khabib so much himself? Because he knows, he wants to be in an industry which is “respectful” and to achieve that, he has to be a stranger.He has to show a certain amount of respect. He openly says he does not support the promotion of alcohol and the behaviour and words of his opponent, but at the same time, he doesn’t speak about him. He prefers to speak for himself.Don’t care about them, care about yourself. If you want to be successful, your energy can´t be wasted in the idiots that exist around you. Your energy is too much focused on doing you and living according to your values. We can´t be influenced by other peoples lack of values, don´t “refute” or start a Twitter rant.
You just have to trust.
Khabib knows he is in an industry that is full of haram. But he doesn’t care because he trusts, as long as he doesn´t promote or do haram himself, Allah is with him.
We need to apply this to our lives. You are studying law and your mentor is saying you´ll only get a job if you take off your hijab? TRUST. You are in the financial sector and they say you won´t make money cause all investment products are haram? TRUST. You believe in picking a righteous husband but they want to sell you ´Man don´t care anymore, just pick one who prays´. TRUST.
But tawakkul is not enough, you have to fight for it. Trust is not the only thing that will make your trust it’s keeping up with what you do, work hard. Work HARD.
4) WORK and know your limits.
We all know, we don´t need to say this to women, because to be honest, we are rather over-self-conscious about ourselves than over-confident. But often, in a bad way. We often don´t understand that in a situation, it´s not us who are weak, but it´s how much we can cope with until we break down.
At work, in uni, lifestyle and media, people have an opinion on you and your actions. They talk bad, they may even physically attack you. But you need to know your limits.
He knows his limits and he fights to the ultimate of those limits.
Not saying, we all have to start going to an MMA training right now, but we would all know our limits better if we´d known our physical limits better. You have to understand how strong you are to understand what can bring you down. What work can you take on and still be mentally sane? What people can you surround yourself with and still stick to your values? How much media can you consume and still hold on to your beliefs? Understand that there is a certain limit that you shouldn´t cross. Khabib didn´t respond to a fight before the fight. He knows his limits are the ring.
So we need to fight. Be the best in your industry, but know your limits. Be the best Youtuber, but know your limits, be the best lawyer but know your limits, be the best journalist but know your limits.
Have you seen the fight actually? For those who don’t want to watch it (out of understandable reasons): Khabib won.
Now, don´t get me wrong I am not comparing our situation in any bit to Khabibs, also because we all want to stay in our lane of taking female examples for ourselves. But I need to get this off my chest because we always act like there is definitely something wrong about this, apart from violence and the shady industry attention, the male dominance displayed and simply the lack of values amongst many fighters out there. We can´t ignore what we (especially as Muslim women) can learn from controversial situations.
Disclaimer: First of all, I would like to ask you to forgive me to put attention on such a topic which has already alerted so many brothers and sisters out there to talk in the worse way about the situation and people involved. Nobody is claiming to be a scholar on this platform, but lemme tell you two things: (1) As a “born Muslim” you might know many things about Islamic rulings and what is permissible or not, but please make sure you never feel you have all the knowledge. Nobody has. No Ghazali or Mufti Menk, we are all on a journey. May Allah bless all of the Sheikhs and Sheikhas, the people of knowledge that understand so much more than us and try to bring our attention to the lack of our judgement or understanding. However, I give you the privilege as Muslims who probably went to Madrasas teaching you fiqh since 5years old, that you have slightly more tolerance to Muslims who are not following the nor, but might shake up industries such as fashion, music or MMA. Yes, many don´t also but you get my point. I see Muslim brothers out there talking trash on scholars who criticise the sport because they are so understanding of liberal open-mindedness and all that. PLEASE: Speak your truth. but speak it with RESPECT. (2) As a revert, I acknowledge that (a) I have understanding of what kufars out there are doing, from a viewpoint of having lived that life, and (b) I judge heavily when I see Muslims act in spaces of kufars because of (a), I know what bad outcome these surroundings have. So yes, I am clearly biased. I also know that I think I was “guided” and believe that anyone who would compromise with kufar spaces doesn´t value the privilege of having the enlightenment of Islam. So when I see people in industries which are questionable, I admire Muslims who hold on to their values but at the same time, I wish to not see us represented everywhere, as I value us beyond those spaces. It’s a difficult place to be in. That is why I get inspired by people who hold on and represent their Islamic values and openly portray their Muslimness and I am still happy about scholars who make me understand what exactly is halal and what is haram. Because simply speaking, I didn´t convert with all the knowledge. I learned that critiquing hitting in the face and head, the awra of the man etc is a thing. But also, it makes me happy if you state the facts in a fiqhy way and not claim you are better because you are liberal and the sheikh don´t know anything about sports cause he has a big belly. Please make us reverts understand by speaking with MANNERS. So for ALL of us Muslims: we are not perfect. Don´t act like you are because you are somehow “open-minded but still Muslim”, don´t act like they are not because they have flaws and so they can´t give their opinion.
About the attack after the fight, you have to know the backstory of McGregors racism. Also, that’s some humility, if you fear the punishment of your father because you fought back after months of disrespectful, racist commentary and violent (out of the ring) attacks.
Disclaimer: This is a merely personal view of an individual life. None of this is supposed to reflect or exemplify women, reverts, Muslims or even Islam. Self-identification is not to be seen in relation to a group but merely in relation to oneself. One might share this identity but must not publicly announce its speciality or an imagined community created by such. The sharing or not-sharing of identity (with ethnic, cultural, spiritual, gender-specific, nation or whatever other forms of identification) is neither good nor bad but remains personal and private to oneself. The author is voicing personal opinions and rejects any generalization or speaking-for–ization but rather aims to shed light on one of many diverse stories of one of many diverse individuals in one (or more) of many diverse contexts. Also, the author tends to create grammatically incorrect words to clarify perceived phenomena, opinions or feelings. This blog might include discriminating terms which are emotionally loaded by a long history of oppression and suffrage. Do not read this if you get offended by the cruelty of ignorance. This is still a place for peace and love, the way we all strive to live out our purpose.
It is pure and clean when it falls down the earth. It washes off all the dirt of everything it touches. It wipes clean the impurity of the objects around it. And by the time it hits the ground, it has become dirty. Then it flows back from leaves to rivers and seas cleansing itself and raising up in the sky again. To then come back down in full purity.
Look at the revelation is that sense.
We have been given the Quran, the truth, and understanding and it has cleansed our human experience.
Now we bring this experience as pure and clean as it is to others around us whose hearts are not cleansed and their thoughts, mindsets, and beliefs might be full of burden. The dirt of society and power struggles, of the worshipping of money and status, likes, and followers. The experience that we are given has the power to clean hearts - ourselves first and then theirs. Whatever touches them and remains, cleanses a part of their being just as it has done it with ours.
Maybe they believe too that we are here to be kind to others, to respect our mothers and fathers, to give to the poor and to understand and be grateful about something that is more powerful than we are, maybe they even believe in a creator but they refuse to acknowledge to thank and praise him.
Whatever they take from the purity of understanding we bring, will wash them clean in some way, opening their hearts to the purity of intention and value of our existence.
But during all this time, outside energies, arguing or negativity, might already have put a burden on us in some way. It is tough to deal with people who don´t have the same values, whose most basic worldviews and attitudes are contrasting to yours.
Though I have to remember: never ´otherize´, never put yourself in a higher place, never think you are better than anyone around you. I have to remember: arrogance is ignorance. Being true to myself is what will help to understand the viewpoint of others, and although I never need to accept it, I need to respect their existence.
We never know, what others do in private. After discussions, after setbacks, after having to defend and explain yourself over an over again. At some point, we need to cleanse ourselves again. Cleanse ourselves from the prejudice, from the pessimism, from the discrimination from the ignorance of others. The ignorance of our values or our viewpoints.
I have the tools
But how do I do that? Do I do that even? Do I take time to ask Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala to relief the burden I feel daily? The burden of being a Muslim woman in a world that does not respect my values, decisions or even... mere physical existence? Do I ask for relief the burden just as the prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam did? While I am not saying we have the same burden as the Prophet (saw) did, I have to acknowledge that he has shown us, if we are burdened in some way (any, believe me, mental and emotional burden is secured for us as Muslim women in this environment), rather than ´victimizing´ ourselves and screaming "ignorance" and "Islamophobia", we can actually ask to be relieved of that pressure.
I can ask to cleanse my mind(set) again to go out with new energy, having the purest tools to set myself up and to stand up for our beliefs. I need to understand for myself: I have the tools. Imagine how you feel reciting just for 5 minutes, after a day full of discussions, comments about your opinions and appearance. Imagine just 5minutes.
Allah's word purifies. It washes off all the dirt of everything it touches.
Have We not expanded for you your breast? And We removed from you your burden, Which weighed down your back? And We exalted for you your reputation? Then, surely with hardship comes ease: Surely, with hardship comes ease, So when you have finished (with your immediate task), still strive hard, (then toil), And to your Lord turn (all) your attention.[Surah Al-Inshirah 94]
Q: What do you do to cleanse your mind from outside energy? Is there anything you go back to that eases your mind?
Disclaimer: This is a merely personal view of an individual life. None of this is supposed to reflect or exemplify women, reverts, Muslims or even Islam. Self-identification is not to be seen in relation to a group but merely in relation to oneself. One might share this identity but must not publicly announce its speciality or an imagined community created by such. The sharing or not-sharing of identity (with ethnic, cultural, spiritual, gender-specific, nation or whatever other forms of identification) is neither good nor bad but remains personal and private to oneself. The author is voicing personal opinions and rejects any generalization or speaking-for-ization but rather aims to shed light on one of many diverse stories of one of many diverse individuals in one (or more) of many diverse contexts. Also, the author tends to create grammatically incorrect words to clarify perceived phenomena, opinions or feelings. This blog might include discriminating terms which are emotionally loaded by a long history of oppression and suffrage. Do not read this if you get offended by the cruelty of ignorance.