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In Conversation With Khadeejah B – On Starting “The Black Muslim Girl”, Self Care as Ibadah and Creating Communities

by in Identity on 16th October, 2019

This week we interviewed Khadeejah, founder of the platform TBMG (The Black Muslim Girl platform) which aims to facilitate discussions filled with love, laughter, and growth. It’s specifically been set up by Khadeejah as a space to elevate, educate & liberate. We spoke to Khadeejah about her deen and work in the community.

“Our religion is just as visible as our blackness. They are both seen hand in hand. The women of Islam are the illustrations of Islam. We are the ones that are seen, the ones that are pointed at. We are the ones that are visible so we must protect our visibility”

Source Melanin Modesty

What does protect your visibility mean to you personally? How have you personally done this and what is the value in it?

“It was always important that I understood before anything, I am Muslim first. Which came with an obvious visibility as I wear the hijab, protecting my visibility meant that, no matter where I am, who I’m with that always come first, protecting my visibility does not just boil down to any physical abuse I may receive, but also verbal abuse and the microaggression received in spaces where people do not often look like me.

I’ve learned to protect my visibility by showing up as me, every day.

Ensuring people accept me for who I am and if it’s something that people are not willing to do, then I take myself away from the space, not because I do not feel comfortable or confident within myself, or because I’m seeking validation but because a space that does not respect me, and what I look like is not a space that deserves me. The value in it comes down to one thing and one thing only being able to stay true to myself no matter the adversity that may come with it. Staying true to myself and staying true to Allah is the best form of protection.”

Islam is integral to the work you do and having attended a halaqa you facilitated it’s clear that its been a part of your nurturing. How have your parents impacted your relationship with the deen?

“From young the deen wasn’t something that was forced upon me, it was something that I followed through not because I “understood” what it meant to be Muslim but because of the good manners and characters both my parents portrayed. The older I got the more I grew to understand the deen, my dad would make sure we read a hadith every night before we go to bed and prayed fajr together every morning following on with a small family halaqah session. It’s where I gained a lot of my knowledge in regards to the deen, I was given the opportunity to fall in love with it for myself, by myself and that’s something that I will always be grateful for, my parents planted a seed in my heart that they allowed me to grow and mature, alhamdulillah.”

You come from a family involved with the mosque, what have you learned about the community through it that you apply to TBMG?

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A huge congratulations to all the inspirational women that were awarded with the first TBMG Enhancement Awards! It’s important that we learn to celebrate ourselves first together just as much as we want everyone else to celebrate us. – Politics: @faduma_90 Sports: @zeealema Business: @sisters.in.business Social: @modestvisions Elite 4: @mem1990 The Niqab: @ukhtinislam – TBMG Most inspirational woman of the year : @fatimah.oa ! – May Allah continue to make it easy for all of them to continue to pave the way, inspire and take up space as Black Muslim Women, unapologetically! – And yes, Incase you were wondering we’re already on a look out for the next award so lets pull our socks up and get to work ! 😏

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“Community is a big, big thing for me, I grew up with a big one, although not many people within my community were Black Muslims if there’s one thing it’s taught me that I try my best to apply to TBMG…

…is love, we all need it, Allah has put it in place for us to give it and for us to receive it, it’s the greatest and purest gift you can give someone and as a community, in the midst of it all its all we have, when push comes to shove and we have to support each other, we do it because of the love that we have for one another.

The smallest act of love goes a long way, I find it hard not to smile when I grew up in a community where smiling at each other was normal, giving salaams is part of who we are or even seeing an aunty with so many bags and asking her if she needs help, that’s love. I just hope we can continue to show more of it. To love and to be loved is one of the core values that TBMG stand for.”

We often hear about people feeling lonely and not having access to the community, what advice or learnings would you share here? 

Create the space you long to be a part of, does not have to be big you start off small. That’s exactly what I did, also step out of your comfort zone there are a lot of community spaces that are always welcoming people with warm arms – step out.

However, if you have stepped out and realised none of the spaces you’ve stepped into do not actually accommodate exactly what you’re looking for, it doesn’t make any of the spaces less valuable it just means that maybe you should try creating your own table and invite people over.

Much of the work at TBMG centres around self and business development. What have you learned over the last year that has positively contributed to your growth?

“There’s so much joy in working with others that you trust, there’s always someone that can do something better than you and there’s always something you can do better than someone, you need that balance.

It’s one thing I’ve learned is that you can’t do everything alone, even if you can and you have the ability to – You shouldn’t.

Another very important life lesson that I’ve learned is to take breaks and not to stop, it’s important to take breaks, regroup, recharge and come back, sometimes we have this fear that if we take breaks we’re not going to achieve what we have in mind to achieve, forgetting that what’s meant for you will always meet you at the right time. Nature doesn’t rush but it’s always very much on time, you’ll be on time, on YOUR time. Lastly to take pride in what I do, I remember TBMG once being referred to as a “little thingy” I was asked “ how’s your little thingy going” and just as I was about to rattle on with how well it was going, I paused and realised I was about to answer to someone that chose not to see the value in TBMG, how you view yourself is how people will view you, so take pride in all that you. P.S: I then went on to act oblivious until they asked: “Hows TBMG doing ?”

How does the Quran feature in yourself development, I’ve seen how you approach your Quran learning and it’s beautiful Mash Allah, what advice would you give to someone who currently has no or little interaction with the Quran? Sometimes we separate deen and dunya…

“A reminder to myself first and foremost is a page a day helps to not keep you astray.

TRY! Allah loves a trying heart and its important that you start from somewhere, the same way you build a connection with your salah is the same way you should try and build a connection with the quran, there’s not a single book out there that can teach you what the quran can teach you, show you what the quran can show you and connect with you the way the quran can connect with you.

When we shop in Ikea, we use the manual provided to make sure we get it right, the Quran is your manual, if you want to get it right then make use of it.”

You mention that self-care is ibadah, when did you come to this understanding and how has it impacted your life daily and as a whole

A little over a year ago, when I realised that Allah has a right upon us but we also have a right upon ourselves, it’s our duty to look after what he has bestowed upon us, though the body is just a vessel for the soul temporarily, it’s still our duty to take care of it. The impact it’s had on me is, it’s made me more aware of the blessings that Allah has given me.

So often we think its “normal” to be able to see, hear, walk with both legs and swing our arms around, not taking into the fact that none of this is “normal” it’s not what we’re “meant” to have, in actual fact they are all blessings from Allah, so we must always give thanks for them.

We are always nurturing our relationship with Allah, what advice would you give to someone struggling now? What has worked for you?

Talk! To! Allah! 

He can hear you, sounds crazy to some, but I have conversations with Allah as if I was having a conversation with a friend, I express myself sometimes with words, sometimes with silence, sometimes with tears. Allah is the all-knowing so whatever form you used to express yourself to Allah with and converse with him. He’ll understand even when you don’t.

How does your deen impact the work you do and why should it? 

Deen for me is a way of life, I don’t fit deen around my lifestyle rather I fit my lifestyle around deen, so it impacts everything that I do as mentioned above, before anything else I’m Muslim first, which means I have to remind myself what that looks and feels likes.

For me, it’s always important to remember my core purpose of serving Allah.

The deen is beautiful, it’s a journey embrace it and walk in it, no matter what path you cross, what turning you take, the destination doesn’t change.

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Okay, finally ! Last announcement for the rest of the month 🤣! – We’re back with 30/30 the Black history month edition ! When we did the Ramadan edition the response we received was very, very overwhelming so we thought it was only right to bring it back again. Through out BHM we’ll be sharing with you the stories of different Black Muslim Women and Men on our story ! – Honouring our history and changing our future. 30/30 BHM edition is here to celebrate Black Muslims all over the globe and highlight some of the amazing work our brothers and sisters are doing. – To be involved as always send us a dm in sha Allah, we can’t wait hear and share your stories and share your greatness over the next 30 days! – #Reclaiminghistory

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Selina Bakkar

Selina Bakkar

Co-founder of Amaliah amongst many other roles. Selina is passionate about empowering those around her and just trying to be a better person. She loves looking after plants and a good cuppa because motherhood and running Amaliah.com is not for the faint hearted. She is also Co-founder to Aishah and Eesa and currently a one digit mother, Alhamdulilah. You will find her in the local charity shop, garden centre or park with her kids. Have a listen to the Amaliah Voices podcast. Link in bio peeps. To join the Amaliah Writer Community email me at [email protected]