Your Weekly Digest on What Muslim Women Are Talking About

Now Is the Time to Organise, a Letter to My Sisters

by in Identity on 13th December, 2019

Salaam sisters.

The worst has happened, but I wanted to write to you and encourage you to continue to keep the faith in a better future. Look, I know how you feel. I feel like I have been betrayed. I had faith in the people we share this tiny island with. I truly believed that we all knew we desperately need kinder politics to save lives in this country.

Voting for Labour felt like taking a leap from darkness into light – it was empowering; finding the strength to have such hope, such audacity to believe that things could change for the better. This morning was like waking up on a cold hard floor, knowing I leapt but not knowing how I ended up smashing into the ground.

In times like this, it is natural to feel powerless, vulnerable, unseen, not cared for by the rest of the nation. How could we not? But I don’t want to go into all the stats, all of the atrocities the Conservative party have committed in the nine years they have been in power. You have seen enough of that lately, and it will continue on in the media this week. It’s crushing to take in.

So on a day as dark as this, I want to remind you that it won’t always be this way. Hope is necessary to live, and the only thought keeping me strong today is that we still have it within ourselves to be our own heroes. I believe in my sisters and their futures. We are the future. Please remember that today.

As a Muslim woman born in Britain, society has never encouraged us to work their way up into places of power. We haven’t been raised in a society that has instilled in us the belief that we are the ones who can make a change. As a result, I tend to doubt myself more, to be more critical of my own skillset and whether it is ‘good enough’. That ends today.

We are more informed about real world issues than Eton goers. My sisters are insanely intelligent – you have a fire in your belly and have enough empathy to keep the whole world alive. We have the capabilities to one day be the politicians we so need in power right now.

Jeremy Corbyn may have experienced a gut-wrenching loss – certainly one that I didn’t anticipate. My father and I were discussing the possibility of a hung parliament last week as if it was the likely outcome. Despite his loss, Jeremy should serve as an inspiration to us all – his compassion for others has opened the eyes of so many across Britain. At 70 years old, he has been a fierce campaigner for a more compassionate and just world for almost half a century. Today, that inspires me to do something as worthwhile with my own life – who is to say in 20 years time, we can’t be leaders? God willing, we have time to dedicate our lives to changing the world. Now is the time to start.

Look at the wonderful Zarah Sultana, who won her seat in Coventry South at the age of 27. Faduma Daauud Hassan, Kilburn’s Labour Councillor, who has poured so much into her community. I also take inspiration from the incredible Faiza Shaheen, who ran for Labour in Chingford and Wood Green. She just missed out on the seat but she is truly a rising star of the Labour party – I believe one day, she could be the party leader.

We have the ability to make real change beyond this election. Hope is necessary to stay alive and we are the future – don’t forget that today.

We can start small. We always have the ability to improve the planet and help the people on it. My friend Ra’ed Khan is the founder of the charity Road to Freedom, and he serves as my daily reminder that you can make the changes you want to see in the world into your own hands; you have the power.

He sent me a quote today that read: “Elections aren’t the only way to make the world better, Support homeless charities. Donate to food banks. Help tree-planting schemes. Be kind to the vulnerable. Shop ethically. Defend the environment. Support mental health. Be the change you want to manifest into the world.”

Faiza Shaheen also retweeted on food banks today, writing: “If you’re feeling powerless this morning, go over to your local food bank and donate. There’s going to be a lot of scared people this morning wondering how they’ll get through five years alone. Let’s show they’re not.”

It’s an important reminder – people out there are more scared and vulnerable than we will ever be and so now is not the time to give up, sisters. Get out to the food banks, apply to volunteer at mental health charities like Muslim Youth Helpline, Mind or Samaritans – they will be dealing with an influx of calls from anxious people around the UK, and will need help. Get in touch with your local Labour office and offer your services moving forward. Volunteer with Age UK and interact with elderly people who are isolated. 

Today Brendan Cox, the widowed husband of the late Jo Cox, tweeted: “If Jo were here she would be telling us not to mourn but to organise,” and that is exactly it. We move.

But maybe that is all too much right now and if so, that’s okay – maybe the best you can do today is to not let the despair get the best of you. I believe in you and your ability to change the future. I promise you, despite how it feels today, it’s not out of our hands.

Maz Halima

Maz Halima

Maz Halima is a freelance writer and media researcher who has written for the likes of Buzzfeed, Gal-Dem, http://MTV.co.uk , http://MuslimGirl.com , Burnt Roti, Sisterhood, and others. Her area of interest lies in identity, politics, mental health, travel, and poetry. You can read more on her website: http://mazhalima.com