A few years ago, in a desperate attempt to regain some time and mental peace, I deleted most of my social media accounts. While removing the 24/7 access to global news and other people’s social lives has definitely been worth it, and I’ve found a lot of benefit in embracing more silence in my everyday life, I have to admit, every now and then while commuting, going for a walk, or doing repetitive tasks around the house, I would rather hear a voice that isn’t my own.
Lectures and audiobooks aren’t always ideal for me, since they tend to require more focus and can feel pretty exhausting on the way home from work or on my lunch break. Podcasts, however, seem to be the perfect middle ground – thought-provoking enough to be beneficial, but not so dense that they become overwhelming. I’ve also found them an ideal place to hear from more Muslim women, who are unfortunately still underrepresented amongst the mainstream scholars we see online. The recommendations below aren’t really a source of fiqh, detailed tafseer, or seerah, all of these sisters offer something just as important: life experience informed by Islamic principles – both their own and of the women they work with and mentor.
As someone in their early twenties, I know it can be tempting to rely solely on friends and female relatives in our age group for advice. While these relationships have the potential for immense love and companionship, these conversations can sometimes feel like multiple people scrambling in the dark for answers they don’t have. The company may be comforting, but no single person seems to have a better idea of what they’re doing than the rest because everyone is in roughly the same stage of life.
Trying to find older female mentors in your family or community can be difficult, particularly when inherited cultural practices and ideas become mixed with religion. If you’re looking for some religiously aligned wisdom from an older Muslim woman’s perspective, I’d recommend having a listen to the following:
Mindful Muslimah is a licensed educator of twenty years and mum of five ages three to twenty-three. Alongside resources, classes, an online community, and consultation calls, she hosts a weekly podcast on topics ranging from ibadah, mental and physical health, work/life balance, marriage, parenting, and self-esteem. Her approach is refreshingly gentle and free of judgement, without sugar-coating or watering things down. (Favourite pick: ep. 300 – advice for my 20 year old self: self-esteem edition)
Hosted by three sisters, Honest Tea Talk has probably tackled most taboo subjects you can think of from depression and divorce to racism and abuse in the Muslim community. While the subject matter can be pretty heavy, these women are committed to having the conversations we too often shy away from. The genuine friendship and infectious humour between the hosts also make them so enjoyable to listen to. (Favourite pick: season 2 episode 4 – when you’re tested)
Hosted by one of the co-hosts of honest tea talks, Sumayah’s podcast takes the format of short voice notes on relationships, from those we have with Allah and ourselves, to family, friends, and spouses. Each episode invites the listener to be introspective and is probably best mulled over for a while after it’s done. (Favourite pick:ep. 26 – getting curious about our inner world)
Also a co-host of Honest Tea Talks, Layinka’s reflections are similarly short and introspective, on topics relating to emotional health, empowerment, and growth. Her bubbly personality and wit give off major big-sister energy, and her ability to say things unapologetically as they are is both impactful and inspiring. (Favourite pick: seeking validation and permission)
Hosted by published author and business owner Farhat Amin, this podcast takes a bigger picture approach. Farhat tackles current issues from the hijab ban and western media coverage of the middle east, to the spiritual implications of ideas like capitalism, liberalism, and feminism for present-day Muslim women. She is frequently joined by guests working in various areas of the Muslim community, including mental health practitioners, authors, coaches, and imams. (Favourite pick: Fatima Barkatulla and Farhat Amin discuss feminism and capitalism)
Insha’Allah, I hope you can find some benefit and inspiration from these wonderful women – and if you do, please try to make a quick du’a for them and their loved ones. May Allah grant them all jannatul firdous, ameen.