Congratulations to all the winners of MWA23
Shehnaz Khan: Amplifying Voices and Illuminating Stories
Shehnaz Khan, an award-nominated journalist and esteemed radio presenter, stands as a powerful voice in the realm of media. As a dedicated journalist for BBC News, she has woven a remarkable tapestry of storytelling that reflects her unwavering commitment to Muslim representation and her advocacy for issues affecting both Muslims and South Asians in the UK.
Shehnaz's journey is one marked by excellence and a fervent dedication to her craft. Her bylines have graced renowned platforms such as The Independent, Metro, and Huffington Post, showcasing her versatility and depth as a writer. Her words resonate far beyond the pages, as she boldly addresses pertinent matters, refusing to shy away from topics that matter most to her community.
At the heart of Shehnaz's work is a passion for amplifying voices that often go unheard. Her commitment to Muslim representation has become a guiding force in her journalism, leading her to stories that matter deeply to her community. As a journalist at the BBC, she has illuminated stories such as the food packs delivered during Ramadan due to the cost of living crisis, the installation of signs pointing to Mecca in the Peak District, and coverage of the Pakistan flooding – stories that shape perspectives and provoke thought.
Moreover, Shehnaz's dedication to her community extends beyond the headlines. She has lent her voice to stories of resilience, activism, and challenges faced by Muslims and South Asians in the UK. Her coverage of incidents like the attack outside a Birmingham mosque in March exemplifies her unwavering commitment to shedding light on issues that demand attention.
Shehnaz's advocacy is not confined to the newsroom; her work reverberates across the airwaves. Her appearances on local and national radio stations have provided platforms to discuss topics that affect Muslim women, such as the nuances of fasting during Ramadan. Her presence on airwaves reflects her desire to engage in meaningful conversations that foster understanding and connection.
Meet Kaltun and Hodo, the dynamic duo behind the Oversharers Podcast, where lifelong cousins and best friends, Kaltun and Hodo, invite you to step into their world. With a shared YouTube channel that serves as their creative canvas, these two have harnessed the transformative power of personal storytelling.
In the Oversharers Podcast, Kaltun and Hodo have ingeniously crafted a space that goes beyond conventional boundaries. Here, authenticity reigns supreme, and they've built a welcoming haven where individuals can unabashedly open up and share their stories. Recognizing the societal stigma often attached to oversharing, the duo believes in the potent ability of personal narratives to empower and inspire when placed in front of the right audience.
Their mission is clear: to dismantle the negative connotations associated with oversharing. In this space of acceptance and understanding, Kaltun and Hodo are changing the narrative around personal storytelling. Through their podcast, they encourage others to embrace the power of their own stories, fostering a community where judgment and shame have no place.
Zainab, a London-based multi-passionate individual, delves into diverse interests spanning pop culture, fashion, art, and humor. With a profound love for movies and TV shows, she enthusiastically shares her insights on her social media platforms.
Her recent role as a red carpet social host at the BAFTA TV Awards showcases her active involvement in the entertainment industry, including press junkets and media appearances on BBC1, Radio 5, The Asian Network, ITV News, BBC News, and Channel 5 News.
Zainab, a verified Digital Creator and public figure, boasts an impressive following of 500,000+ and 12 million likes. Her content encompasses interviews with talent, styling tutorials, movie reviews, cosplays, and art, complemented by partnerships with renowned brands like Samsung, Marvel, Disney, TikTok, and Google.
Beyond her creative pursuits, Zainab is an avid language learner, passionate traveler, and dedicated consumer of captivating TV shows. Her infectious positivity, love for laughter, and genuine enthusiasm for her hobbies define her engaging personality.
Zainab's creative prowess extends to makeup artistry, creative direction, and fashion editorials, featured in prestigious publications like Vogue and Yoko Mag. Her art has even graced the Oxo Tower in London.
An accomplished scholar, Zainab graduated with First Class Honors from the University of the Arts London (LCF). She also contributed her skills as a Community Manager on the university's marketing team.
In summary, Zainab is a dynamic individual with a diverse range of talents and experiences, making her a vibrant presence in the realms of entertainment, fashion, and social media.
Dr. Tabassum Malik Zulfiqar: A Beacon of Inspiration, Healing, and Faith
Dr. Tabassum Malik Zulfiqar is not just a medical professional; she is a symbol of resilience, compassion, and unwavering faith. Her journey, marked by a rare encounter with facial palsy in 2017, has transformed her into an ambassador for change, a mentor, and a source of strength for countless individuals worldwide.
A Doctor's Journey As a dedicated medical practitioner, Dr. Tabassum was no stranger to the complexities of health. However, in 2017, her own life took an unexpected turn when she developed a rare facial palsy. Faced with the challenges of this condition, she made a remarkable choice - to transform her own experience into a beacon of hope and awareness.
Breaking the Silence on Facial Palsy Dr. Tabassum recognized the pressing need to create awareness about facial palsy, particularly within South Asian communities. She embarked on a mission to dismantle the social myths and stigmas surrounding this condition. Her advocacy work, both online and offline, has become a lifeline for individuals grappling with facial palsy, offering guidance, solace, and empowerment.
Dr. Taslima Begum: A Visionary in Technology, Education, and Ethical Design
Dr. Taslima Begum is a distinguished Senior Lecturer in Computing and Information Systems at Cardiff Metropolitan University, renowned for her contributions to academia, ethical computing, and the intersection of technology with society. Her multifaceted career has spanned across prestigious institutions and diverse roles, exemplifying her commitment to education and empowering communities.
A Portfolio of Educational Impact Taslima's educational influence extends far and wide. As a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, she has been nurturing minds since 2004, imparting knowledge through lectures, workshops, and seminars encompassing design, technology, and new media. Her pedagogical footprint graces various programs, including MA Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship, BA Game Art/Game Enterprise/Games Design, BA Animation, BA Media Production, BSc Software Engineering, BSc Business Information Systems, and BSc/MSc Computing, both at Cardiff Metropolitan University and the University of South Wales.
A Trailblazer in Design and Technology Her journey into the world of design and technology was marked by an impressive academic trajectory. Beginning with a BA (Hons) in Design Futures, Taslima cultivated a creative, multidisciplinary expertise that encompassed CGI, virtual audio-augmented environments, web design, and experimental interface design. In 2008, her MA in Design, New Media, and Technology earned her distinction for pioneering practice-based interaction design projects using physical computing.
A Pioneer in Postcolonial Design Research The pinnacle of Taslima's academic pursuits culminated in her doctoral journey, which she completed in 2015 at Plymouth University. Her thesis, titled "A Postcolonial Investigation into the Role of Cultural Hegemony in Industrial Design Practice, Process, and Pedagogy," broke new ground by challenging conventional paradigms in industrial design. Her groundbreaking work emphasized the pervasive influence of cultural hegemony on design processes, asserting that design often reflects deeply ingrained western aesthetic and cultural archetypes. Taslima's research illuminated the potential for a more culturally aware and inclusive vision for global design.
Championing Human-Centered Design and Ethical Computing Taslima's areas of expertise and passion revolve around human-centered design, ethical computing, and the intricate relationship between technology and society. She is a tireless advocate for the ethical and responsible use of technology, ensuring that it aligns with the betterment of individuals and communities.
Meet Zahra Arefa, a trailblazing scientist whose journey into the world of STEM began at the age of 18 at the prestigious Great Ormond Street Hospital. From that remarkable starting point, Zahra has carved an extraordinary path, inspiring young minds to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
A Young Scientist's Journey Zahra's journey as a scientist commenced during her teenage years, a testament to her exceptional dedication and passion for knowledge. Her groundbreaking work at Great Ormond Street Hospital marked the beginning of a career characterized by innovation, curiosity, and a relentless pursuit of excellence.
Empowering the Next Generation But Zahra's contributions extend far beyond the laboratory. She has embraced the role of mentor and advocate, consistently inspiring young people to follow in her footsteps. Through workshops, STEM ambassador roles, and educational support, she has kindled the flames of curiosity in countless minds, nurturing the future generation of STEM leaders.
A Multi-Award Winning Apprentice Zahra's dedication and impact have not gone unnoticed.
She is a multi-award-winning apprentice whose accolades underscore her exceptional contributions to the field. Her work has extended beyond the laboratory, featuring prominently in various film projects with esteemed institutions such as the Science Museum and the University of Westminster.
A Role Model for Diversity As a young Muslim Asian woman in science and technology, Zahra represents an invaluable role model, breaking barriers and dismantling stereotypes. She is a living example of the boundless potential that exists within diverse communities, inspiring countless individuals to reach for the stars and dream beyond conventional boundaries.
Championing Charitable Causes Zahra's commitment to making a positive impact extends to charitable endeavors. She actively supports organizations such as Versus Arthritis and Cancer Research UK, demonstrating her unwavering dedication to giving back to society and improving the lives of those in need.
A Valuable Member of the Team Within her professional and personal spheres, Zahra stands as a valuable and irreplaceable member. Her unwavering dedication, tireless work ethic, and enthusiasm for making a difference have left an indelible mark on her peers and colleagues.
In the story of Zahra Arefa, we find an inspiring narrative of a young scientist who not only excels in her field but also dedicates herself to empowering others and fostering diversity within STEM. Her journey serves as a reminder that passion, dedication, and a commitment to giving back can lead to a profound and lasting impact on the world. Zahra continues to be a beacon of inspiration, lighting the way for future generations in the exciting world of STEM.
Rashida grew up in a small African country called Malawi where she spent most of her childhood exploring arts and crafts. After moving to the UK in 2010, she had little opportunity to pursue her passion as she was busy raising her family and caring for her son with special needs. It is only after the loss of her sister in 2016 that she was inspired to pick up her paintbrush again. Her earliest work was a coping mechanism for her grief.
After finding healing through art, she decided to continue and make it her full time career. With encouragement from her family and friends, she went on to open her ETSY shop in 2018, and hasn’t looked back since.
Her first official collection launched in 2018. Each of the works she painted, were inspired by stories from the Holy Qur’aan, and teachings from the Hadith (sayings) of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Her work, True Value, was chosen to be exhibited at LCB Depot. This gave her the validation and courage she needed to pursue Art as a career.
She absorbed herself so deeply into Art, as she devoured any resources she could get her hands on. Due to the barriers she faced being a full time carer, she was unable to enrol into an Art and Design Degree, as she wished. Instead she took advantage of the wide range of online courses and enrolled onto the Creative Calligrapher Program by Canadian Calligrapher Omar Uddin.
She also travelled daily to London in the summer of 2018 to learn from reknowned teachers at Art of Islamic Pattern. She took various courses, learning how to build a website from scratch, and how to market her work. At this point, she began facilitating Art for Wellbeing workshops within the Leicester community. She also donated an original work to raise funds for Muslim Aid, a charity close to her heart.
In 2020, she embarked upon an enlightening journey, whilst creating her famous Huroof Series collection, using traditional techniques of gilding and painting using natural pigments. Borne from this collection was a set of Limited Edition colouring books, which she designed and self-published from scratch.
Once again, this collection was inspired by an overwhelming need to understand the spiritual meanings behind the Arabic Letters. She created her Elements collection which was inspired by Islamic Geometric patterns, and incorporated the use of wood slices and found objects. This year also saw a nomination and being selected as a Finalist in the Arts and culture Awareness category for British Muslim Awards 2020.
Meet Maisie Byers, a visionary on a mission to transform the world of art and culture for Muslim girls. Nominated for her remarkable journey, Maisie has embarked on an inspiring endeavor to create opportunities for young Muslim girls to explore the realms of art and culture while honoring their religious boundaries.
Maisie's groundbreaking initiative, the Grace & Poise Academy, stands as a testament to her dedication. This academy is the first-ever Muslim Ballet School, introducing a unique movement-to-poetry syllabus that enables young girls in the community to embrace the beauty of ballet without compromising their religious convictions. It is a place where dreams take flight, and boundaries become opportunities.
Maisie's impact extends far beyond the classroom. She consistently serves as a beacon of inspiration and motivation to all those she collaborates with, be it parents, colleagues, or students. Her unwavering commitment is to empower young women, instilling in them confidence, strength, and a multifaceted skill set while nurturing their love for the faith that binds them.
Throughout the ambitious journey of creating Grace & Poise, Maisie has remained steadfast in her commitment to align her actions with the principles of her faith. She has painstakingly ensured that the academy offers a halal environment for young girls to engage with an art form that has historically been elusive to the community, all while avoiding interest-linked loans or funding—an accomplishment deserving of admiration.
Maisie's aspirations for Grace & Poise know no bounds. Her vision includes plans for higher vocational training and the inclusion of UCAS points as part of the academy's offerings. She envisions Grace & Poise becoming a global success, touching the lives of young Muslim girls everywhere and affording them the joy of experiencing ballet. With unwavering dedication and faith as her guiding light, she is determined to see this vision through to fruition, ensuring that the legacy of Grace & Poise continues to grow and flourish.
Maisie Byers is a remarkable force of change, a trailblazer who brings together the beauty of art, culture, and faith to create opportunities where none existed before. Her journey is an ode to resilience, faith, and the boundless potential that emerges when passion and purpose unite.
Meet Meral Alizada, a gifted author who has captured the hearts and minds of readers with her remarkable literary work, "Rumi's Daughter." In the world of literature, her name has become synonymous with profound storytelling and a deep exploration of spirituality and heritage.
Meral Alizada's journey into the world of words and narratives began as a quest to unveil the untold stories, the hidden gems of history and heritage. With an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and a profound love for storytelling, she embarked on a literary voyage that would ultimately bring "Rumi's Daughter" to life.
In her magnum opus, "Rumi's Daughter," Meral delves into the captivating narrative of a character whose existence has remained veiled in the annals of history. With meticulous research and an artist's touch, she brings to life the journey of this enigmatic figure, weaving a tale of resilience, spirituality, and the indomitable human spirit.
Meral's literary prowess lies not just in her ability to craft intricate narratives but in her gift for bridging the past with the present. Through her storytelling, she invites readers to traverse the corridors of time, to connect with the enduring themes of love, faith, and self-discovery that transcend generations.
Beyond her literary achievements, Meral Alizada stands as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring writers and storytellers. Her dedication to her craft, her unyielding commitment to the exploration of profound themes, and her ability to breathe life into historical figures are testaments to her artistry and passion.
As the author of "Rumi's Daughter," Meral Alizada has not only penned a captivating narrative but has also carved her name into the annals of literary history. Her work is a testament to the power of storytelling to transcend time, to connect cultures, and to touch the hearts of readers around the world.
Meral Alizada's journey as an author is one of depth, insight, and boundless creativity. Through her words, she invites us to explore the hidden corners of history, to unearth the stories waiting to be told, and to embrace the enduring power of literature to inspire, transform, and elevate the human spirit.
Meet Dr. Shameela, an extraordinary humanitarian whose impact knows no boundaries, spanning both the UK and international communities. As a compassionate trailblazer, she leads by example, galvanizing community initiatives, rallying support, and fostering a culture of involvement that resonates near and far.
Shameela's life is a testament to the power of unwavering dedication to humanitarian causes. Her journey commenced over a decade ago when she stepped into the realm of community service through her role with Syria Relief. Now, at the helm of Action for Humanity, her impact continues to astound those who witness her work firsthand. A trained medic, she fearlessly transitioned from the NHS to the world of charity, utilizing her medical expertise to steer critical aid to areas most in need.
With a heart that knows no bounds, Shameela is often the first to respond to national and international crises, mobilizing her team to provide vital assistance. Whether on foreign soil, where she offers medical support and lends a hand in constructing shelters, or within the UK, where she reached out to isolated individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic, her commitment is unrelenting.
Shameela's approach stands as a beacon of transparency and clarity. Through social media updates and eloquent speaking engagements, she brings the humanitarian sector to life, inspiring individuals young and old to engage in meaningful action. Her efforts have raised millions for charitable causes, while her presence as a speaker in universities and her role in training the next generation of charity workers solidify her legacy.
In a sector traditionally dominated by men, Shameela emerges as a powerful role model for all. Her indomitable spirit has shattered glass ceilings, often contending for high-profile projects while balancing an array of responsibilities. Remarkably, she pursued a Ph.D. in disaster management, fortifying her work at Action for Humanity and elevating the standards of her sector.
Beyond her professional commitments, Shameela wears the hats of wife, grandmother, mother, and cherished sister. Her ability to navigate her diverse roles with grace and excellence is truly awe-inspiring. Her influence transcends professional boundaries, touching hearts, inspiring change, and fostering a more compassionate world.
Dr. Shameela's journey is a testament to the transformative potential of dedication, determination, and a heart that beats for humanity. As she continues to illuminate paths of hope and carve new frontiers of service, her legacy becomes a guiding light for all who aspire to make a meaningful impact in the lives of others.
Illuminating Ramadan with Vision and Community Spirit
Introducing Aisha Desai, a visionary and community leader whose dedication has lit up the heart of Central London during the sacred month of Ramadan. As the founder of Ramadan Lights, Aisha's mission to celebrate and uplift the Muslim community has left an indelible mark on the cityscape and in the hearts of countless individuals.
Aisha's journey took a luminous turn when she spearheaded the Ramadan Lights project. With unwavering determination, she orchestrated the breathtaking sight of lights adorning Central London during the cherished month of Ramadan. This initiative, born out of love for the Muslim community, quickly became a resounding success, capturing the essence of the season and inspiring unity.
The Ramadan Lights project, achieved through the collaboration of Aisha Desai, not only added a stunning visual spectacle to the city but also kindled a sense of pride and belonging within the Muslim community. Aisha's dedication to creating an inclusive space where the community's traditions and celebrations are recognized and celebrated is truly commendable.
The resounding success of the project is a testament to Aisha's visionary leadership and determination. By single-handedly bringing this initiative to life, she demonstrated the power of one person's vision to make a positive impact. The lights that adorned Central London not only brightened the physical landscape but also symbolized the light of unity and togetherness.
Aisha's initiative, stands as a shining example of the immense impact that a dedicated individual can have on a community. Her endeavor, which was solely for the Muslim community, radiated far beyond, spreading warmth and positivity throughout the city. In her hands, lights became more than just an aesthetic – they became a symbol of celebration, identity, and unity.
As Aisha Desai continues to inspire through her visionary work, her legacy as the founder of Ramadan Lights, will forever be etched into the city's narrative. Her ability to illuminate not only physical spaces but also hearts and minds makes her a beacon of hope and unity. Her dedication reminds us all of the transformative power that a single idea can have in shaping a more inclusive and joyful world for everyone.
Meet Sadia Mir, a remarkable young Muslim woman whose powerful voice resonates across boundaries, ensuring that all are heard and understood. With her faith as her guide and her experiences in England as her canvas, Sadia uses her platform to address a wide range of vital topics: from the challenges faced by young Muslims, mental health, identity struggles, faith and culture, to heritage, history, arts, and creativity. At the age of just 26, Sadia Mir has already become a force in five distinct professional communities, serving as a public advisor to effect change on a national level.
Her dedication to being a voice for change and understanding is evident through her involvement in various advisory groups and committees:
Sadia Mir is a gifted public speaker, seamlessly blending humor and truthfulness as she shares her experiences and insights. Unapologetically herself, she speaks openly about her own struggles and battles. Battling PMDD (pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder), she brings attention to period issues, period poverty, and the myths and misconceptions surrounding women's health. From facing dismissive remarks such as 'you're too pretty, it's a waste' during medical procedures, to being told 'it's all in your head' for years before her diagnosis, Sadia advocates for better care and awareness in women's health.
Beyond her advocacy, Sadia remains a cherished daughter, sister, cousin, and aunt, and her resilience shines through despite her own challenges. Despite experiencing chronic pain for most of the month, she wears a constant smile while dedicating herself to helping others truly live, not just survive.
In her roles with the Royal Exchange Theatre, Curious Minds, and Awakening Minds CIC, Sadia is expanding her influence and reach. Her focus on engaging with refugee and asylum seeker communities reflects her commitment to making a positive impact on the lives of marginalized and underserved individuals.
With her warmth, determination, and the ability to create change, Sadia Mir has become a recognizable and cherished figure in Manchester and Rochdale. Her resilience in the face of pain and her commitment to uplifting others make her a true source of inspiration and hope. As she continues to break barriers and amplify underrepresented voices, she embodies the spirit of empowerment, empathy, and advocacy that has the power to change lives and create a brighter future.
Muslim Women Awards
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