On Wednesday, March 15th, 2023 at 7 the Islamic Society of Ahlulbayt held our first-ever annual Women Across Time Culture and History lecture event in which we invited three speakers with diverse topics that focus on women in Islam. A small presentation was also included from our co-sponsor Muslim Youth Connection. These were followed by a catered dinner from a local restaurant.

With the help of the Global Islamic Studies Center’s co-sponsorship, we were able to educate the community on topics that are usually ignored or not discussed as it pertains to women, who historically are not welcomed in spaces to do so. However, we wanted to change this with the following speakers, Hafidha Soheyla Aryan, Dr. Su’ad Abdul Khabeer, and Ustadha Tahera Ahmed.

Here is a little background on all of the speakers:

Hafidha Soheyla Aryan was born in Iran, spent her childhood in Europe, and attended most of her schooling in the United States. She received her Master’s in Midwifery from both the USC School of Medicine and UCLA. Brought up in a family that was not particularly religious, the only connection Sister Aryan had with God was through daily Salaat. She now teaches Nahjol Balagha classes at Al-Zahra Mosque and Quran classes at Taha Islamic Academy in Masjid Al Rasool and to students of all ages in the greater Los Angeles area.

Dr. Su'ad Abdul Khabeer is a scholar-artist-activist originally from Brooklyn, NY. She is the curator of Umi's Archive, a multimedia project documenting Black and Muslim histories and co-founder of Sapelo Square, a digital media and education collective on Black Muslims in the US. Her first book, Muslim Cool: Race, Religion and Hip Hop in the United States, is a field-defining study on Islam and hip hop that examines how intersecting ideas of Muslimness and Blackness challenge and reproduce the meanings of race in the United States. In 2018, Su’ad was profiled as one of 25 influential American Muslims by CNN and she has written broadly for outlets including The Root, the Washington Post, Vice and Ebony Magazine, and has appeared on Al Jazeera English. Su’ad received her PhD in cultural anthropology from Princeton University, is a graduate from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and completed the Islamic Studies diploma program of the Institute at Abu Nour University (Damascus). Su’ad is currently an Associate Professor of American Culture and Arab and Muslim American Studies at the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor.

Ustadha Tahera Ahmad is a dynamic Muslim ‘scholar-practitioner’ who serves as the Director of Interfaith Engagement, Associate University Chaplain, and Associate Chair of the Women's Residential College at Northwestern University. She was recognized at the White House as a leading Muslim woman and in 2014 she became the first woman to represent the United States at the International Quran Competition in Indonesia where she placed 6th place in the World. Her undergraduate education was in biochemistry and her graduate work was in theology. She studied in the Islamic Chaplaincy and Interfaith Dialogue program at the Hartford Seminary and received graduate certification in the Women’s Spiritual Leadership Program and graduate certification in Classical Arabic, and Islamic Studies from Al-Diwan and Al-Azhar Cairo, Ijāzāt (certifications) in Tajweed (art of Quranic recitation) and has taught widely across the USA.

Hafidha Soheyla Aryan’s topic was "Transformative Power: How the Holy Quran Changed My Perception of Women". She spoke about how transformative the Quran is through her own personal experience. Especially how it made her a better person through her dedication to becoming closer to her religion. Also, reading about the actual position of women rather than just listening to different narratives strengthened her connection with the Quran. She inspired the audience with her warm character and riveting story. The link to the speech is here.

Dr. Su'ad Abdul Khabeer spoke on "Activist Sisters: Black Muslim Women in the U.S." She highlighted unspoken history in the Black and Muslim community and their contribution to the fight for liberation. She highlighted three women: Amina Amatul Haqq, Dhameera Ahmad, and Safiya Bukhari. Amina actually being her own mother. She detailed how each came to Islam and how Islam influenced their radical stances. Tying in the themes of Islam, education, and political prisoners informed the audience of the lasting impact each of these women has today. Her video is linked here.

Finally, Ustadha Tahera Ahmad spoke on “Resilience, Resistance, and Restoration in Interfaith Engagement”. She also delved into her personal experience and her work in implementing meaningful interfaith events. She emphasized how to preserve being a Muslim in America while also recognizing the privilege that there is. She implements both concepts when developing how to have dialogue and plurality in a college setting. The video is linked here.

Each woman tied their personal narratives to inform the audience of shared experiencesMuslim women experience.

GISC is proud to cosponsor and fund events that promote the understanding of global Islamic culture and Muslim societies worldwide. Are you an undergraduate student group looking for funding for a similar event? Apply now: https://myumi.ch/RprGw.