Established in 2006, MWA is an internationally-based collaboration of Muslim women writers and advocates working together to counter negative and inaccurate perceptions regarding members of the Muslim community and the Islamic faith.


Welcome to MWA's new home on the web! Please be patient while we take a bit of time to get more of our member works published. Bookmark us and stay tuned, insha'Allah!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

I Can't Breathe: A Poem by MWA's Janette Grant

Via @BrooklynJuggler
I Can’t Breathe
Do you see me?
. . . I ask because I’m dying
Can you hear me?
. . . Right before your eyes
Who am I to you?
. . . Often times by your hand
What am I to you?
. . . And you don’t appear to care
I am here
Shouting in silence
Bleeding in misery
Picking up the pieces of my broken family
Does my dark skin scare you?
Is my hijab, to you, a threat?
Look – hands up – don’t shoot!
I surrender
I am human too
See my humanity
Hear my humanity
Know me . . .
We were made of these diversities so that we may know one another
Not so that we may despise one another
I can’t breathe
You’re suffocating me
Where is my brother’s keeper? . . . .

Copyright © 2014 by Janette Grant

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

MWA Member Latifah Hameen New Book TV Interview: Abuse Awareness: Removing The Cover

In Latifah Hameen's new book, "Abuse Awareness: Removing The Cover," she talks candidly about being a victim of domestic abuse, but she also focuses on what it took to get her out of that situation.

Latifah A. Hameen has published five books, Abuse Awareness: Removing the Cover, Suffering In Silence: Breaking the Cycle of Abuse, Suffering in Healing: Creating a New Cycle, The Awakening of Your Soul, (a collection of poems) and Teens/Young Adults How-To Not-To Relationship Abuse Workbook, all are now available for purchase. Ms. Hameen is also the founder of Healthy Positive Choices (HPC) a newly formed agency used as a preventive tool in educating teens and young adults on the growing problem of teen relationship abuse. Ms. Hameen obtained her Associate of Arts Degree at Milwaukee Area Technical College, Bachelors of Science Degree at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and Masters of Arts Degree at Amber University in Garland, Texas. In 2012 she was named Woman of the Year in Dallas, Texas. She is also a member of Muslimah Writers Alliance (MWA). Latifah's books can be purchased from

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

NEW RELEASE! The Muslimah Speaks: Her Voice, Her Spirit

NEW RELEASE! Muslimah Writers Alliance - MWA's Janette Grant, owner of Mindworks Publishing, announces its newly released publication, The Muslimah Speaks: Her Voice, Her Spirit, collected poetry written by Muslim women, now available for purchase at CreateSpace.

Edited by MWA members, Janette Grant and Elizabeth Lymer.

Paperback on Amazon $24.29

Kindle Version - $5.99


Mindworks Books 

Amazon Description
The Muslimah Speaks: Her Voice, Her Spirit Volume I is an anthology collection featuring original poetry by Muslim women writers and accentuated by excerpts of the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and scriptures of the Holy Quran and Holy Bible. Too often than not, it is instilled in women from a very young age through the interactions that they have with others and by the images that they are bombarded with daily, that their voices are not as important as men’s. It is our intention to highlight the voices of Muslim women while showcasing the connection between them and the faithful women of the Abrahamic scriptures and among the female companions of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Authors in Alphabetical Order
Asra Ahmed, Nimrah Fatima Ahmed, Nouran Amin - MWA, Jannah Bayyan, Sariya Cheruvalill Contractor - MWA, Nafisa Cooper - MWA, Wasi Daniju, Sameerah El-Siraaj - MWA, Shumaysa Faruqi, Shabana Diouri, Muslimah Poetess - MWA, Janette Grant - MWA, Fatimah Ashaela Moore Ibrahim - MWA, Elizabeth Lymer - MWA, Asma Nadia - MWA, Niha Samiya Naqeeb, Sa'diyya Nesar - MWA, Delina Partadiredja, Bint Productive - MWA, Mahnoor Samana, Aishah Schwartz - MWA, Sanjida Shaheed, Donna Frances Stacey, Fahmida Sultana - MWA, Hira Uddin and Hafsah Zamir.

MWA Members Collaborate on Writing Tips

Aishah Schwartz: Let's make a list of MWA member writing tips! (1) Always look for ways to rephrase when you find yourself using the same word twice in one sentence. (2) Check for duplication in how you start subsequent paragraphs. (3) Always proof-read with a printed copy and pen; you'll be amazed at what you didn't see on your computer screen! (4) Share drafts with a trusted pair of second-eyes; ideally someone who will call it like it is.  (5) Let it simmer. If you can walk away before publishing or sending for publication and look at it with fresh eyes the next day, you'll be amazed at what you will do next.

Perishan Hussein: Some writers even recommend not looking at it for 6 weeks.

Aishah Schwartz: That's a strong person! lol

Perishan Hussein: Well what they recommend is to move on to your next project while you are giving that piece a rest. That way when you go back to read it you are not still floating on the high of finishing a project.

Perishan Hussein: Stephen King's book On Writing is an excellent book on this. He gives very good advice and he will even read your work and advise you on it. I highly recommend it.

Aishah Schwartz: So what might you be working on these days habibty? I'm already thinking about the MWA Ramadan blog.
Muslimah Writers Alliance Celebrates Ramadan
MWA members share their Ramadan experiences, journals, recipes, pictures, poetry...See More

Julie Mair: 1) Always read your work out loud to yourself to see how it will "sound" to someone else reading it; 2) sit on your work for a few days and then review it; 3) Enjoy the process!

Julie Mair: "For a few days" is for shorter articles. Novels would require a much longer time.

Aishah Schwartz: I agree. Reading work out loud helps you smooth out how it reads.

Elizabeth Lymer: Agreed. And I think: rest an article for a few days, but preferably nearer a week, book-prose for a minimum of 6 weeks and poetry for 6 months before beginning the towards-final-version revising-again journey. Tips on surviving the wait: 1) Work on other creative things, catch-up with family and friends and do the housework you avoided while writing 2) List keywords from your (memory of your) writing and search hadiths and the Qur'an for inspiring on-topic reads 3) Email your writing to some friends so that you can look forward to reflecting upon their feedback inshaaAllah

Janette Grant: I'd say make an outline of what you want to say, research the points that you want to include and take at least five minutes to visualize the entire article and who you are speaking to. I've only just started doing this but it helps alot.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Getting Published: A Journey (Part 1) by MWA's Dr. Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor

Getting Published: a Journey, part 1

By Dr. Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor
22nd November 2013

Dr. Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor
Writing can be amazingly satisfying. It can also be time-consuming and onerous at best and frustrating and heart-breaking at worst. But lots of us want to write and get published. I have over the last 3 years managed to write and get published and I have put together a few thoughts to share my experiences with you. As far as my experience goes, I first did a PhD and then wrote a book based on my thesis – I will refer to this during the piece that follows. In my experience, there are four stages to getting published:
  • STAGE 1: Develop a Writing Plan
  • STAGE 2: Getting a contract
  • STAGE 3: Writing, Writing, Writing
  • STAGE 4: Final Steps towards Publication
My experiences are purely academic and this sequence that I have provided above will vary for different forms of publications. For e.g. in fiction publications, Stages 2 and 3 may be reversed, nevertheless this sequence is useful to think about the whole process. Today I intend to write about STAGE 1 and during the next couple of months I shall gradually write about the future stages too. Please feel free to ask me any questions that you may have. I may not always have the answers but can tell you what I know, InshaAllah.

I hope you all find this helpful.

STAGE 1: Develop a Writing Plan

1.      Ideate: I like the work ideate, although my older English colleagues do not think this is a word at all! For me the word ideate signifies the process of formulating and then thinking through your ideas. What does your idea entail? What does it mean to you? What does it mean to everybody else? Does it have impact for wider society? Is this idea something that you would be practical for you to work on? What other ideas do you have? So a hypothetical e.g.: I would love to write on Islam in Indonesia, but do I know enough about Indonesia or the language they speak or the form of Islam they practice? I do not know enough and so I do not write about Indonesia. I however have done research about Muslim women in Britain and so I write about them.

2.      Choose your best idea:  This is the idea you are best able to write about in terms of your knowledge and capacity. It is also the idea that is most important to talk about given your social and political contexts. Remember your book needs to sell!

3.      Write: It nice feeling to know that this really amazing idea is nestling comfortably among the grey cells in your brain. But not good enough! Begin writing. This is the real start of your journey. A good books requires research, knowledge, hard-work and sweat (in my case a PhD and field research all over England!).

4.     Research: You may not be writing an academic book but will still need to do a lot of research in your local library, archives, family heirlooms, - it depends on what you are writing. if your book is a love story set on a 19th century sailing ship - your description of live on a 19th century sailing ship needs to be accurate. If you are writing a biography of your late grandfather, you need to represent his life accurately. Are you writing about Islam? Well then, check the Quran, hadith, classical sources and if need be ask a qualified scholar. Inaccuracies are BAD! However do remember this is a journey – you may not know everything to begin with and may make mistakes, but you learn as you progress, research as you go and correct your mistakes as soon as you find them. Remember at this stage you are not writing to complete the project, you are writing to develop a plan.

5.      Know your work: By this stage you should begin to recognise your work and also identify the resources you will need to complete your writing. Do you need to do a PhD? Or is it simpler – do you need to spend a couple of hours for the next two months at your local library? Do you need a laptop? Or a desk? Or childcare?

6.      Know your sector: You should also start thinking about the sector / genre that you are writing in. For academic writing you do a ‘literature survey’ to identify who are the key figures in the area. I got to this stage while in the midst of my PhD and so while identifying key figures I also critically analysed what they wrote. Did I agree with X, Y and Z and why? Did I disagree with A, B and C and why? This informed my thinking and helped me decide how I would position my book on Muslim women – what story did I want to tell? My thinking led me to identify that I wanted to challenge notions of Muslim women as subjugated and oppressed. I also wanted to challenge the predominance of patriarchy and male dominance in some Muslim communities.

7.      Scout around for publishers: At this stage you also need to identify the key publishers in your area. Which are the most important books, who are their authors and who are publishing them? Whom would you like to be published with? Make a list of your top five choices. Find out more about their timelines: for feedback on your proposal, for publication. In academic publication contracts are not that important and I did not really think too much about royalties. However this may be more in important in other forms of publication and so you need to find out all you can. After sourcing all this information and weighing your choices, make a shortlist of your 3 preferred publishers (keep the other two names as backup, just in case the first three decline!).

8.      Plan: Bring all of this information together into a plan. You may want to write it down or you may keep it all in your head, but you need to have a plan that outlines what you intend to do. For my PhD I had to write a number of formal academic plans, but when I wrote my book based on my PhD my plans were mostly in my head. This plan should outline the following aspects:
  • Why are you doing this piece of work? What are your personal and professional reasons? Why is it worth it? 
  • What is it? A book, a monograph, a novel, a biography, an article, an essay, a poem, a journalistic piece? Is it academic, fiction, non-fiction, journalistic...
  • What will be its approximate length?
  • How many constituent parts / chapters / sections will it have? And what will this be? For a book it is good to have working titles for all chapters. 
  • What resources do you need?
  • What timeline?
  • Preferred publishers
Writing is a personal journey. So feel free to adapt or change all of this. Develop a plan that reflects your personality, environment and contexts. Feel free to challenge everything I have said – but still please develop a plan as it will guide your progress and encourage you to keep your momentum going. You will have bad days – that is fine and to be expected. However having a plan and goals will keep you going. And as I said make dua and seek divine guidance …… constantly!

Will write again soon about Stage 2. Hope you find this first installment helpful.

Happy Writing!


Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor is a Post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for Society, Religion and Belief, University of Derby. She specialises in the Sociology of Religion with particular emphasis on democratic research methodologies that seek to work with and for research participants. During 2011 to 2013 Sariya was a core team member on the AHRC/ESRC Religion and Society Project, Religion and Belief, Discrimination and Equality in England and Wales: Theory, Policy and Practice (2000-2010) which was led by Prof Paul Weller. She is the author of Muslim Women in Britain: Demystifying the Muslimah (Routledge 2012) and co-author of Religion or Belief, Discrimination and Equality: Britain in Global Contexts (Continuum 2013). She is also a member of Muslimah Writers Alliance (MWA).

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Charity in Ramadan and always: a journal entry by MWA's Zabrina Abu Bakar

Today is both a happy and sad day for me.

Happy because a few days before turning two-years old on 17th Ramadan, today is the historic day that Tariq first helped me allocate and organize the household products we wish to donate to the poor.

Sad because while watching him carry those items which some are as heavy as he is, I remembered my dad's words to instill and develop very early inside Tariq 2 things:

One is the love for the poor and needy; and second is the spirit of volunteerism.

Dad, if you are here to watch your grandson, you'd be beaming with pride by the sheer dedication and insistent Tariq showed the whole time, alhamdulillah.

I remember what you said dad,

'It is never too early to start...'

Though I doubt you then, I agree with you now...

Saturday, July 20, 2013

MOVIE TRAILER: Islam in Women featuring MWA member Isahah Janette Grant

MWA-NET (July 20, 2013) Muslimah Writers Alliance (MWA) is pleased to announce that Bridges Foundation has released the official movie trailer for its upcoming movie, Part III in The Fog is Lifting series, Islam in Women, featuring MWA founding member, Isahah Janette Grant. 

The documentary features the interviews of twelve revert Muslim women from Belgium, Britain, Greece, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Germany, USA, Netherlands and Sweden, discussing how their lives were enhanced by embracing Islam. 

Also included in the production, the interview of a non-Muslim woman, a professor from Al-Azhar University, and a professor in the Divinity School at Harvard University. The documentary reveals the secrets behind why Islam attracts more women than men, and aims to refute misconceptions about women in Islam. 

The July 19 trailer release marked a double celebration for Ms. Grant and her sister MWA members. After a prolonged absence of health insurance preempted her ability to seek medical attention, Ms. Grant announced receiving confirmation that her previously treated Hodgkins Lymphoma remains in remission. It was welcome news and an unforgettable blessing in this, the Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan

Isahah Janette Grant is a journalist for the Houston Islam Examiner and published author. Her publications include a children's book titled, Sameerah's Hijab and the First Day of School; Vol. 1, Lets Learn Our Religion, the first in a children's workbook series, now available online; and Redemption Song - Collected Poems. Ms. Grant's poetry has also been published in three anthology collections, various articles and in the Providence Journal Bulletin newspaper. She currently owns and runs Mindworks Publishing, a community based desktop publishing business, and is working on completing her first work of fiction. 

Ms. Grant is also a founding member of Muslimah Writers Alliance, an internationally based collaboration of Muslim women writers and advocates working to counter negative and inaccurate perceptions of members of the Muslim community, established in 2006.

She studied at Boston University in Massachusetts majoring in Print Journalism and resides in Missouri City, Texas with her husband and son.

MWA Director, Aishah Schwartz was also honored to interview three additional Muslimah reverts for the production back in October 2012 when she attended, as a speaker herself, the 4th Annual (Native European Muslim Assembly (NEMA) Camp in Tunisia. Ms. Schwartz interviewed (from Trailer 5) Anna Stamous (Greece), Pauline Muddle (Egypt) and Priscilla Niels (Indonesia).

Islam in Women marks the third movie/video production featuring MWA members. The first video was a mini-documentary produced for Al-Jazeera, featuring Schwartz and founding MWA member/children's book author, Rania Marwan.

The second production was another Bridges Foundation movie titled, "Jihad on Terrorism".  

Bridges Foundation strives, through projects such as The Fog is Lifting movie series, to open communication channels that narrow the gap of understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims by educating both sides about their cultural differences and similarities.  

A fully final version of the Official Trailer will be online after Ramadan.

Isahah Janette Grant on Facebook
Houston Islam Examiner

Mindworks Publishing 
MOVIE: Islam in Women Official Trailer
Muslimah Spotlight: MWA Director Aishah Schwartz address reverts at NEMA Camp
VIDEO: My Journey to Islam: American, Aishah Schwartz 
Muslimah Writers Alliance Documentary on Al-Jazeera Wednesday, Dec. 15 
MOVIE - Jihad on Terrorism (English w/Arabic subtitles) (Norwegian)
MWA Director, Aishah Schwartz, Appearing in Documentary 'Jihad on Terrorism'
VIDEO: Trailer, "Jihad on Terrorism" (short version)
VIDEO: Trailer, "The Fog is Lifting"
About "The Fog is Lifting" 

Monday, June 24, 2013

MWA's Zainab John Reviews Children's Book: Ramadan by Farah Kinani

Leila, the daughter of one of Kinani's friends, was the inspiration for this book. Leila told Kinani what happened one day at School when she told her friends she would not be joining them for lunch. Her friends who at the time did not know nor understand anything about Ramadan,the Muslim holy month of fasting, encouraged Leila to hide and eat or have something to drink, and some even thought Leila was being punished or on a time out. Kinani, shocked by the children's response, decided to visit Leila's school to give  a short talk about the holy month of Ramadan. Hence, this book is the author's attempt to educate and answer questions about Ramadan and to give mainly the non-Muslim reader, primarily children and teens, some idea of what Muslims do during Ramadan.

It is a well-informed piece of writing with several colourful illustrations, a glossary and Islamic calendar at the end of the book. The language and writing style is simple and very descriptive, making it easy for children to read and understand. Therefore, I  think it's a wonderful and smart choice of book for both Muslim and non-Muslim children alike to learn about Ramadan, its significance and the different rituals practised by Muslims during this month. I think it would also be very useful to teachers who wish to educate their class of majority non-Muslim children about Ramadan.

Zainab John on Facebook
Farah Kinani on Facebook
Originally Published at Muslimah Voices
Purchase "Ramadan" Online

Michelle Alicia John, also known by her Islamic name, Zainab John, is Guyanese by birth and born to parents who converted from Christianity to Islam. She migrated from Guyana, South America to London, England where she currently resides. She graduated from the University of Guyana with a Diploma in Social Work and Bachelor of Laws Degree (LLB) and is currently a Trainee Chartered Legal Executive Lawyer with the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX). Michelle is also a wife, stay at home mum, blogger, parent mentor, child protection advocate volunteer and an aspiring author.




Friday, June 14, 2013

عَائِشَة شوارتز-رئيسة تَحالُف الكَاتِبَات المُسْلِمَات: الصُورَة السَّلْبِيَّة للإسْلَام مَسْؤولِيَّة المُسْلِمِين (Aishah Schwartz)

This is an article written in May 2013 featuring Aishah Schwartz and her work as Director of Muslimah Writers Alliance (MWA). It was compiled by a group of students in the Faculty of Mass Communications/Journalism at Cairo University. The article was included in a magazine titled Le-Ta'arafou – To Know Each Other, as part of the students' graduation project. In a competition between 14 groups of students, the Le-Ta'arafou project was awarded a prize for third place in the event.

عَائِشَة شوارتز-رئيسة تَحالُف الكَاتِبَات المُسْلِمَات:
الصُورَة السَّلْبِيَّة للإسْلَام مَسْؤولِيَّة المُسْلِمِين

"لست في حاجة لِأنْ تكون مِثَالِيَّاً لِتُصْبِحً مَصْدَر إلْهَام لِلآخَرِين.. دَعْ الآخرين يسْتلهمون مِنْك طريقة تَعَامُلك مَعَ حقيقة أنَّك غير مِثَالِى." هذا الإقتباس هو ما جعل عَائشَة شُوارتِزْ -رئيسة تَحَالُفْ الكَاتِبَات المُسْلِمَات- قادرة على التَّحدًّثْ لِلْحُضُور فى إحدى مُحَاضَرَاتِهَا التى أصابَهَا فِيهَا القلق والتَّوتُّر؛ تقول عائشَة: "...كُنْتْ خَجُولَة جِدَاً وشَعُرت أنَّنِي لاَ أسْتَحِق حتَّى دعوتِى لِلتَحَدُّث...كُنْتُ أُفَكِّر فِي أنَّنِي لَسْتُ هَذَا الشَّخْص ولاَ ذَاك ولا أيّ شئٍ آخر، ولَكِنْ بعد ذلك قرأت هذه المَقُولَة، أدْرَكْتُ أنَّ كُلّ مَا عَلَيّا فِعْله هُوَ ذلك الشَّئ الذي أخْبَرَنِي بِهِ زَوْجِي: {فقط كُونِي عائشة}. والآن بعد تَجَارُبِى، أُؤمِنْ أنَّ أي شخص -عادي مِثْلي- يمكنه أن يَتَواصَل مَعَ الآخرين؛ البعضُ يقول بِأنَّنِي حقَّقَتُ أشْياءاً عظيمة -حيثُ أنَّنِي شُجَاعة-، لَكِنَّنِي لا أرى ذلك على الإطلاق..{أنا فقط عائشة}."

هذه هي عائشة شوارتز - رئيسَة تَحالُفْ الكَاتِبَات المُسْلِمَات Muslimah Writers Alliance" التي تحولت إلى الإسلام في عُمر الحادى والأربعين- هِىَ ناشطة حُقُوقِيَّة تُرَكِّزْ عَلَىَ حُقُوق الْمَرأة المُسْلِمَة، ودَاعِمَة لثوَرَات الرَّبيع العَربِى والنِّضَال السُّورِى.  وعملت على "قضيَّة الشَّعب الفَلسْطِينِى" لِسَنَوات قَامت خِلَالهَا بتوفير فُرص تَعْلِيمِيَّة لِلْطُلَّاب فِي غَزَّة. كَمَا تهتم شوَارتز بالكتابة والأعمال التطوعية، وهَذَا مَا دَفَعَهَا إلَىَ إنْشَاء اتِّحَاد الكَاتِبَات المُسْلِمَات فِي أمِرِيكَا، وقَامَت بإنتاج فيلم بعنوان "الجهاد ضد الإرهاب". وتمَّ تَصْنِيف مُدَوَّنَتها – التي أُنْشِأت فِي سِبْتَمْبِر 2009- كواحدة من أكثر المدونات الإسلامية زِيَارَة.

حَجَر الأسَاس

تَتَحَدَّث شُوَارتِز عَن بِدَايَة إنْشَاء "تَحَالُفْ الكَاتِبَات المُسْلِمَات" قائِلَة: "أسَّست التَّحَالُف فِي عام 2006 في موطني – آنذاك – واشُنْطُن، حيثُ أرَدّت أنْ أصْنَع شَيْئَاً يَجْمَعْ الكَاتِبات المُسْلِمَات  بطريقة تُتْبِت قُدْرَة النِّسَاء عَلَىَ العَمَل مَعَاً فِي تَنَاغُمْ مِنْ أَجْل قَضِيَّة الإسْلاَم وفِي سَبِيل الله -سُبْحَانَه وتَعَالَىَ-. والآن أشْعُر أنَّ الهدف قَدْ تَحَقَّق." وعَن أنْشِطَة التَّحَالُفْ، تُخبِرنَا شوارتِز بِأنًّه بالإضَافَة إلَىَ "الكِتَابَة"، فالتَّحَالُفْ يَقُوم بِمُنَاقَشَة القَضَايَا العَامَّة؛ وقَد انْضَمَّ التَّحَالُف إلَىَ "مُبَادَرَة الوَعي العَالَمِي" -التَّابِعْة لِلأُمَم المُتَّحَدَة- لإنْهَاء العُنْف ضِد النِّسَاء والفَتَيَات مِنْ خِلاَل حَمَلات "أورانج داي Orange Day" الشَّهْرِيَّة أوْ "اليوم البُرتُقَالِى"، والتي بدأتها "الشَّبَكَة العَالَمِيَّة لِلْشَّبَاب Global Youth Network". وعَنْ مُشَارَكَة عُضْوَات التَّحَالُفْ فِي المُبَادَرَة، تصف شوارتز الفَعَالِيَّات بأنَّهَا تَتِم مِنْ خِلَال "ارْتِدَاء الحِجَاب البُرْتُقَالِي يَوْمَ الخَامِسْ والعِشْرِين مِنْ كُل شَهْر". وتُضيف شوارتز أنَّه قد تمَّ إنْشَاء صفحة على موقعى التَّوَاصُل الإجْتِمَاعِى "فيس بوك Facebook" و"تويتر Twitter" لِلْتَروِيج لِلْحَمْلَة. ومِنَ الأنْشِطَة الأُخْرَى التِى قُام بِهَا التَّحَالُفْ العام الماضِى 2012، ذكرت شوارتز أنَّه تمَّ تنظيم الحملة السَّنَوِيَّة لِشهر رمضَان Annual Ramadan Buddy Campaign" لِدَعم المُسْلِمِين مِمَّن لَيسَ لَدَيْهِم نِظَام دعم مجتمعِى أو أُسِرِى. وتشْرَح شوارتز قائلة: "في حملتنا لِعَام 2012م أضَفْنَا عُنْصُر الإقْلاَع عَنْ التَّدْخِين لِلْحَمْلَة، وتمَّ الإعْلان عَنْهَا فِي إذَاعَة "صَوْت أمِرِيكَا Voice of America" و"إنْدُونِيسِيَا ريبابليكا أون لاين Indonisia Republika Online"، كَمَا أنْشَأْنَا مُدَوَّنَة باسم "إحْتِفَلَات تَحَالُفْ الكَاتِبَات المُسْلِمَات بِرَمَضَان MWA"، بالإضَافَة إلَىَ إنتاج فيلم وثائقي موجز عن أعمال عُضْوَات التَّحَالُفْ، مِنْ تأليف رَانْيَا مَرْوَان – عُضْوة بِالإتِّحاد-، وأُذِيعَ على قَنَاة "الجَزِيِرَة" بِاللُّغَة العَرَبِيَّة وأيضاً على موقع "يوتيوب YouTube".

سَائِق التَّاكسِى

ونَعُود مَعَ شوارتز إلى عام 2002 حيثُ تسْرِد لَنَا قِصَّة إعْتِنَاقِهَا الإسْلام، فتقُول: "تبدأ التَّجْرُبَة عِنْدَمَا انْتَقَلت إلَىَ وَاشُنْطُن بَعْدَمَا عِشْت ثَمَانِيَة عَشْرَ عَامَاً في مدينة صغيرة فِي الجنوب، وهُناك عَمِلت بِالْمُحَامَاة.  وفِى إحْدَى مَرَّات عَودَتِى مِنَ العمل استقليت سيارة أجرة للعودة إلى المنزل، وسرعان ما بدأت فى حديث مُطَوَّل مَعَ السَّائق، ونظراً لِظُرُوف عملى التى كانت تضطرَّنِى للبَقَاء فى العمل لوقتِ مُتَأخِراً، فقد كان يقلنِى يوميّاً. ونشأت بينى وبينَه عَلَاقَة صَداقة، وتبينَ لِى بعدها أنَّه مُسْلم. وكان لدي فُضُول لمعرفة المزيد عن دين صديقي الجديد؛ لذا مكثت في العمل لساعات أطول أجوب شبكة الانترنت بحثاً عن معلومات عن الإسْلام. ولم أكتفِ بذلك بلْ تواصلت من خلال البريد الإلكتروني مع بعض الأشْخاص الذين أعرف أنَّهُم اعتنقُوا الإسْلام مُؤخَّراً.  وتوصَّلتُ من خلال هذا البحث إلى حقائق أثَّرت فيىّ، ودفعتني لمعرفة المزيد عن هذا الدين. وقد كان مَا قرأته عن الإحترام والعدل في الإسْلام خاصةً في مُعَامَلَة الرِّجَال للنِسَاء هُوَ الدَّافِع الأقوى لإعْتِنَاقِي الإسْلام."

وعَنْ تَأثِير ذَلِك عَلَى رُؤيَتِهَا لِلْحَيَاةِ، تَقُول شوارتِز: "مَنْ هُمْ على دِرَايَة بِالثَّقَافَة الغَرْبِيَّة يَعْلَمُونَ أنَّه دَائِمَاً مَا يُقَال أنَّ "الْوَقْت هُوَ المَال". وعِنْدَمَا أصْبَحت مُسْلِمَة زَادَ تَقْدِيِرِي لِلْجَانِبْ الرَّوْحَانِي، حيثُ تَعَمَّقت فِي فَهْم الإسْلام فَأيْقَنت أنَّ الوقت ليسَ مُجَرَّد مَال، إنَّمَا "الوَقْتُ هَدِيَّة". ومِنْ هَذَا المُنْطَلَق حَاوَلت إيِجَاد تَوَازُن بَينَ أُمُور الدُّنْيَا ومَا هُوَ مُهِمْ لِلْنَجَاح فِي الآخِرَة. فَمُنْذُ بِدَايَة حَيَاتِي الجديدة كمُسْلِمَة دَعَوت الله -سُبْحَانَه وَتَعَالَى- فِي صَلَواتِي ألَّا يَقْتَصِر اهْتِمَامِي على العَمَل الدُّنْيَوِي ولَكِنْ يُسَخِّرْنِي لِخِدْمَة مُعْتَقَدَاتِي الدِّينِيَّة. وفِي يُونْيُو 2003 – بعد اعتناقي الإسلام بِعَامٍ وَاحِدْ- استقلت من عملي بالمحاماة، وفتح لِي الله باباً آخر؛ حيثُ اسْتَخْرَجت جَوَاز سَفَرِي الأول وذَهَبت فِي رِحْلَة لَمْ أَكُن أَتَخَيَّلَهَا بَدَأَت بِقَضَاء عام فِي المَمْلَكَة العَرَبِيَّة السُّعُودِيَّة، ثُمَّ إلَىَ مِصْر – حيث أقيم بها منذ عام 2007-  وبَاكِسْتَان والمَغْرِب والُأرْدُن وغَزَّة وتُونُسْ.

مَرَّة أُخْرَى... نـُحـنُ وَهُــمْ

وَكَانت فُرصَة جَيِّدَة أنْ تَنقِل لَنَا شوارتز صُورَة الإسْلَام بِالغَرب، حيثُ قالت أنَّهَا حتَّى عام 2002 لَمْ يَكُنْ لَديهَا إنْطِباع عِن الإسْلام لِأنَّهَا لَمْ تَسْمَع عَنه قبل ذَلِك؛ "وأرَىَ أنَّ المُسْلِمِين الآن فِي حَاجَة مَاسَّة إلَىَ أنْ يَكُونُوا نَمَاذِجْ مُشَرِّفَة لِلإسْلام." وتُضيف شوَارتِز: "أعْتَقِد أنَّ غَير المُسْلِمِين شَدِيِدِي الحِيِرَة تِجَاهَنَا فَليسَ لَدَيهِم فِكْرة صحيحَة وتصورهم الوحيد عن المُسْلِمِين مُسْتَلهم مِنْ وَسَائِل الإعْلَام، وهِيَ فِي الغَالِبْ تعرِضْ أخْبَاراً سَلْبِيَّة." وأشَارت شوارتز إلى أحدث الأمثلة على ذلك وَهُوَ "ربط المُسْلِمِين بِتَفْجِيرَات مَارَاثُون بُوسطن بالوِلايات المُتَّحِدَة الأمْرِيكِيَّة" التى وقعت فِى الخامس عشر من أبريل من العام الحَالِى."

وعَنْ الصُورَة السَّلبِية للإسْلام، تَرَى شوارتِز أنَّه بالأسَاس "الجهل بِشـىء" يجعل تأثير مَا يأتينَا عنه عبر وسائل الإعْلام يبدو حقيقياً، ولِذَلك فعَلَى المُسلِمين أنْ يكونوا قُدوة. وتُضيف شورتز إلى ذلك أنَّه فى أحيانٍ أخرى يكون السَّبَب هُوَ "عدم الرَّغبَة" فِى فهم الثَّقَافَات المُختَلِفَة، وتُشير شوارتز إلى أهمْيَّة "السَّفَر" كعاملٍ فعَّال فى معرفة الأمَم منْ حولنا، ورؤية صورة واقعيَّة، ولذلك تنصح الجميع بالتَّخلِّى عَن أى معتقد سلبى تجاه الآخرين والإنفتاح على البشريَّة، وتُؤكد أنَّ "من رأى ليس كمن قرأ عنْ التَّجْرُبَة". وتُشِير شوارتز إلى أهميَّة تفعيل دور الأزهر الشَّريف فِى بِناء جُسُورٍ تَوَاصُل بين العالم الإسْلامِى والغرب وتقديم الصُّورة الصحيحة للإسلام بينَ الأمَم، حيثُ تقول: "أعلم أنَّ نُفُوذ الأزْهَر بينَ الأُمَم المُسْلِمَة هَائِل، لَكنْ ليس لدينَا مَعْلُومَات عَنْ دَوْرِهِ فِى الغَربِ تُسَاعِدْنِي على تَقْييم هَذَا الدَّوْر (كـ أعْداد الأمْرِيكِيين الَّذِينَ تَخَرَّجُوا مِنَ الأزْهَر وحَصَلُوا عَلَىَ وَظَائِفْ بالمُؤسَّسَات الأمْرِيِكِيَّة) بِإسْتِثْنَاء "الإمَام صُهَيب وِيبْ" -إمَام المُجْتَمَع الإسْلَامِى بِمَركَز بُوسطُن الثَّقَافِى، أكبر مسجِد بِمنطِقَة "نِيو إنْجِلَاند"-، الذى تمَّت الإسْتِعَانَة بِهِ فِى إحدى الوَزَارَات." وتستطرد شوارتز قائلَة: "لَكِن حَتَّىَ الدَّافِعْ وَرَاءَ اسْتِقْدَامِه لِلعَمَل كَانَ لِمِلْىء فَرَاغ وَظِيفِى يتَطَلَّب شَخْصَاً قَادِراً عَلَىَ جَذب الشَّبَاب." أمَّا بِالنِسْبَة لِلإعْلَام الإسْلَامِى بِالغرب - تحديداً القَنَوَات التِّلِفِزيُونِيَّة- تقول شوارتز: "لنكُن مُنْصِفِين، فَهِى مُتَخَلِّفَة {عَنْ العصر} فِي طَريقَة العرض التي تسْتخدمها، وكذلك مُستوى التكنولوجيا المُطبَّقَة، وأشْعُر بِالمَلَل مِنْ مُتَابَعَتِهَا، إلَّا أنَّ السَّبَب فِي ذَلِك هُوَ ضَعْفِ المِيَزانِيَّة."

وعَنْ جُهُود "تَحَالُفْ الكَاتِبَات المُسْلِمَات" فِى هذَا السِّياق، تَقُول شُوارتِز أنَّه تَمَّ الإسْتِفَادَة مِن وسائل التَّواصُل الإجْتِمَاعِيَّة، وتمَّ إنْشَاء صَفْحَة على موقع "فيس بوك Facebook" تنقِل أخبار المسلمين بعيداً عن "فوبيا الإسْلام" The Non-Islamophobic Muslim News-- بحيثُ تَخْتَص الصَّفْحَة بِتَبادل أخْبَار المُسْلِمِين وإنْجَازَاتِهِم فِي مُجْتَمَعَاتِهم المَحَلِيَّة فِي جَمِيعْ أنْحَاء العَالَم، حتَّى تَكُون مَوْرِدَاً بَدِيِلاً لِلأخْبَار السَّلْبِيَّة التِي تُنْشَر عَنْ المُسْلِمِين. ولَدَيْنَا الآن مَا يَزِيِد عَنْ ثَمَانى مائة وخمس صفحات مثلها. بالإضَافَة إلَىَ ذَلِك تُشِير شوارتز لمجلَّة "المُسْلِم Muslim"؛ قَائِلَة: "طُوَال السَّنَوات السَّبعة الماضية كانت مجلة "المُسْلِم" عِبَارَة عَنْ مَنْشُورَات تصدر بِجِهُود الزُّمِيِلَات مِنْ عُضْوَات التَّحَالُفْ، وتَطْوِير مثل هذا المشروع مثَّلَ لَنَا تحدِيَّاً حَقَّقَنَا نَجَاحَاً بِالتَفَانِى والعَمَل الجَمَاعِى."  وتَطَرَّق الحِوَار إلى الإسْتِفسَار عَن "وَضع المرأة فى الغرب"، فتقول شوارتز: "الحمد لله، أنَّ المرأة فِى الغرب موجودة فِي مُجْتَمع إِذَا هُضِمَ فِيِه حَقَّهَا فَلَدَيها خَيَارَات عِدَّة تُمَكِّنهَا مِنَ الحُصُول عَلَيه، بِعَكس نظيراتِهَا فِى مُجْتَمَعَات أُخْرَىَ لَيسَ لِأصَواتِهنَّ أهَمِّيَّة، أو مجتمعَات أخْرَى حيثُ تكون المرأة - نفسَها- غَير مُهتمَّة بِمَعْرِفَة حُقُوقِهِا." وتُلَخِّص شوارتز وجهة نظرهَا تِجَاه القضِيَّة قائلَة: "تمكين المرأة يبدأ بإدراكِهَا لِحُقُوقِهَا."

يُذكَر أنَّ شوارتز شاركت في "الثَّوْرَة المِصْرِيَّة"، وحين سألنَاهَا "كيفَ تَرَى الثَّورَة بعد ُمُرُور ثَلاثَة أعوام" قَالت: "الفَرحة لمْ تدُم طَويلاً عَلَى الوُجُوه.. الأحوال تتدهور؛ البَطَالة والأسْعار والطَّاقة والكَهْرُبَاء، وضع المرأة، إخْتِفَاء الأمن مِنَ الشَّارِعْ المِصْرِى، وحتَّى الصَّحَفِيين يُواجِهُون المُلَاحَقَات القَضَائِيَّة." وتَعْتَبِر شوارتِز أنَّ الخُرُوج مِنَ الأزْمَة تتوقَّف عَلَى تحديد مَطَالِب المُواطِنِين مِن خِلال إجراء حِوار وَدُود. ومَازَال غير واضِح فى الأفُق، هُوَ قُدرة الشَعب بعد الثَّوَرَة على التَّواصُل والتَّغلُّبْ عَلَى إلإخْتِلَافَات فِيمَا بينِهِم، وخِلال الشُّهُور القَادِمَة أودّ أنْ أشهَد ذلك."

وفِى خِتَام الحِوَار وجَّهَت شوارتز رِسَالَة لِمَجَلَّة "لِتَعَارَفُوا" وقُرَّائِهَا قالت فِيِهَا:

"مُحَاوَلَة مَجَلَّة {لِتَعَارَفُوا} الوصُول إلَىَ قُرَّائِهَا لِتَشْجِيع احْتِرَام التَّنَوُّعْ هُوَ أمْرٌ جَدِير بِالْثَنَاء ونَحْنُ فِي أَمَسّ الحَاجَة إِلَيه- خَاصَّة وَأَنَّ مِصْر لاَ تَزَال تُكَافِحْ لإنْقَاذِ ثَوْرَتِهَا، والحِوَار هُوَ السَّبيل- وأنَا يُشَرِّفْنِي -لَيسَ فَقَطْ دَعْوَة "لِتَعَارَفُوا" لِي لِلْمُشَارَكَة فِي العَدَدِ الأوَّل مِنْهَا- ولَكِنْ أيضاً احْتِضَانِي مِنْ قبل المصريين وكأنِّي  واحِدَة مِنْهُم؛ فَمِصْر هِيَ حَقَاً بَيِتِي الثَّانِي. جَزَاكُمُ الله خَيرَاً. تَحِيَاتِى إلَىَ كُل واحِدَة مِنَ الأخَوَاتِ المُشَارِكَات فِي هَذَا المَسْعَى..أنْتُنَّ تَضَعْنَ النَّمُوذَج الذِي يُؤكِّد أنَّه عِنْدَمَا نَكُون مُتَّحِدين يُصْبِح بإمْكَانِنَا تَحْقِيق أهْدَافِنَا."

 غادة جمال- هناء العجمي

Sunday, April 28, 2013

MWA Member Cancer Care Support Fund

Please help our sister in need, insha'Allah.
Jazakallahu khairan.
Isahah Janette Grant, a founding member of Muslimah Writers Alliance (MWA), is in need of our help.

"I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in March of 1999 at the age of 22. I underwent 5 and 1/2 cycles of chemotherapy from April 1999 through September of 1999 and have been cancer free since my last examination in December of 2003. I have been denied medical coverage because of my health history and have not been financially able to pay for a full examination to check on whether the cancer has reappeared since 2003 and would like to be able to be seen to ensure that the cancer has not re-emerged because I have been experiencing similar symptoms to those that I had experienced during the years prior to the original diagnosis since early this year."

Janette is not only a valued member of MWA, she is a wife, a mother and more. She is an overall asset to her community utilizing her writing talent for the Houston Examiner. Janette is also founder of Mindworks Publishing, author Sameerah's Hijab and the First Day of School, and she will be featured in an upcoming film representation titled, Islam in Women.

But it is also important to understand that April 2013 marked her 15th year as a Muslim revert (read her story here). This makes Janette not only a valued community member, but our sister as well. And 10-years between post-cancer follow-up examinations is 10-years too many.

Please help us put Janette's mind to rest by making your generous donation today to help her get the testing needed so she can know for sure, one way or another, if the symptoms she has been experiencing are benign or a sign that her cancer has returned.

We are committed to seeing this through for our sister for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, and also want you to know that any funds raised by this campaign that exceed the initial need will not be squandered, but kept aside in this special account for use any time that medical services are required related to Janette's cancer prognosis and continued cancer care, which includes regular check-ups.

To give you an idea of some of the real-time costs of cancer treatment and medications, please read the article, Cancer Specialists Slam High Cost of Drugs.

"The cost of leukemia drugs in America is more than twice as high as the average of 15 other countries. And it's not just leukemia medications. Oncologists are increasingly concerned about the soaring prices of other cancer drugs as well."

Imagine the cost for patients like Janette who are uninsured and uninsurable.

Jazakallahu khairan (God bless) all those who are moved to be of support to this beloved sister.

Aishah Schwartz
Director, Muslimah Writers Alliance

----- is also the platform being used in support of the Boston bombing victims.