Muslim women are often stereotyped as voiceless, victimized, and oppressed. This narrative has been used on-screen and in newspapers, but is it a reality?
Well, the majority of Canadian Muslim women contend that there is another more accurate narrative that needs to be shared and celebrated. Between getting a higher education, raising a family, volunteering, and working as professionals, Muslim women lead active and fulfilling lives to which they express feelings of empowerment and gratitude due to their faith.
It is exactly this sentiment that the Being ME conference organizers want to tap into. The team of aspiring young ladies volunteering to organize the annual conference have been able to bring together students, social activists, engineers, doctors, lawyers, and community leaders to celebrate their common sisterhood.
Empowering and Celebrating Muslim Women
Hundreds of Muslim women are expected to gather at the Calgary TELUS Convention Centre this weekend for the annual Being ME Conference on December 17th, 2016. The convention has been taking place in downtown Calgary for the last two years and is one of the largest Muslim gatherings in Alberta with over 1,200 attendees. Some of North America’s most influential Islamic thinkers and scholars will be speaking at the conference.
Dynamic and thought-provoking speakers at this years conference include Yasmin Mogahed, Fuseina Mohamed, Rania Lawendy, Hafsa Dean Thompson, and Megan Wyatt. Topics to be discussed at the conference this Saturday include; maintaining an unwavering belief in God, living beyond the mundane, facing adversity, and women’s roles in today’s society.
Organizers say that the intention is not to shy away from discussing the real challenges that women face. Several issues will be covered in the main lectures, along with intimate workshops on domestic violence, physical and emotional health, and breaking the glass ceiling.
“I think every woman will have something beautiful and inspiring to take away from the topics we will cover. Our team has been working very hard to make this conference a reality and we hope that women from all over Western Canada are able to be a part of this gathering” – Faiza Hussain, the Project Manager for Being ME 2016.
Who do Muslim women look up to?
Having positive, strong and relatable female role models that resonate with all age groups and backgrounds is more important than ever. This year, conference organizers want to highlight the life of Aisha (May God Be Pleased With Her), the beloved wife of Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of God be Upon Him), who was the definition of an empowered woman. A devoted servant of Allah, she was eloquent and compassionate in the face of hardship and ease. She was a scholar, a healer, a teacher, and much more. Her life provides lessons for women striving to be the best versions of themselves.
Girls Want to Have Fun Too!
In addition to inspiring lectures and workshops, these women are looking forward to having some fun too. The event will showcase up and coming local performers in the Talent Show, a Muslim women’s Fashion Show featuring trendy local retailers, a colorful Bazaar experience, and a designated section reserved for pampering where visitors can indulge in massages, henna and many more exciting things!
Being ME Around The World
Being ME, a branch of Mercy Mission, started in 2011. The passion behind it was to bring Muslim women together for a one-day conference where they could celebrate their faith. Being ME has since taken place in Australia, the U.K., Malaysia, and the USA. Being ME brought together a record number of 1,200 Muslim women in Calgary last year.
Topics to be Covered
[collapse title=”The Fragrant Upper Hand“]
Having Unwavering Tawakkul
by Fuseina Mohamad
Aisha (t), known as Umm-al-Teeb (the Mother of Fragrance), was generous with her wealth and placed great importance on the act of charity. She gave with the utmost ihsan and put fragrance on the money she would give in charity because she knew that it reached Allah (I) before it reached the receiving person. Her unwavering tawakkul in Allah (I) was unprecedented when it came to giving for His sake. She would give in charity everything she had even if all she had was a date. This session explores the concept of giving without counting and how her example emanates the perfume of good will and devotion.
[/collapse][collapse title=”Living Beyond the Mundane“]
Doing More with Life than Survival
by Rania Lawendy
Is survival enough in the sight of Allah (I)? What about those who wish to take on the world? What can we do to take it to the next level? Extract lessons from the life and times of Aisha (t) and learn how it can be applied to initiate a life beyond survival.
[collapse title=”Women of Makkah vs Women of Madinah“]
Navigating Cultural Differences in Religion
by Hafsa Dean Thompson
Aisha (t) was born in Makkah and grew up in Madinah. This played a key role in who she was as a woman and leader. The women of ansar did not shy away from publicly asking questions on sensitive topics whereas that was not the norm in the Makkan culture. This session will explore how to create and build dialogue and community in a space where there may be cultural limitations or resistance.
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What Role do Women Play in It?
by Fuseina Mohamad
Aisha (t) was known as one of the foremost people of knowledge of her time. She preserved our religion by narrating more than 2,000 ahadith. This session emphasises the significance of seeking and deseminating knowledge in the Islamic sciences based on the example of Aisha (t) and countless others in our history, and seeks to navigate a path through an unnecessarily gendered field.
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Seeking Solace in Times of Difficulty
by Yasmin Mogahed
Aisha (t) suffered in the face of slander, but she carried herself through intense difficulty with patience and unwavering faith. This session explores the true meaning of fasabrun jameel (beautiful patience) against the backdrop of today’s insistent climate of fitna.
[collapse title=”Childless and Widowed“]
A Lesson in Taqwa
by Yasmin Mogahed
“Who will marry her? Her life is over now.” These comments are passed so easily in today’s society towards women who have lost their fathers or husbands, are divorced or separated and those that cannot conceive children. They are judged, ridiculed and shamed but would we treat Aisha (t) the mother of the believers, the same way? She was a widow and did not have any children, yet strove to become a successful leader and an independent woman. This session will focus on fighting this stigma that has plagued our society and how to find contentment in such situations.
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Raising Teenagers in a World of Drugs, Pornography, and Premarital Sex
by Hafsa Dean Thompson
As children exit childhood and move towards maturity, it can be a confusing time for parents and adolescents alike. Aisha (t) was a Mother to all generations and this parenting session will focus on tools and techniques to help all mothers develop their children into pious and confident adults.
[collapse title=”The Glass Ceiling“]
Women’s Roles in Today’s Society (Panel Discussion and Q&A)
with Rania Lawendy, Fuseina Mohamad, Hafsa Dean Thompson, Megan Wyat
On the back of Hillary’s spectacular defeat in the US presidential election, the questions regarding glass ceilings are back in the mainstream media. Was she held to a greater scrutiny because she was a woman? Are women not allowed any mistakes? Was there a greater expectation of empathy just because she was a woman? What about in Muslim society? What do we consider to be the glass ceiling for Muslim women? Is there one? Are male centric ayahs in the Quran an indication of a glass ceiling? Is the focus on maternity or home in Islamic discourse for women a means to subjugate women?