Finding My Voice

Every year, on the 31st of December, I feel like it’s important to just take a few moments to reflect back on the year and take note of some of the few notable lessons we have all learned. So, this is my attempt to do just that and I have tried my hardest to narrow it down to five.

  • January to December, I transitioned from my second year at university to my final year and one thing any maturing adult will tell you is that your opinions and thoughts will constantly evolve and I can vouch for this- my stances on certain topics and my passions have expanded more than I can describe and the way I think now is completely different and this will undoubtedly continue to adapt as I grow. It’s altogether a confusing and sometimes scary but wonderful experience so enjoy the process.
  • Friends are one of the few treasures that have constantly come into my life and every year I make new ones who bring me something that I never knew was absent from my life. This year was no different and I am always grateful for those friendships that are soul-fulfilling and spiritually nurturing. I have met people who are probably capable of losing more compassion that many of us can ever hope to obtain in our lifetime and I hope everyone can experience a friendship that is so rewarding.
  • Not knowing what the future holds is okay. My faith and trust in Allah has strengthened and I am starting to not only believe but also understand that what is meant for me will always be. Be kind to yourself.
  • Books will always be my retreat- having struggled to keep up with regular reading (at least, with literature that wasn’t on a module reading list) I’m glad my summer consisted of catching up on this neglected hobby. My book-buying habit, on the other hand, maybe that’s something I’ll consider sorting out for next year.
  • I am also starting to find my voice and not only can I hear it, but I can also confidently stand up and defend it- a skill, albeit not 100% mastered yet and one that has taken years to materialise, I’m glad is beginning to find its feet.

Women breaking the barriers in 2018

Our list of women of exceptional talent, resilience, and courage – all defining 2018.

Nadia Murad

You may have heard of Nadia Murad over the past couple of years, a Yazidi human rights activist who in 2014, was captured and tortured (including being burned by cigerettes and raped) by ISIS in her hometown Kocho, Sinjar in northern Iraq.

Ever since gaining her freedom, she has resiliently advocated for the cause of the members of the Yazidi community, a minority group who reside in northern Iraq – who ISIS has targeted and systematically abuse. This year, her selfless efforts were recognised by being jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Credits: Jason Schmidt

We are incredibly moved and inspired by Nadia’s story and activism.

Congress Women

Ilhan Omar of Minnesota – one of the first Muslim women elected to US Congress this year.

We have covered the incredible achievements of these women in our piece Making History.

Saudi women campaigning for the right to drive

In June this year, women in Saudi Arabia were finally (finally!) allowed to drive. This reform in Saudi Arabian society was a long time coming – particularly after the arrests of Saudi women who were jailed for defying the law banning women to drive. One of the prime advocates for this cause is Manal Al-Sharif, who in 2011 was arrested for driving in the country, and subsequently started to campaign for women’s rights in the region.

Manal Al – Sharif, credits: Abduljalil Al-Nasser

Another notable figure is Loujain al-Hathloul, who is still under arrest for campaigning for women’s rights in the country. More damningly, there are reports from Amnesty about alleged torture of Saudi women who campaign for the right of women to drive.

Olivette Otele

Credits: Bath Spa University

In 2018, Olivette Otele, a historian of French and British colonialism, became the first black female professor in the UK at Bath Spa University. Not only this is an incredible achievement, particularly for black women but also sheds light on the grave lack of diversity within higher levels of academia.

This year, a study undertaken by the Royal Historical Society, named Race, Ethnicity and Equality found that only 0.5% of historians working in UK universities are black. Further to this, only 20 professors in the UK are black. She hopes that her appointment to professorship will “open the door for many hard-working women, especially black women in academia”.

All of these women collectively demonstrate one thing – exceptional resilience and courage. Breaking barriers and paving way for other women of colour to take similar steps. And finally ,to never be afraid to disrupt the system, no matter how many scream back at you.

2018 Reflections – growth is not linear.

By Kolchuma Begum

What did I learn from 2018? I learnt that …

Growth is not linear.

What I mean by this is that we tend to measure our growth on a timeline, when we aren’t making the progress we want, we tend to think of ourselves as failures because the time of growth is no longer as fast as it was previously. Personal growth can happen at a monumental size at some points, yet in other times, it can feel quite slow. Thus, it is unhealthy for us to frequently compare or measure our growth with that of others or from another phase in our lives.

Reading novels for fun.

I forgot how enjoyable it is to pick up a book and become immersed in its pages. For those of us who are doing humanities at university tend to have a large amount of readings to do every week and hence it is so important to not lose the hobby of reading in the midst of all those assignments. Instead of scrolling through social media, try picking up a book instead and you will see how much more rewarding and fruitful it is for your soul and mind.

Education is not solely confined to institutions of higher education.

Life is more interesting and enjoyable if we learn something new each day. This world is full of wonder and it would be a shame if we do not take it upon ourselves to learn more about it.

Self-help is not only to solely focus on ideas such as bubble baths tend to be thrown around when it comes to the discussion of self-help.

Instead, helping others is a form of self-help. There is a specific type of gratification that arises from knowing that you were able to help someone else and that gratification cannot be found elsewhere other than being at service to others.