Category Archives: Interviews

20141206_104531

Interview with Brooke Alam, Creative Etsy Shopkeeper

Masha’Allah you are an Etsy shopkeeper. Please tell us about your shop.

My shop name is inspireDeen.  It’s a play on words, similar to ‘inspiring’, but inspireDeen – to inspire ‘faith’. My name is Brooke Alam. I made inspireDeen as a place for me to display and sell my works of art. At this time I do not have a set styling or product that I make or sell. Anything and everything I make I put on Etsy to see what responses I get. This has helped me learn what products people are looking for and are interested in. I do tend to work mostly with acrylics. My favorite projects so far are custom requests from buyers. I don’t want to limit myself with a set style.

20140829_095115Why did you start painting and what or who inspired you to open your Etsy shop?

I was actually encouraged to start painting again by my husband. I had initially been an Art Major in college, but had changed my career direction to Nursing. Since my schooling years I had not given time to my painting or my creative side. I have practised as a nurse since 2006 and truly love it, but have always kept the knack for painting and sketching in the back of my mind – never making the time to practice. In January of 2012 my husband and I were blessed with our first child, alhamdulillah.  Since his birth I returned to my job (after leave) on a part time/as needed status, once a week.

I feel so blessed to have this opportunity to spend all my other time caring for my son, masha’Allah. When he was between the age of one and two years, after testing and such, we were made aware of some issues involving his sensory system. He was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) which is a form of autism. I think it is normal for many parents to feel quite responsible or guilty when a problem arises with their child. But we also know that, alhamduliliah, Allah has reasons everything.

Still, the diagnosis was devastating at first for our family, but we quickly found that with therapy he can and has shown so much improvement, alhamdulillah! How fortunate we are to have the opportunity to get him the therapy he needs. This point in my life resulted in my having so much stress. I found though, if I took the times he napped to draw or sketch or paint, it was very therapeutic for me. After eight years I picked up a paint brush and it felt so good, alhamdulillah! With my husband’s encouragement I made the step to open an Etsy shop. Why not see what my craft could blossom into!!?! Alhamdulillah I have had a fair amount of interest and I am so very thankful, masha’Allah.

20141227_103535What is your favourite activity to nourish your creativity and why?

I love to go to flea markets if time and my son allow. Even looking at other artists’ work can spark ideas in my mind. I find ideas just come from the most random moments in life. Maybe when I’m just starting to fall asleep an idea will come and I have to put a note in my phone to remind me of this idea. My sketch book is full of random little sayings or colour schemes and things to help jog my memory later.

Does anything hinder your creativity? What is your top tip for recovery from such hindrances?

I would say being tired is my largest hindrance to creativity. I actually find I have so many ideas running through my head alhamdulillah, but never enough time to get them all put down on paper or canvas.

Who’s work has inspired your style?

I think I have a problem in that I LOVE so many different art mediums and styles! If you take a look at my shop you will see that I have many different styles going on. What I like is what I do and try. I hope that in the future I can settle into a style that I am best at insha’Allah. I adore work by Amira Rahim, a contemporary artist out of Dubai. Masha’Allah, she has a beautiful style and eye for colours and light. I so greatly admire her work. As far as Etsy shops go, Hafsa Taher is tops!!!!!! Her shop is a beautiful one with such a variety and scope of products. I have no idea where she finds the time!  Another artist I love to follow is Hafsa Khizer.  She has awesome Islamic Calligraphy that is very contemporary. And I have to mention Farrah Azam as being one of the first artists I found on instagram. MashaAllah her ‘Bespokehenna‘ henna designs and style are so unique and beautiful. All of these sisters can be found on Facebook and Instagram. I wouldn’t say my style is like any other theirs. I’m running in my own lane, but I find that their colours and movement, and love for what they do, does resonate through their work to me.

20141206_104531What advice would you give to aspiring Etsy shopkeepers?

Top thing is to listen to advice you are given from other fellow shopkeepers! I have found that the Etsy community itself is such a helpful group of people alhamdulillah!   Countless times I have been messaged with advice from random shopkeepers just wanting to add a bit of advice and encouragement. Listen to them and take heed of what they say; some are expert at this business. I found advice has always been helpful. I too am willing to help anyone needing a bit of advice! insha’Allah I too have much to still learn, as everyone is always growing and improving at their craft.

Young Muslimah Magazine loves to highlight good reads. What book have you read that you would you recommend to our readers and why?

It’s embarrassing to say, but since my son has been born my reading time has greatly reduced unfortunately. I find a bit of time before sleep to read Qur’an and that has been my routine for a while. I will say though that my husband and I have found another way to engage in Islamic lessons as a family including our son. We really enjoy watching Islamic lectures on YouTube. Omar Suleiman and Nouman Ali Khan are our favourites at this moment. Masha’Allah such well rounded speakers that really reach out to the younger population with words that engage present day problems and issues. So I would recommend giving them a listen. Their lectures always leave us with much to discuss and think about, as well as actions to apply in our lives. May Allah reward them in their efforts to aid our Ummah to find balance in our lives.

20141226_115431What new projects can readers look forward to from you and where is the best place for readers to find out about it?

I have many ideas literally running through my head and not nearly enough time or energy to put them into action. Insha’Allah I will accomplish some of them like more mixed media pieces including melted wax, crayon, and acrylics. I have really been inspired by the look it produces and I have not seen it in the art world in great numbers.  I also want to add more pieces of large watercolour pieces. For a while now I have been wanting to add an idea including cork board material with special custom messages put on it, Islamic in nature.

I think overall I want my shop to exude positivity and appeal to the Muslim and non-Muslim populations. I find that many non-Muslim people are drawn to sayings the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, and the actions he made his sunnah. Masha’Allah there is a bridge that can be made and used to teach our non-Muslim brothers and sisters and I want to help make that happen, insha’Allah.

I believe art, all arts, can convey these messages and build relationships and understanding between different peoples. I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to make connections with all people, bonding our common humanity.

My Etsy shop is found at inspireDeen.etsy.com. My instagram is called inspireDeen and my email is inspireDeen@gmail.com. And I can be found on Facebook at InspireDeen Art and Islamic Art by inspireDeen.

Thank you for your time and support to our readers; jazakillahkhayr.

Thank you, jazakAllah khayr.

 Reclaim Your Heart Poster

19

Interview with Hafsa Khizer, Creative Etsy Shopkeeper

5Masha’Allah you are an Etsy shopkeeper. Please tell us about your shop.

It’s called The Reminder Series. I paint contemporary styled large calligraphy art with ‘reminders’ on them, and small canvases on easels that are perfect as gifts. Among hand designed carefully crafted candles, boxes, vases, and other items, I also make witty greeting cards for awkward situations that only Muslims would understand.

4Why did you start making Islamic art and what or who inspired you to open your Etsy shop?

‘Reminders Benefit the Believers’ and I’m also really greedy for a portion of other people’s reward. One of my friends has a good word for this: ‘ajr gremlin’. I need all that I can get!

I was looking for healing when I enrolled for Qur’anic tafseer at Alhuda Institute, a two year program that I intended to walk away from as a changed person. I felt things would inspire me for a while, and then slowly fade away, but I wanted them to stay! So I started writing down any reflection that healed me on a little coloured note and sticking it on my wall. When I finished the course, I wanted to share everything I learned from those notes – I started painting a lot and the reminder series was born.

14Do you consider your work as a form of ibaadah (worship)?

That Is the hope, insha’Allah it is!

What advice would you give to aspiring artists?

Whatever you do, just don’t stop. Make du’a.

What advice would you give to aspiring Etsy shopkeepers?

I’m not really good at giving Etsy advice, I drove a couple people nuts when I first started!

 

Screen shot 2014-11-08 at 12.39.33 PMWhat new projects can readers look forward to from you and where is the best place for readers to find out about it?

I run a photography project ‘Traumatic Stains’ where I’ve combined my love for Islam, Self Development, and Conceptual Photography. I document the different stages of loss, grief, sadness, hope, and healing. I make photos of realisations that have healed my soul with the hope that they might heal you too. And insha’Allah this year I am publishing my first book with my complete photography works titled ‘When tears Don’t Dry – little lights on your journey to inner healing’ with similar healing messages from my study. You can find me at www.hafsakhizer.com

Thank you for your time and support to our readers; jazakillahkhayr.

Jazak Allahu khayran for giving me the opportunity to share my work.

Reclaim Your Heart Poster

HafsaCreates Card

Interview with Hafsa Taher, Creative Etsy Shopkeeper

Masha’Allah you are an Etsy shopkeeper. Please tell us about your shop.

HafsaCreates is an online store where you can find my handmade cards and gifts. Etsy is a global marketplace, so I’m blessed to work with buyers from Australia to Canada.

 

HafsaCreates CardWhy did you start your crafting with card and what or who inspired you to open your Etsy shop?

My main inspiration to make handmade crafts was my niece, Zarah. When she was three, we worked together creating a Hajj lapbook, Ramadan cards, and painting. Alhamdulillah it grew from there. Now my niece is seven and we still craft together. Her latest project is making bookmarks to raise money for a food bank.

 

You fit your Etsy work in around your full time work. As with work vacations, are there times of the year when you need to close shop?

For the most part, I’m able to manage both Etsy and my full time work, and haven’t had to close my shop yet. But there were times when I was overwhelmed with orders, I had use my vacation hours at work to complete my orders on time.

 

Do you plan to grow your Etsy business?

Over the next year or so, I plan to self host my shop. This means my website – HafsaCreates.com – will host all my products and have a shopping cart functionality for buyers to check out.

I’m also looking into teaching paper crafts locally.

 

What are you favourite and least liked elements of running an Etsy shop?

HafsaCreates Paper ClipsMy favourite would be getting to know buyers from around the world! There was from one Ireland, and another from Singapore and we became friends and now we follow each other on Instagram.

My not-so-favourite elements of running a business would be the self-promotion. I struggle with this because personally self promotion doesn’t sit well with me. I tend to downplay my creation, and yes, I am my worst critic! :)

 

What advice would you give to aspiring Etsy shopkeepers?

They say getting started is half the battle. Though that is true in some ways, staying consistent is the bigger battle. Creating an Etsy shop will take you 30-45 minutes – literally! The challenging part is learning how to take better photos, so the buyers know what they are getting. Writing clear and concise product descriptions that answer buyers questions about the products. Also, there’s a learning curve involved – especially with SEO – so don’t give up. Once you learn it, you’ll be ahead of the game in no time!

 

Young Muslimah Magazine loves to highlight good reads. What book have you read recently that you would you recommend to our readers and why?

My all time favourite book is Companions Of The Prophet (2 Volume Set By Abdul Wahid Hamid). Because it shows you how the sahabas – all blessed – were yet different personalities and each had unique strengths. It reminds me that there is no one particular task or profession that leads you closer to Allah, but in fact, it’s an array of things anyone can do  – whatever your situation may be, we must always strive to be productive and beneficial to the people around us.

 

HafsaCreates MugWhat new projects can readers look forward to from you and where is the best place for readers to find out about them?

I’m working on a number of new projects, but I don’t want to give away too much yet! :)

You can find me at

Facebook: http://facebook.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/

Instagram: http://instagram.com/

Pinterest: http://Pinterest.com/

Also, you can sign up for my mailing list and receive updates straight to your inbox: http://hafsacreates.

 

Thank you for your time and support to our readers; jazakillahkhayr.

JazakAllah khayr.

Reclaim Your Heart Poster

YMM Dec 2014 rose

Introducing Etsy Interviews

Insha’Allah in our next main issue in February 2015 we’ll host interviews with Muslimah Etsy shopkeepers including Hafsa Taher and Hafsa Khizier….

“They say getting started is half the battle. Though that is true in some ways, staying consistent is the bigger battle.”

Hafsa Taher, of ‘HafsaCreates

Young Muslimah Magazine especially love her box ‘Eid cards masha’Allah.

“‘Reminders Benefit the Believers’ and I’m really greedy for a portion of other people’s reward. One of my friends has a good word for this: ‘ajr gremlin’. I need all that I can get!”

Hafsa Khizier, of the ‘TheReminderSeries

Young Muslimah particularly love Hafsa Khizier’s decorated notebooks masha’Allah.

Suma Din Turning the Tide cover

Interview with Author Suma Din

Thank you to author Suma Din for taking the time to answer our questions and connect with our aspiring Muslimah writers insha’Allah

How would you describe yourself as a writer?

One that’s drawn to reality, sometimes off the beat, but real life fascinates me, as do people’s stories.

Can you give us a peek into your passions that describe your personality?

That’s a deep question! Here are a few of mine: meeting people from very diverse backgrounds; village life in different countries and their crafts; art – especially textiles; international food, beautiful natural places, especially mountains; poetry and walking. I enjoy true stories, through a variety of mediums: books, theatre, film, interviews, live story-telling. Not sure what that all says about me though!

What or who motivated you to get started in developing your craft professionally?

Suma Din Turning the Tide coverThe motivation for my first book started as a need to inspire women who felt down, or always read negative things about Muslim women. I set out to compile inspirational (translated) verses from the Qur’an and hadiths in a creative way that would be visually pleasing. As the collection of motivational quotes grew, the ‘creative’ bit emerged as a theme about water. I love water in all it’s shapes, forms, colours and hues. As I had never put a book together, I was hugely helped and motivated by an accomplished writer and publisher – Abdul Wahid Hamid (author of ‘Islam the Natural Way’ and ‘Companions of the Prophet’ MELS) who guided me all the way through to submitting my manuscript to the publishers.

What insights into your ‘good days’ working routine can you share with our aspiring artists?

Good days are when writing or researching starts early in the morning! Knowing that something productive has been achieved by noon is a huge accomplishment. For me the afternoons and evenings have always been busy, so making the most of quiet times is the key.

Keeping your intention in mind is vital, that’s one way you overcome difficulties and keep your eye firmly on achieving the goal at the end.

What are your three top tips for maintaining momentum when working alone?

Plan for each day the night before. Decide on which writing project you’ll be focussing on and exactly what you want to achieve the next day.

Share your short term goals with someone who will ask you about them.

Communicate with someone ‘out there’ who can give you critical feed back on your project.

How do you incorporate challenges into your process?

The whole process of writing, submitting ideas and working towards publication is a Challenge – with a capital C! It’s difficult to be specific. To give your readers a flavour though, all sorts of things can go wrong. A book was published with the wrong paper weight that made the pages and cover floppy, like a brochure, instead of a book. This was a mistake made by the printers, not the publishers!

For another book, I chased a photographer’s company for a couple of weeks, with several phone calls and emails for some important photographs of a wedding I wanted to use in a children’s book called Special Times. After all the chasing, I was told they’d lost the hard disk.

What these small things have done is teach me what to look out for and anticipate, what to double check and how to work on solutions, fast! There were much bigger challenges with other projects, and again they’ve taught me valuable lessons. The message is that writing is only half of the equation, publishing is another animal altogether – and there are plenty of hurdles with both. One last thing, I’ve had wonderful editors, so you’re not alone on the lows!

Keeping your intention in mind is also vital, that’s one way you overcome difficulties and keep your eye firmly on achieving the goal at the end.

Which of your own books would you recommend to our young Muslimah readers?

(Eyes covered by YMM)
(Eyes covered by YMM)

Dr Hany El Banna: A Servant to the World’s Poorest People. It was a huge honour and pleasure to write this book. It’s a short biography about a founder of the charity Islamic Relief. Rather than just being about the charity, it’s about the motivation of Dr Hany, his faith-centred perspective and how he made his wildest dreams and visions about the charity come to life with the good people around him. A person, a youth worker, in a workshop I was presenting the book to, said he read it in one night and it’s changed his perspective on life. Not bad, alhamdullilah! I hope you’ll enjoy and I’d love to read your reviews and thoughts on it. There’s more information on it here: http://www.sumadin.com/mmw-series/4581970458

 

(Facial features covered by YMM)

One Day: Around the world in 24 hours is a children’s book about time zones and the parallel lives of children around the world, over a 24 hour period. Even though it’s for children aged 7+, for aspiring writers who might want to write for children, it’s an example of how you can be original and create your own genre. This is non-fiction, but has fifteen fictional stories in it, and much more! There’s heaps more about this title on my website: http://www.sumadin.com/one-day/4581896349

Please like the One Day Facebook page too, if you’re on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/One-Day/1467607856804987

For late teen Muslimahs here, I hope they’ll be inspired by a chapter or two, maybe more, of my first book Turning the Tide, Reawakening the Woman’s Heart and Soul. This may be a book they would like to dip in and out of. Most of the feed back I’ve had over the ten years since it came out, was that it’s an inspirational and motivational gift book. I think this review sums up what it’s about quite well:

Suma Din Turning the Tide coverThis is a beautiful, valuable and inspiring book. The journey from the innocence of a newly-created soul to the anticipation of the soul preparing to return to its Maker, is a journey of hope, love, encouragement and faith. An excellent book. Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood, Author, Educationalist and Counsellor

Here’s an excerpt from the ‘Myriad Voices’ section I wrote for chapter 3 called ‘Youth Streams’. I hope some of you will find it speaks to you!

Who am I really?

At home I fulfil all their wishes, say what they want to hear,

Read and watch what they don’t mind much.

Outside I step into a different me – what I say, what I see,

what I think – I am free.

Or am I an echo? A shadow of my friends?

Hear what they hear

Say what they say

See what they see

Think what they…

-do I think?

Am I me?’

© The Islamic Foundation 2007

And importantly, what new works can readers look forward to from you and where can we go to access them?

I’m working on an adult title right now, and children’s texts that don’t have a publisher yet, so not spilling any beans there! Anything that’s about to come out will be flagged up on my website for children’s publications www.sumadin.com

Thank you for your time and support to our readers mashaAllah; jazakillahkhayr.

Thank you for inviting me to your site. I hope your readers find inspiration in the fantastic efforts of Young Muslimah Magazine.

Dr Dogan Exemplary Role Model FRONT COVER

Interview With Author Dr Recep Dogan

Thank you to author Dr Recep Dogan for taking the time to answer our questions and inspire our aspiring Muslimah writers inshaAllah.

How would you describe yourself as a writer?

  • A social activist and volunteer who is dedicated to informing the community
  • Outspoken and has a sense of humour
  • Curious and always searching for the truth

What or who motivated you to get started in developing your craft professionally?

My academic history (masters and PhD) has affected my development in terms of writing on Islamic topics. Most importantly, when I began lecturing in Australia in Islamic studies, I noticed both students and community do not know Hanafi school of thought well enough for there isn’t much English literature in this regard. So I felt a deep need to fill this gap and therefore wrote Five Pillars of Islam first.

Dr Dogan Five pillars FRONT COVER

What insights into your ‘good days’ working routine can you share with our aspiring artists?

Time management and deep concentration are the key factors to writing successfully. For this reason my 400+ page book was written within a couple of months. When this book was written, Arabic, English and Turkish resources were used and analysed to bring out a comprehensive work accessible to everyone. So resource is an important factor in writing. Aspiring artists should manage time very well, find a quiet and suitable place to concentrate and study/analyse/review a lot of classical and contemporary literature based on the topics they wish to write about.

In Ramadan, how do your working routine and public interactions change? Do you have specific goals for this year?

Ramadan is a very busy period of the year so my work load just increases. I attend iftar functions and give public lectures. I engage in interfaith dialogue as I feel it is very important to introduce Islam to other cultures and help remove bias and prejudice ideas through the help of the blessed month of Ramadan.

What are your three top tips for maintaining momentum when working alone?

Time is a magical tool which makes huge differences for the one who is able to manage and utilise it in the best manner. In order to write something there must be a need for it. If the person wishes to write, they should feel the need. The writer must be well aware of the community and the conditions surrounding them. Determination will eventually give you the desired outcome. There is a saying ‘drop by drop, a lake will become’, which means that writing consistently and having determination will give you what you want.

‘Islamic Law’ has been re-released as ‘Five Pillars of Islam’

How do you incorporate challenges into your process?

One of the hardest parts of writing is ‘publication’. Getting your book published is hard as most publishers take books not based on public need but on its marketable value.

At the beginning I had difficulty but eventually found “FB Publishing” and Gary Stevens the owner of the company. He and his company helped me a lot in getting my book published.

What is your priority non-writing interest and why is it important to you?

I like outdoor activities because they make me feel refreshed, therefore I become more productive in my writing. Also, spending time with family and friends helps me feel connected to the outside world.

Young Muslimah Magazine loves to highlight good reads. What book have you read recently that you would recommend to our readers, and why?

I have read two great books by a well-known scholar by the name of Fethullah Gulen. The books are The Messenger of God: Muhammad (PBUH) and Emerald hills of the Heart. The first book gives the reader a fantastic perspective and different aspects of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The second book is an unmatched book which delves into the deep levels of the spiritual side of Islam.

Which of your own books would you recommend to our young Muslimah readers?

I can recommend my debut book Five Pillars of Islam. My second book Usul Al-Tafsir: Methodology and Sciences of Qur’anic Interpretation and my third book The Exemplary Role Model Muhammad (PBUH).

And importantly, what new works can readers look forward to from you and where can we go to access them?

The Exemplary Role Model Muhammad (PBUH) was just published this month.

Dr Dogan Exemplary Role Model FRONT COVER

Thank you for your time and support to our readers mashaAllah; jazakallahkhayr.

Thank you.

Insha’Allah our Islamic Editor, Nadia Leona Yunis, will review Dr Recep Dogan’s Five Pillars of Islam in our Oct issue.

Glossary:

PBUH – Peace be upon him

Saira FB photo

Interview with Poet Saira Anwar

Thank you to poet Saira Anwar for taking the time to answer our questions and inspire our aspiring Muslimah poets and writers insha’Allah

How would you describe yourself as an writer?

I would describe myself as an inspiring writer/poet recognised for creativity, originality, imagery and expression.

I write according to what naturally comes to my mind and vision. I love writing; it has become a part of me. For me as a writer I tend to pen poems during the evening, where as when I first started writing it was always during the day when I would have a burst of new poems flowing in my mind every day.

Can you give us a peek into your passions that describe your personality?

I’ve always had a passion for rights of women and helping people. My aspiration is to reach out to many women out there, and to make a difference in whatever way I can. As women we go through many twists, turns, and testing times on a daily basis. I want to inspire women through poetry by sharing my journey and to be a voice of support, through poetry, to women out there.

What or who motivated you to get started in developing your craft professionally?

Review Saira Inspired PoetryMy life changing experience led me to start my work professionally and also my family, my brother and friends encouraged me to share my work online. I like reading the work of many poets and writers, and I see poetry as freedom and a chance to express what I feel without being judged….

Also, the key to my motivation was some of my close friends – Afsha Farook and Sonia Iqbal.

The greatest strength, vision, motivation and power all comes from our Lord and His Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

What insights into your ‘good days’ working routine can you share with our aspiring artists?

I plan out a goal and plan my daily routine – to what I will do at work and then to what I will do at home. For me a good day would be when I receive positive messages from my readers saying I have made a difference in their lives and to know I am touching many lives.

In Ramadan, how do your working routine and public interactions change? Do you have specific goals for this year?

During Ramadan my working hours change. I start work early and finish early to make more time for praying. My interactions tend to be less. My goals for this Ramadan are to make up any fasts I miss and to finish the Qur’an insha’Allah.

What are your three top tips for maintaining momentum when working alone?

Saira FB photoAlthough when you work alone, sometimes collaborating helps to cover skills that you are not good at and create better solutions for your audience. That can be more rewarding and help you further your goals. Working alone has its disadvantages and one of them can be loneliness. So always make sure you have someone to talk to, a mentor, a trusted friend and someone who will support you and help you to maintain a good spirit. Another tip would be to always keep in mind your vision and end goal, that should keep your momentum going.

How do you incorporate challenges into your process?

I had a marriage breakdown which led me to discover poetry through testing times and I incorporated this into my poems so I could find comfort and inner peace and strength to start afresh.

Young Muslimah Magazine loves to highlight good reads. What book have you read recently that you would recommend to our readers, and why?

I’ve recently read The Muslimah Speaks: Her Voice, Her Spirit: Collected Poetry Written By Muslim Women: Volume 1 (She Speaks). I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and found it very inspiring.

Also Reclaim Your Heart by Yasmin Mogahed, which takes you through her journey. I found it very inspiring and I could relate to some parts of it.

I would recommend these books to everyone.

We have reviewed your poetry book The Death of a Beautiful Dream in this issue of YMM. Why would you recommend it to our young Muslimah readers?

I would recommend my book to the young Muslimah readers as each poem conveys a very important message in poetic form and a lot of women have gone through these things which they can relate to.

The book makes the focus on the readers through me! Think of it as a mini crash course about a life-changing lesson. I take you through my life changing experience in poetic form leading to the ultimate lesson: Go on inspire others!

And importantly, what new works can readers look forward to from you and where can we go to access them?

I released my first ever poetry collection in January, which is on sale on Amazon channels. Platforms have been set up on my website providing the links to where you can get the book from: www.sairaanwar.co.uk/book. At the moment I am writing new poems for my second book. I plan to release the second book in the near future, insha’Allah. Whenever Allah wills. You can find me on Facebook: Saira Anwar-Inspired Poetry.

Thank you for your time and support to our readers mashaAllah; jazakillahkhayr.

Thank you.

Brookolie necklace

Interview with Brooke Benoit of Brookolie

Thank you to Brooke Benoit for taking the time to connect with Young Muslimah Magazine readers about her work as a jewellery artist, writer and editor.

How would you describe yourself as an artist?

Uh, well, I fit some of the artist-type of person stereotypes, such as being a little eccentric and messy ;) I am also a little sensitive and empathetic, which are both good and challenging traits to have. As far as what kind of artist I am, presently I mostly make jewellery, but overall I think of myself as a conceptual artist, meaning that I like to explore and push ideas into imagery or events and then see how people relate (or not) to my ideas. I also have a degree in rhetoric, so effective communication is fairly important to me.

Can you give us a peek into your passions that describe your personality?

Recently I have come to recognise that I have a really strong appreciation/ passion for the natural world – Allah’s creations – and also I love the infinite ways that people positively recognize and use His creations. I am dazzled by how people cut gemstones and craft metal beads and other jewellery findings. Adornment can seem like such a trivial or superficial thing, but in good measure it can be a way to ponder, appreciate and even demonstrate Allah’s magnificence.

Lizzie Necklace Small

What or who motivated you to get started in developing your craft professionally?

The aspiration to make is something inherent in me. I guess as some people say, I have the will to make as I was made in the likeness of The Maker. Jewellery making is something I did as a kid and then as an adult I hadn’t made anything in a few years and one day I set about to make myself something pretty … but I enjoyed the making part so much I decided to try to turn it into a business.

What insights into your ‘good days’ working routine can you share with our aspiring artists?

Distraction is a bit of a problem for me, so I try to take the advice of other writers (I write too) and stay offline while working. This can help to get more done, making notes of the things I need to research, but not actually researching while I am drafting – that is a rabbit hole to stay out of! For both writing and jewellery making I keep an ongoing to-do list with both long-term and daily goals, and I just work my way through it. There is a website/ brand about home management called The Fly Lady and she has a technique for doing things you dread at just 15 minutes intervals until they are done. For writing I up that to about 45 minutes, but for things like admin work (organising, blech!) I do 15-20 minute chunks until it’s done or caught up.

Brookoli earrings

In Ramadan, how do your working routine and public interactions change? Do you have specific goals for this year?

I don’t close or break during Ramadan, but I cut back on production. I think in years past I was nervous about doing less for a whole month – it’s like keeping momentum going, what if I missed opportunities by not working as much?! But now I feel more secure and confident, I know my rizq is already written down and Allah knows that I am not ‘slacking off’ but rather upping my ibaadah for the month, which I couldn’t do as much when I was working more. I also have six home-educated kids, so I do work a lot, alhamdulillah. This year I have a goal to get my deadlines met before the month begins, then really prioritise my ibaadah and not stress about work so much, it will still be there at the end of the month, insha’Allah.

What are your three top tips for maintaining momentum when working alone?

For one thing I really like to see a project completed – whether it is a laid out spread for SISTERS magazine (where I edit, and I love ‘proofs’ time of the month) or it’s crafting an elaborate pair of chandelier earrings, I just enjoy accomplishing something wholly – that’s not a tip, so…. I set specific goals, such as to write an article every month; even if I don’t submit it anywhere to be published (that’s what blogs are for!) it does keep me in the practice. Similarly, I like to upload or list a few jewellery items every week, it keeps attention on my shop flowing, which sometimes means sales or maybe some other kind of networking happens, such as being invited to do some event or something like this ;) The third thing, which is a pretty popular practice, is to reward myself for accomplishing mini goals, for instance when I get my ‘contents’ page done or return all my emails, then I get to go do something rewarding, like reading a new novel or going for a hike.

How do you incorporate challenges into your process?

I regularly buy beads or other jewellery findings that I have never worked with before and try to push myself to make something with them. Recently that has included some big, circular, flat, pink beads (I don’t really like pink) and a big silver slide/tube. I’m not excited about what I did so far with the pink ones, but the slide turned out great and even sold before I could get it into my store. I also do this with writing by either trying out a new format such as writing a quiz (kind of hard!) or accepting a request when someone asks me to write about something I haven’t previously covered or given much thought to writing about.

Young Muslimah Magazine loves to highlight good reads. What book have you read recently that you would recommend to our readers, and why?

Humanure cover

I am an eco-jihadi. Like I said, I love Allah’s creations and I would hate to take them for granted or to abuse them, so I make an effort to do right by the environment. Recently a friend offered me a book on a subject I had never considered before, but is actually a really big environmental issue – how we dispose of our own waste: Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure. It’s not an easy issue to … take control of, but there some really interesting things in the book to consider (we are really messing up the world’s water supply by dumping our poo and pee into it!) and some easier adjustments people can make (such as using runoff water) other than giving up their porcelain thrones.

And importantly, what new works can readers look forward to from you and where can we go to access them?

I pretty regularly write for SISTERS magazine, but more importantly as an editor for them, every month I ‘curate’ the World and Voices sections which means I help put together a collection of written works (and sometimes photo essays) by several writers – I love that! And I add new jewellery to my Etsy shop every week or so. Of course I also behave in a very professional manner by maintaining my Brookolie Facebook page and my Sheer Fluency blog.

Brookolie necklace

Thank you for your time and support to our readers mashaAllah; jazakillahkhayr.

Thanks for having me and for producing such great and interesting Muslim media, may Allah reward you with better.

Glossary:

Alhamdulillah – all praises to Allah

Ibaadah – worship

Insha’Allah – if Allah wills

Rizq – provision

Maisah Sobhaihi stage design

Interview with Performer Maisah Sobaihi

Thank you to Maisah Sobaihi for taking the time to connect with Young Muslimah Magazine readers about her work as a writer, director and performer.

How would you describe yourself as an artist?

Someone eager to communicate with people, and hoping that my art will be the language for that dialogue.

Can you give us a peek into your passions that describe your personality?

I would prefer that others who know me well, do that, I am not very good at describing myself. However, I think my passion to connect with people, conveys a strong part of me. I LOVE interacting with people, it is such a fulfilling experience for me.

What or who motivated you to get started in developing your craft professionally?

Maisah Sobhaihi Head Over HeelsExperiencing life in Saudi Arabia motivated me to develop my craft. I wanted to speak to the world about the uniqueness of these experiences.

What insights into your ‘good days’ working routine can you share with our aspiring artists?

The best working routine is that which can combine a healthy structure with lots of fun. Exercise is such good medicine for the artist.

In Ramadan, how do your working routine and public interactions change? Do you have specific goals for this year?

In Ramadan, I try very hard to limit the public interactions and focus on myself and my family. This Ramadan, I aim to spend time with myself more and ask for guidance from Allah. I plan to let go, no goals in mind except to get into the beautiful structure of Ramadan and ask Allah to set the goals for me, not only for the time in Ramadan, but for the future.

What are your three top tips for maintaining momentum when working alone?

Wow!! Good question, I think I could really benefit from the answer to this question. :-) Working alone is not easy and as a woman with many family responsibilities, it is hard to keep up the momentum. For me, I have come to the point where, if I can’t keep up the momentum, then I take it when it happens and try to make the best of it. Having Faith to continue and never give up is a good way to maintain momentum.

How do you incorporate challenges into your process?

Maisah Sobhaihi setI usually face the challenges that come my way slowly but surely. I am one of those that is usually shocked at first by the challenges that arise, then I allow myself a lot of alone time to absorb everything. Eventually, I find that they become part of the process and find a way into the work.

Young Muslimah Magazine loves to highlight good reads. What book have you read recently that you would recommend to our readers, and why?

I Miss reading very much!! I have been so busy working that I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a relaxed time to read. Therefore, my recommendation to readers would be not to allow the same to happen to them. As Ramadan approaches, I look forward to focussing my readings on the Qur’an insha’Allah, After Eid, I will start looking to read more plays.

And importantly, what new works can readers look forward to from you and where can we go to access them?

I hope to produce a sequel to ‘Head over Heels in Saudi Arabia’, but nothing concrete yet. We can keep youngmuslimah updated :-) but the website is the best place to go for access: maisahsobaihi.com

Thank you for your time and support to our readers mashaAllah; jazakillahkhayr.

Thanks.

Glossary:

Insha’Allah – if Allah wills