Aysha Bint Mahmud: Assalam Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah wabarakatuh sister Samar! It’s a pleasure getting to do this with you. Alhamdulillah! Please tell us a bit about yourself. Who is sister Samar?
Sister Samar: Walaikum Assalam Wa Rahmatullah Wabarakatuhu sister. Jazak Allah Khair for your invitation I really appreciate it. Ok, well first I am a revert Muslim of African Caribbean heritage (my father is Ghanaian and my mother is from Barbados). I was born and raised in London. Became Muslim when I was 19 Alhamdulillah. I have two children from my first marriage and have been a single mother for 12 years. I am an artist but I have work self-employed as a painter, decorator, tailor, and currently a Hijama therapist. That’s about it Alhamdulillah.
Aysha Bint Mahmud: SubhanAllah! That is truly motivating May Allah to grant you ease and make your children the coolness of your eyes. I love your work and Alhamdulillah for being part of your project. What led to the birth of the Niqabi Diaries? How did you come about starting the project?
Sister Samar: Alhamdulillah I started wearing the niqab in 2009. I had always been attracted to the niqab and sisters who wear it since becoming a Muslim. And had always wanted to wear it too. But in the media women who wear the niqab are often portrayed in a negative light- that we are oppressed, can’t speak the language of the country we are living in, uneducated, etc. That was something I didn’t like at all, but for me what was worse was the treatment or the way the niqabi sisters were talked about in the Muslim community where I was living.
Before I started wearing the niqab I would often hear other sisters saying things like- ‘niqabis don’t give salam to non niqabis’ or ‘niqabis aren’t as friendly’ etc. Stuff like that. I thought it was silly and I knew that it wasn’t true. I would often greet sisters I didn’t know including niqabi sisters and they always replied my salam. When I started to wear the niqab I would then get some sisters telling me how I wasn’t like other niqabi sisters because they were seen as being stuck up, but not me of course I was the ‘nice one’.
I would often be complimented on my work and being self employed or the fact that I homeschooled my children. Alhamdolillah it is nice to get compliments but in reality, I knew that I wasn’t special at all. I knew that there were plenty of other Muslim women and specifically niqabis as well who were doing amazing things.
So in 2019, My local Islamic center to do a radio show as usual as part of the yearly radio Ramadan. I agreed but there were quite a few sisters doing shows that year on different topics. I had done so much radio in the past and had covered a variety of topics. Wanted to do something different, and at the same time inspiring. It occurred to me that I was the only niqabi sister taking part in the radio. So the idea came to me to invite other niqabi sisters to talk about their experiences wearing the niqab, good or bad, and why they wear it. I had a total of 4 shows during that Ramadan and to be honest I was disappointed at the response from the niqabi sisters in the community.
Very few of them had made any effort to contribute. One sister came in to share her story, and 4 or 5 others opted to write about their experiences for me to read as they were too shy to call in. Alhamdulillah, I had reached out to some sisters on social media and I had a few responses. Alhamdulillah for sister Na’ima Roberts, I asked her for an interview and she agreed! I scheduled a time with her and it was the only interview that month that I had personally recorded at home. This later became the official first episode of The Niqabi Diaries podcast Alhamdulillah.
Inspiration to not Give Up
Aysha Bint Mahmud: Masha Allah! That’s really beautiful. Even though I know there must be times you feel like giving up. But you have been so dedicated and really inspiring, Alhamdulillah. What does it feel like interacting with women from different parts of the world, different backgrounds, and different stories?
Sister Samar: I really, really love to talk to sisters from all over the world about their experiences and reasons for wearing the niqab. It’s always an iman boost and I feel so much love for my sisters in Islam in general, niqabi or not. Speaking with so many amazing women motivates me, even more, to keep this project going, and to be honest I keep getting more and more ideas of where I can take this project.
Playing Different Roles in Life
Aysha Bint Mahmud: Alhamdulillah! Being a sister who plays different roles in life, the role of a sister, mother, etc. How do you handle stress and pressure? And What is your source of motivation to move on?
Sister Samar: For me, it’s really all about being organized. I make a schedule of what I’m going to do each month each week and each day in a planner. I never used to do this at all actually, I would just wing it. But now that I have so many projects going on I find that it helps me to keep track of what I’m actually doing and I can tick off from my list completed tasks or re-evaluate if I even still want to do or need to do certain tasks. Sometimes my ideas change or sometimes I get new ideas that have to be executed quickly otherwise I know I’ll probably lose interest in doing it. So I write everything down now.
I used to procrastinate a lot but I’m trying my best not to now. I feel like I haven’t really accomplished much in life especially in terms of Islamic knowledge so that is what motivates me to keep moving and trying to get to a place where Allah will facilitate those things for me, insha Allah.
I try to avoid stress as much as possible because it is bad for your health. In my house I have a rule that I’m not allowed to shout at my children, Alhamdulillah practicing this method for years helps me to be calmer and think before speaking. I also exercise regularly, keep my house clean, my children have their set house chores to do so I’m not doing everything by myself Alhamdulillah. They have been trained from a young age to do housework and tidy up after themselves, I have a girl and a boy, they both cook and clean.
I don’t like a dirty house so this is very important to me not to get stressed. A home should be a place of comfort as well as productivity. Making a mess in the house is a necessity at times if I’m making art or there’s something else going on but this is something temporary. Everything in the home has its place so you can find what you want when you need it. I think these are the main things that help me to avoid stress.
A Change in the World
Aysha Bint Mahmud: What is the greatest change you would love to see in the world today?
Sister Samar: Hm, the greatest change? I think that I would like to see parents take their role of parenting and their children more seriously. I think this is something that all societies are losing from both mothers and fathers. Children are not toys to be played with, they are the next generation and need to be raised with love and care while being taught discipline. We need to be more balanced and parents should always try to improve themselves as parents because being a mother or a father is the most important job in the world.
Aysha Bint Mahmud: Are there any tips or something educating you’d like to briefly share with us?
Sister Samar: I always tell women to take care of themselves properly if they really want to help someone else. We can’t be at our best if we let our health deteriorate, let people take advantage of us, or manipulate us. Take care of your body and your mind and take your life seriously. Have a plan and a list of things that you want to achieve for the sake of Allah and make dua to get those things. That way even if you leave this world without having been able to fulfill them insha Allah you will get rewarded because you had the intention to do it.
Dose of Motivation
Aysha Bint Mahmud: What’s your message to all the sisters out there, or those struggling with life? ( just like: words of motivation).
Sister Samar: Eat when you’re hungry, sleep when you’re tired, there’s nothing wrong with taking a break. Never delay your salah without a valid reason. Work towards your dreams and if you really don’t have any dreams for your life then help someone else reach theirs. And of course, listen to The Niqabi Diaries podcast for more motivational stories from sisters from all over the world.
You can Reach Out to sister Samar on Instagram and on YouTube. Do check out her Hijama therapy website here. There’s So much you can learn from her that I promise you. May Allah reward sister Samar for her time and reward you all for your time in reading this.
Meet more Inspiring sisters Here.
Do share with us what you learned from our interview in the comment box below 🥰. We read all your comments and we love it Alhamdulillah.