Our Stories

Click portraits below to follow each individual’s journey.

Farah Harb: The Best of Both Worlds

"What has also been difficult is convincing my conservative parents that I was no longer just an Egyptian, or just a Muslim, but I was now also part of this new world. My parents and I are beginning to learn that we are no longer isolated between two worlds, but we are now truly in the best of both worlds."

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Qasim Rashid: We Need to Re-Establish the Basics of Justice

"We need to remove laws that oppress freedom of conscience, and we need to allow people the right to believe or not believe as they wish--that is a sacred human right that can not be violated."

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Aleem Siddiqui Guiapal: Hearing Beyond Words, Seeing Beyond Visuals

“I have learned that the best way to learn is to embrace and celebrating diversity. Only on this path can we continue to coexist.”

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Sara. A. Ahmed: Dwelling for Humanity to Illuminate

“Hard work is always hard if we visualize it as so, but I perceive hard work as a constructive process to reach the best version of myself as a human being and a Muslim leader.”

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Mohamed Amin Ahmed: Not Just Your Average Mohamed

"A number of our youth left to join Al Shabaab, an Alqaeda affiliate in Somalia. That was bad, but then came ISIS — they too got recruits out our community. Enough was enough. We needed a way to talk to our youth using respect and dignity for our faith and values. "

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Ananda Ambrose: A Myriad of Cultures

"I struggle with my own complex identity, as a daughter of Caribbean immigrants, as first generation American and as a woman of color in America. I’m proud of the many parts of my heritage, but identity is certainly something that is hard to reconcile."

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Jamilah Lasalle: A Lady in White Changed My Life

“I was so ecstatic, happy and full of life until reaching home and wondering what my mother would say? Would she disown me? Would she shun me? Islam was clearly not part of our Latin culture.”

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Abdulrahman Mohamed El-Sayed: Much More Than Just a Name

“[My coach] He said listen: ‘you are going to be Abdul El-Sayed for the rest of your life. You can use it either as an excuse or motivation.’ For me, it’s been a motivation throughout my life.”

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Arshiya Kherani: Launching Sukoon Active

"My business advocates for inclusivity, access, options, and a broader understanding of wellness. The diversity of my identities is deeply intertwined with my ability to build a relatable and authentic platform that empowers women from diverse backgrounds."

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Lena Khan: “The Tiger Hunter” Filmmaker

"Starting out, there weren’t many South Asian or Muslim role models in entertainment to look up to. When I entered this industry, I always hoped to achieve even a little of what Spike Lee did in bringing issues of my community and others to the forefront in entertaining ways."

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Naushaba Patel: A Queer Genderfluid Activist and Global Traveler

"So now, I am a queer women and trans rights activist, a thinker, a sexuality workshops facilitator, and a fashion designer. I’m a complex human. But I am also just a regular person in search of belonging, love and purpose."

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Safiyyah Mahomed

“Trying to figure out who I am as a person and understand my identity has been difficult. You know trying to combine being mixed, with being Muslim, with being female has been hard. I don’t really feel like all of these labels or categories fit with who I am all the time.”

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Afarin Majidi: Why the Women’s March Was an Epic Failure

"What I am surprised about is that I’m still hopeful. We need to get our voices heard no matter how many times they tell us to shut us up. We are not irrelevant. They are."

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Riyadh Mohammed: Carrying the Passion of Journalism

“I remember in the first few days of my life in the US, I was given advice from an American business consultant. He told me, ‘You might be offended by what I say, but I’m giving you this advice to help you.’ His advice was to not put the name Mohammed as part of my legal name in the US.”

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Jewell Negin: Becoming the First Persian-American Maxim Model

"I hope to be voted as Maxim's Finest, as it would send a strong signal of empowerment to women around the world, who come from a similar background as me. My mission is to inspire women no matter where they are born to break out of their chains of oppression, pursue their dreams and realize their full potential."

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Rula Thabata: Confronting Criticism From Outside and Within

"As a Muslim woman in a hijab, criticism comes from our own community and I have often found myself, like many, many of my sisters, faced with bigotry from the outside and sexism from within."

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News Updates


MALA and UFC GYM Present “Train With A Professional”

Join MALA and UFC Gym coach Mike Jaber for an introductory class to boxing on Wednesday, October 4th 2017 at the UFC Gym in South Loop Chicago . Limited spots available!

Sep 22, 2017

MALA Presents CNN Films “WE WILL RISE” At Columbia University

In CNN Films' "We Will Rise: Michelle Obama's Mission to Educate Girls Around the World," the First Lady, Meryl Streep, Freida Pinto and CNN's Isha Sesay take a journey to Morocco and Liberia, where they meet young women overcoming incredible odds to change their lives. In honor of the United Nation's "International Day of the Girl", MALA is thrilled to present this special screening of "We Will Rise" to the general public at Columbia University.

Sep 19, 2017

Celebrate International Literacy Day with MALA at NY Public Library

Join MALA for a multicultural celebration of the United Nations' 50th anniversary of International Literacy Day by participating in a special reading of selected children's books at the New York Public Library.

Sep 14, 2017
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