Our Stories

Click portraits below to follow each individual’s journey.

Narimon Safavi
Narimon Safavi: To Chicago, From Tehran

Narimon Safavi is a Chicago based Iranian-American entrepreneur who is also a contributor and analyst for the radio program Worldview on WBEZ (Chicago Public Media). This story was produced through a community partnership with MALA and StoryCorps.     I was born in Tehran, Iran, 57 years ago, but my family had already resided in […]

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Onaba
Onaba Payab: From a War-Torn Country to Dialogues with Former First Ladies

"Growing up in a war-torn country, I never realized that one day my passion would take me to the US to moderate a discussion between former First Lady Laura Bush and then-First Lady Michelle Obama; or that I would be part of a delegation of Afghan women at the US Capitol to promote women’s inclusion in peace-building."

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Makiz Nasirahmad: A Balance of Eastern and Western Values

"I was born in Balkh a historical province in northern Afghanistan home to the first proto-urban civilization in the area which arose during the 2nd millennium BC. I grew up in Moscow, Russia. I went to high school in Boston."

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Tamer Abousoud: Exploring Opportunities Beyond Borders

"When I was in Egypt I just could no longer re-assimilate, and I felt like there was so much that was wrong with so many things there that I just couldn’t accept. There’s always a chance to course correct and try something else. That’s the beauty of America. No one’s going to get upset with you if you try something and it doesn’t work out. That’s a very unique thing."

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Daniela Ramsey: Serving Through Belief

"My best friend growing up, my neighbor, she was Muslim. My childhood best friend. That’s what I knew and I said, you know what if I feel this way, you know I should be in this religion. So I started actually converting and practicing during college."

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Amal Amaskan From Paris to Chicago Letting Things Come Into Place
Amal Amaskane: From Paris, to Chicago- Letting Things Come Into Place

"I was born in one of the suburbs of Paris. I need to specify that, in France, “suburb” doesn’t have the same meaning that it has here in the US. It doesn’t have the affluence, and wealthy vibes that you guys associate with it here. So I grew up in a house project in the suburbs of Paris in France. Both of my parents are Moroccan, and they are proud to remain Moroccan with French resident cards."

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Asad Zaman Success
Asad Zaman: Being Your Best Self

"Then, I applied for my residency training, and I matched in Chicago to the University of Chicago’s program at Weiss hospital and made the transition into Chicago."

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Awatif Yahya Break the Norm
Awatif Yahya: Breaking From the Norm

"I lived every day of my life with the utmost intention and determination to break from the norm. I wanted to show everyone another story for a Muslim woman, full of twists and turns. I wanted to leave bold, bright and inspirational footsteps for a different path for future generations of young Muslim women."

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Samia Kemal Raised by TV
Samia Kemal: Raised by TV

Samia Kemal grew up in the leafy green haven of Connecticut. Surrounded by her mostly white classmates, she cultivated a dry sense of humor to make sense of her insulated world, and hungrily sought out media and pop culture as an escape. Here, she reflects on how her outspoken nature has fueled her career in […]

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Tamim Majeed
Tamim Majeed: Hunger to Succeed

Tamim Majeed survived war and refugee camps; he pursued his education and nurtured his entrepreneurial spirit to move forward and find safety and opportunity for his family.   I was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, once called “the Garden of Asia,” surrounded by small mountainous valleys on all sides. Kabul is lively city, where you don’t […]

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Murriam Hamid: Distorted Identity
Murriam Hamid: Distorted Identity

“My mother giving up her life and revolving it around mine set the expectation that I would one day do the same for my husband and children.” Murriam Hamid shares her journey to grasping her self-worth in “Distorted Identity: A difference between Religion and Culture.” They sat in despair as the doctor confirmed what they […]

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Mahjabeen Malik
Mahjabeen Malik: On Being a Single Muslim Woman

“I found Americans to be very supportive, very kind and very helpful. But discrimination exists no matter where you are.”

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Rohan D'Abreo
Rohan D’Abreo: Envisioning Success and Striving for Meaning

"I celebrated Ramadan, my Muslim friends would celebrate Christmas or Easter, someone else would celebrate Diwali. That was life. No one ever said oh you're different, or we're different, or oh we can't come to your house because you do things differently."

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Michelle Mekky
Michelle Mekky: Fear is What Holds Us Back

"We have two kids, they're named Adam and Hannah (both Biblical names that can be in Hebrew and Arabic) because we wanted them to obviously be cross-cultural names."

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Fereshteh Forough
Fereshteh Forough: Code to Inspire

Fereshteh Forough founded Code to Inspire to empower Afghan women with skills in technology and entrepreneurship — all from her laptop in New York City. Fereshteh Forough: “I was born in a small town at the border of Iran and Afghanistan. My greatest inspiration has been my mother, who would make dresses to support our […]

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Hailai Arghandiwal soccer player
Hailai Arghandiwal: Soccer Champion

Hailai Arghandiwal is the former captain of the Santa Clara Women’s Soccer Team, and current member of the Afghan Women’s National Team. I was born in Alameda, a nice town in the Bay Area in California. I am a first generation Afghan-American born to former refugee parents. My journey to finding my “why” in life […]

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News Updates


Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month! Approximately one in eight women in the U.S. will experience invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. And in 2018, an estimated 266,120 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in the U.S., along with 63,960 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer. It’s […]

Oct 22, 2018

MALA Presents at the Oral History Association

On Oct. 13, MALA co-founder Zainab Zeb Khan will present at the Oral History Association’s Annual Conference. This year, the conference is convened in Montreal, Canada. Khan will discuss MALA’s project, Muslim American Journeys: In, Out, and Through., as part of a panel about “Oral Histories of Muslim Americans.” This groundbreaking project is building a unique collection […]

Oct 12, 2018

Meet the MC: Nazhah Khawaja

Nazhah Khawaja is the Women’s Editor for The Demureist, a digital magazine focused on lifestyle and culture. She will be MC for MALA’s Open Mic party in Chicago on September 29 – join us! We sat down with Nazhah and chatted with her ahead of the event to get to know her better.   Nazhah, what […]

Sep 27, 2018
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