Our Stories

Click portraits below to follow each individual’s journey.

Muna Khalif Designing to Empower
Muna Khalif: Designing to Empower

"As a First-generation Somali-American designer and activist, my goal was to usher in a new era of women’s fashion. It became quite apparent to me that it was difficult to find clothes that were seasonally on trend and that met religious and cultural requirements in an industry that already lacked representation."

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Amal Hagisufi Shattering Traditional Norms
Amal Hagisufi: Shattering Traditional Norms

"My upbringing as a Muslim woman in a western country meant that I was going to have to come to terms with the duality of my identity."

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Ameer Khan I Can Be Holy and Queer
Ameer Khan: I Can Be Holy and Queer

"Upon introspection, my own identity was intersectional, having an immigrant family, being from the LGBT community, and being Muslim."

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Al-Husein Madhany What’s in a Name
Al-Husein Madhany: What’s in a Name?

"That familiar exchange had been a fixture in my life from the time of the first Gulf War until Election Day 2008. Muslims had become the scary “other” for most Americans, but we existed in the popular imagination as inhabitants of that gray part of the globe beyond, say, France."

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Narimon Safavi
Narimon Safavi: To Chicago, From Tehran

"I was born in Tehran, Iran, 57 years ago, but my family had already resided in Chicago, Illinois. Early memories … I ended up coming from Tehran to Chicago directly, and was very very much impressed with the city and the way that the infrastructure was well built."

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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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News Updates


Chicago Mayor Honors MALA

“MALA has emerged as one of our most innovative civic and community organizations…” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel honored MALA on the occasion of our Third Annual Gala, and sent the following message: Dear Friends, As Mayor, and on behalf of the City of Chicago, I am pleased and proud to welcome all those gathered for the […]

Nov 15, 2018

MALA Presents First Annual Human Rights Storytellers Award

Mariya Taher is a Gender Violence Activist who defends women’s rights through storytelling At our Third Annual Gala on Nov. 6, MALA was honored to recognize the groundbreaking work of Mariya Taher, a long-time gender violence activist and co-founder of Sahiyo, an organization dedicated to ending Female Gential Cutting (FGC). Mariya was awarded MALA’s first […]

Nov 15, 2018

MALA Honors Legacy of Dr Fawaz Kannout at Third Annual Gala

Dr Kannout was a Syrian-American doctor who was a key advisor in MALA’s founding At MALA’s Third Annual Gala on Nov. 6, the MALA community took time to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Fawaz Kannout, who passed away earlier this year after a courageous battle with cancer. MALA leadership presented him with the […]

Nov 15, 2018
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