Our Stories

Click portraits below to follow each individual’s journey.

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

“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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Zainab Shafi: Representing the Marginalized and Critiquing Violent Culture

"One project that I was really invested in when I was home was doing research about honor killings; finding out about cases, and why they happened, and where they happened, and looking through different newspaper reports."

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Muhammad Moiz: Reconciling Human Rights Activism with Culture

“The issues that hit home for me are de-radicalization among youth, women’s rights, child sexual abuse and LGBTQ rights…My biggest challenge has been reconciling my work [on these issues] with the culture that I come from.”

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Sara Abo-Zed: Confronting Different Facets of My Identity Through Teaching

"Sometimes these facets of my identity would mesh into a confusing amalgam, and sometimes they would rest peacefully together. These students made me realize just how much an effective teacher could do. They made me reevaluate the meaning of being an educator."

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Mariam Atobiloye: Reaching Beyond Material Things

"To me, being in the world without making an impact on at least one person, is like living a life without a purpose. Money and riches can make you famous, but a good name lives way longer than those material things."

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Khalid Mohamad El Khatib: What’s In A Name?

“I write a lot about what it means to be named Khalid Mohamad El Khatib and to be pale with blue eyes, to be gay, to not have an accent.”

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Ahmed Salim: Strengthening the Community From the Bottom, Up

"I first started off in politics when I was nineteen I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work for a senatorial campaign; little did I know, one of the people on the campaign would end up being the future president of the United States."

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Fahmina Muhit: The Necessity of Taking Risks

"If I can do what I am doing today, then anybody can do whatever they have in their minds because it's impossible for me to think that I own a jewelry business, and that it is now a million-dollar business."

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Muhammad Sami: Revolutionizing Access to Quality Education

“When I started my education, I did not have the financial resources to get good education. I wanted to do that, and I was the first person in my family to do it. This was only possible because of my mom. She taught in a school and gave tuitions so she could afford my education.”

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Julia Alimova: The Courage in Criticism

"I was born in Siberia, in a small town. The name of the town is Tobolsk, in the Tyumen region. People don't know about this culture in America at all, but we are a very big culture in Russia and we are Muslim."

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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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