Women Bond over Brunch
By Kiran Ansari

Two groups of women who attended the
MWA Brunch in Chicago

For the second year in a row, the Muslim Women’s Alliance brought together hundreds of women from all walks of life to a brunch on March 13. Attorneys and physicians, stay-at-home-moms, activists and artists united to honor inspiring women and give them a pat on the back for their contributions to the community.

Noor Hasan, Director of Community Relations and her team, planned well in advance to get the community buzzing about the event early on so that is was completely sold out and no tickets were available at the door. Spoken word artist Jamila Firdausee and Soundright, a musical group comprising of young women, provided entertainment for the afternoon. Sadia Ashraf, a realist artist and Ayesha Zeeshan, who specializes in calligraphy, showcased their artwork at either end of the banquet hall at the Westin in Lombard.

 “This event is for you, the nurturing mother who is shaping the next Muslim generation,” said Anisha Ismail Patel, founder and executive director of Muslim Women’s Alliance. “You, the corporate leader who exemplifies the strength of the Muslim business woman, and you, the daughter who commits to fulfill your Islamic obligations to your parents. Yes, each one of you is inspiring and you all make an impact.”

Sabina Abdul-Qadir, MWA Director of Community Service, presented the “Inspiring Muslim Woman” awards to three phenomenal individuals who shared their stories and made the audience think, laugh and cry – in that order. Mary Ali, director of the Islamic Institute of Information an Education and the Secretary of the Council’s Executive Committee, urged the youth in the audience to take it upon themselves to make more of a difference in the masjid and beyond. 

Dr. Tasneema Ghazi, co-founder of IQRA’ International Education Foundation, had the audience roaring with laughter when she shared how she balances work and family and stays fit. “Don’t waste your time on long phone calls and Facebook,” she teased. “Just text.” She also warned women to resist the temptation of turning in to the drive-thru lane. “Plan your day around prayer times and get on the treadmill right after tahajjud,” she said.

Ahlam Mahmood, co-founder of the Iraqi Mutual Aid Society, received a standing ovation for her moving story of how she was kidnapped and tortured in Iraq before she was sent as a refugee to the United States.

“I arrived in Chicago 16 months ago,” she said tearfully. “I could never imagine standing in front of a room of accomplished women to receive this award but I pray Allah accepts my work so that I am reunited with my son in jannah.”

“MWA’s mission is to provide us with a sisterhood and a forum where we can give each other inspiration, courage and empowerment,” Patel said. “By sharing our stories of achievement we can learn from one another, collaborate, and make a positive impact in our communities and in ourselves.”


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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