Policy Press

Our stories, our lives

Inspiring Muslim women's voices

Edited by Wahida Shaffi


Jul 8, 2009

Page count

152 pages




170 x 247 mm


Policy Press
Our stories, our lives

In the early years of the 21st century, a number of Muslim women have achieved positions of influence. Women who care about the society in which they live and bring up their children are increasingly finding a voice and working together to make things happen. There's some way to go in harnessing the potential that lies at the heart of this change, but there is plenty of evidence that Muslim women are paving the way forward in new dynamic, challenging and creative ways. This book is all about women who have shown courage, dignity and strength; pioneers who have recognized their potential in the public and private realms of society, who have struggled, made sacrifices, taken pride in their multiple identities and who are committed to positive and peaceful change in the UK.

This book presents the stories of 20 women from Bradford between the ages of 14 and 80, from their own perspectives. Based on a broader project called OurLives, which was designed to explore the insights and experiences of over a hundred women in Bradford, it belongs to a long tradition of oral history, where practical knowledge is passed from generation to generation. The book offers an intricate mosaic of the experiences, views and hopes of these women and in so doing emphasises the power of people's lives to aid deeper debate and understanding and gives voice to an important and often marginalised group.

It will be fascinating to a range of people with an interest in Muslim women's lives and views and of wider interest to students, academics, policy-makers and professionals .

"A must-read for all those who are convinced women who wear headscarves can't possibly consider themselves architects of change". Asiana magazine

"A most interesting heart-to-heart chat with women in Bradford (UK) from a great range of backgrounds telling their stories in words that are moving, interesting, direct and honest. The collection offers an insight into how a largely less-educated community built its life in Britain while overcoming discrimination and socio-economic hurdles". Islamic Horizons, USA

"This is a delightful read. The women from a great range of backgrounds tell us their stories in words that are moving, interesting, direct and honest. They also explain in simple and direct terms what their Muslim faith means to them. With so much prejudice against Islam and claims that it abuses women, it is important to hear the views of Muslim women in the UK." Clare Short, MP

"What comes over most clearly from these vivid, conversational articles written by Muslim women in Bradford about their lives is their ordinariness. These women have varied jobs, families, hopes and expectations, and their faith does not cut them off from the real world. On the contrary, any world should be proud to have such thoughtful, humorous and committed people in it. This book will encourage its readers to encounter genuine relationships with real women in their real lives." Dr Jane Williams, Lambeth Palace

3rd testimonial also in reviews for website

"At a time when so much is written about Islam and so little is understood, this insightful, touching, and at times surprising book allows the often silent voices of Muslim women to be heard. Every story is unique; each one is essential." Zaiba Malik, journalist and writer

Wahida Shaffi is the Coordinator for the OurLives

Muslim Women's Digital Media Project, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. A qualified social worker with an MA in international politics and security studies, she has an extensive background in community research as well as diversity and conflict resolution training, both in the UK and around the world. Her specialist areas of interest include media, gender equality and peace and reconciliation.

The mayoress - Arshad Begum Ajeeb; The pioneer - Fatima Ayub; Dadi Ma the motivator - Barkat Bibi; From Sylhet to Ilkley - Nasreen Choudhury; Music 'n' motherhood - Elana Davis; Identity - Natasha Almas Fell; No mercy! - Sensei Mumtaz Khan; Journey to the house of Allah - Negara Khatun; I have a dream! - Rejwana Malik; From roots to routes - Sofia Maskin; Jihad - Syima Merali; The preacher's voice - Umm Mohsin; Salaam namaste - Shahana Rahman; The visionary - Zohra J. Rashid; Turning pennies into pounds - Zehida Rehman; Busing in the immigrants - Ulfat Riaz; White Abbey Road - Akhtar Sheikh; The spiritual tourist - Rina (Radhia) Tarafder; Burning ambitions - Selina Ullah; Rags to riches - Jean (Rabia) Yousfi; Final thoughts.