In advance of the Young Muslimah Iftar taking place tonight in Toronto, we sat down with Nasma Ahmed and Sarah T., co-founders of Badass Muslimah, a free digital content creation project that launched in Toronto in 2016, providing access skill training through podcasting, filmmaking and web development programs for young Muslim women.
What inspired you to create Badass Muslimah?
Sarah T.: Initially Badass Muslimah was started as a Podcasting and Coding Workshop series. I remember listening to a lot of content and never really hearing any Muslim voices and wanted to change that. The goal was to create a space where young Muslim women could share their stories without having to worry about how it will be perceived. And from there the space has grown. We also wanted to offer an alternative to mainstream Muslim space, which are often not welcoming to everyone.
Nasma Ahmed: Sarah was the genius behind Badass Muslimah, our hope was to create alternative spaces for young Muslim folks to learn and build together.
Can you describe the importance of a collective like this?
ST: There aren’t a lot of public spaces for young women, especially Muslim women to be creative, vulnerable, aloof; basically, themselves and Badass Muslimah strives to fill that void. We want the whole you!
What conversations would you like to start through this organization?
NA: The organization name, Badass Muslimah, starts a lot of conversations. We want to hold space and conversations for folks on the margins of Islam. Muslim women’s bodies, dress, and actions are always under scrutiny and we want to push back. You can be anywhere in your faith and be a part of Badass Muslimah.
What are the best responses you’ve seen to having a collective like this?
NA: It has been interesting to see the community that has grown from the podcasting and web development workshops. For a lot of young Muslim women who were learning in the space, it was their first opportunity to build skills with other young Muslim women. It was super cool to see the friendships that have come out of the workshops and the meet-ups.
What are you looking forward to this ramadan?
ST: Ramadan is period of introspection and productivity. Being able to break fast with family almost daily is a blessing. Also, ramadan is the perfect excuse to reconnect with community over some good food, Alhamdulillah.
Are there things you’re looking out at or inspired by right now?
ST: I remember reading ‘A Very Queer Ramadan’ by Lamya H about the queer Muslim community in New York City; several years ago and wanting a space like that here in Toronto. Although, Badass Muslimah isn’t an exclusively Queer/Trans space, we want to be able to create a space that is free of homophobia/transphobia.
NA: I am personally launching my own organization at the end of this month, so I have been really inspired by the conversations I have had with folks across the country about digital justice. I am currently inspired by the work being done by my dear friend Samah, who has her own production company called Sisterhood Media.
What is upcoming for Badass Muslimah?
NA: We are excited to continue hosting monthly meetups for young Muslimahs, thankfully the summer will create more opportunities for us to be in the outdoors together. We are also working on a short web series with Sisterhood Media and the amazing writer/director Muna Dahir called somewhere in. Our hope is for the web series to launch in the fall.
Sarah T. is a digital media artist based out of Greater Toronto Area. Sarah makes short films and cool digital art sometimes. In the past, she has TAed at OCAD University and co-founded a small digital production studio. Sarah has always believed that Muslimah’s are resilient, witty, passionate, i.e badass; our voices and stories rarely get told from our perspective, badass Muslimah hopes to change that.
Nasma Ahmed is a black muslimah working within the intersections of social justice, technology and policy. She is a technologist and capacity builder based in Toronto, currently she is a Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow. Nasma often works with organizations based in North America focusing on various digital issues from digital security to digital literacy. She is passionate about building accessible and inclusive technology for diverse communities.