Vote by Marwa Balkar

Vote by Marwa Balkar

I’m sorry if this comes off as harsh: if you’re not voting, don’t complain when you’re attacked. Islamophobic hate crimes are on the rise, and the Muslim ban is in full effect. An important point to note: 64% of candidates either running or are currently in office have openly targeted Muslims.

What are you doing about it? 

“What’s the point of voting? It doesn’t count”
Don’t make the same mistake our parents have made. Their disinvolvement in elections are a big reason as to why Muslims are not directly involved in conversations about us. If US candidates don’t see our demographic show up  in the polls, they know that they don’t have to worry about our opinion because we don’t have enough numbers to stop anything.The current issues may not be directed to the Muslim demographic, but it is our responsibility as Muslims to not remain silent on matters of injustice.

We are stripping children away at the borders from their mothers, many of those children are then locked in cages. Sexual harassment is on the rise. Racially led crimes are on the rise. All of these acts, justified in the minds of the perpetrators, by their party. We are foolish if we think we can blame all of this on Trump. The Republican party is the reason why he gets away with everything, so we need to vote them out. Don’t get me wrong, Democrats are their own kind of mess, but at least they’re not so blatantly putting a target on our backs, and the backs of every other minority. As more and more people of color are running for office under the Democratic flag, we have a brighter future in their hands as compared to the the hands of the Republicans.

Vote because this isn’t about “politics” anymore. Vote because “politics” is directly intertwined with human rights, and it’s your responsibility as a Muslim to raise your voice. We’ll be held accountable if we don’t.

You Just Might Save Us…

You Just Might Save Us…

Although every national election holds a significance, this midterm election is fueled in a way so different than those of recent memory.

This midterm election carries the furious energy of the 2016 Presidential elections, and in many ways has only increased in intensity. Everything from the Muslim Ban to the Detention Centers, this past year has had an emotional toll on thousands of Americans. Former President Barak Obama has taken to the campaign trail, describing this midterm election as “one of those pivotal moments when every one of us as citizens of the United States needs to determine just who we are, and what is it that we stand for.”

The results of what occurs tomorrow will not only determine our future, but will act as our voice. We will finally be able to tell the world what we, as Americans, truly feel about this government and their policies. Democrats only need 23 seats to win the House! This win could potentially be the event in which our government begins to be held accountable of their actions, and although potential government scandals along with associated accusations or denials could possibly become our everyday news, justice will inevitably be served.

What can you do?

  1. VOTE. If it’s not obvious enough already. Make sure you schedule your day around your ability to vote. Alongside this, educate yourself on the candidates so you can truly make the best informed decision.

 

  1. Spread the word and encourage your loved ones, community members, and neighbors to vote as well. This midterm election is heavily dependent upon numbers. Make it count!

 

  1. If you’re not old enough to vote be sure to volunteer your time and encourage your parents, siblings, and folks who actually can to go out and vote and take advantage of this blessing to make history.

 

  1. Make Dua. Never forget that prayer and faith can move mountains.

 

Praying for a better tomorrow, make your vote count and you just might save us…

For the Love of Helping Hand- Final Reflections

For the Love of Helping Hand- Final Reflections

Welcome to the last post of this series! I hope you were able to gain some insight into a very deep and often misunderstood matter. I’m sure some of you must be thinking how this topic correlates with our company, here’s how:

  • If there’s one thing you should know about me its that this is my passion, and just like most people with a passion its what continues to motivate me to tread on this path of uncertainty. When I first set out to start this company, my 19-year-old self knew I wanted cater to a bigger purpose. The need for Muslim American companies was apparent, but the need for a source of inspiration which went beyond the means of this world was even more necessary.

 

  • Most people believe social efforts and a retail business can’t coincide, but they’re wrong. It’s hard yes, but you will be met with difficulty with anything worth doing in this world. After all, isn’t that what it means to be a Muslim owned entity? I want this company to not only be a source of good for myself, but a source of good for my society as a whole.

 

  • We all know mainstream retailers are notorious for unethical practices, and we can claim we weren’t aware but honestly ask yourself, have you never wondered how you were able to purchase that $10 shirt or those $12 jeans? I mean, these companies must be cutting costs from somewhere right? And I can tell you right now there’s no way around international shipping costs or Customs and Border fees. As Muslims we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard, whether we’re the consumer or the provider.

 

  • The purpose behind our Purchase with a Purpose policy as well as the various projects we participate in is to try to instill a sense of responsibility amongst our customers. A portion of every purchase goes towards sponsoring refugee orphans in an effort to act as a reminder that while its okay to spend on ourselves we shouldn’t forget those in need in the process. As for the various projects we initiate, our aim is to encourage social and civic engagement as we firmly believe that the actions we partake in today will undoubtedly impact our tomorrow.

 

  • We’re quick to complain about all the problems in the world but we never hold ourselves accountable for our own actions. If you have to think about the last time you did something good for the world, its been too long. As Helping Hand encourages, be the change you wish to see. It doesn’t matter if no one else is doing it, it doesn’t matter if you can only reach one person, it doesn’t even matter if you try and fail- the purpose is to just do your best and if you keep your intentions pure Allah SWT will always facilitate a way.

I sincerely pray that everyone who has read these posts has benefitted in some shape or form, and I pray that Allah SWT gives all of us the courage, the wisdom, and the ability to create the long term sustainable change we so desperately need. Ameen.

 

Yours truly,

Sana Mahmood

Founder of Veiled Beaut

For the Love of Helping Hand- Post #5

For the Love of Helping Hand- Post #5

AssalamuAlaikum lovely readers,

If you’ve been keeping up with the last few blog posts you probably understand the situation many Kenyans face to a certain extent. Their struggles, their stories, and their reality- although it’s a hard truth to face, its one which must certainly be discussed. We all need to understand that even though everyone is tested in their own way, it doesn’t mean we can’t work together to ease one’s test. And who knows, maybe our test is judged based on what we do to assist others with their own hardships.

A couple blog posts before this one I discussed the importance of educating the youth to equip them with the necessary skills needed to end their generational cycle of hardship. But what do we do for the individuals responsible for these youths? What do we do for the adults, the parents, and the grandparents who don’t have the time to go through school because they’re busy taking care of their families? Education is still a major factor, however, we focus on a more specialized approach.

As a solution to this problem, Helping Hand has built several Skills Development Centers (SDCs). These centers were built to organize training courses in a variety of different areas such as dressmaking, embroidery, IT skills, knitting, office automation, and learning English. All courses are taught free of charge and materials are donated by HHRD’s generous donors.

My biggest takeaway from the visits of these centers was to never underestimate the power of your donation. Something as small as donating henna sticks, which costs us no more than five dollars, has the potential to completely alter someone’s livelihood for the better.

We are responsible for educating ourselves on matters such as these. I mean, isn’t that our purpose in this world? Aren’t we supposed to be working together to alleviate the hardships our fellow brothers and sisters face? Our purpose in this world has to be more than fancy jobs and expensive cars, an unfulfilling life which brings no happiness or ease. Don’t get me wrong, its perfectly okay to want and like nice things, but we should always remember the state of our hearts as well. Honestly ask yourself, do you love for others what you love for yourself?

To learn more about HHRD’s Skills Development Centers and to read about their success stories, please visit here.  

For the Love of Helping Hand- Post #4

For the Love of Helping Hand- Post #4

 

750 million people around the world lack access to safe water; that is approximately one in nine people. (WHO)

Why is it that 750 million people around the world lack one of the most basic necessities needed in order to survive? We really need to ask ourselves how we reached this point, how our hearts have become so hard that we’ve forgotten about the individuals that Allah has entrusted us with.

During my time in Kenya I was able to visit some of the donated water wells and interact with the beneficiaries of the various wells. Time after time dozens of individuals came up to us to express their gratitude towards Helping Hand for placing the much needed water well in their community. An obvious result, water wells provide fresh, clean water for an entire community. However, no one discusses the other benefits which result from the installation of these wells.

1. Children are able to go to school again. Many of the locals told us that before the well was installed they relied on the municipal for water, but when the municipal ran out, which occurred quite often, the children were left with the responsibility to search for water. Throughout their journey in search of water the children had to skip school, and in some cases it would take days to find a source.

2. The water from the well allowed the community to create an entire new channel for food, they were finally able to grow their own crops.

3. Using water from the well decreased their chances of contracting water-borne diseases as they now had access to clean water.

The Water for Life program provides access to clean drinking water through the installation of hand pumps, water filtration plants, construction of tube-wells, water wells, water storage tanks, and water supply sources created to meet the basic and livelihood needs of individuals all over the world.

For more information, please visit here.

Call-to-Action: Many of us have the privilege to drink water immediately upon desire, but what we fail to realize is that there are so many individuals who cannot do the same. I encourage you to advocate and create awareness of this issue, start a campaign with your friends to raise funds and give a community access to clean water, or volunteer your time with organizations that work towards alleviating the pain and suffering of our fellow brothers and sisters.

Sincerely,

Sana Mahmood

Founder of Veiled Beaut

 

For the Love of Helping Hand- Post #3

For the Love of Helping Hand- Post #3

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mendela

If there is anything I am certain of, its that those words are indeed the truth. As I reflected upon my day every night before bed my thoughts always came to the same conclusion; there are so many issues around the world and education really is the only force that not only empowers but also instills a sense of change.

As an individual I might not be able to solve the refugee crisis, end world hunger, or put a stop to the poverty countries like Kenya face. However, I can work towards educating a child, and not only that, but I can work towards educating my own community on the importance of this topic. We’ve seen it time after time- a broken community that begins to place an importance on educating their children slowly begins to put together their shattered pieces and change their reality as a community.

Whether it was visiting the courageous refugees in Jordan or meeting the beautiful people of Kenya, it became crystal clear what we as individuals and communities can do to help these bright souls; educate anyone and everyone. Working with an organization like Helping Hand and hearing the different stories about how education is changing the lives of these children was nothing but inspiring. Many of the children we met were at war with generational poverty; living in a home built with steel sheets with eight other people was their reality. But for the children who were able to receive a sponsored education, it became quite clear to see their dreams and aspirations widen as they excelled in school. It’s as if education is all they need to believe that they can change their circumstance, it really is their golden ticket to freedom.

When you educate a child you not only change the future of that particular child, but you also change the future of their community as well. Only God knows what an empowered child is capable of, whether that’s leading a revolution or altering the state of their current reality, it’s always for the better.

Call-to-Action: I encourage everyone reading this post to vow to do their best in trying to educate a child. If it seems difficult to go far, always remember the need is everywhere. Start within your own communities by reaching out to organizations which aim to alleviate the struggles of our youth, find local refugees and assist them with whatever they may need assistance with, or if you don’t have the time to volunteer then sponsor a child’s education and send them words of encouragement and support. Lastly, be grateful for all the opportunities you have been blessed with- what we take for granted, others spend their entire lives trying to achieve. Alhamdulilah, always.

To learn more about sponsoring a child please visit HHRD.

Sincerely,

Sana Mahmood

Founder of Veiled Beaut