The birth of Islam was the birth of Woman’s golden era, free from being commodities and enriched with value. Women’s participation grew in scholarship, leadership, business, medicine and all other affairs public and private. Yet our current state lacks the female participation that was initially so dominant. And so ‘the role of Muslim Women living in the UK’ – and worldwide has never been more important. Derived from these origins the idea of the council is to get all in on the scene and help the community, communally.
Positive, innovative and revolutionary; these are the ideals sought to tackle the stereotypical depiction of unequal involvement amongst genders within the Muslim Community. And these are the three same adjectives associated with The MWC – Muslim Women’s Council in the hearty Bradford; West Yorkshire.
MWC came about as a response to spurred conversations amongst Bradford’s Muslim Women regarding a need for greater input and sense of community for our women of faith. And with many communal opportunities for our Muslim men, our women responded productively.
Being the first of its kind here, key Muslim female figures, from all ranges of the country gave these voiced ideas some direction. They conducted a feasibility study in 2009 ‘which identified a need to establish a Muslim Women led regional structure’.
The build-up of the organisation as a council delivers much freedom and range to help in many different ways. One of their most productive endeavours is their Curry Circles! The MWC are well loved amongst Bradford’s homeless, sharing food and socialising together weekly. Often we become negligent to the needs of our own homeless, tending to needy elsewhere.
Volunteers and team members took on the Snowdon Challenge to raise money for the homeless
MWC has created a variety of initiatives to explore, there’s something there for everyone. ‘The Bradford Circle' hosts events such as 'How to Challenge Extremist Thought, with Ahtisham Ali, an accredited Muslim advisor for the prison service. From hosting audiences with public figures like Jon Snow, Ed Miliband and George Galloway to comedy evenings with Azhar Usman – MWC do it all.
Azhar Usman on his A Potentially Explosive Evening of Comedy
Ahtisham Ali delivering at the How to Challenge Extremism Thought event
One of their most groundbreaking events is the Daughters of Eve Conference. First conducted in 2011, this two day national residential conference was the first of its kind in Bradford. The event took place at the Ramada Jarvis Hotel in Bradford on May 2011, and brought together women from across the UK.
Muslim Women’s Council brings you its second, eagerly anticipated weekend residential conference for women. The first conference was held in May 2011 and was attended by over 300 women. The title of this year’s conference is, “Human Rights, Human Wrongs: Muslim Women Creating a New Narrative”. The conference includes: expert panellists, debates and more.”
Previous speakers have included Sayeeda Warsi, Aina Khan and Rabiha Hannan Co-Founder of New Horizons in British Islam
With their portfolio full of successful projects, blog and news articles, published literature and a soulful videos series: The Voice (Awaaz) of Muslim Women”, MWC have a lot under their belt. We really enjoyed the raw concept to these videos.
“These documentary and participatory films are either produced/directed by or feature Muslim women from Bradford. The series of films include an interview with Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian born human rights activist and lawyer and the first Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with women and children in Iran.”
These videos highlight the growth of individual involvement within our communities that go unnoticed, replenishing our faith in humanity. Stories like May's, the Iranian asylum seeker in the featured video, are reasons to be inspired for goodness.
These stories of depth and variety can be bittersweet but they speak change for hearts that hear. And so stories were documented by the MWC in the form of a book, titled Our stories Our Lives: a collection of accounts of 20 Bradford Muslim women on their perspectives, covering the ages of 14 to 80.
These words would be fascinating to those who traverse wider understanding, academics and insightful perhaps to our community policy makers and professionals.
And with more details of their work easily accessed, and many more achievements unaddressed here, head over to MWC to get involved WEBSITE. With so much positivity shown by the MWC initiative, words fall short of encompassing it entirely. Go Muslimahs!
Author: Khansa Khan