How It All Began

The concept behind the creation of the networking group was to provide an inclusive free to access platform for professional Muslim women to support, learn, and develop within a network of other like-minded Muslim women from diverse industries.

Pass the Mic Sis was established in May 2017 in response to the need for a Professional Muslim women’s networking event series, that was inclusive and accessible for all, without cost of memberships and commitment to attend every session (although it’s lovely to see sisters attend regularly!). Here is Founder, Sadiqa Jabbar’s reflection on how we were formed.

The seeds of the Pass the Mic Sis roots were planted at the end of 2016 during a company Business Development CPD day. During the session there was a call to action for fee earning staff to step up their game to assist with bringing in business leads. I don’t belong to a network of people who would necessarily provide the type of work the company undertakes, so the thought was ‘how on earth would I be able to bring business leads?’ To add to this I had recently taken my final qualification exam a few days earlier, so there was no gently easing into the role of an architect from an assistant. Talk about a ‘rabbit caught in headlights’ moment!

With this in mind the concept of networking to expand my contacts came to fruit. To contextualise this, I am a genuine network-phobe especially within the industry. When attending lectures talks and exhibitions, once the main event is over, I will literally run out as soon as the networking ‘drinks’ portion of the evening begins.

The problem here was two-fold. Firstly the networking anxiety heralds from deep-rooted issues of identity, being a relatively short, ethnic minority woman, who is visibly Muslim. Considering the current social-political environment, being genuinely accepted and valued by industry peers is highly important to me. We can no longer avoid the issue by brushing it aside in guise of being politically correct or declaring we live in times of secular equality, which immediately indirectly erases one’s right to belong to multiple forms of community groups. Highly debatable, although frankly mates, it’s the reality.

Secondly, this outward dilemma of perceptions, acceptance and inclusion at industry events, doesn’t mix so well with the internal anxiety of not being a natural small-talk generator amongst a room full of strangers. Coming from a straight talker, small talk gets a bit monotonous and boring, imagine saying the same thing over and over again. I am more for a single meaningful conversation than many small-talk chats. The question is how does one make it fun and meaningful at the same time?

With all these issues running through my head, I unintentionally pressured myself into thinking that I had to fit in with the industry norm of how and when one should network and for what purpose. Over the coming months I considered my options and realised that instead of trying to become something or someone I am not, I should identify with who I am and use networking as a tool that works for me, not the other way round. I had to think outside the box and be more creative in my approach.

So with these new energised self-motivating thoughts, I began with my comfort zone, women, and more so Muslim women. I looked online for networking groups for Muslim women. Through the search I found the SMART Women group on the social site Meetup, which catered to working Muslim women. Through social activities, I began for the first time in a long time, if not ever, meeting other Muslim women from a diverse range of professional sectors. Wow, I thought.

It was great to begin with as I was networking in a social capacity and as most can testify, potential clients can be found in the must unpredictable situations. It was an eye-opener, as I have never really worked with other Muslims let alone Muslim women during my architectural career to date. It felt good to meet like-minded Muslimahs with some shared experiences. However with the company’s call to action still in the back of my head, I felt that needed to take this a step further.

So I posed a question to the ladies within the WhatsApp group if anyone would be up for business-oriented meets to talk through work and career related issues within a professional setting rather than coffee shops (where it was difficult to conduct a conversation). With quite a few sisters interested a group was formed, a venue generously offered, and date arranged for our first networking event on Bank Holiday Monday 1st May 2017. Alhumdulillah.

The concept behind the creation of the networking group was to provide an inclusive free to access platform for professional Muslim women to support, learn, and develop within a network of other like-minded Muslim women from diverse industries. Many of us don’t work with other Muslims let alone Muslim women so having this support network has proven to be a breath of fresh air for many of us, Alhumdulillah. We hope that sisters will find the network to collaborate and generate opportunities or redirect to specialist support if and when required, in shaa Allah.

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During the course of our first year we were able to reach sisters from a wide range of professional fields; doctors, psychologists, solicitors, architects, IT professionals, charity workers, teachers to scientists to name a few. Some sisters are single and either living with family or have moved to London for work/studies, while others are married with and without children. We feel we have a good mix of cultural backgrounds to create a richer more holistic fusion of perspectives during our discussion segments. Naturally newfound friendships were formed and a sense of a familial community created.

Interests vary and over time we had some sisters become regular attendees, some topics tended to be more naturally popular while others became intimate focus groups with more in depth conversations had. The choices of topics were based initially on the Founder’s interests, although we adapted and provided sessions over time requested by sisters through feedback received.

On our first birthday, we launched our online presence with digital branding created by #Cre8tivePixels. This has enabled us to reach a wider audience and establish ourselves within the Professional Muslim Women community.

Our most popular sessions tended to be those where sisters were able to learn about a new topic and engage in conversation-style discussion segments. We realised that these sessions were important platforms for Muslims sisters to gather and talk. It is important to provide platforms and facilitate, Muslim women to talk freely within a network of sisters who understand the sensibilities of being a female Muslim. It is just as important to be able to do so in a safe, empowering and uplifting environment that will not compromise our Islamic principles.

During our second year thanks to the brilliant networking by our Events & Membership Manager Attia Ali, we were able to obtain a venue to host all our events. We are humbly thankful to #RegentsPlace for enabling this to happen. As any event planner may concur, the venue is one of the most critical elements to nail! Alhumdulillah.

Approaching our third year, we recently launched our fortnightly book club beginning with Muhammad (saw): 11 Leadership Qualities that Changed the World by late brother #NabeelAlAzami (may Allah grant him a place in Jannat-ul-Firdous. Ameen). It is a fantastic book and quite apt for the period in which we began reading this. We begin 2020 with #YasminMojahed’s inspirational Reclaim Your Heart.

Our aim for the coming years is to reach a wider range of Professional Muslim Women at various levels of experience across all sectors by using social media to publicise future events. We are hoping to attract more guest speakers to add value to the events and topics we organise with follow up sessions from the previous year. In shaa Allah!

Influential Muslim Women: Historic & Contemporary 3

Throughout Muslim history women have been in the forefront of society, taking active part in communal life in a variety of different roles, not only as mothers, daughters, sisters and wives. Not only were these women active community members and philanthropists, they were encouraged and well respected within Muslim societies.

PtMSis Influential Muslim Women Historic & Contemporary April 2019 Invitation

Date: Saturday 27th April 2019

Time: 2.30-5.15pm

Location: Euston Road

As Muslim women it is important that we have relevant and relatable role models from whom to draw inspiration, those who reflect the values of both deen and dunya. Fortunately, we do not necessarily have to look beyond our communities for such inspiration.

Throughout Muslim history women have been in the forefront of society, taking active part in communal life in a variety of different roles, not only as mothers, daughters, sisters and wives. Not only were these women active community members and philanthropists, they were encouraged and well respected within Muslim societies.

Join us to explore the contributions made by Muslim women across historic and contemporary life. In the third of our Influential Muslim Women series, we will explore the invaluable contributions made by Naseebah bint Ka’ab and Dr Hawa Abdi.

Who is your role model? Come join us to discuss further.

This is a sisters’ only event.

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Thanks to all who attended our #InfluentialMuslimWomen series event looking at inspirational historic (#NaseebahbintKaab) and contemporary (#DrHawaAbdi) role models. It is amazing to have such exemplar and relatable personae who convey the power and influence women have had in the past and continue today in Muslim societies.

The sheer strength of character, confidence, assertiveness, faith in God and their roles in the forefront of society by both women discussed inspired us all.

We had an in-depth discussion about the challenges and opportunities we face as Muslim women. At Pass the Mic Sis we aim to empower and provide a supportive space where we can express challenges faced with the mindset of looking for avenues to move forward with a positive mental attitude.

It was great to continue discussions and networking over dinner!

Special shout-out to our host #RegentsPlace!

Mental Health & Well Being: Stress at Work

Research shows that Muslim women are unique in the sense that they face triple penalty discrimination – being women, being ethnic minorities, and Muslim. The stress that comes with having to deal with these pressures can impact one’s mental health, and left unchecked can lead to serious health problems.

PtMSis Mental Health and Well Being March 2019 Invitation

Date: Saturday 16th March 2019

Time: 2.45-5.15pm

Location: Edgware Road (venue details disclosed to sisters who confirm attendance).

Research shows that Muslim women are unique in the sense that they face triple penalty discrimination – being women, being ethnic minorities, and Muslim. The stress that comes with having to deal with these pressures can impact one’s mental health, and left unchecked can lead to serious health problems.

Within the Muslim community mental health and well being is still quite the taboo issue. The stigma that comes with mental health is so strong that many will go untreated or counselled, and will suffer alone. The perception of what it means to be a sufferer of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues stops people from disclosing their problems. This is also an issue when approaching current and potential employers at the risk of being overlooked for jobs, promotions, or stimulating workloads.

However ground has been broken in mental health awareness across all sectors. Faith leaders and employers are being provided guidelines and training support to deal with members of the community and staff respectively that show concerns for their mental health and well being. From the design of work environments to support for coaching, training, and counselling, employers are being made responsible for their workforce. A healthy happy workforce is more likely to boost productivity, reduce the amount of annual sick leave and loss of work hours, and increase profits.

The aim of this workshop is to explore the various aspects of work life that can impact a Muslim woman’s ability to handle the various pressures that come with it. From level of responsibilities, workloads, working relations with bosses, colleagues, clients, and various consultants, to the specifics of hours, commute, expectations, and opportunities for training and promotions. What about our work and faith identities are they the one and the same or do we feel caught between the two? Is this an internal or external manifestation? Does potential discrimination faced at work contribute to this? How do Muslim women deal with this on top of their personal pressures?

This will be delivered through our specialists in the field talking about the different issues, support, and treatment available. Interactive activities will showcase the important cognitive behavioural therapy techniques that can help alleviate and address stress and anxiety. This will highlight the importance of mindfulness and compassion towards others as well as to oneself in not only coming to terms with mental health issues, but as a stress management tool.

The aim for the session is to enable sisters to:

  1. learn ways to deal with work related stress or spot others in need of help
  2. how to reconfigure one’s mindset to be more effective in dealing with it
  3. different avenues and methods of treatment/counselling and support groups available i.e. where and who to ask for help

Our focus is exploring what works, what could be done better, and what can one do to begin making a positive and productive step forward.

Please note that this is a sisters’ only event and for security purposes venue details will only be disclosed to sisters who confirm their place.

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Light refreshments are available and any sisters interested can join us for dinner to continue discussions at a local restaurant after.

The nearest station is Colindale Tube Station. Bus stops for routes 32, 142 and N16 outside the building. Bus stops for either 292 or 303 bus routes a short walk away.

Thanks to all who attended today’s sessions. Our specialists #DrIramSattar and #DrSophiaMohyuddin provided some very useful information, tips, resources and background to the topic with a good balance of Islamic perspective.

Shout out to our venue coordinator #AttiaAli who organised today’s venue! Jzk sis!

Keep your eyes peeled for the next event sisters!

Work-Life Balance – Can it be truly achieved?

Muslim women cannot be all airbrushed with the same colour, we are as diverse as the world in which we live. The aim of the session is to explore the experiences of a range of professional Muslim women and how they maintain a balance between their work and personal lives (or not!). What works, what doesn’t, and what can be done better? What challenges were faced, opportunities sought, and life lessons learnt?

PtMSis Work Life Balance Can it be Truly Achieved Feb 2019 Invitation

Date: Saturday 9th February 2019

Time: 2.45-5.15pm

Location: Farringdon

As working Muslim women we are uniquely placed in a position whereby multiple pressures influence the decisions we make in our work and private lives. Everyone seems to know how we should live our lives better than we do. Not only do we face society’s cultural expectations as daughters, sisters, wives, mothers and aunties, there are also the Islamic guidelines to adhere to. A lot of which comes down to how the Quranic teachings are interpreted. How to balance such expectations with our own aspirations?

Muslim women cannot be all airbrushed with the same colour, we are as diverse as the world in which we live. The aim of the session is to explore the experiences of a range of professional Muslim women and how they maintain a balance between their work and personal lives (or not!). What works, what doesn’t, and what can be done better? What challenges were faced, opportunities sought, and life lessons learnt?

A panel of sisters will share their experiences followed by a Q&A Session to engage the audience. The richness of the conversation will be found in the variety of ethnic and professional backgrounds and personal statuses of the sisters on the panel; some of the sisters on the panel are married, have kids, others are single or divorced. We appreciate each and every one of them.

Please note that this is a sisters’ only event and for security purposes venue details will only be disclosed to sisters who confirm their place.

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Light refreshments are available and any sisters interested can join us for dinner to continue discussions at a local restaurant after.

The venue is a short walk from Farringdon Station (Thameslink, Metropolitan, Hammersmith&City and Circle lines) and St John’s Street bus stop. There may be some limited on-street parking, although it’ll be on a first come first serve basis pending availability.

Alhumdulillah what a lovely session! We were pleased to have had #FahmidaRahman of #SteppingStonesStoke#SamiraAli of @unwomen, and #FarahDualeh of @inspirehercoachingltd as our guest speakers today at our ‘Work-Life Balance: Can it be truly achieved?’ event.

There were many learning points and ideas to take away. Appreciated how the speakers fully engaged with the attendees, who were equally responsive. Look forward to the next one in shaa Allah!

Quick #shoutout to #AttiaAli who couldn’t make it due to an unforeseen emergency and @MEBDesignLtd for once again providing a great Central London venue. Alhumdulillah.

The Elevator Pitch

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Date: Saturday 21st July 2018

Time: 2.45-5.15pm

Location: Farringdon

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, business owner, home-schooler, employee, or a sister looking for a career change, come and tell us your story!

The Elevator Pitch is the chance for you to test your ideas, generate leads or practice your presentation skills. OR all of the above. Whether you are just starting out, thinking of starting out or are already well-established in your field why not come and share your journey with us? No idea is too small or too big! Inspire others to begin or further their journeys.

As one of four Pitchers, you will be given 5 minutes to entice the audience, after which you will receive feedback through shared discussion. If you email the organiser prior to the event that you’d like to do a pitch along with what you hope to achieve from your 5 minute Pitch and post-Pitch feedback slot, we can try to direct the Q&A / feedback session accordingly. In shaa Allah.

Alternatively you could attend and enjoy the event as an audience member and join in with the discussions and Q&A sessions!

Please note that this is a sisters’ only event and for security purposes venue details will only be disclosed to sisters who confirm their place.

Light refreshments are available and any sisters interested can join us for dinner to continue discussions at a local restaurant after.

The venue is a short walk from Farringdon Station (Thameslink, Metropolitan, Hammersmith&City and Circle lines) and St John’s Street bus stop. There may be some limited on-street parking, although it’ll be on a first come first serve basis pending availability.

Thanks to the sisters who were able to battle through the tube closures and made it to our #TheElevatorPitch session. It was an intimate event with Pitchers receiving constructive feedback to hone in on and develop their #presentationskills and #confidence in #publicspeaking.

Pass the Mic Sis Eid Party 2018

On Saturday June 30th, we were in Shephard’s Bush to celebrate #Eid as a #network of #professionalmuslimwomen with a #onedishparty. It was great to see so many lovely sisters come along whether they had attended previous events, just came along for the party, and/or those interested in joining us at future sessions. 

We celebrated the year gone by and officially launched our new website and marketing banners in lieu of our first year of organising #businessoriented #eventseries as #PasstheMicSis.

Thank you to our #venuecoordinator Attia, all the sisters who attended, @sweetlayerscake for the delicious branded #chocolatecake, and @mendhibymehak for the lovely henna designs, who collectively helped make it a wonderful afternoon! Alhumdulillah.

1st Anniversary: Journeys

It was good to reflect on the the journey of Pass the Mic Sis to see what was achieved within a short amount of time, with limited professional connections and resources. It just goes to prove that if one has the will to do something anything is possible.

Date: Saturday 5th May 2018

Time: 2.45-5.15pm

Location: Farringdon

This year we celebrated our 1 Year Anniversary / 1st Birthday of our establishment. It has been year of organising and meeting a range of Professional Muslim Women across industries, at various levels of experience and life stages.

It was an intimate session where we were able to talk quite in depth of our individual journeys, the challenges and opportunities we felt. What we succeeded in, what lessons we learnt and talked about where we would like to go now in the future.

It was good to reflect on the the journey of Pass the Mic Sis to see what was achieved within a short amount of time, with limited professional connections and resources. It just goes to prove that if one has the will to do something anything is possible. If a year a go someone would have told me that I would be organising networking events and contacting professional Muslim and non-Muslim women to be guest speakers, I would have laughed. But alhumdilillah an amazing bunch of Muslimahs have joined the ride and in shaa Allah we will continue to grow and attract a wider range of Professional Muslim Women in the year ahead.

So all you Professional Muslim Women out there, if you are interested in networking, supporting, learning and growing with an amazing range of fellow Muslim women come join us at our future events and help us develop the sessions further. In shaa Allah.

Influential Muslim Women: Historic & Contemporary 2

It was amazing having these two role models showcased during the session and a sense of female empowerment was felt in this group. The discussions that followed naturally were invigorating and showed how wonderful an opportunity it is for Muslim women to gather and discuss relevant topics, opportunities, and challenges we face.

Date: Saturday 10th February 2018

Time: 3-5pm

Location: Farringdon

During this session we explored the life of Noor Inayat Khan who during WW2 helped the British Government as a spy operating in Occupied France. She was an example of how many Muslims were took an active part in British society throughout history. We need to be educated about female Muslim role models throughout history and how our sisters in Islam took an active role in society, during major world events that we were not aware of.

As our contemporary role model we had the honour of having Maya Nasaani as our guest speaker. She spoke about her experiences across Saudi Arabia, Syria and here in London. The irony of it being that the her experience within the male dominated construction industry was no different in any of these regions. Maya, made her mark in Saudi Arabia by instead of waiting for an opportunity for her to progress in her to arise, she made it happen. She advocated for the inclusion of women in decision making roles and gained respect from her male colleagues by excelling in her role and proving her worth by doing.

It was amazing having these two role models showcased during the session and a sense of female empowerment was felt in this group. The discussions that followed naturally were invigorating and showed how wonderful an opportunity it is for Muslim women to gather and discuss relevant topics, opportunities, and challenges we face.

There were many women we started listing who are doing great work in representing Muslim women across a range of industries without forcing their faith on others. Muslim women are excelling in a range of professions much like women from across communities and faith groups. The sisters left the session feeling inspired and wanting to learn more about Muslim women in society.

New Year New You!

The discussion focused on setting goals that were more useful to our personal or professional aspirations by breaking them down into manageable chunks and using the SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time) method as a tool.

Date: Saturday 13th January 2018

Time: 3-5pm

Location: Farringdon

Looking to the year ahead, we used this session to consider productive and achievable goals for the coming months that were realistic and beneficial in the long run. The discussion focused on setting goals that were more useful to our personal or professional aspirations by breaking them down into manageable chunks and using the SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time) method as a tool.

It was an intimate session which enabled a more in-depth look at how we generally undertake tasks initially with great zeal, but more often than not run out of steam mid-way, losing focus and motivation to see them through to the end.

We also used this as another focus group to generate ideas for taking Pass the Mic Sis to the next level with more topics, method of advertising events, getting interested sisters to take part in the organisation of events and the potential platforms for launching the event series online.

Networking for Building and Maintaining Professional Relationships

This successful session focused on the challenges faced by Muslim women when it comes to networking at respective industry gatherings. From social customs to male dominated industries, most sisters in attendance agreed that as Muslim women the challenges we face are three-fold; firstly as women, secondly our diverse cultural backgrounds, and thirdly our Muslim identity.

Date: Saturday 4th November 2017

Time 3-5pm

Location: Vauxhall

This successful session focused on the challenges faced by Muslim women when it comes to networking at respective industry gatherings. From social customs to male dominated industries, most sisters in attendance agreed that as Muslim women the challenges we face are three-fold; firstly as women, secondly our diverse cultural backgrounds, and thirdly our Muslim identity.

This leads to having to overcome internal pressures and barriers placed by both ourselves and society leading to issues with mental health, lack of confidence, conviction and communication skills. Imagine juggling all or some of these while trying to navigate a room full of people with whom one shares little or no common ground.

We were honoured to have Siobhan Fitzpatrick as our first guest speaker, who made it all the way from Ireland especially to meet us and relay some of her experience and expertise in networking. She wrote an interesting article Allergic to Networking? which was perfect to start discussions.

Siobhan was very warm and gracious in how she listened and involved everyone in the session and gave some useful feedback which many of the sisters, including myself, tried out. The sisters who attended appreciated the presence of and external guest speaker, and expert in her field to give us her time and advice.

 

Mental Health and Wellbeing at Work

The session highlighted how much of a taboo mental health is within the Muslim community and society at large. To the extent that most affected will not reveal their condition to employers and recruiters for fear of losing their livelihoods and/or not being selected for potential opportunities.

Date: Saturday 30th September 2017

Time: 3-5pm

Location: Vauxhall

Our most popular event so far has been the Mental Health and Wellbeing session where we had a panel of sisters talking about their experiences of going through depression and various forms of mental health issues and how they dealt with it in two different ways; one sister actively sought medical help to treat her problems while the other found alternative means and self-help methods.

The session highlighted how much of a taboo mental health is within the Muslim community and society at large. To the extent that most affected will not reveal their condition to employers and recruiters for fear of losing their livelihoods and/or not being selected for potential opportunities.

The discussions that followed evoked emotions and sense of unity amongst the sisters who attended was heart-warming. The feeling of trust and openness of all proved why Pass the Mic Sis is an important platform to enable such conversations to happen in a safe and trusted group of sisters.

We will be following up this session in the coming months to take our discussions further to focus directly on how stress and mental health issues affect Muslim women in the workplace. Keep your eyes peeled for dates.

Introduction to Social Media for Professional Networking and Business Development

This session was packed with lots of information for sisters to take away. We looked at the concept of social media from its root within the marketing strategy of the business plan, the various platforms available for use within a professional context, finding out who the target market is and catering the content posted to their interests and needs, whilst maintaining the integrity and ethos of one’s own business/individual goals.

Date: Saturday 5th August 2017

Time: 3-5pm

Location: Canary Wharf

This session was packed with lots of information for sisters to take away. We looked at the concept of social media from its root within the marketing strategy of the business plan, the various platforms available for use within a professional context, finding out who the target market is and catering the content posted to their interests and needs, whilst maintaining the integrity and ethos of one’s own business/individual goals.

We explored the optimal times to post within each selected platform; we covered the most popular ones notably, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest. Online tools worth looking into to help monitor and manage posts across these platforms include Buffer, Hootsuite and Trello. The ultimate goal for social media is to create business leads and direct traffic to one’s website, and thus improve it’s search engine optimisation (SEO).

As with every successful strategy one needs to research, plan, practice, and evaluate; what worked, what could have been better and something to think about next time. Then continue the cycle by doing further research or going back to plan again. The idea is that social media isn’t static, it needs to constantly be reviewed and adapted to retain, maintain and grow a loyal online following.

The aim of the session was to show the sisters in attendance that social media can be used professionally for business or career development purposes if utilised effectively in a strategic and well thought out way. We succeeded in convincing one sister to create a LinkedIn account as a great way to search for and be found for potential new roles. As the one presenting this information to the sisters, I followed this through at work to help further develop the social media strategy for the practice I work with during the day!