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!

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.

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.