In September, the Foundation hosted its second online annual induction day, welcoming this year’s new scholars, and reconnecting with alumni.
Fatima Manji is an award-winning broadcaster and journalist who anchors the UK’s Channel 4 News. She reports on major national and international stories, and is best known for breaking stories with a global impact.
In this webinar chaired by journalist and Aziz Foundation scholar Nimra Shahid, Fatima discusses her career as a broadcast journalist and her experience of writing her book ‘Hidden Heritage’, which explores Britain’s cultural landmarks, British identity and the legacy of empire.
Nimra Shahid is an award-winning journalist and investigator at Global Witness, specialising in the link between commodities, deforestation and finance. Nimra previously reported on community affairs and politics for The Guardian’s national and investigations desks.
During the webinar, Fatima shared her insight and wisdom into the ever-changing journalism industry. Fatima and Nimra covered the following topics:
Iqbal Nasim is an educator, speaker and writer. After leaving a successful investment banking career, Iqbal is now dedicated to helping Muslims achieve connection through prayer, clarity through revelation and the courage to lead a truly God-centred life. He does this through his course on Salat ‘Transform My Prayer’, which has been taken by nearly 2,000 people worldwide.
In this webinar, Iqbal joins us for a Ramadan Edition of Transform My Prayer. He discusses the concept of mindless ritualism and how to achieve a meaningful experience when praying. Direct steps are provided on how to reach clarity and connection through prayer, along with advice on supporting other Muslims to feel a greater connection within our own communities.
During the webinar, Iqbal will cover the following:
Aida Mugabo, Nour Al Ahmad, Sahra Mohamed, and Samatar Aweys are four exceptional British Muslims and Aziz Scholars who took part in the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies’ (OCIS) Young Muslim Leadership Programme in 2021.
The OCIS runs a yearly nine-day leadership programme for British Muslims aged 21-30 who have demonstrated leadership potential in their chosen career-paths. The course consists of workshops, seminars and institutional visits. Presentations are made by Members of Parliament, senior civil servants and academics, as well as representatives of the media and community organisations. In evaluating their experience, participants have welcomed the opportunities the Programme provides to discuss the challenges facing Muslims in relation to education, employment, housing and foreign policy.
During the seminar, our four speakers – in discussing their experiences and the benefits of the programme – will cover the following:
Maaha Elahi is a future pupil barrister at Garden Court Chambers. Having successfully gained pupillage, she will discuss her experiences of applying for pupillage, studying at Oxbridge and working in the legal sector as an ethnic minority and Muslim woman.
In their ‘Race at the Bar’ report, published in November 2021, the Bar Council state that access to the Bar is bound up with forms of privilege and power. They state:
‘It is clear that the Bar is not – and does not feel – accessible on equal terms to people from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds.’
Maaha is currently a paralegal for the Infected Blood Inquiry. She has previously worked as a caseworker in Parliament and as a paralegal representing children and young people in prison and asylum seekers. She has a range of pro bono experience, from representing individuals in the social security tribunal to teaching in prisons. Maaha has worked as a researcher for notable human rights organisations, such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Redress.
This seminar is open to everyone – particularly those interested in the Bar and human rights law.
Fatima will be exploring the roots of the Islamic duty to care for the environment, and the guidance we’ve been given on how to live sustainably. She will also provide practicable advice on how we can be more sustainable as a community and as individuals.
Fatima has been an Islamic Relief climate campaigner for two years, and has been involved with the creation of climate campaigns such as meat free fortnight during Ramadan. She has taken part in insightful interfaith vigils, demonstrating the important faith in relation to trying to tackle the climate crisis. Fatima has also been been a vegan since 2016, and has been trying different ways to reduce her overall consumer consumption.
This seminar is open to everyone – particularly those interested in how to become more sustainable and consume more consciously, and how Islam informs these lifestyle choices.
Aziz Foundation scholar, Waseelah Smedley, will join us to examine the relationship between music and Islam, which is more complex than it initially seems. Many of the greatest philosophers and scientists in the Muslim world were musicians. Indeed, because they followed the Greek model, music was considered to be a science in its own right in early Islamic civilisation. Yet, the way we understand music today as Muslims in the modern world is vastly different to our predecessors. In order to understand everything from the musical cultures we are surrounded by to the very language we use to define music, we shall have to delve into history, sociology and theology.
This seminar will provide an introduction into music in the Muslim world: we shall explore what we mean by ‘music’ in Muslim musicology and musical cultures, and consider the beginnings of the debate around music, focusing on the qiyan – the singing slave girls of the Umayyad and Abbasid courts.
Our next scholarship cycle will open on 11 January in the new year, so ahead of that we’ve decided to hold an online information event to explain the process, which courses and universities are eligible, and ease your worries by answering the frequently (and not so frequently) asked questions.
We’ll be covering:
This is your opportunity to speak to the people who will be assessing your application and interviewing you – come with your queries!
In October, just ahead of the Fast Stream application deadline, we were lucky to be joined by Aziz scholar, Aida Mugabo, and her colleague, Oussama Kardi, who shared advice on how to put forth the best application for the country’s most competitive graduate scheme, and how to apply for direct appointment roles at the Civil Service.
Aida is Senior Policy Adviser in International Negotiations and Carbon Pricing at the Department for Transport (DfT), and Oussama is a nInternational Contingencies Manager and Data Lead at Defra’s Contingencies, Planning and Monitoring Team, as well as a Fast Streamer on the Generalist stream.
In September, the Foundation hosted its second online annual induction day, welcoming this year’s new scholars, and reconnecting with alumni.
Speakers included Rahima Aziz on behalf of the Aziz family as well as Shaykh Sulayman Van Ael, a scholar in the new cohort, founder of The Ark Institute, and Muslim Chaplain to a number of universities. The event also included a panel discussion and Q&A with the following:
In August we were joined by Aziz Foundation scholars, Azaan Akbar and Raiesa Choudhury, who discussed in depth the importance of considering intersecting identities within the field of education. They engaged their audience of fellow scholars and members of the public in a stimulating discussion around how intersectionality and varying levels of inequality could become a policy consideration.
Azaan has experience working in education, policy and media, and his research focus is intersectionality of race and class and its impact on aspiration, attainment and life outcomes. Raiesa has years of experience working in the third sector, particularly within education charities. Her focus is the intersectionality within British Bengali women’s interaction with education and careers advice, and what affects their career choices.
Maira Khan, a scholar who undertook a Masters in Health Psychology at UCL, completed an internship with the Centre for Media Monitoring (CfMM) and was eager to share what she learned on the job with fellow scholars.
The CfMM aims to change the damning narrative around Muslims that often goes unchecked. It does this by keeping a close eye on the language and images used around stories that reference Muslims and writing to editors and authoritative bodies to issue corrections on inaccuracies. Maira shared the tools and tropes identified by the centre that are used to otherise Muslims. She left us with practical advice to identify problematic headlines, look at the editors’ code to identify breaches in order to complain, and lobby on social media to bring traction to inaccuracies and unfair reporting.
With thirty three years of experience under his belt, Doug Wills, Editor Emeritus at ESI Media (Evening Standard and the Independent) joined our scholars in July to share his insight and wisdom into the ever-changing journalism industry.
Doug discussed the changes and challenges within journalism, how to break into a ‘dying’ industry that’s severely lacking in diversity, and how covid has affected the physical make up of news desks. He also advised on long-term career planning, spotting a good editor from a bad one, and shared tips on how to stand out and play to your strengths as an emerging journalist.
In June, Ibrahim Khan, of Islamic Finance Guru, joined our scholars to share tried and tested Personal Finance Bootcamp crash course, including advice on Islamic investments, mortgages, and wills. He detailed how wealth could be built, which areas should be invested in for the greatest returns, and the different routes into investing.
Ibrahim holds a BA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from the University of Oxford, an award in the memorisation of the Qur’an from Egypt, and an MA in Islamic Banking and Finance from Markfield Institute. He is a graduate of the Alimiyyah programme (traditional Islamic scholar) under the tutelage of Shaykh Akram Nadwi. He also studied at the Chartered Institute For Securities & Investment and holds a Diploma in Investment Advice & Financial Planning as well as a Certificate in Investment Management.
Sofia Akel is an acclaimed Race Equality practitioner. As a student, she acted as one of the driving forces behind the decolonising the curriculum movement at Lancaster University. Working in EDI within the higher education sector, her ‘Insider/Outsider’ report at Goldsmiths University of London set the institutional agenda for racial justice. Now at London Met’s Centre for Equity and Inclusion, her research into Islamophobia within the institutional context is a significant and timely contribution to the literature on racism within the HE sector.
In June, Sofia joined our university partners and HE stakeholders to present the key findings and insights from her report, Institutionalised: The rise of Islamophobia in Higher Education.
For a summary of the key points covered in the webinar, see here.
Introducing our first ever scholar seminar, Nahim Ahmed is a current Aziz Foundation Scholar studying for an MSc in the Strategic Management of Projects at The Bartlett, UCL. Having completed his undergraduate and postgraduate studies around Law, Community Leadership, Youth and Community work and currently working as a Youth and Community Engagement Manager, Nahim has spent the last decade working with disadvantaged communities and youth groups. In July 2019, he was honoured at the House of Lords with a British Citizen Award in the Arts, which signified his commitment to helping disadvantaged young people.
In May, Nahim Ahmed joined our scholars to discuss his integral role in shaping youth engagement in East London and the many barriers that exist in helping young people achieve their potential.
Aisha Desai has received international acclaim with her new project, Ramadan Lights, a contemporary lunar art monument sparkling over a London motorway. Prior to starting the Ramadan Lights initiative, she worked at McGraw Hill Publishing where she oversaw a key international project, working with the Dubai Ministry of Education to develop materials for the national curriculum. She is also the founder of Fre3dom Clothing, a social media-savy charity that uses youth culture-led street fashion to raise money for humanitarian causes in the Middle East.
In May, Aisha Desai joined our scholars to discuss the importance of having visible symbols of religiosity in British society and how our scholars can get involved in social impact and community projects.
Sheikh Sulayman van Ael is the founder of The Ark Institute, an educational institution based in London. After becoming Muslim at the age of 18, he travelled the world to seek knowledge and gained ijazah (teaching licenses) in various disciplines from scholars from Sudan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Jordan (where he received ijazah from the Grand Mufti of Amman to give religious verdicts). He graduated from Rotterdam University with a BA in Theology and MSc in Islamic Counselling. He lectures extensively and has appeared on CNN and Al Jazeera.
In April, Sheikh Sulayman joined our scholars to discuss the importance of Ramadan and how to make the most of this blessed month to maximise both their spiritual and academic endeavours
With an LLB in Law and a Masters in Human Rights, Zara Mohammed has held a number of leadership roles. In 2016, she was the first woman to lead the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) in Britain. She then went on to assume the post of Assistant Secretary General for the Muslim Council of Britain. In 2021, she was elected to serve as the first female, Scottish, and youngest Secretary General for the Muslim Council of Britain.
In March, Zara joined our scholars to share her experience of taking on positions of leadership. She spoke of her own journey towards becoming Secretary General and gave some tips and advice for our aspiring leaders.
Aaliyah Shaikh graduated from St Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge with an MEd in Psychotherapeutic Counselling and founded the counselling service Rahmah Wellbeing. She was previously a chaplain and is now pursuing her PhD research in Health Psychology and, in particular, Muslims experiences of birth trauma at City University. Aaliyah is also a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional, with a significant interest in Islamic and Critical Psychology and Muslim mental health.
In March, Aaliyah ran a practical wellbeing workshop for our scholars and shared some incredibly insightful tips on how to practice good mental wellbeing and different coping strategies when it comes to dealing with anxiety during postgraduate study.
Bushra Nasir CBE was the first Muslim female headteacher of a secondary school in the UK and was awarded a CBE for her services to education in 2003.
In January, Bushra kindly joined us for a workshop and live Q&A with our and explored the challenges facing Muslims in the British education system and what needs to be done to make the current system accessible and accomodating for minority groups.
Sayeeda Warsi has had many roles, but she is best known for being the first Muslim to serve in a British cabinet. In 2007, she was elevated to the House of Lords, making her the youngest peer in Parliament.
Passionate about education, she is committed to widening access to Higher Education for all and has been a keen advocate in combatting Islamophobia. In November, the Baroness joined our scholars to talk about her journey into politics and shared some practical steps and action that needs to be taken to help overcome Islamophobia.
In October, the Foundation hosted its first ever virtual get together, with over two hundred scholars and alumni in attendance – making this our largest induction day to date.
Speakers included Rahima Aziz on behalf of the Aziz family as well as Zarah Sultana, MP for Coventry South who was the keynote speaker for the event. The event also included a panel discussion and Q&A with the following: