ISBLI intentionally brought together a diverse group of people from various cultural, ethnic, religious, socio-economic, occupational, ideological, and intellectual backgrounds.
The Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta (ISB) has cultivated space for Muslims to lend their voices to the work of their communities and be affirmed in their right to participate as leaders in the beautifully diverse communities of Georgia. Seeing members of the ISB board constantly show up as their whole selves in spaces that are often resistant to their presence demonstrates bravery and stands in alignment with our history. I felt compelled to participate in the ISB Leadership Institute (ISBLI) because I wanted to engage in a program that would prepare me to face more of myself and more of the world with the knowledge, faith, and compassion of leaders both Muslim and Non-Muslim alike. Specifically I wanted to learn how to bridge communal gaps and bring communities together.
Before I began the program, I understood my skills to be those of analysis, deep observation, reflection, strategic planning, and organizing myself and others. I wanted to gain something more and deepen those skills, and I wanted to be in a nurturing program that would honor my multiple cultural background and identities. ISBLI was a supportive place outside of my comfort zone because it intentionally brought together a diverse group of people from various cultural, ethnic, religious, socio-economic, occupational, ideological, and intellectual backgrounds.
Our networks, colleagues, and teams are mirrors for us to deepen our understanding of self while improving how we move through the world. Recognizing this, ISBLI divided us into teams that were tasked with a project to support a nonprofit organization. Our team was dedicated to increasing the visibility of Muslim voters in Georgia. Together with my teammates, who not only are supportive colleagues and friends but mentors and teachers who I admire, we took on this task by creating a survey and methodology for analyzing the population of Muslims in Georgia. Supporting the organization working to increase civic engagement increased our understanding of the power we have and to use our influence in positive ways. Along with this impact, I learned lessons in communication, strategy, moving through adversity and patience from my teammates.
ISBLI has prepared me to see a more diverse, engaged, kind, and connected world. I am now more present with myself and with the communities I serve, supporting us all in creating that positively envisioned world. I carry the charge ISBLI’s goals s in my work and now understand the ease and accessibility of creating change in our communities. This project was one step and our working and living habits are all steps that ultimately add up in the end, hopefully, all for good.