Catalysts for Change
AMAC’s 2019 Empowering Women Conference: Catalysts for Change was another inspiring conference this year! Women were able to connect with one another and learn from some powerful speakers. Dr. Haifaa Younis from the Jannah Institute talked about women who were Catalysts for Changes and how we should start by changing ourselves. Councilmember Zulfat Suara talked about her historic win as the first Muslim Women elected to office in Tennessee. On our Catalysts for Change Panel, Givful CEO Pat Shea, Equity Alliance Co-Founder Charlane Oliver and Millions of Conversations President Samar Ali shared their stories on how they started organizations and programs that has changed Nashville.
Keynote speaker Bilqis Abdul Qaadir, a star basketball player in high school and college, spoke about her struggles keep her faith while trying to change the International Basketball Federation rules to allow players to wear a hijab. Bilqis had a special session with the youth. Courtney Rogers from Pathway Women’s Business Council did a workshop on starting your own business. Tequila Johnson, co-founder of Equity Alliance, did a workshop on Anti-Blackness, The Modern Day Threat to Citizenship. At the Saturday night banquet, community members were awarded for being a Catalyst for Change in our communities. The honorees included Murfreesboro Muslim Youth, Suad Abdulla, Zemzem Mohamed, Lana Lockhart, and Dina Imamovic. Sunday’s program started with yoga with Dima Sbenaty and continued with a session on Waste Reduction 101 by Nicole Avendano from Turnip Green Creative Reuse and a panel on changing the narrative on mental health with Dr. Rokeya Farooque, Lana Lockhart and Eva Nirgaz Abdullah.
Special Guest Speakers
Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir knew she wanted basketball to be a part of her life from a young age. After first picking up a ball at the age of four at a local YMCA, Bilqis’ love for the game began. Living in a practicing Muslim household, Bilqis was to follow her religious beliefs as she grew older. She began wearing a hijab, a traditional head covering for Muslim women, and practiced modesty on the court by covering all skin except her hands. She parlayed her skills into a full ride scholarship to the University of Memphis where she played four years (2009-13) and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in exercise science.
Her goal was to continue playing professionally in Europe, but quickly ended due to the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) rule prohibiting head gear larger than five inches. Unwilling to stray in her beliefs, Bilqis chose faith over basketball and became an advocate working alongside other Muslim players who began a Change.org petition and with Shirzanan Media and Advocacy Organization as an Athlete Ambassador. Through an op-ed published by TIME, an open letter signed by Olympic, retired and professional athletes, high-level speaking engagements and interviews with BBC Sport - and their 55 million strong audience, Bilqis raised her voice for the next generation and effectively forced FIBA to uplift the ban.
Bilqis is currently living in London, Ontario, Canada with her husband working at London Islamic School. They also run their basketball program called Dribbling Down Barriers, hosting camps in clinics for the youth in the US and Canada.
Dr. Haifaa Younis is a Founding Board Member & Instructor at Jannah Institute. She is an American Board Certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist with roots from Iraq. Her pursuit of Islamic knowledge initiated when she began to study with various Islamic scholars from across the United States while she simultaneously attended individual courses and lectures on subjects including Aqeeda, Fiqh, usual Fiqh, Hadeeth, and Tazkiyah (purification of the soul). From the United States, she moved to Saudi Arabia where she graduated from the Mecca Institute of Islamic Studies (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia) and Al-Huda Qur'an Memorization School (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia) where she completed the memorization of the Qur'an. She is the founder and Chairman of Jannah Institute and currently teaches seminars on the thematic commentary of various chapters of the Holy Qur’an and their practical relevance in our day-to-day living. Additionally, she offers retreats on key topics that inspire hearts, combining the inner essence of Islam with an outward expression of practice. Dr. Haifaa is passionate about spreading the word of Allah (SBW) and igniting the love of Islam
and the Qur'an through her teachings.
And many more including
Nicole Avendaño, Turnip Green Creative Reuse
Eva Nirgaz Abdullah