Why We Love Shazia
Shazia is an amazing member of our WebbCommunity for many reasons. Perhaps her most distinctive trait is her wonderfully fluid, elegant writing style—even her emails read like poetry! As editors, she makes our job easy. Her warm writing voice and impeccable adab (character) are refreshing and enlightening. Whenever we read her emails, we walk away reinvigorated by her grace and warmth. She truly brings coolness to our eyes.
When Shazia sets her mind to doing something, she always finds a way to accomplish it. She is continuously suggesting cool series or articles and then making it happen by working with the rest of the website team. Some of our best series have come from her hard work. It goes without saying that, in order to do this, she is super-organized and always on top of things. When working online, these traits are crucial. Thank you, Sr. Shazia, for always being an amazing example of what it means to be an online Islamic worker!
The following interview with Shazia Ahmad was conducted by the WebbEditors.
On VirtualMosque.com, what do you write about and why those topics?
I’ve written mostly on spirituality, women and women’s issues, and usul al-fiqh [Islamic legal methodology]. Why these topics? Spirituality and nurturing our relationship with Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) is such an important topic that I don’t think enough can be said about it. I think it’s something particularly important to focus on in our times, when our discourse often gets overwhelmed with debates on the details of rulings, especially the Five Famous M’s—mawlids [birthdays], madhabs [schools of thought], moon-sighting, music and meat. 🙂
As for talking about women, I think our community really needs to discuss and explore ideas related to Muslim women in serious depth. We often hear the same anecdotal stories and narrations about women and women’s rights in Islam, but are sometimes lacking in real, insightful research into topics from a perspective that balances faithfulness to sacred law with a consideration of modern-day realities.
Finally, usul al-fiqh is a subject that has always captured me, and that really gives me an appreciation for the beauty of Shari`ah and the mastery of our scholars, so I love trying to share that with others.
Where do you live, where are you from originally and what’s your family background?
I currently live in Cairo, Egypt with my husband and three year old son. I was born and raised in upstate New York, though my family is originally from India. I’m the youngest of four kids. Everyone in my family is very attached to Islam, alhamdulillah (all praise be to God), though they each have unique views when it comes to practice and methodology, so it always makes for some interesting discussions and debates around the dinner table!
How did you get involved with VirtualMosque.com? What positive feedback/experiences have you had and what do you hope to accomplish with your writing now?
We moved to Cairo after living in Damascus for about two years, and it was in Cairo that I first met and studied with Imam Suhaib Webb. I was very inspired by his evident sincerity and his teachings, which emphasized making Islam relevant and approachable while staying true to its legal dimensions and rulings. This balance is such a unique find, when many people fall into a progressive laxity or a stifling rigidity that does not give Islam the proper grounding to grow in people’s hearts and lives.
I had written one or two short translations in my first few months in Cairo, which Imam Suhaib posted on his blog. This was at the time when the blog had some amazing posts but would often make me think, “If only they had an editor!” Shortly thereafter a number of people became involved in VirtualMosque.com to make it a more organized endeavor and I was asked formally to become a writer for the site.
Alhamdulillah, my involvement with VirtualMosque.com has been a real blessing, and I feel that it has given me a chance to grow both in terms of thinking (through discussions with the other Authors) as well as in writing. My writing before this had been relatively informal (mostly reflections, poetry etc), so trying to write proper articles and convey what I want to say on a more rational rather than emotional basis has certainly been a learning experience.
Do you have an interesting anecdote, personal story or similar trivia that you’d like our readers to know about?
It’s always interesting and somewhat humbling to meet someone who says, “I read one of your articles!” But I’ve also gotten credit for things I haven’t written—especially since there is a scholar who writes for SunniPath with my same name—Shazia Ahmad. I often have to clarify that I am not that erudite and obviously very learned sister, though I hope that any supplications made for “Sr. Shazia” can be shared between us. 🙂
Which of your articles do you feel have been the most influential?
The article that I’ve received the most personal responses to was the Q&A “Taking Off the Hijab”. I had a number of sisters tell me that they found it encouraging at a difficult time in their spiritual path. I ask that Allah accept from us and make anything we write a means of reward for us on the Day of Judgment.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
This is not very exciting, but it would probably be to sleep and multitask at the same time! I’m sure all parents want this superpower considering how sleep deprived one can get with a little one at home. It would be great if I could sleep and check my email, read a book, make cookies, do laundry and write my next VirtualMosque.com article all at the same time.
If you could hang out with a person from history who is not a religious or Islamic figure, who would it be and why?
Most of the literary figures I admire were amazingly talented but had pretty tragic lives. This probably made their writing all the more poignant and beautiful, but I’m not sure how fun it would be to spend time with them 🙂 I guess I would say Charlotte Bronte (author of Jane Eyre) and her sisters. My sister and I always joke that we are like the Bronte sisters with me being more like Charlotte, who wrote the darker more twisted stuff. So it would be interesting to meet (and maybe collaborate?) with them.