For over 20 years I’ve had the honor of serving the Muslim communities in the greater Bay Area and Orange County/LA areas as an organizer, teacher, spiritual counselor, mentor, and mental health advocate.
My journey officially began in 1996 when by sheer circumstance, I stumbled upon the classes of Shaykh Hamza Yusuf at the Islamic Studies School in Hayward. It was there that I experienced a spiritual crisis of sorts (a good one, don’t worry) and realized that for years I had been following a modern and extreme brand of Islam and not the sound teachings that were transmitted by a solid and unbroken chain of traditional scholars for over 1400 years.
From there I began to take classes, help organize events, and eventually became a recognized activist in the community. One of my main areas of focus was to help create a strong sisterhood for the women in the community by leading halaqas (spiritual study circles) and support groups, and offering individual spiritual counseling and mentoring, and eventually couples’ spiritual therapy.
After nearly 10 years of this type of fieldwork and hearing personal accounts from countless individuals, I found that many of the spiritual problems I was encountering were actually reflective of the deep and complicated mental health issues of the community and would be better served by focusing on mental health. Unfortunately, at that time, there was much resistance to anything related to mental health because of the stigmas and lack of proper education on mental health issues.
In 2010 all this changed when I was approached by Dr. Nafisa Sekandari, a fellow Bay Area native, clinical psychologist and close family member. She had long been serving the mental health needs of her clients in the Bay Area but realized there were many barriers to working within the Muslim community. She proposed the idea of collaborating with me and creating a website where we could educate our community by providing both a spiritual and clinical voice on mental health issues. Shortly after this meeting we launched our website MH4M (www.mentalhealth4muslims.com) and immediately began writing and sharing our material on social media.
The reception was great and we saw how quickly we were able to build a global readership after just a few articles. Eventually, we began to expand by calling on contributing authors to join us, creating a directory of Muslim therapists, and speaking on mental health/spiritual health related issues throughout the country.
Simultaneously, I was also expanding my work in southern California, where I had moved to just 3 years prior, by continuing to serve the Muslim community via monthly halaqas, classes/workshops, and an online radio program that I co-hosted called “Insights: Muslim Women Unscripted” on OneLegacy Radio.
All of these opportunities along with my love for writing helped me to create a formidable and slowly growing social media presence. I began to share personal reflections and stories, as well as write social commentary on topics that I had experience with as well as topics that some of my supporters asked me to focus on.
Now, after 7 years since the launch of MH4M, I have moved back to the Bay Area and am teaching classes once a month at Ta’leef for women, as well as offering workshops and other talks to Islamic schools and masajids for the greater community. I continue to write regularly on Facebook and for other publications (click here) and have many exciting projects to look forward to ahead!
Thank you for visiting my site and reading my story! I’d love to hear from you so please do visit my contact page and write me!