Growing up, I was very blessed to have women in my life who modeled character, hard work, unselfishness and sacrifice. These women shaped who I am today and my gratitude is expressed, in part, in how I pass on that example to others.
One of the greatest assets our young people have are those who’ve gone before them who share of their experience and wisdom.
Our young ladies should not have to ‘figure it out’ on their own. We mustn’t leave them alone to navigate the rugged terrain of modern life without guidance and counsel. The notion of, ‘I got mine, so you get yours’ is selfish and limited. Neglecting them is neglecting ourselves and ultimately destructive to our community as a whole.
On the other hand, we can influence generations of young women and girls to maximize their potential by the habits we model for them. Some of these habits include:
In the late 1990’s through the early 2000’s there was a campaign by some women entertainers proclaiming to love themselves in spite of their large size. “Big is Beautiful” became a slogan.
In all circumstances, women must love themselves and this does not exclude healthy eating habits. Obesity, a major contributor to disease, is on the rise in the Black community and sadly occurring at alarming rates among our young people. Healthy food choices should be demonstrated and talked about in general conversation. Our young people should know the real effects of food choices on our health, our mental clarity and overall well being.
The wellness of any community is determined first by what happens in the kitchen. Vegetables, fresh fruit and water should be essential parts of our daily diets. And since 'health is our first wealth,' we should make eating well a lifestyle priority.
Fitness is not just for athletes. Fitness, like eating well, helps us maintain our mental and physical health. Our young women should see us having an active, non-sedentary lifestyle. This includes disconnecting from cable or internet programming and getting outside. Sun, or the lack of sun, has a real effect on our mental health. Let’s encourage them to put down their devices, get outside and get moving. If we make it part of our lifestyle, they will be influenced to do the same.
There is a greater conversation for us to have regarding money other than just how to make more. Mismanaging an abundance of money can be as crippling to our financial wealth as not earning enough. We are very closeted about money, especially since it is incorrectly used as a measurement of our social ranking. But it should not be a taboo conversation with our young people.
Money management is the main determinant of our financial comfort. Our young women and girls should understand interest rates, banking, credit, living within their means, spending less than they earn, etc. These conversations are essential so that they are not underprepared when lenders and others seek to take financial advantage of them.
Let’s open up these conversations with them. If we lack financial education ourselves, we can learn together right alongside them. There are many free resources available, some for women in particular. We can take advantage of these and even have financial literacy classes for the young women and girls within our circles.
Sisterhood cannot be overrated. There is something special about the bond between women who support one another. There is never any personal cost to true sisterhood; it is all benefit.
Media wants us to think that we should be in competition, and not unity, with one another. That said, I will admit that my closest friend and I were in serious competition for nearly a year. Our competition was in who could meet her savings goal first. She won but I was on her heels! We continue to challenge and inspire each other AND we share in one another’s wins.
Media and marketers encourage us to compete for men, money and acquisition. The truth is, there really is no competition necessary. Each is blessed with her own predetermined blessing, if her output is right. No one can get my blessings nor can I take any sister’s blessings that are meant for her.
Energy does not work that way.
So we needn’t waste time and the valuable resource of sisterhood competing with each other. Instead, when we encourage one another, push one another, hold one another accountable, promote one another, celebrate one another, share with one another, we open up pathways for all of us. But the ability to engage in sisterhood is predicated on the habit that follows.
Self love is a practice that each of us must have and that which we must model for our young women and girls.
What is self love?
Self love is knowing one’s own worthiness to exist and thrive in a world occupied by billions of others seeking to thrive themselves. Self love is looking in the mirror and loving what we see reflected (and improving on what we don’t love.) Self love is understanding that one is inherently great, made in the image of the Almighty, with no additives necessary. Self love is taking action to preserve and protect one’s body and mind. Self love is investing in the inner self through education, training, counseling, healthy relationships and spiritual enlightenment. Self love is sorting those who seek entry into one’s personal space like one sorts beans from pebbles to determine those who bring enhancement from those who carry negativity.
When we love ourselves, really love ourselves, it is easier to love those within our lives who we are supposed to love; especially our sisters.
The above is not an exhaustive list of habits good to model to our young women and girls, but it is a start. Let’s continue to be assets to our young people. Let’s be informing, engaging, loving, caring and sharing. When we do this for them, we empower a generation coming behind us with the confidence and wisdom that they will later impart to the generation behind them.
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Last weekend I, and a few of my Muslim Sisters, had the tremendous opportunity to attend a 'Breakthrough Breakfast' presented by Girlfriends Pray. Girlfriends Pray is a Christian ministry founded by Dr. Dee C. Marshall with the goal of bringing women closer to God through prayer.
I could tell that some of my associates were surprised that we, Sisters in the Nation of Islam, would promote and attend a Christian function of this kind. So I will take this moment to inject understanding in the way of this explanation:
We will not be divided.
Now more than ever, there is a great need for unity at all levels within our community. Amongst our greatest concerns are economic disenfranchisement, educational attainment, employment opportunities and justice. The least of our concern should be our religious affiliation.
There is nothing that will keep me disconnected from my Christian Sister.
Our needs are too common and they abundantly exceed what our differences may be. It is in this spirit that I will not be divided from my Christian Sisters when called to work collectively in service.
Some have the thinking that I, being a Muslim follower of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, have no desire or interest in the needs and interests of my Christian Sister. The truth is - the needs and interests of my sister are my own. I am of the mindset that my sister and I are One.
It is our needs that unite us. It is our suffering that unites us. It is our history that unites us. It is our wins which unite us. And more than anything else, it is our God Who unites us.
The fact that I say, “Allah,” and my sister says, “Yah, God, Jah or Yahweh,” is of little significance.
My love for my Christian sister has no limits.
In fact, my practice of Islam implores me to unite with those among my people who enjoin good and forbid evil. This is my standard for discernment.
I know that it is the enemy who wishes for our division. Our separation is his victory and I will not forfeit our salvation over anything as insignificant as a religious title.
As the leaders in our community, we must be examples of working together, if we ever hope to reach the hopeless. Our youth are caught up and crippled literally and figuratively in gang wars in these streets. Unfortunately, often the gang mentality (division) has been modeled in our religious houses.
If our youth are ever to get beyond the bondage of disunity, we must be examples of unity.
Our needs are too great, our suffering too long, and our potential too powerful.
As I said, Girlfriends Pray is a ministry with the goal of bringing women closer to God through prayer. It is my belief, that the better we know God, the better we know ourselves. The more we know ourselves, the more we will love ourselves. And in loving self, we are compelled to love each other.
It is really that simple.
Good is universal. If my sister practices goodness with God, and I practice goodness with Allah, we will never find conflict with each other that cannot be overcome.
Our God is One God.
Let’s focus on what we have in common. My Christian sisters’ desired outcome is the same as mine: Peace. Freedom. Justice. Salvation.
We, Muslims, often explain it this way: 2+5=7, 3+4=7 and 6+1=7. Our outcomes are the same although our journey to the outcome is different. The beautiful thing is that, for many of us, our journeys parallel each other anyway.
So let’s work together. Learn together. Grow together. And love each other.
The love I felt in that room with my Christian Sisters this past weekend is beyond what I have felt in a long time. In fact, the last time I was overwhelmed with such love is when I convened with an special assembly of my Muslim Sisters in Chicago this past March.
Unity is more powerful than an atom bomb.
This is what the Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches us. We can and will accomplish much in the way of our unity. He also teaches that no nation will rise any higher than the condition of its woman. Therefore it is imperative that we rise up - and rise up in Unity. For it is us, Women, who ultimately will lead in the deliverance of our people. Therefore, I will continue to be neither shy nor apologetic about my love of Islam and of my love of my Christian sister.
I know there are some who fear this Unity, who are alarmed of our love and coming together. So as my sister said Saturday, “Devil…let this be your notice!”
Thanks to Dr. Dee C Marshall and the beautiful Sisters of Girlfriends Pray for hosting an amazing event of women covering one another in love, sisterhood and prayer. I already cannot wait until next year!
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"Imitate the person today that you want to become tomorrow."
Many of us day dream about the person we want to become. Successful business owner. Elected official. Graduate student. Social changer and influencer. Marathon runner.
Know that in order to become that person, we must do what that person did and does.
If we want to be an influencer, what do influencers do? How did they achieve a status in which people listen to them? How hard did they work? And what did they sacrifice?
This also applies to other examples. If we dream of one day finishing a marathon, how long do marathoners train? How hard did they work? And what did they sacrifice?
We know that polishing off a half dozen donuts won’t cut it. Surely not.
We must mimic the habits and traits of success.
A successful business owner was someone who started with an idea. They acquired the resources (financial as well as informational) to give birth to their idea. But before they were a successful business owner, more than likely they were a struggling business owner. They had to sacrifice much to grow their business. They endured lean months and possibly years before turning a consistent profit. They hung in without quitting or letting the fear of failure interrupt their journey.
An elected official had to gain recognition and political experience before formally entering the political arena. It is likely he or she started as a campaign volunteer, possibly doing menial tasks like stuffing envelopes, making phone calls or knocking on doors. They had to learn the political landscape and the issues. He would have had to develop social capital garnered by having a committed presence within his community. This entails much sacrifice and enduring severe castigations on his character.
Many of us have the unsavory habit of cheapening the success of others by crediting their accomplishments to luck, cheating or favor. No one rises overnight. In fact there are many ‘overnights’ in which that person put in the work, study, training, investment and energy that we do not see.
Those who put in the work create their own opportunities. They favor sacrifice over play or laziness. They develop tunnel vision for their ultimate desire.
There is no magic to success. And success leaves clues. So in any goal that we seek for ourselves, it is advisable to imitate those who have already achieved what we want to achieve for ourselves.
This is not to say we dissolve our individuality to become a copy cat. No, but we should copy the hustle, tenacity, study and personal investment of those before us required to bring our dreams to life. We do this while infusing our unique personality into the development of our goals.
Curbside dreaming or bar room gossiping about those we secretly admire will not get us what we want from life. Ideas become nothing without movement behind them. There is nothing gained from inactivity except weight and disease.
Sometimes we convince ourselves that our goal is too big for us or unachievable or that success is for other people. Untrue! This is the social conditioning we receive by marketers who want us as consumers instead of creators.
Instead of drenching ourselves in a self defeating mentality, mimic the directed energy, effort and sacrifice of the examples of those whose lifestyles or careers we want to emulate.
I repeat: Success leaves clues!
If we are alert, we will find them. But they are not on the couch, at the bar or on the television screen.
This is an important lesson we should give our children. If they want to make varsity or get into the honor society, point out the characteristics of those who are where they want to be.
There is a trend in these individuals' behavior: consistency, commitment, presence, work ethic and sacrifice. It is never raw talent alone that keeps some at the top. We've seen it repeatedly demonstrated that hard work beats out talent when talent does not work hard.
Conversely, we should also point out the characteristics of others who are not where they want to be and analyze their behavioral trends. There are commonalities here too.
There is no fast track or easy road to anything great that’s worth having. Even diamonds and gold have to be labored for to extract from the earth. No mystery. No magic. Pure work.
Know this for sure- success and achievement will always be possessed by those who work in measure of what they want to receive.
If we do not put movement behind our dreams they will always be visions we’ve seen only in our minds or in others’ lives - but never our own.
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Nurah strives to enlighten, empower and engage her readers with the wealth of knowledge she has gained from her own experiences and those of others from whom she has learned.