Ebony S. Muhammad (EM): It is very apparent social media has a serious stronghold when it comes to promoting a message, creating a movement, and generating business especially for entrepreneurs. However, one very interesting element of social media is the power and attractive pull of imagery.
You are actually tapping into all of the above elements through beautiful photos of yourself modeling modest attire on Instagram, which is an image-driven platform.
Before we get into that, please share a little bit about yourself, your upbringing and how you became passionate about fashion and modeling?
Neelam Hakeem (NH): My name is Neelam Hakeem. I chose the name Neelam for myself at the age of 12 when my father came home one day and said that he’s converting from Christianity to Islam. He legally changed our last names from our slave name and gave me a choice to change my first name if I choose to convert as well. This showed me the power of choice, and that whatever change you make in a moment can define you for the rest of your life.
I picked one name from a list of holy/Muslim names based off how it looked to me and most of all its meaning (achiever, blue gem). That’s one name, one word. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then if I choose to present myself a certain way, I feel that I’m choosing to wear all of the beautiful names at once.
As far as my passion for fashion, I’ve always worked in retail and, like the typical girl, I like to dress nice for a good price. I always say you can’t buy style, so if you can make a great fit for cheap you got it. I’ve never considered myself a model, and honestly still don’t. In my opinion with the way social media is set up, everyone is kind of a model, at least on a good day.
EM: On April 1, 2017 you launched the rebranding your Instagram page to reflect the fashion side of yourself. What sparked the shift?
NH: I’ve always struggled with covering my hair and modest dress due to my love for cute hairstyles and clothes I used to feel was a must. I thought that covering modestly took away from the “fashionable” looks I use to go for. My opinion drastically changed on #MuslimWomensDay. On that day I looked through the hash tag becoming completely spellbound by the beautiful Muslim women and girls who slayed, modestly. It was at that moment that I decided to commit to modest fashion. I also wanted to possibly be an example, like the women who inspired me, so I decided by Allah’s Grace to try to push and promote my modesty decision. I’ve received so much love by Allah’s Grace from Muslim and non-Muslim women around the world, and it inspired me to keep striving to continue. I now know modesty is real beauty!
EM: In my humble opinion, you have collided with a major domino effect of other Muslim women on social media promoting a genre of beauty that is being celebrated on major magazine covers. Halima Aden who was recently featured on Vogue and Allure Magazine as “The face of things to come”. Also Ibtihaj Muhammad, the Olympic fencer, who has been featured on various magazines and newspaper covers. Even Rihanna, who doesn’t profess to practice Islam but has been featured on the cover of Harper’s Bazzar wearing Muslim attire in one of her most beautiful photo shoots to date.
What does this surge in modest fashion, Muslim models and covering beautifully with style say about the direction of the standard of beauty that was once considered to reflect the complete opposite?
NH: I feel that modest fashion has always been beautiful and an unstoppable force. I believe those at the top know that there is a huge growing market for this and ultimately want to control it so that they can profit off of it. The positive part is that this beautiful style is being presented more for women and girls to feel beautiful about them self through the representation.
On the flip side, those who ultimately control the market care only about money and will not hesitate to have us in modest fashion in spring and then convince us that we are liberated by taking it off in the summer time if its profitable. To me it’s more important that you stay true to yourself regardless of what the market is pushing.
EM: Being a citizen in the Nation Of Islam and a student in the MGT-GCC (Muslim Girls Training & General Civilization Class), how has social media enabled you to connect with other Muslim women interested in modest fashion from all over the world? How have aspects of being a MGT opened ways to promote sisterhood? For example the collaboration you are doing with Ruma B.
NH: On #MuslimWomensDay I followed many Muslim women and girls who are and have been modest giants in the social media world. I was shocked by the love and support I received after I made the change on my page. Its beautiful, because it’s all becoming a growing family that constantly inspires you. That’s the crazy thing about social media. Most of these girls I’ve never met in my life (with exception of a few), but you feel like you know each other.
Being an MGT has taught me sisterhood with women outside of your blood. So when I talk with other Muslims and women of color, I talk to them as sisters. Thus @Rumastyles who lives Detroit and is Bengali running for Jet Set magazine, I support her and all Muslim women to the fullest. Being in the Nation teaches you about supporting each other. So my support for them and their brands allows them to realize there is no threat just love! Most of them have beautiful spirits to match their outside beauty.
EM: The rise in Muslim women showcasing beauty and style is definitely getting the attention of the world, especially because it contradicts what the controlled media has projected of us. What do you see coming out of this shift? How do you see yourself contributing to what appears to be much bigger than an individual person but a world wide sisterhood and movement against the outright lies and the false beliefs that Islam oppresses its women and girls?
NH: I believe the skies the limit. We are dynamic and intelligent, and contrary to what most people think, Islam liberates the God given talents of a woman. I believe we will see a Muslim woman become the “Beyonce” of singing, the “Denzel Washington” of acting, an “Einstein”, a “Barak Obama”, etc.
I’m just enjoying myself keeping my mind and spirit open to endless possibilities.
By Nina Zipkin
If you’ve been having restless nights and can’t turn your brain off long enough to get some sleep, there is an unexpected remedy for your insomnia: finding your purpose.
It may seem a bit abstract, but a recent study from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that having purpose in your daily life leads to fewer sleep disturbances and an improved quality of sleep.
The study looked at a group of older adults — 823 participants ranging in age from 60 to 100 who had full command of their mental faculties. The researchers had the participants fill out two surveys, one with 10 questions about purpose in life — i.e. “I feel good when I think of what I’ve done in the past and what I hope to do in the future” — and another with 32 questions about sleep.
In particular, the researchers found that people who felt their lives had meaning were 63 percent less likely to have sleep apnea — when you have pauses in your breathing during sleep –and 52 percent less likely to have restless leg syndrome. They also saw better sleep quality in those who answered the purpose questions affirmatively.
So the next time you find yourself up in the middle of the night, instead of counting sheep, think about what will make you excited to get up in the morning and figure out the steps you need to take in order to achieve that goal.
By Kandia Johnson | Black Enterprise
Whether you’re a 9-to-5er or an entrepreneur, your success at anything comes down to discipline, focus, and effort. Here are a four ways to work smarter and manage your time more effectively.
Be real with yourself
Self-awareness is key to slaying your goals. What are your top three daily priorities? What are the things you have to do each week? What activities would you like to make time for? Track where you’re spending your time to identify your top three obstacles and distractions. What’s stopping you from working on your priorities or meeting your goals?
You might be surprised to learn how often things that have nothing to do with your goals derail your plans.
Identify your most productive work time
Are you a morning person or a night owl? Schedule time blocks to work on your top priorities. For instance, if you’re an early morning person, get your top priority done before lunch.
Dedicate one day each week to planning ahead and batch processing routine activities (e.g., meal prep on Sunday, set up automated bill pay, create blog content for the month, write follow-up emails, etc.)
Be ruthless and selfish with your time
There’s a quote that says “If someone wastes 10 minutes of your time, 8 minutes is your fault.” This couldn’t be more true.
Wear headphones while you’re working to send a signal to your coworkers that you’re in beast mode. Cubicle drive-bys can wreak havoc on your workflow.
Keep meetings under 20 minutes – Short meetings force people to focus on priorities and action.
Check your email at three scheduled times a day – It’s easy to get sidetracked when switching between activities to respond to an email. If the email will take less than three minutes to respond, just do it.
Say ‘no’ to notifications – Turn off mobile/desktop notifications or use the Self – Control app to help you avoid distracting websites.
Take a good look at your to-do list: what can you delegate? By the way, the delegation method doesn’t stop at work. What household task can you outsource? Consider everything from getting your groceries delivered to your doorstep to hiring a mobile car detailing service.
Colin Kaepernick donates custom-made suits outside a New York City parole office ?? Via usatoday.com: The start of the NFL season is about three months away and free agent Colin Kaepernick is still on the market. While he waits to see if he’ll get signed, Kaepernick is keeping up with his commitment to help empower communities in need. About two days ago, Kaepernick stopped outside of a New York City parole office and donated two large boxes of his custom made suits. The donation benefits 100 Suits, an organization that provides free business attire to men and women who are in the job search process. The Instagram account for 100 Suits posted that the quarterback was at parole office in Queens. That’s love!!!! When you have Superbowl quarter back Colin Kaepernick and HOT 97 host Nessa personally drop off over two huge uhaul boxes of custom made suits at our office @ Queens parole. 100 Suits hopes to reduce recidivism rates by helping people find more gainful employment. By being able to wear appropriate suits to their interviews, these men and women are better equipped to achieve gainful employment, which will ultimately help them to transition into mainstream society and live more productive lives. Through this program, we also provide free hair cuts for men and wig referrals for women, where needed. Because it’s never easy to find a suit that fits perfectly off the rack, 100 Suits also provides an in-house tailor that will make any alterations needed for clients. Remind me again why Kaepernick doesn’t have an NFL contract yet?
By Adam Davis
If you look close enough, you will see the faces of miserable human beings stuck behind a counter, in a cubicle or working some other job sucking the life out of them. I get it. I know there are jobs and people have to do them. However, my early adult life was squandered by frequently changing jobs. Maybe this was the result of diving head-first into life at the age of 18, or maybe it was the fact I was trying to find fulfillment and success in a place I was never meant to be. You see, entrepreneurs don’t understand the drive behind a 9-to-5 and those who drive the 9-to-5 don’t understand the entrepreneur.
There was a time when my goal was to stay with a particular job for at least five years — since longevity in a single job was the measuring stick of success in my community. What success is there if we stay in a job for half our life, and we are miserable? Maybe you made a lot of money, had a lot of perks and great fringe benefits, but does it matter if you’re not fulfilled?
We live in a world of opportunity. Literally, anything is possible. There is a caveat, however. You are required to put in the work. While this sounds cliche, it goes a little deeper. We’ve heard the phrases “Live your dreams” and “Never quit.” The deeper meaning of this lies in the action. All the dreams, plans and goals are useless if we never take action. Taking action, in and of itself, is not enough. Strategic action is the key to success.
In my day-to-day interactions, I hear people claim they will reach their goals “one day” or be debt free “one day.” We sit in our cubicles and talk about starting a business one day, having a life of freedom one day or even being in better physical health one day.
Average people see the goal they want to attain but fail to take action to achieve it. While there are many different factors involved, planning and action are the two keys that separate the elite from the average in any area of life. Some ambitious entrepreneurs have a tendency to see the end result, get excited about it, and then fizzle out with talking — no action taken. The single greatest key to achieving success involves thorough planning and strategic action. Without either being executed, the chance of success is significantly lower.
In his book, Do Over, Jon Acuff writes, “Dreaming is fun. Future results are enjoyable to talk about. Present efforts are not.”
For me, being unemployed nearly 10 years ago seemed like rock bottom, and there was nothing fun about it. It was one of the darkest and heaviest times of my life. It was my understanding we were supposed to punch a clock most of our life, spending thousands of hours working at a job we don’t love to create a life that is average.
There’s nothing wrong with dreaming, and, I would say, there’s nothing wrong with envisioning grand future results. However, I believe it to be necessary that we also temper those expectations to the amount of work we are willing to invest.
This was definitely one of many inspiring moments for me today as Brother Linton and myself went door to door in the Southeast Houston streets.
As we were wrapping up and heading back to our vehicle, this 23-year-old brother was walking in our direction from the nearby store. Like always, we were eager to introduce ourselves to him. We had an awesome dialogue about overcoming life struggles, the injustice system of America, finding purpose and more. While sharing with us a few legal roadblocks he’s battling to overcome, he talked about his interest in being a boxer and the training he’s been doing. I then shared with how the same way a skilled boxer knows how to take and give punches, that’s the same way the Black man has to be in a world bent on beating him down. I told him what he’s battling with is not a TKO, but just a “jab” that may have stung him; but true champions shake it off, make the necessary adjustments and deliver counter punches!! We encouraged him to stay in the “ring” of life!! He expressed gratitude for our conversation and we thanked him for his time. We exchanged information and looking forward to connecting with him further. A champion in the making!!
Don’t sleep on this generation!! This is fuel to stay in the streets! Praise be to Allah!
If compassion is the first step, how do you develop it? If you’re a driver, what I’m about to advise might be outside of your comfort zone. But it’s worth the investment of time and energy because of the enormous long-term return. Before people will cooperate with their leader, they are looking for these questions to be answered: Do you care for me? Can you help me? Can I trust you?
1. Do you care for me?
An organization is composed of individual human beings with needs, hopes and desires. To answer this question correctly, a leader must value people more than projects. Choose to see them as humans rather than resources. This involves getting to know your team members, learning as much as you can about them and seeking to understand what motivates them.
Express the value they bring. Ask how their kids are. Be interested in their answers. Tell them why you believe in them. When you make it your goal to value people for who they are—not for what they can do for you—that will show in your actions.
2. Can you help me?
This might seem counterintuitive. After all, you need your followers to help you in order to achieve the mission of the team. Quite simply, people won’t cooperate for long in a one-way relationship. Help them to help yourself.
After valuing your team members, your next task is to figure out how you can add value to them. What does each person need or want that you have the capacity to provide? How can you make a positive difference in his or her life today? When you unselfishly give to someone, you receive their loyalty and support in return.
3. Can I trust you?
Compassion is recognized by followers when the leader is consistent in showing it. This question is answered through the actions you take on a regular basis. It takes time to build trust—time spent keeping your promises, matching your actions to your words, and consistently valuing and adding value to your team.
Growing and maintaining trust takes intentionality and commitment. And although building trust takes time, it can be torn down in an instant. To continue answering yes to this question, consistency is key.
Results are important for a leader. It’s natural to look at the faraway destination and believe the journey toward it is a straight line. The best path to results begins with compassion, leading to cooperation and fostering strong working relationships, after which you arrive at the best results.
You’re full of it — passion, that is. But if you think it’s all you need to succeed in business, it’s overrated for entrepreneurs.
People might point to passion as the one thing that helped them launch a multimillion dollar empire, muster the courage to walk off a dead-end job or overcome insurmountable challenges along the path of entrepreneurship. But this oversimplifies the process.
If you want to succeed in business, you’ll need more than passion. Here are six fundamental reasons why:
1. Expertise to deliver value
You may be passion drunk, but your first priority in business is to establish an area of expertise or core competency that will enable you to distinguish yourself from your peers and let your reputation permeate the marketplace. To do so, amass and leverage your knowledge, skills and experience to attract clients and help them to effectively solve problems.
Without sufficient expertise, it’s difficult if not impossible to deliver value. In a world where substance and the final sum measure success, passion is no substitute for competence.
2. Grit to continue the pursuit
When times get tough in your business, will you dig deeper and manage the crisis or surrender to circumstances and claim defeat?
While passion may have initially ignited the fire in your belly, true grit is what will keep the fire burning. Angela Lee Duckworth, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, considers true grit a highly relevant performance metric, just as critical as IQ. She has written that grit is “the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals.”
At some point, performing at higher, less comfortable levels for sustained periods will be essential for your long-term success. Will your performance pass muster?
3. Resilience to recover from hardship
Every business encounters some turbulence at one time or another. Without resilience, however, it’s tough to survive the uncertainty and the downturns of the business cycle.
You may not be able to control what happens in the marketplace or how events affect your business, but you can control your responses.
By recognizing that change is inevitable and that a resilient mindset (not passion) is critical to successfully navigating hardship, you can emerge from tough times stronger and even more capable.
4. Resourcefulness to manage assets
In a competitive marketplace, you need creative ways to achieve results even without having lots of means at your disposal. That’s where being resourceful is critical.
Bootstrapping your business, for example, can let you to grow a company without taking investors with strings attached. Your ability to strategically assemble needed resources will help determine your success.
5. Urgency to make forward progress
Without an internal push to inspire you to take the next, timely step, your company could languish in obscurity. Change expert John P. Kotter referred to having urgency instead of complacency, noting that, “With an attitude of true urgency, you try to accomplish something important every day.”
Having a passion without a true sense of urgency might result in your refraining from taking vital action needed to advance your goals.
6. Courage to prompt action
Many business owners experienced fear. But your success is determined by taking action in spite of it. That’s courage. The late management consultant Peter F. Drucker said, “Whenever you see a successful business, [you know that] someone once made a courageous decision.”
Every business owner tries reach certain milestones, and without courage, most would be unattainable. When confronted by fear, your passion may subside. Your purpose may even become muddled. But courage can help you to embrace your purpose gain.
Are you passionate about your business and the value you bring to the marketplace? Let’s hope so. Passion is useful and plays an important role in creating feelings of enthusiasm and excitement. But passion alone is insufficient. You need an arsenal of fundamental skills to succeed in business. Go ahead. Create your arsenal and watch your success take flight.
We are taught to “never burn bridges”, which is true given the context. However, there is a reverse to this and there are bridges that need to burn, not only with toxic people but with ideals and beliefs that no longer serve to improve or aid in our growth/development. There are people who have made or still make us believe the worst about ourselves, and unfortunately we buy into it. Those are bridges that need to burn. Our oppressors, suppressors, abusers, enemies to our well being; those are bridges that need to burn. Our past or painful experiences from our past; those are bridges that deserve to burn. May those bridges burn and light the way to who and what we were born to be.