Muslim Community Influencers to Inspire During Ramadan
In the spirit of giving and gratitude during Ramadan, we’ve put together a list of influential women and men who have significantly impacted Islamic communities in Indonesia, Canada, Malaysia, the UK and more, through their charitable initiatives. Focused on bringing social change, these young Muslim pioneers have incorporated the generous spirit of Ramadan into their everyday life. We hope you are excited and inspired by their work, as we celebrate the holy month of Ramadan.
Yasemin Kanar, also known as YaztheSpaz, is a popular fashion and lifestyle blogger who catapulted to fame through her creative hijab-styling and make-up tutorials. She amassed a vast following online by showing Muslim women how to look stylish and fashionable without giving up their Muslim identity. Yasemin has inspired a whole generation of Muslim women to take pride in choosing to dress modestly, even when it doesn’t fit western society standards.
Yasemin supports various Islamic business ventures and projects, as well as fundraisers and charities. Follow Yasemin find out more about her mission: “I hope I am able to inspire many girls and women to be beautiful both inside and out! Let us all grow together to better ourselves above all.”
Diajeng Lestari is a female entrepreneur famous for founding one of the first e-commerce platforms for Muslim women. Originally from Indonesia, Diajeng was inspired to make a social impact through economic growth, starting her e-commerce platform as a result. HIJUP was founded in 2011, and it has made hundreds of Indonesian brands available to Muslim women who wish to dress modestly. Diajeng has stuck to her Islamic roots by infusing Islamic values in her business practices across her e-commerce platform. She views fashion not as a beauty contest but as an avenue to inspire people through spirituality and kindness.
As one of few young Muslim female CEOs, Diajeng has inspired thousands of young Muslim women to follow their dreams. “Every woman is unique, and we each have our own strengths. Don’t compare yourself to others, as we each have our own unique journey.”
Dr. Ingrid Mattson
Dr. Ingrid Mattson is an inspiring Muslim woman who has broken all of the social boundaries imposed on Muslim women who wish to wear hijabs in Western academia. Through her writings, both academic and public, she has focused mainly on Qur’an interpretation, Islamic theological ethics, and interfaith relations, breaking the stigma imposed on Muslims in Western society. She was a member of the Interfaith Taskforce of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships during Barack Obama's presidency.
Dr. Mattson has recently embarked on another important social impact project, The Hurma Project, where she has committed to bringing to the surface spiritual and sexual abuse in Muslim spaces. Follow her on Twitter to see what she’s up to at @IngridMattson.
Chris Abdur-Rahman Blauvelt
Chris Abdur-Rahman Blauvelt is the co-founder of LaunchGood, an internet crowdfunding platform that helps Muslims who become entrepreneurs. LaunchGood has received multiple awards, including the Islamic Economy Award for Small & Medium Enterprises and the American Muslim Consumer Conference for Entrepreneur Showcase. Blauvelt is also the founder of Patronicity, crowdfunding, and crowd granting organization that helps local citizens and sponsors support their favorite causes.
After converting to Islam at 16, Blauvelt felt inspired to begin a new journey as a business owner with a desire to make a real positive impact: “As a person of faith, I believe that our hearts are our connection to and guidance from God. Listening to our hearts, despite external pressures or other misgivings, can help guide us”, follow Blauvelt on Twitter or check out his writing on Medium for more inspirational quotes.
Amany Killawy is the founding member of the Detroit Minds and Hearts Fellowship, a non-profit organization that helps inner-city youth give life to initiatives to instigate social justice. Killawy’s previous contributions to social work include being a project manager at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, Administrative Director of the American Learning Institute for Muslims, Data Fellow with the The Children's Center of Michigan, and Youth coordinator at the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion. Alongside Chris Abdur-Rahman Blauvelt, she is also the co-founder of LaunchGood, a crowdfunding organization that has been awarded recognition all over the world.
Ansarullah Ridwan Mohammed
Beginning his entrepreneurial journey in 2016, Ansarullah Ridwan Mohammed co-founded Zileej, an innovative game company aimed at creating engaging activities for Muslim children: “I am committed to changing the world, one inspired innovation at a time”. One of his initial projects with the company was the 5 Pillars Game, the first Islamic educational trivia board game. The game brings a fun twist to the Islamic knowledge of the 5 pillars of Islam.
While promoting the 5 Pillars Game, Zileej has been working on exciting new products, such as Salam Sisters, targeted at Muslim girls. Visit the Zileej website or follow Mohammed on Instagram to find out more!
Maruf Yusupov founded Halal.Ad, an ad platform for the Muslim network that offers a unique perspective: curated ads that incorporate Islamic values targeted to reach millions of Muslim consumers online. A solid alternative to other mainstream ad services, Halal.Ad caters to the Muslim market. Halal.Ad’s goal is to incorporate Islamic values and integrity into worldwide Muslim consumer platforms.
“I help people discover their purpose in life and follow their passion to live in prosperity.” Yusupov has worked to keep that promise.
As the co-founder of MPower Change, a pioneering movement focusing on bringing social equality for all people, Dustin Craun is an important actor of social change in the Muslim world. In the IT space, Craun has made a large impact as the founder and executive editor of Ummah Wide, an online media start-up that brings new stories and cultures into the limelight, rising above the intentional boundaries and frontiers of the Muslim, multi-faith, and human family. He keeps up on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter so you can follow for updates on his work and daily life.
“Working with a broad diversity of organizations as a co-founder of MPower Change, I understand deeply the need for experienced communications strategists like myself playing a broader movement role.”
Umar Munshi is the co-founder of Ethis Global, an innovative group of impact investment and ethical crowdfunding platforms available in various countries, based on Sharia finance principles. Ethis also operates WaqfWorld.org (beta), the 1st global Waqf crowdfunding Platform, as well as MuslimWomenTech.com, a mentorship-crowdfunding network that offers funding to start-ups and initiatives by Muslim women.
After beginning this new venture in Singapore, Munshi delved into the world of Fintech with open arms, “I believe that Fintech has unlocked an unprecedented opportunity to create finance solutions rooted in universal ethical principles, and bring enduring and equitable development for society.”
Ethis.co is active in Malaysia, Indonesia and Dubai, where it provides retail, high-net-worth, and institutional investors the opportunity to work on sustainable and influential projects, campaigns and, companies.
Na'ima B. Robert
Na'ima B. Robert is an adamant supporter of women's right to decide to fully cover. She has discussed her support and choice to wear the niqab on various British media platforms, raising awareness and creating a flow of information about Islamic culture and the niqab from a female point of view.
Robert is also the founding editor of the UK-based Muslim women's publication, SISTERS Magazine. SISTERS has succeeded in its goal to become a place for Muslim women to feel accepted and heard in their journey. In her memoir, “From My Sisters' Lips”, Robert extensively explained her decision to wear the niqab after converting to Islam in her adulthood,"[The covered woman] does not feel the need to live up to society's changing expectations of women's bodies... So whoever relates to her must relate to what she has presented – be it what she says, does or thinks." More recently, she has worked extensively to bring social change upon racial issues through her non-profit, Black Muslim Festival.
Omar S. Khawaja
“I didn't want to write just another storybook," says Omar S. Khawaja when discussing his desire to create a platform to help young kids strengthen their Muslim identity. He then created Little Big Kids, the first US brand to provide parents with a large catalog of ethnically motivated products for kids of different backgrounds. Little Big Kids highlights the beauty of Arabic and Islamic spiritual themes, merging them into everyday things that are part of the mundanity of a child’s life, through online and offline platforms.
After self-publishing "Ilyas & Duck Search for Allah” following two long years of hard work, Khawaja found success in light of social impact. He has inspired kids and adults alike to be proud of their Muslim identity through entertaining and fun stories featuring vibrant Muslim characters.
Muna AbuSulayman has been wildly successful in her quest to make a sustainable social impact. As the former founding Secretary General of the Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation, the non-profit organization headed by HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal's Kingdom Holding Company and host of the well-known Kalam Nawaem TV show, she has been able to reach audiences all over the world with her initiatives.
In 2007, she reached a huge milestone after becoming the Saudi first woman to be chosen by the United Nations Development Program as a Goodwill Ambassador. Throughout her time with the United Nations Development Program, she has supported and brought forward various humanitarian causes, some of which include the Tetanus Shot Campaign in 2011 for Yemen. She has continuously broken all of the stereotypes imposed upon Muslim women through her large digital influence and her charitable initiatives. Follow her on Twitter to find out more about how you can make an impact this Ramadan.
These leaders in the Muslim community have dedicated themselves to inspiring positive changes and social impacts. Be sure to check them out for more information and to discover the many ways a single person can have on the world!