I AM the first female and the first Scot to be elected as the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain which is a massive thing. At 29, I am also the youngest person to represent the most diverse Muslim umbrella organisation in the UK.

It is not something I ever imagined myself doing and it wasn’t until I had been elected that I had that penny drop moment of “this is me, this is actually happening”. The realisation dawned that not only had I been elected but I had all that responsibility, the ability to make a difference and the opportunity to do good.

I think there are a lot of preconceptions about Islam but my age and my gender were not a barrier to me being elected to such an important position.

The role is allowing me to feel the confidence to push for things and to believe in myself. I have to be confident because people are relying on me and I represent something bigger than myself.


I STARTED wearing my headscarf when I was in the second year studying law and politics at Strathclyde University. I had always been a practising Muslim and had a very academic approach to my religion. I studied my faith, read the Quran and wanted to understand what it means to be Muslim.

My mum always said it was up to me but the choice to wear a headscarf brought responsibility and I would have to be a good role model.

For me it was about affirming identity, saying I was proud to be Muslim and this was part of my faith and this was me representing who I am and my connection to God. But for others, because of the whole Islamophobia thing, some people were a bit more hesitant towards me, a bit different and more exclusionary. It impacted my life in a way that I hadn’t considered that it would.

It’s not always Islamophobia. Some people are just unsure and don’t know what to make of it and maybe are confused about what it symbolises. There are always going to be challenges in life so that doesn’t deter me but it was a wake up moment for me.


MY brother taught me how to ride a bike and it was terrible. I just wobbled around. I went to Millport once and I was probably the only person in the history of anybody, to fall off my bike in Millport. The police were there and I had to go to hospital because I cut my foot. It really put me off cycling.

However at university I decided to give it another go and it was wonderful. I got some proper training and cycling has given me a connection to the outdoors and makes me feel healthy, strong and confident.

It taught me that there are so many benefits in things that sometimes you back away from. Fear is all in your head.


THIS was one of my big responsibilities in sixth year. It was very stressful but I was so excited. I really wanted to make a good job of it. I went all creative, putting in profiles of teacher and pupils, funny stories and baby pictures. I invested a lot of time in it and it was a moment where I felt really responsible, was able to be creative and had a bit of autonomy. It was small but it was one of my first real leadership experiences.

I was proud of it but I do think I could maybe put in a different picture of myself. When you are a teenager you think you look good, then you look back and wonder what you were thinking.


WHEN I was studying for my masters, I was elected the first female president of the Federation of Student Islamic Societies for 2016-17. I was the first female president in its 55-year history and it is a national student umbrella organisation so it set me up quite nicely for the post I am in now.

Running in that election I really had to believe in myself and in that year we delivered so much and I visited universities across the UK. It was a big leadership experience.


I HAVE a masters in human rights law and I am really proud of that because I think human rights are so important and certainly something we all need more of. I focused on social and economic human rights – the right to housing, the right to water, the right to a job. I think that part of who I am is to advocate for human rights and to advocate for better standards for everyone. I don’t see that as exclusive to Muslims – I want a better society for everybody.

For my masters I had to write a dissertation which was a really difficult piece of work. It was summer and I was in the library when everyone else seemed to be having a good time. It was tough but whatever it is you do in life it is that journey you go through that makes you.


MY parents have always put such trust in me. They gave me responsibility but also gave me so many experiences, whether it was taking me to museums, movies, events or travelling. They always gave me as much as they could and, most importantly, belief, confidence, encouragement and support.

They let me do things that were probably a bit different for a young Muslim girl like myself to go off and do. My dad always told me to focus on my career and then worry about everything else. Both my parents always worked and they told me to dream high, to go for the top and not settle for anything less.

My siblings are supportive as well although they make fun of me now and say I am boring! But they are proud of me and they give me their advice, so my family network has always been really supportive but also honest.

I can be the president of whatever I want but my mum will still tell me to clean my room and my dad will ask me to sort out the WiFi. I think you need that.


I HAVE been quite blessed in being able to travel far and wide. I have been as far east as Malaysia, as far north as Finland, as far south as Saudi and a lot of Europe and the US.

All that travel has really shaped me as a person. You have to be resilient, able to think on your feet and be dynamic. Travel can be quite lonely and difficult but you have to remember you are doing it for a reason.

The best bit is learning from others and having an open mind because people have different experiences, different religions, different backgrounds. It has made me realise that my reality is not the only one and, although I have a belief and a version of things, there are others.


I GOT married in 2017 and my husband and I did the Hajj pilgrimage together which is the fifth pillar of Islam and a once in a lifetime journey. For Muslims all over the world it is the thing they want to do, but there is a financial cost and it is also a difficult journey.

It was our first big thing as a couple. It was challenging as it was 46 degree heat and coming from Glasgow I had never experienced that. You are camping for some of it, you are in the desert, there are no home comforts and you are with lots of people you don’t know.

It is a journey of sacrifice but I got to meet Muslims of different cultures from all over the world. For me there was a real spiritual connection.


ONE thing I have always really appreciated is the amount of support and encouragement I have had from friends. Even before I believed in myself they believed in me. They also give me honest feedback and tell me if things aren’t working or I could have done them better.

I want to thank my friends for giving me the encouragement to start my blog and run for these positions and to remind me on my down days that it’s OK to be tired.