My grandfather, despite his expertise in many, many things, once told me that he refuses to call himself an expert. Instead, he calls himself a student, because he’s still learning. I thought that was extremely powerful. I too, therefore, am a student of all things related to sexual health, mental health, society, culture, and Muslims. This also means that issues of race/racism, Islamophobia, and misogyny need to be included in my learning. I’ve learned a great deal, but I have a great deal more to learn.
I have my PhD in Applied Social Psychology from the University of Windsor, where I explored issues surrounding sexual guilt and sexual anxiety of Muslims in Canada and the US. In other words, psychological components of sexual health. I approached my work from a feminist perspective, with the aim to address the health of the community. In a previous life (for my Master’s work) I explored ethnic identity and acculturation of South Asian Muslim Canadians, and before that, in undergrad, images of women in hip hop music videos (yes, I watched a lot of hip hop music videos and got to call it school work). This was the time my learning of issues related to race and systemic racism really began. I was also first exposed to feminism and the power of patriarchy in my undergraduate Women’s Studies courses, but that learning went into high drive in graduate school as I became involved with feminist research. I’ve been influenced by many people and many experiences in life, including my parents (I am eternally in awe of their courage and bravery), my adorable siblings, my strong, supportive, and loving husband, and my amazing and brilliant academic mentors.
As someone who really loves the field of psychology (in my high school yearbook I had written that my future aspiration was to study psychology) I’m excited by the activist and anti-oppression philosophy of community psychology, the rise of post-colonial psychology, and the inclusion of intersectionality in psychological study. In graduate school, to explore post-colonial psychology I formed a study group of sorts with like-minded graduate students so that we could explore what it meant to be a post-colonial researcher in psychology.
I would love to see the field other areas of psychology incorporate a more anti-oppressionist and feminist lens.
I know that our Muslim communities face many challenges and uphill battles in this world. I aim to use my feminist, anti-oppression, and inclusive worldview to do my part, as small as it may be, to help not only Muslims, but other marginalized peoples. Insha’Allah, even these small efforts will help to make a better world.