Faheemah Salahud-Din radiates light and energy like a sunflower, so it’s appropriate that her new book, Ascension, has a bright, big sunflower on the cover. I had the honor of meeting and talking with Faheemah just two short weeks before her book launch, scheduled to take place in her hometown, of Bakersfield, CA on April 13, 2018.
During her busy schedule, she took the time to speak with me via video conference, and even through the limitations of our laptops, I could still feel her passion for her brand and business, as well as for her identity as a Black Muslim Woman.
#BlackMuslimGirlFly was created to shine a light on Black Muslim Girls and Women, worldwide, and through our #FridayFeatures we get to meet them and see why we are so amazing, dope, and fresh-to-death awesome. Meet Faheemah, get familiar, and be inspired by her #BlackMuslimGirlFly.
TeamBMGFly:#BlackMuslimGirlFly is defined as that “it” factor Black Muslim Girls & Women have that makes them amazing, dope, & fresh-to-death awesome. How would you describe your #BlackMuslimGirlFly?
Faheemah Salahud-Din:My #BlackMuslimGirlFly is unapologetic truth. I’m unapologetically myself. I’m different. I’ve always been different. I don’t fit into the cookie-cutter box of what people perceive Islam or muslimahs to be. I’m very bold and I’m bright. And, I’m vibrant and outspoken. And, I have tattoos, and I love Hip-Hop and go to concerts. And, I curse, and I talk about provocative issues. And, I think that has always allowed me– I had a lot of struggle growing up in the Muslim community because I was so unapologetic with my identity. And, what that taught me was how to be firm in who I was and comfortable with myself. I am a self-actualized, introspective, divine feminine Queen. I embody the light that God has put in my spirit, and I try to walk in it daily. I stand in my feminine essence and work to maintain my God-given frequency and excellence every day. I use my platform to invite other women to do the same.
TeamBMGFly: How did you grow into your Muslim identity? And, how does being a Black girl impact that? (Or, if you’re bi-racial, or of multi-ethnic heritage, how does that impact your Muslim identity?)
Faheemah:For me being Black and Muslim were synonymous, growing up. I was raised in Imam Warith Deen Mohammed’s community and was raised with a strong sense of ethnic identity as well as Islamic identity. I’m also Afro-Carribean, my father is from Trinidad & Tobago. I’ve always grown up with a very strong cultural identity. That afforded me a privilege of never taking one for granted. I’m very grateful for that because growing up in my community afforded me the privilege of being raised in a community where I was respected. Women in my community held positions of power and for the most part, were respected in our ummah. While there was chauvinism here and there, we didn’t have to deal with the overwhelming chauvinism that seems to exist in other Muslim spaces. That was never my experience, and so I was privileged vastly in that way. So, I’m grateful for that. As I’ve gotten older, I started to study more with West African teachers, and I found my space within Islam where I feel like my spirituality is fed, my identity is fed, and it connects with my spirit. As I have gotten older my spiritual connection to Allah has grown and I feel comfortable with my identity as a Black Muslim Woman.
TeamBMGFly: How do you maneuver your industry as a Black Muslim Woman?
Faheemah:I am unapologetic about being Black and Muslim. If someone can’t work with that they can’t work with me.
TeamBMGFly: What made you decide to take that leap of faith and go into business for yourself?
Faheemah:I am a mother of two beautiful girls who are six and eight, and as a result of that I am often looking for additional streams of income within my creative medium. I like the autonomy of having the freedom to raise my children in a way that I want to.
TeamBMGFly: What were the steps to creating your brand?
Faheemah:My t-shirt and apparel company Glitter & Goon was born out of a little selfish and a lot of drive and creativity. I have traditionally worn t-shirts that make powerful statements, going back to high school, and through that, I realized that I had a love for empowering t-shirt messages. My non-profit First And Always Melanin began to sell t-shirts as part of a fundraiser, and I assisted in designing some of the shirts. It was then that I realized my interest in t-shirts design could be monetized while making beautiful statements of empowerment for Black people. After that Glitter & Goon was born.
TeamBMGFly: How do you keep aware of what you deliver, and what you have, that separates yourself from others in your business?
Faheemah:I think my business is different because I create through multiple mediums. Glitter & Goon is more than just a t-shirt company, it’s a lifestyle brand, based on my values and beliefs. A lifestyle brand reflective of my lifestyle. Every design on the site was created by me or under my direction. I don’t sell anything I wouldn’t wear myself. I have a hands-on relationship with my customers that allows them to communicate with me openly. I think my business is different because I create through multiple mediums. I design t-shirts and accessories, but I am also a writer and through my business, I release different products from different mediums because my creativity is not relegated to one space.
TeamBMGFly: You have an upcoming book release scheduled for next month. What inspired you to write Ascension?
Faheemah:I am a writer, I have been writing stories and poetry since I was twelve. Words are the basis of my creativity, everything I do revolves around words and messages so Ascension is a book that was birthed out of my natural ability to express myself through written word, coupled with my love for spoken word. I’m a firm believer that part of healing is revealing truth, and standing firm in truth. I know a lot of Muslims will disagree. Muslims love to say ‘hide your sins, cover your sins.’ I think there is a difference between bragging about your sins and sharing them for the sole purpose of healing from them. I view poetry and this creative medium as a detox. I need to feel better. I need to feel like I can heal, and I can move on, and I can close these chapters in my life so that I can have new chapters in my life. This book was imperative for my growth and my healing as a woman, and as a person. I pray that in sharing this, it gives other women permission to do the same.
TeamBMGFly: How did you come up with the title of Ascension, and what’s the story behind it?
Faheemah:The title Ascension came to me in a dream. I have always dreamed in color, and in this particular dream, I saw the words written in the sky. When I woke up from my dream I knew that my book was supposed to be named Ascension. I had another name for it at the time but I dropped it and went with Ascension. Ascension tells a story through poetry, of a girl who evolved into a woman and the things she learns as she ascends into her higher self. We all have a higher self and a lower self. When we live in our higher self we are living our God-given excellence, and it is important that we keep that frequency, so Ascension chronicles my evolution into my higher self.
TeamBMGFly: When did you realize you definitely wanted to publish your book? What made you take that big step forward to make it happen?
Faheemah:I always knew it had to be published. I started writing when I was twelve. I wrote my first fiction book when I was 15 but I was afraid to publish it. It was out of fear of not being good enough, out of fear of judgment, out of fear of being found out. By found out, I am referring to the fear of being seen as a person who is less than perfect. That was a fear for me growing up, I was always concerned about being judged for my differences. One thing that I learned is that truth is freedom, and when you own your truth and share your truth no one can hold your past or your secrets over your head. You can’t tell on me because I told on myself. So, when I began to write Ascension I knew this was the book I had to publish, I knew it had to be public.
TeamBMGFly: What’s the number one thing you hope people will gain from reading it?
Faheemah:Freedom, I pray that this book invites people to live in their truth, and be free.
TeamBMGFly: Who did you look up to while growing up? Who inspires you now?
Faheemah:Growing up I looked up to the wombs that bore me. My mother my aunties in the community, Sister Clara Muhammad, Zora Neale Hurston, Sistah Souljah, James Baldwin, Chinua Achebe, Angela Davis, Kathleen Cleaver, Huey P. Newton and the list goes on. My inspirations now are my children, my sister friends, my Ancestors, the women of the Quran, and all the other Black women who unapologetically live in their truth and love their sisters.
TeamBMGFly: Can you describe a moment where you felt defeated, and how did you overcome that?
Faheemah:When I got divorced from my husband, I instantly became a single mom who had not worked in over 7 years, with two toddlers under the age of four. I had nothing except the clothes on our back, my car a few belongings, and my faith. At that time it felt as though I was never going to make it, like I would never do better than what I was doing at that moment, but I did not let that stop me. I quickly got a job, put my daughters in preschool and reestablished myself. I felt defeated but I was able to change my circumstances, and I never looked back.
TeamBMGFly: Can you describe a moment where you felt like you defied odds or broke barriers?
Faheemah:Every day I break barriers, as the successful Social Media Manager and online content creator for WeBuyBlack.com. I am the Executive Director of First And Always Melanin (FAAM) which is a grassroots activist collective in my city, the sole owner and operator of Glitter & Goon an apparel and accessory company, and I am now a published author. My entire life is defying odds and breaking barriers, my existence in this space is an act of resistance.
TeamBMGFly: What would you cite as the foundation of your success?
Faheemah:My faith. The faith I have in myself, and the faith I have in my God. I don’t live in fear. Fear is an ailment of the heart. Fear is a perversion of the heart. All ailments of the heart can be drawn back to fear and grief. I have learned how to heal my heart of fear. I’m currently learning to heal my heart of grief. I think my success comes from the fact that I’m fearless, and I only fear Allah. The foundation for my success is the acknowledgment of what was sacrificed for me to be here. It is not lost on me that my ancestors have died and sacrificed their lives so I could have the opportunity to live and thrive. Everything that I do is in memory and reverence of my Ancestors, and for the empowerment of my children and my community.
TeamBMGFly: #BlackMuslimGirlFly is an empowerment brand created to uplift and to remind Black girls that they are FLY in many ways. What advice would you give all the Black Muslim girls out there, worldwide, to cultivate their own individual #BlackMuslimGirlFly?
Faheemah:Stand in your truth. Open your heart and be a witness to the experiences in your life. Have faith. Honor yourself from your crown to your root, you are a divine feminine creature who deserves to be respected and reverenced. But that love starts with you. If you do not love yourself in this fashion, no one else ever will. Protect your energy, you do not have to consume everything people feed you. Part of being successful is establishing healthy boundaries, and understanding your worth and value as a woman. Be unapologetic in both your Blackness and your Islam. Stand in your identity and don’t waiver. Don’t lie to yourself about your truth and your experiences. They are yours, own them. Always live in your truth, always seek freedom, risk it all whenever possible. And above all else, protect your magic.
TeamBMGFly: What’s something you haven’t done yet, but would like to do next?
Faheemah:I want to make a mixtape. Many people don’t know this but I am also a closet rapper so a mixtape would be a dream project for me.
Nia Malika Dixon: Faheemah, I can’t wait to hear your future mixtape! You said you emulate Salt ‘N Pepa, so I know it’s gonna be hella dope!
I say it’s even more powerful when the listener can see themselves in you because you’ve ignited a soul by allowing them to feel like they are not alone. This is what the phrase, ‘representation matters’ truly means. It’s a divine statement, not a slogan. It’s reflective of my favorite ayah in the Qur’an, Surah Hujurat, Ayat 13: “Oh mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you may know one another.” ~The Noble Qur’an, 49:13
That’s what storytelling is all about. Sometimes, it can feel like you’re the only one, then you meet someone with similar life experiences and hear their story, and it’s a validation of who you are. Thank you for sharing your story, and allowing us to see ourselves in you, and your #BlackMuslimGirlFly.