EP 20: Being a Light in Times of Darkness (feat. Heraa Hashmi)

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For many Muslims living in the West, it has become harder than ever to push a positive narrative of Islam amidst the clutter of media propaganda, conflicting viewpoints, and floods of emotional outrage following the tragic incidents occurring around the world in the name of religion.

While some may have an agenda to portray Islam in the most negative light possible, the vast majority of people are simply confused, unsure who or what to believe. With conflicts rising, frustrations growing and deep misunderstandings of our faith becoming widespread, how can Muslims act as beacons of light for society? How do we remain confident as Muslims, and instead of apologising for the acts of a few, build strong bonds and dialogue with others to exemplify and promote the true nature of our beautiful Deen?

In this episode, we’re joined by the young and bright Heraa Hashmi, a 19 year-old molecular biology student who made headlines and inspired thousands after her brilliant response to one particular student in her history class.

When her classmate claimed that Muslims don’t openly condemn acts of violence in the name of religion, Heraa became frustrated by the idea that the acts of just a few could be used to demonise an entire group of people. Determined to prove him wrong, Heraa began researching for an answer, only to find that there were no comprehensive resources detailing the vast number of mainstream Muslim responses to these acts of violence.

Three weeks later, Heraa had produced a 700+ Google doc – references and all – listing every incident she could find in which a Muslim condemned an act of violence carried out in the name of religion. After her tweet went viral, Heraa caught the eyes of the likes of Teen Vogue, The Guardian, and head of Yaqeen Institute, Imam Omar Suleiman.

Before she knew it, Heraa was sharing her story on stage in front of thousands of Muslims at the ICNA-MAS  conference, and soon after found herself enjoying an eventful dinner with the daughters of the late Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X (may Allah have mercy on their souls) after winning the first ever ‘Muhammad Ali Confident Muslim Award’.

Join us in this episode as we discover Heraa’s story, and receive her advice on how Muslims can better contribute to portraying a positive narrative of Islam, and acting as beacons of light in times of darkness.

What you’ll learn in this episode:

  • Who is Heraa Hashmi?
  • What Heraa’s classmate claimed about Muslims during their history class
  • The inspiration behind Heraa’s ‘Muslims Condemn’ list and how it was created
  • How Heraa’s tweet went viral and made headlines
  • How and why Heraa won the Muhammad Ali Confident Muslim Award
  • What Muslims can do in their everyday lives to exemplify the beauty of Islam through their own actions
  • What everyday, tolerant and well-minded non-Muslims can do to help their Muslim neighbours when they face a backlash from others in the community
  • What Heraa would advise young Muslims who have lost the confidence to practice their faith in public

Links & Resources Mentioned in The Episode

Heraa’s ‘Muslims Condemn’ List
Yaqeen Institute

Connect with Heraa:

Leave a comment!

If you have a question for Heraa or want to share your story / advice on this topic, scroll down share your thoughts below!

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Episode Sponsor: The Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research

Episode Sponsor: The Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research


Founded by Imam Omar Suleiman, the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research is a charity which aims to raise the discourse in the Muslim community by making academic grade research material accessible to everyone.

In the current climate, Islam has been cast as irrational, incompatible with modern civilization, and inherently violent. Yaqeen aims to address relevant topics head-on with the help of the foremost experts in this space, and believe that telling our own story is the only way to counter the narrative that has been forced upon our community.

Yaqeen Institute is a registered charity. Donate here: https://yaqeeninstitute.org/en/donate/ 

Heraa Hashmi

Heraa Hashmi

Founder - MuslimsCondemn.com

Heraa Hashmi is a 19 year-old Molecular Biology and Linguistics student in Boulder, an activist, YouTuber, author, artist & calligrapher. She is also currently the president of the University Muslim Student Association.

Heraa is the founder of ‘Muslims Condemn’, a spreadsheet with over 5000 instances of Muslims condemning acts of violence in the name of religion, and is a part of the Bridge Initiative at Georgetown University – an initiative dedicated to tackling Islamophobia through education.

She was a speaker at the ICNA Baltimore conference in 2017, and regularly hosts open houses at the Islamic Centre of Boulder. She is also the first recipient of the annual Muhammad Ali Confident Muslim Award presented by Yaqeen Institute.

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