A view of Islam and the connection to God can be seen as a way to constantly seek healing, which has an important link in particular to mental health and the power of spirituality and religious practice in overcoming daily life hurdles. In that respect, there are Islamic values and Quranic precepts that are very powerful, among them unity, peace, harmony, tolerance, openness, wisdom, kindness, togetherness, as well as the belief in the good of the world and the others through Allah. There are also differences within the Muslim community, different cultures and traditions but what holds everyone together is the values and morals of Islam. However, many people mix culture and Islam which makes it confusing for the individual and the external society.
It is important to acknowledge how all types of diversity and differences impact a person’s identity and their experience of mental health. There is beauty in diversity, and even more beauty when there is unity in diversity, when people find commonality in differences and respect one another.
Meet the panel that will join the organizer, Ayan Hussein, in discussion:
Born and bred in Morocco, Soundous Boualam stepped foot in Europe ten years ago, first in the United Kingdom, in order to study international business, international relations and international law, at the University of Edinburgh and then at the University of Cambridge respectively. After her studies, she moved to Brussels, Belgium in order to work at the European Parliament and also started a visual storytelling project telling the personal stories of Europeans, called Humans of the E.U. As of now, Soundous works in communications for the newly founded NGO Alliance4Europe and alongside that is interested in writing, visual and audio art, food, nature, religion, philosophy and human beings. Soundous is fluent in five languages: English, Arabic, French, Spanish and the Moroccan dialect (darija). Growing up, Soundous has received Islamic education since the age of four, learning to recite the Quran in class and following years of Islamic principles and life precepts. Although, it is through her personal connection with God and her own practice, that she has realised how proud and grateful she is, of having been born into the teachings of Islam and of being and becoming Muslim-a.
As a young black African Muslim growing up in England, life has not always been easy. Sophia was forced at a very young age to learn that some people judged her by her skin colour. Now Sophia loves and accepts the woman in the mirror. Sophia had a traumatic past that has taught her resilience and self-love. After successfully, graduating in Masters for educational leadership she enjoys assisting in upcoming research for education. Sophia is also particularly interested in researching young people’s wellbeing and mental health.
Magdalena joins the panel as a moderator, having spent many years living in and traveling to countries and regions that have a majority or large Muslim population. During her time working in Yemen, Lebanon, Palestine, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Pakistan, and many more places, she had worked as a humanitarian and human rights practitioner with international organizations, primarily with migrants, refugees, and other displaced populations from around the world. Presently based in Europe and focused on migration and asylum matters as a practitioner, peace advocate, researcher, and educator, she sees more than ever the importance of unity in diversity, and the potential of Europe to meet its highest ideals. Magdalena ascribes to a universal spirituality and knows well the healing potential when communities come together.