Tasnim Nazeer is a freelance journalist and financial reporter for Business Media Group’s Global Islamic Finance Magazine. She has written for a variety of print and online publications including CNN International, The Huffington Post and The Muslim News, amongst many others and is the author of her first children’s book ‘Allah’s Gifts’ published by Greenbird Books. She was shortlisted for the Asian Women of Achievement 2012, The Muslim Writers Awards 2011 and is listed as Top 40 under 40 in MB Muslima, an American based magazine. Other accolades include receiving the Universal Peace Federation Ambassador for World Peace Award.
|1. How did you first get into journalism?
From an early age I have always enjoyed writing a variety of texts from articles, stories and poetry and this love of writing spurred me to eventually study Journalism at university. My main motivation for entering into a career in Journalism was because I wanted to give a voice to those who often felt unheard and dispel myths surrounding Muslims within the media.
I first started out by writing human interest articles for local papers and getting as much work experience within the media industry as I could by submitting articles to various print and online media. I began writing for a Sri Lankan International newspaper and went to Sri Lanka personally to visit the victims of the tsunami who had still not received aid and were inflicted with hardship. It was both an emotional and rewarding experience which motivated me to continue until this day. I soon began to realize how the pen has the ability to raise awareness about an important issue and hopefully create a positive change.
After building up my profile of published articles within a variety of print and online publications I then got a job as a Freelance Journalist for Business Media Group’s Global Islamic Finance Magazine by the grace of Allah (swt). I have been working there now for a few years whilst being married and managing a young family and also continue to write for many Islamic and international publications on the topics of Islam, human rights, parenting and world news.
|2. Many of your articles are on Islamic topics. Why do you think it is important to combine Islam with your career?
I think Islam is a complete way of life and should be implemented into our everyday tasks and every aspect of our lives should be lived to praise and earn Allah (Swt) rewards. Combining Islam into my work is extremely rewarding as I want to give a voice to those unheard and shed light on what it is to be a true believer with good intentions to please Allah (swt) and earn for the Akhirah the permanent abode which we will all have to face. By using my writing to dispel myths surrounding Muslim women and talk about issues which face Muslims in society today I hope that it can bring about a positive change on the perception of Muslims in the media today.
|3. What has your experience been being a covered Muslim woman in the media?
Alhamdulillah I have had a good experience so far working in the media as the number of Muslim women entering this field has increased. Media professionals are becoming more accepting of Muslim women in the media. Although there are not many Muslim women in the mainstream media (especially ones that wear Hijab) I would hope that this will change. Many people from socially diverse backgrounds often find that they are misrepresented within the media and that is why there is a need for more varied reporting of issues surrounding the communities at large. Portrayals of Muslim women have the potential to impact discrimination and rights of the community and this can only be done if there are more writers, broadcasters and producers from diverse backgrounds.
|4. Is there an obstacle for Muslim women in the media? Have you encountered any?
One of the main challenges that I found when writing for mainstream publications is that there will be some editors who are under the perception that Muslim journalists would be delivering biased reports. As a journalist, neutral reporting is part of the job and ensures professionalism. Journalists, regardless of their faith, know what is required of them. I believe in giving a fair report portraying both sides of the story, after all being truthful is part of our emaan.
|5. What is the prevalence of Muslim women in the media?
There are a growing number of Muslim women entering the media and many noticeable key figures in politics and various other industries that have provided a voice to speak on topics relating to Islam within the media. In addition there are many Muslim writers that have emerged over the years which have both influenced the perception of Muslims and have helped to dispel myths surrounding Muslims around the world.
|6. What advice do you have for Muslim women looking to get into the media?
I would advise any Muslim woman who is interested in getting into media to try to obtain plenty of work experience. Getting work experience within the media will help you to prepare yourself for the practicalities of the job. In addition it will help to build up your portfolio of work so that you have more chance of obtaining employment and getting your foot in the door. I would like to encourage anyone who is interested in writing and Journalism to go for their goals and it would be especially beneficial if you write on topics which can have some benefit such as Islam. I believe that Allah (glorified and exalted be He) provides our sustenance and we can achieve anything Allah (glorified and exalted be He) wishes us to. Sometimes there are hurdles and sometimes things are made easy but that is how life is.
It is important to recognize your talents and see how you can utilize those talents for the sake of Allah (glorified and exalted be He). I never thought that I was a good writer and I still think I should improve to this day, despite my husband encouraging me that I am good. However, I wanted to write about topics such as Islam in addition to other human interest stories which can benefit Muslims and creative a positive image of Islam within the media. Insha Allah I hope that Allah (glorified and exalted be He) keeps the Ummah united and keeps us sincere in our intentions to productively achieve, for the sake of our faith.
|7. Tell us about your motivation to write a children’s book?
As a mother I often read children’s stories to my children and found that there was a gap in the market for a publication such as the Allah’s Gifts which focuses purely on the non materialistic aspects of life and the nurturing of Islamic values. I wanted to create a different story which would give the reader a sense of appreciation about the gifts that we often take for granted in life and also nurture good morals and values within our children and hope that I have achieved that with this book.
|8. What do you hope to achieve through your book?
Having children of my own I wanted to write the Allah’s Gifts to reiterate the message of the essential gifts of life such as the having the ability to hear, see, move and listen. These are some gifts that not everyone has. Children can learn to appreciate the non materialistic gifts of life in a lively and engaging way through descriptive texts and beautiful illustrations which I hope they will enjoy.
The main message which I wanted to bring across for both children and especially parents is the importance of nurturing children with Islamic morals and appreciation of non materialistic gifts of the world. Children will be able to discover and appreciate the many gifts that Allah has given us in the world today from the little things such as the ability to see, hear and talk. Some people in this world do not have the benefits that many of us have and this book teaches good morals to nurture Islamic values within our children.
Gifts are often associated with materialistic things however there is a bigger gift in store for all believers and righteous followers of Islam and that is the promise of Paradise. The Gifts of Allah explores the many benefits we are given in this world h in an engaging way to get children to focus not only on material gifts but also that which promotes spiritually good behavior.
|9. What other books do you have in the works?
I have another Islamic children’s book which is due to be published around Eid from International Islamic Publishing House and it is a story about Eid. In addition I have just finished writing a children’s novel and will be looking to publish in the future inshallah.
|10. What is your definition of a Muslim woman?
A Muslim woman submits her will to Allah (Swt) she exemplifies Islam in her every action and works towards nurturing the life of this world for the purpose of obtaining a better life in the hereafter. One most notable figure who truly inspires me is the wife of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessings be upon him ) Khadija bint Khuwaylid (May Allah shower his blessings).
If you want read more about Tasnim’s work check out her website www.tasnimnazeer.com
You can also find her book on Amazon.com here
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