“Tea meditation leads to contemplation for me. Anything can be a dialogue with the divine when you transform it from the mundane to the sacred.“
Aalya is a 27 year old Pakistani-Canadian who identifies as a Nizari Ismaili Shi'i Muslim. She described her identity to me as being a minority within a minority within a minority. When I asked her how she would like to be perceived, Aalya told me, “I want to be perceived as that person whose thoughts, words, and actions reflect the Islamic ethos by helping those who exist on the periphery of society and its norms.” Being informed about her identity and faith itself is important to Aalya, she is completing her masters degree in both education of Islamic societies and civilizations and teaching. She is also a secondary religious educator. Aalya told me what’s most important to her is “being an inclusive ally for others and seeking consent, always. The safety, wellbeing, and happiness of my loved ones are also very important to me.” Aalya appeared to me as very thoughtful, conversational, and spiritual, she admits that she believes she is perceived as “a spiritually rooted happy-go-lucky camper who thinks and talks excessively.” She mentions often that she is always thinking; her favourite place to find herself is when she is lost in her own head. “I have a vivid imagination and possess a reflective nature. Getting lost in one’s thoughts can be a dangerous habit. So it is just as important to find myself. The only time in her life she can recall not being flooded with thoughts is when she was skydiving 7 years ago, “but after the free fall, thoughts began to float back into my mind,” she told me.
What makes you laugh so much it hurts?
Clumsy moments. When I slip and fall, I laugh and it literally hurts. Someone once told me that when you can laugh at yourself, you know you’ve conquered the world. I laugh at my own jokes a little too much.
What do you think is the biggest stereotype of a muslim woman? Do you believe it?
I think the biggest stereotype is that we are Muslm women and not Muslim womxn. The latter is what I stand for and promote.
What is one thing you know for sure?
The power of love is beyond measure. There is a light that resides within all of us.