In conversation with….

By Sabah Sufi – September 2020

Samia Ahmed

Samia is an accomplished writer with a broad range of experience across Education, Teaching, Gender Policy and Charity Management: her specialties include writing/editing books and articles and charity events management. She also offers public speaking on Islam and interfaith topics and assemblies in schools. She lives in Merton with her husband and two children. Samia teaches Islamic studies and Tajweed to children in fun and creative ways.

MWM Schools Project

Her association with MWM as an active volunteer for the Schools Project Team began 3 years ago.  Recently, Samia has just embarked on launching a website for children to access Islamic stories and activity sheets to embody life skills for children based on Islamic teachings. With such a diverse knowledge base, join us as Samia shares her experiences in conversation with Sabah.

1. What inspired you to become a teacher?

I started my journey in teaching as I believe giving back to the community starts with our children who hold the key for the future. Working around children is a real sense of achievement, especially if you see the change. Children are amazing, resilient and wonderful little people to be around. I believe children won’t always remember what they have learnt but they will remember the experience of being around a good teacher who inspires them and natures self belief and confidence.

2. Being someone in education, how do you advise parents to continue to keep their young children interested in learning at home as their daily school activities have ceased for over 3 months

I think it’s important for children and parents to pace themselves. We can’t expect the same level of output from children during these challenging times. The academic side is important of course, but children can learn through many creative forms also. There are lots of activities online to support this. The key is their well-being and schools should provide some curriculum guidelines to follow. With my own children we have some non screen days and do creative learning through baking, arts and crafts and gardening. Keeping them mentally happy is more important I believe than academic achievements during these challenging times at home.

3. Why did you decide to participate and join the MWM Schools’ Project Team ?

I feel MWM is a great platform for local sisters to come together and offer something back. The schools project is an ideal opportunity to go into schools and offer the support mainstream teachers and schools need and provide them guidance on topics in relation to Islam. I think positive women role models are essential. The schools project is also a great way to remove any misconceptions about women in Islam. Muslim Women of Merton are a well- organised volunteer group that enables women to bring forward their skills and give back to the wider community.

allow them to manage a variety of situations. The Qur’an teaches us to reflect and review and I would like children to use my resources and books to develop these skills as well as build a morally conscious character. There are many other life skills which children can learn from these books which are rooted from Islamic thinking. Bilal and Khadijah are two friendly characters who are central to some of the books and resources to enable children to relate to them. They will also learn life skills based on Islamic teachings, like empathy, resilience, determination, flexibility and many more.

Islamic Learning for Children

4. What inspired you to start your new venture and the website:   www.blossomingbelievers.co.uk?

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Writing for children has mainly been a hobby for me although I have written, edited and produced materials for children when I worked for Islamic Relief. However, it was never something I thought I could turn into a project like Blossoming Believers and develop further. Since turning my passion into a project, I am constantly exploring new genres and ideas. It’s incredibly hard work, but I’m never happier than when I’m sitting down at my desk putting the opening words to a new book or story on paper for children.

I wanted to make Islam more practical and simple for children and relevant so they can utilise it to face modern day challenges. This is to enable children to become more resilient and self assured to allow them to manage a variety of situations. The Qur’an teaches us to reflect and review and I would like children to use my resources and books to develop these skills as well as build a morally conscious character. There are many other life skills which children can learn from these books which are rooted from Islamic thinking.

Bilal and Khadijah are two friendly characters who are central to some of the books and resources to enable children to relate to them. They will also learn life skills based on Islamic teachings, like empathy, resilience, determination, flexibility and many more.

Tools for life
Bilals developing new skills

5. What plans do you have in the future for BB?

I would like to have a platform for children to get creative and send in their writing. Insha’Allah I am hoping to produce stories with voice narration and branch out to a mainstream audience. I would like to produce many more quality online and printed books and resources, with beautiful illustrations which capture the imagination.

6. How did you come to your decision of starting Blossoming Believers and launch on the social media platforms like facebook and Instagram?

It was all from Allah during lockdown. For some time I have been thinking how can I bring together what I have a passion for and at the same time serve a need. I have been writing for some time but didn’t know how to reach out. I currently teach a few children at the weekend different topics on Islam and was producing my own Islamic materials. I felt that starting a new venture like this could reach out to more to help children blossom, hence the name Blossoming Believers! During lockdown and Ramadan I felt this is the right time to start years of learning about Islam and working in education. Social Media is a part of our reality and the best way to reach out to your audience.

7. What makes BB different to other Islamic resources and books?

The key theme in the books is about giving children life skills alongside their Islamic Knowledge. I want children to build up a sense of living by your morals through loving Islam.   They can learn lessons from the stories in the Qur’an but I want them to also think about how they can use learning powers when faced with real life situations: for example to be resilient if they have to deal with a mishap, failure or disappointment. The first book looks at Prophet Yunus and the difficult situation he encountered inside the belly of the whale. I pointed out in the story how Prophet Yunus had to use his tools for life to cope with such a test, like Du’a, resilience, courage to name but a few.

Cover page from online book ‘The Belly of the Whale’ (Prophet Yunus)

The Belly of the Whale

8. What advice would you give to budding young writers?

Let your mind flow and just put pen to paper, enter some competitions, try different genres and ways of writing and you never know what will become in the future! Be creative as you like and have fun! It’s not a chore but a great way to express yourself. Your imagination and creativity doesn’t have a right or wrong and that’s where you can truly be original. Don’t worry about making mistakes, we can learn from them!

9. Are voluntary activities advised for our youth and young children?

What kind of things are good ideas for them?

I think you can involve children in anything as an adult we are involved in. Children absorb our behaviour so if we are doing any positive voluntary work in the community, they will follow the way. It depends on the age group, but often children love to get involved in charity events. Food banks, charity collections and organising sport events for charity are also great ways to get kids active and involved. Younger children can take part in helping with any activities which are age appropriate. Often they love helping so just nurturing them by being good to neighbours and dropping off some shopping can train them for life to look out for others.

10. What advice would you give to anyone who wants to become writers themselves?

First you need to believe in your work, think about a path of education that will support your career in writing, and explore different ways of writing and what you enjoy the most. Don’t be afraid to experiment until you find your passion and skill! Writing isn’t limited so find your audience and start!

Exclusive offer and contact details:

You can get in touch with Samia for any writing projects or public speaking by emailing: contact@blossomingbelievers.co.uk

Exclusive 50% discount quoting “MWM1” at checkout for downloading stories and activities  from the website ( Valid until 31st August 2020 )

www.blossomingbelievers.co.uk/contact

If you subscribe for updates with BB, you will receive your new book called ‘Living in Lockdown’ direct to your inbox. You can also find a narrated version of this book on youtube. Visit the website to find out more.

Watch out for new title from

Blossoming Believers coming soon:

A little book of BIG advice’           Bilal needs words of wisdom from his mum as he shares what bothers him in this world.