Muslim Women Changemakers: Reem Faruqi

I doodle. All the time. Doodling helps me make sense of the world around me. When I doodle, whether it be swirls or figurines, I am transformed to a world in which my doodles live, and my thoughts become clear. Similarly, when I take a break from the world around me, and take photos, my mind breathes.

Who are you?

I doodle. All the time.  Doodling helps me make sense of the world around me. When I doodle, whether it be swirls or figurines, I am transformed to a world in which my doodles live, and my thoughts become clear. Similarly, when I take a break from the world around me, and take photos, my mind breathes.

Through my art medium of Photos, Pencils, Paint, and Potting soil, I thrive.  I am a doodler any chance I get, a writer in the nights, a photographer on weekends, and a Stay-At-Home-Mom during the week to a kindergartener and toddler. I am also a teacher and have taught 2nd grade for 4 years, but am taking a break to mother and explore my creative outlet via the aforementioned 4 P’s.

I’m an author whose picture book Lailah’s Lunchbox was released in May 2015 via Tilbury House Publishing. I’m an Atlanta based children-family-lifestyle photographer on weekends at ReemFaruqi Photography and a writer at random hours.


Give us your favorite quote and tell us why it means so much to you:

“If today where the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” – Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs said he would ask himself this daily and if he said no too many times in a row, he knew he had to change something. Sometimes we can get stuck in the daily grind of life and find that we are stifled and not enjoying life. If I’m sitting on the computer working on something I can’t stand, this quote helps me leave that rut. This quote inspires me and reminds me to make changes, small or big, when needed.


Islamic Perspective:

What Ayahs of the Quran do you hold close to your heart? Why?
I love Surah Nur 24:38’s ayah.  Allah gives provision to whom He wills without measure.

This is a good ayah when you start comparing yourself to others or wondering why you have more than someone or less. One day I had a blessing that others I knew wanted but didn’t have and I wondered why I was so lucky and had it. A few days later I lost that blessing. Reading this ayah helped me come to terms with it. This ayah was a comforting one as sometimes things happen without reason and God gives to whom he wills.

What Hadith do you wish more non-Muslims knew?

One day a poor man humbly brought a bunch of grapes to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him) as a gift. Prophet Muhammad proceeded to eat the whole bunch of grapes by himself. He did not offer grapes to anyone who was present. The poor man who brought the grapes was very pleased and left. One of the companions asked, “O Prophet of Allah! How come you ate all the grapes by yourself and did not offer to any one of us present?

The Prophet (peace be upon Him) smiled and said, “I ate all the grapes by myself because the grapes were sour. If I would have offered you, you might have made funny faces and that would have hurt the feelings of that poor man. I thought to myself that it’s better that I eat all of them cheerfully and please the poor man. I did not want to hurt the feelings of that poor man.”

Such were the manners of Prophet Muhammad!

The “Ten”:

1. What is your favorite book?
Growing up I loved books by Roald Dahl and by Enid Blyton. Books such as Matilda or The Famous Five series always were full of imagination, yummy foods, and a great sense of adventure. I also am a fan of picture books and can get lost in the children’s section of libraries and book stores.

2. Who inspires/inspired you?
Lots of people! I’m inspired by my mother who is giving, blunt, honest, and doesn’t waste time. My father loves photography and being around him instilled a love of photography in me as well. I’m inspired by people like my maternal grandmother who loves nature and takes the time to go for walks and appreciate what she sees. I was inspired by paternal grandmother, a principal, who loved education so I became a teacher. I’m inspired by joyful people like my cousins who love to laugh. I’m inspired by my older brothers and their generosity. I’m also inspired by people like my youngest brother, who out of all my family members, is the least talkative. I admire how people like him can hold their words inside and only speak when they feel they have to.

3. What is the best lesson your mother/mother figure taught you?
To pray often and to pray on time.

4. What advice would you give your 13 year old self?
Words are something you will always regret if you don’t use them right so use them wisely and kindly. Also, keep on writing!

5. What are your hopes for your daughter and son?
I don’t have any sons, but I have 2 daughters. I hope they gain a good education, appreciate it, and become lifelong learners. I hope they learn to love the Quran and become kind and giving people. I hope they get to follow their dreams to the fullest and are the type of people that people enjoy being around and can rely on in times of ease and difficulty.

6. What is the biggest trial you went through in your life and how has that changed you?
I had a health issue where I was homebound for a few months. Being home made me appreciate my time. It made me savor the health I did have and appreciate the family I had who could take care of me. It made me not take things for granted. It also made me realize I function best when I don’t overbook things! It taught me to look at my calendar and say no to things that I would have said yes to before. Saying no to things frees my calendar, but more importantly my mind. It makes me a better person, writer, all the good stuff!

7. Any regrets? What’s something that you wish you’d thought about more before you did it?
I think it’s natural to have regrets, and I am the type of person who sometimes has a difficult time making decisions. For example, today I have regrets over choosing one school for my child over another, for not getting up earlier, for buying something online instead of going to the store, for not using my time wisely, and for using harsh words instead of kind ones, for being impatient instead of patient when things don’t work out. So those are just my regrets today! As for the ‘big’ regrets, I try to ignore those and focus on the present – with all my itty-bitty regrets! – and that helps.

8. How do you stay grounded in your work and/or spiritually grounded?
I have a little calendar with Quran ayahs, a little calendar with daily duas(prayers), and post colorful post-its with inspiring messages. When I’m having a hard day getting my work done, or doing the ever-so-mundane-editing, taking a look around will keep me going. Also just opening the door and stepping outside for a walk really helps me. I always feel more spiritual and rejuvenated after a walk!

9. How do you bring about real change?
By shaping the minds of little ones. Children are our future! When I taught second grade, it was wonderful to see the progress my students would make. Just seeing them mature in how they made decisions, dealt with their peers, wrote less squiggly, did math more proficiently, and read more fluently made me feel like I made a difference.

I’m not teaching at the moment, but trying to raise 2 daughters (5 and 2). My goal is to raise them the best I can and to also remind myself to be gentle with myself. Raising children can be messy, sticky, and tiring!

My big dream is to write more books. I hope my books will be those that children will see themselves in and love to read. Books that will inspire children to keep on reading. Books that will inspire children to write their own stories!

10. What do you hope to be remembered for?
Initially, I was going to write for my books and photography. However, those are my accomplishments and I am proud to have gotten so far. If I were to die today, I would want to remembered for being genuine, kind, creative, giving, and honest.


Message from Reem:

More About Reem:

Mrs. Reem Faruqi
[Tilbury House Publishing, May 2015]

1 Comment

  • Ashabi says:

    Jak for your contribution…it has already made a difference..for me.
    Could you please share your calendar at 8?.. or is it something customized?
    May Ya Allah bless you and your family. Ameen.

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