Whether I am sitting with organizers planning political action, building capacity with youth for civic engagement, facilitating connection between interfaith diasporas through movement and meditation, or breathing through labour and birth with a client, everywhere I go, there I am. And once I get “there”, I find that being confronted by oneself is unnerving and also provides a wellspring of growth. This is the journey that brings me to the Inner Activist.
In the height of the 2015 federal election, while Islamophobic rhetoric was driving electoral discourse, Muslim communities across the country began organizing press conferences, rallies, dialogue events, and digital campaigns in response. I was one organizer among several in the Lower Mainland who joined these efforts. In the midst of organizing our local community’s resistance to public policy and media discourse, I began to reflect on how our efforts are forced to respond to and engage with whiteness, limiting our capacity to do the work our Muslim communities need. This work includes gender and trans inclusion, confronting anti-black racism, decolonizing, and acknowledging sectarian power dynamics.
There we were, a group of Muslims organizing together and being confronted with our community’s own need for growth, which is required in order to do outer work without causing harm. I began asking, how can my community do its inner work when it is forced to function from a place of image-control, defence and survival? The locale that I found to test my answers is within myself and this is what draws me to the work of The Inner Activist.
I am incredibly honoured and excited to join The Inner Activist, an initiative that I trust to take on my question and create opportunities for activists like me to test answers to their own. I have joined this Project at a time when difficult and important questions are being asked by its leaders. Questions about how it can do its work by, “deeply valuing diversity in all its forms, and lead with authenticity and compassion”. I look forward to collaborating with organizers, activists, and leaders to bring this vision to life in our communities.
Tahia Ahmed is a facilitator and community organizer living and working on unceded Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ lands and waters. She holds a BA in Political Science from SFU and has been engaged in youth advocacy work with organizations such as Check Your Head and the City of Victoria Youth Council. Tahia’s anti-racism organizing has taken many forms over the years and currently focuses on reproductive justice and birth work through Nesting Doula Collective.