Meet 8 Muslim Women That Made History
Courageous. Unintimidated. Visionaries for a better way. Seekers of Justice. Champions of Equality. Filled with Fortitude…..these are just a few ways we could describe these 8 incredible Muslim women that made history as Run for Something candidates.
If you need a mid-Women’s History Month pick me up, grab a cup of tea, and sit with us for a while as we share their awe-inspiring stories.
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History Making Moment: The first Muslim woman & first person of South Asian descent elected to the NYC City Council
Shahana is a Bangladeshi-American Muslim feminist and community organizer born and raised in Kensington, Brooklyn. A Lupus survivor, she has fought since her diagnosis at age 17 to protect communities in pain and build a City together that prioritizes care.
Known throughout her neighborhood as someone unafraid to take a stand for her community, Shahana has mounted organizing efforts around housing, the arts and criminal justice. She helped create the Avenue C Plaza, which has become a beloved gathering spot for community events; set up a free immigration law clinic; and was profiled in the New York Times for her work helping a young Bangladeshi woman escape from an abusive forced marriage to safety in a Muslim women’s shelter.
Cool fact: Since being elected Shahana has sponsored and passed legislation that helps secure reproductive healthcare rights for people living in and visiting New York City.
History Making Moment: First Muslim Woman Elected to Office In North Carolina
Nida Allam began organizing in 2015 after losing her close friend, Yusor, to a hate crime in the Chapel Hill shooting. She chose to channel her pain into working to fight injustices faced by marginalized communities.
As a County Commissioner, she helped lead the effort to enact a $15 per hour minimum wage for county employees and advocated for more immigrant and refugee services.
Cool Fact: In 2022, Nida made a bid for Congress. If she runs again and wins she would be the first Pakistani American and the first Muslim woman from the South in Congress.
History Making Moment: First Asian American and first Muslim elected to the Duluth City Council
Azrin was born in Bangladesh and her family immigrated to Minnesota when she was three. Azrin moved to Duluth to attend college at the University of Minnesota Duluth and fell in love with the city and the lake.
As a first-generation college student, Azrin helped found the UMD Chapter of the NAACP. She also worked as an on-campus confidential sexual assault advocate through PAVSA (Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault), and advocated to pass the Homeless Persons’ Bill of Rights.
Today, in her work as a Councilwoman, Azrin has advocated for Paid Family Leave and Driver’s License for All.
Cool Fact: This freedom fighter was destined for a life of public service! Azrin once considered a run for the White House when she was child.
History Making Moment: First Black woman and youngest woman elected to the Minnesota Senate
Zaynab was born in Somalia and grew up in South Minneapolis. After graduating from the University of Minnesota in 2019, she began working as a policy aide to tackle problems in her community, including stronger protections for renters, public safety and police accountability, and support for small businesses.
As a freshman legislator, Zayna sponsored and passed a major piece of legislation that was signed into law. Her Driver’s License for All bill ensures that all Minnesota drivers, regardless of immigration status, can secure a driver's license.
Cool Fact: Zaynab didn’t make history alone! On Election night 2022 THREE Black women were elected to the Minnesota Senate- after there were ZERO for 165 years!
History Making Moment: Youngest woman and first Muslim woman elected to the Georgia Senate
Often referred to as “the AOC of Georgia”, Nabilah Islam is no stranger to politics. This Georgia native grew up in a working-class family and has always given back to her community. Finding her niche in politics, she’s worked on major campaigns like the 2020 Presidential campaign and she fought to get Senators Osoff and Warnock into office. She previously set her eyes on a Congressional run before becoming laser-focused on running for a newly drawn seat in the Georgia Senate.
Since arriving in Georgia’s legislature, she’s led the fight for reproductive rights in the state and passed legislation that would increase safety for National Guard members.
Cool Fact: Nabilah has challenged the FEC by asking for changes in the way campaign funds can be used, like for health insurance or childcare- we stan a queen that makes running for office more accessible for people from marginalized backgrounds!
History Making Moment: First Muslim woman elected to the Georgia House and first Palestinian elected to office in the state of Georgia
Ruwa was born in Jordan and is the granddaughter of Palestinian refugees. When she was 7 years old, her parents moved to Georgia where they raised her and her three siblings
After high school and college, she spent more than a decade working to empower her communities to turn out and make their voices heard at every level of government. Ruwa helped establish the only Muslim civil rights organization in Georgia and directly worked against the Muslim Ban, eventually helping draft and pass the No Ban Act. She also helped establish the Georgia Volunteer Hub to train the influx of Georgia and national volunteers while connecting them to local Georgia organizations.
Cool Fact: Ruwa has the wildest recruitment story ever! In 2022, she was visiting a friend to help with a program and a reporter was there. After speaking with the reporter in what she thought was a relaxed space, a story ran saying she was considering a run for office — something that she hadn’t even entertained. Support from the story was overwhelming and less than 20 days later, she filed to run!
History Making Moment: Youngest person ever elected to the Illinois Assembly & first Muslim woman elected to the Illinois House
Born to Indian parents in Southern Illinois, Nabeela is a skilled organizer and educational advocate. With experience fighting for educational equity, reproductive justice, and worker’s rights on a local and national scale, Nabeela hopes to serve the community she was born and raised in. At just 23 years old when elected she’s the youngest woman on this list!
Since being elected she has taken Springfield by storm authoring legislation that would allow 16 year olds to pre-register to vote and advocated for organ donors.
Cool Fact: Nabeela is a fundraising juggernaut! The freshman legislator raised $480k for her run!
History Making Moment: First Muslim and first woman of color elected to the Blaine City Council
Lori is a mom, wife, and proud resident of Blaine for 18 years. Lori is the daughter of immigrants who came to the United States in the late 1960s. Her family settled in rural Iowa and she moved to Minnesota to attend St. Catherine University in St. Paul. Lori earned her J.D. from Mitchell Hamline School of Law.
Before being elected to the Council, she had 15 years of experience in the nonprofit sector and 7 years on the Blaine Charter Commission, she served on the Minnesota Judicial Branch Committee for Equality and Justice, St. Paul Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity Commission, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Board of Directors, and the Alumni Board of Mitchell Hamline School of Law. As a nonprofit leader, Lori has spent her entire career empowering communities to learn, grow and succeed together. She is committed to building a safe and inclusive Blaine where everyone is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.
Cool fact: In 2007 Lori founded a legal services non-profit to assist Minnesotans facing racial, religious, or ethnic discrimination.
Feeling inspired by these incredible women and want to make your own community impact? Sign up now at runforwhat.net.