The Muslim Doctors Association held its first gala and `Eid dinner since the eruption of COVID-19 at the Hilton London Kensington.
While two of the speakers could not make it after catching COVID, the event, held on July 17, was still a resounding success as speakers took to the stage to share insights into women’s empowerment and mental health.
Opening the program, Imam Mohammad Asad from Birmingham Central Mosque talked about how medics during the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) helped the Companions, just as how medics today helped all of us navigate the COVID pandemic.
He concluded his speech with a poem that included the verse, “If anyone saved a life it would be as if he saved the life of the whole humanity.” Quran 5:32
Dr. Ahmed Hankir took the bull by the horns on stage saying, “Mental health-related stigma is rampant in the Muslim community. Let there be no ambiguity about that.”
Indeed, Ahmed’s presentation style and subject matter captivated the audience as it was so refreshing to hear about a subject that is often dismissed, even hidden, for fear of showing weakness.
When Zainab Garba-Sani took to the stage, she said, “I grew up as a Muslim, and I thought we were all meant to be one ummah, but all of a sudden, when I went to university, people asked, what kind of Muslim are you? For me, this was strange as I thought we were all part of one big family.”
“Of course, during Prophet Muhammad’s time, his ummah included non-Muslims and Muslims. So, the subject of identity in the modern age is important to help define sense and belonging.”
Dr. Azza Al-Mossallami addressed how ‘the pandemic has highlighted the disparities, particularly in the impact of COVID on Muslim healthcare workers.’
That is one of the areas the MDA has been investigating, trying to improve the situation for British Muslims (and non-Muslims) affected by injustice in the workplace.
Picking up on the theme of mental health stigma, Poet Aminah Rahman spoke on stage, “I march and I stride with my head held high, as a woman, and us women will not be pinned down or weighed down by anything, no matter how hard that anything tries. So let’s be together and form an alliance. We’re changing the future so we can say I can, not just for every woman but also for every man.”
On the subject of women’s presence, empowerment, and representation, Dr. Aaliyah Goyal said, “over 50% of GPs are women, and we’re delighted that we have a new female chair of the Royal College of GPs.” She added, “most of our senior leaders are female which is brilliant for us as that represents our membership.”
Working in the civil service, Nuzhat Ali founded a local women’s group to help women become more involved in their communities, ‘to provide a platform for Muslim women to engage and work alongside partners such as local authorities, with a focus on improving health and well-being.’
Speaking about the MDA’s vision, Dr. Zein Toukan said that the MDA is ‘dedicated to addressing the health of minority groups in the UK.’ A mission helped by Dr. Hina J Shahid, chair of the all-women MDA committee, who led the evening’s organization and thanked attendance for their support.
All in all, the event brought together women and men to share in and enjoy the company of one another, good food, a classical guitarist, and inspiring speeches, making for a wonderful evening that left many people revitalized and refreshed.