Sultana's Dream

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Sultana's Dream
August 2012


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Contributing Writers - August 2012 Issue

Aziza Abdel-Halim AM is one of Australia’s leading Arabic scholars and a prominent Muslim leader. She grew up in Egypt at a time when her birthplace was renowned for its progressive and enlightened Islamic and literary debates. Aziza is the founder and President of the Muslim Women’s National Network and is the author of Did You Know? She has served on numerous government committees including: former Prime Minister Howard’s 2005 Muslim Community Reference Group.

Durkhanai Ayubi is a senior policy analyst of Afghan origin who migrated with her family to Australia in the 1980s, at the height of the Soviet-Afghan War. She believes that the pen is mightier than the sword; this spurs her passion for social commentary and writing about the experiences of minorities. She is ‘a lover of all things challenging and a rejector of all things dull’. She holds a Bachelor of Science, and an Honours degree in Chemistry from the Flinders University of South Australia, and is currently undertaking a Masters in Business Administration at RMIT.

Hanifa Deen is an award-winning author who writes narrative non-fiction and lives in Melbourne. Her books include: Caravanserai: A Journey Among Australian Muslims; Broken Bangles; The Crescent and the Pen and The Jihad Seminar. Her latest book is Ali Abdul v. The King (UWA Publishers 2011).

Previous appointments include: Hearing Commissioner, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission of Australia, the Board of Directors, Special Broadcasting Services (SBS) as well as senior positions in WA and Victoria in ethnic affairs bureaus.  Currently she writes full-time and is an Honorary Fellow at the National Centre for Excellence in Islamic Studies, University of Melbourne.

Farah Farouque is a senior journalist who covers legal and social policy issues for The Age. She caught the media bug early when she was selected to be one of the child hosts of a TV program, Kids Only, on Channel Seven in Adelaide in the early 1980s. After graduating with Law and Arts degrees from the University of Adelaide, she then trod the journalism road and moved to Melbourne. Her career has taken her to hotspots from the Canberra Press Gallery to Bali in the aftermath of the 2002 terrorist attacks. Her toughest assignment was 23-days straight, hitting the road after the Boxing Day tsunami devastated coastal Sri Lanka. In her spare time, Farah also serves as the board chair of The Social Studio, a Collingwood-based not-for-profit that trains refugee youth.

Feriyal Glaidous is studying naturopathy and has a Bachelor of Science, majoring in forensics. As well as her studies, Feriyal works in the community sector and is a volunteer Coordinator with the Ansaar halal food bank. Feriyal’s parents are from Eritrea and they migrated here when she was 2yrs old. Her interests are traveling and ski-diving.

Ruby Hamad is a Sydney-based writer and filmmaker. She is a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts and is currently completing a Master of Media Practice at the University of Sydney. Ruby has written for The Sydney Morning Herald, Crikey, Eureka St. and New Matilda. ‘Sultana’ readers can look forward to hearing more from Ruby Hamad who sustains both a hard-hitting style of journalism, and a feminist perspective on human rights and international events.

Sherene Hassan is the secretary of the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) and has served on the board of the ICV since 2004.To date she has conducted over 800 information sessions on Islam to diverse audiences ranging from the Flying Fruit Fly Circus School to the Australian Federal Police. She is heavily involved in interfaith dialogue and serves on the board of the Islamic Museum of Australia due to open doors in 2013. Formerly a chemistry and physics teacher, she is married with four children.

Yasmin Khan’s family have been in Queensland for nearly 150 years and are into the fifth generation of Maroon supporters! Yasmin has been a Muslim community advocate for nearly 30 years; and appears regularly in the media talking about Muslim issues.  She also has her own Islamic radio program, is a regular weekly panellist on 612ABC  ‘Evening Show’ with Steve Austin, is a contributing producer/journalist to ‘The Wire’ radio program broadcast to over 200 stations across Australia, and has written for the Courier-Mail and Crikey. Yasmin co-founded ‘Eidfest’, the multi-award winning festival held in Brisbane. Dignitaries and celebrities she has interviewed include: Imran Khan, the Governor General, Hazem El-Masri, and the Queensland Governor. Yasmin was also a representative on Prime Minister Howard’s Muslim Community Reference Group.

Joumanah El Matrah trained as a psychologist and has been working in the community welfare sector for fifteen years. She is currently a board member of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and has just completed two terms on the Australian Multicultural Advisory Council. In addition to her Australian work she is a member of a number of international initiatives by Muslim women seeking to empower Muslim women including the Musawah Movement.  

She is also the Executive Director of the Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights, and has published research and opinion works on Muslim women in Australia. Under her directorship, the Centre has come to be recognised as key organisation for Muslim women in Australia and increasingly overseas.

Amra Pajalic is an award-winning author born in Melbourne's Western suburbs to parents of Bosnian background. A life-long reader, she realised early on that books representing her kind of story were rare: books about being from a migrant background and the family expectations that come with this, while at heart being ‘Aussie’. In her writing she relates stories that might not otherwise be heard. She holds a Diploma of Arts in Professional Writing and Editing and a BA.


Nur Shkembi is a Melbourne-based contemporary Muslim artist and the Arts Officer at the Islamic Council of Victoria; many of her projects have introduced the wider community to the work of Australian Muslim artists. Nur spent two years on the Arts and Culture Committee for the Parliament of World Religions and is an advocate of the Arts in interfaith and cross-cultural dialogue. She is part of the team that is establishing the Islamic Museum of Australia (IMA), which is expected to open its doors in 2013. In her ‘spare time’ she’s undertaking a postgraduate diploma in Community Cultural Development at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), University of Melbourne. She tells us she lives in ‘Falafel-land’ with her husband Zakariya, their five children, three cats (and the occasional possum) in the heart of the proudly diverse ‘Republic of Moreland’.

Mariam Veiszadeh is of Afghan heritage and a practicing corporate lawyer and community advocate based in Canberra. Mariam has also been sought for comment by the media on issues pertaining to Islam and Australian Muslims and has also had several opinion pieces published both in the Daily Telegraph and The Sydney Morning Herald on various topics including the public discourse about Muslims in Australia.