DEARBORN — Global Woman Magazine has recognized Zaman founder and CEO Najah Bazzy as one of the top six Muslim female thought leaders.
“Making a positive impact in a sea of billions of voices is difficult enough in itself,” the article read. “The following six women have been doing it anyway by kicking down the doors that contained long-standing, outdated mentalities that have held Muslims — especially Muslim women — back for too long. From transcending authors to counter-culture journalists to marketing leaders, these women are at the forefront of generational change, and they do it all-the-while standing proud of their religious identity.”
Bazzy was joined on the list by Hoda Katebi, an Iranian-American writer; Asma Khalil, a professor of obstetrics and maternal-fetal medicine at St. George’s University Hospital; Amna Mirza, CMO of Zakat Foundation of America: Dena Takuri, a Palestinian-American journalist and G. Willow Wilson, a comic book writer.
“An internationally recognized healer, humanitarian and interfaith leader, Najah Bazzy is the founder of Zaman International, a nonprofit organization advancing the lives of marginalized women and children by enabling them to meet essential needs and break the cycle of poverty,” the article read. “Providing a blend of urgent assistance and self-reliance, the community-driven approach empowers households through vocational training and proudly states that it has transitioned from a hand-out to a hands-on model.”
Bazzy has previously been recognized as a 2019 CNN Hero, 2020 Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame honoree, a Detroit News 2020 Michiganian of the Year and 2021 Crain’s Detroit Business 100 Most Influential Women.
Bazzy told The Arab American News that the news of her being selected came as a surprise.
“I had no idea that I was being named,” she said. “But I think what made me most proud is that there are approximately 2 billion Muslims in the world, and if half of them are women, we have 1 billion women; and to be among the top six, it’s special, no doubt, but it also leaves me hoping and wishing that the list will grow longer and longer and longer.”
Bazzy also said that she tries to live her life in the most authentic, most balanced and most faithful way she knows how to.
“By putting God first, my family next, followed by everything else around, including our beloved community,” she said. “I do believe that leadership is at its highest peak when it’s met with humility and with the true understanding of service to others.”
Zaman International — Hope for Humanity officially became a non-governmental organization (NGO) in 2004 after years of dedication to helping families in need.
With transparency as one of its key ethics, Zaman works to break the cycle of poverty with almost 6,000 volunteers serving more than 3 million people globally, and more than 300,000 locally, since 2010 and has projects in 20 countries.
“I think I’m inspired to keep pushing forward because my training as a nurse has, in large part, been about end of life work,” Bazzy said. “When you care for those who are dying, you learn a very significant lesson: We’re only as good as the breath we take. And so I’m very aware of the breath that God has given me and I’m very aware that we are all term-limited and we should do our best to serve while we have breath and fortitude.”
Bazzy also said she is driven by the women in poverty that she sees every day.
“Despite all of the issues that they’ve gone through, abuse, abandoned, divorced, widowed, refugees, illnesses, children with illnesses, living with below $12,000 a year, they still wake up every single morning; and even though there are many barriers and issues that trouble them, they are still committed to try and take care of their children the best they can as single moms, and this passion to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty so that their children don’t have to grow up with it, it really motivates me,” she said. “I just feel that, especially in America, no one should have to live below the poverty line. Everyone should have equal access to food, clothing, shelter, education and job opportunities. It’s America, and that’s what America’s about. So we need to do our part as a community of donors and a beloved community who should care to try to lift those who are living in the margins.”
As Women’s History Month comes to a close, Bazzy said she hopes young Muslim women know that life is all about balance.
“Women are incredibly grounded and glue,” she said. “No matter how much the role of women may change, and the expectation for us to change along with those roles, ultimately, I believe at least, that a life of balance brings harmony. I see family as a baseball team — everyone has a chance to get up and bat and when one person is up to bat, everyone else needs to sit on the bench until it’s their turn to bat; and having that balance in family life, professional life and educational life is really key. Everyone deserves a right to get up and bat and hit a home run, but it requires support and determination. As women, we perhaps tend to understand the team and what it takes to build the team and what it takes to make the team successful.”