Samina Ali is an award-winning author, a prominent activist, and the curator of the internationally acclaimed global exhibition, Muslima: Muslim Women’s Art & Voices. Put aside the stereotypes of Muslim women because Samina breaks them all! Called “indomitable,” “a woman’s warrior,” and “deeply inspiring,” Samina challenges her audiences to think critically as she entertains and enlightens. Her commitment to global feminism is inspired by her real-life story — a dramatic tale that took her from escaping an arranged marriage to healing severe brain trauma when doctors said there was no hope.
Samina has more than decade of experience speaking to diverse audiences both in the U.S. and internationally.
Three Most Popular Speech Topics:
Topic 1: Muslim Women & Feminism: From Stereotypes to Diverse Realities
What is the first image that comes to mind when you think of a Muslim woman? When meeting various people from around the world – college students, journalists, even progressives who strongly favor women’s advancement – Samina heard a similar response:
While it’s true that women can’t drive a car in Saudi Arabia and are required to veil and that girls were not allowed to attend school under Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, does this mean that all Muslim women are repressed in some way?
Drawing upon themes from her novel, her activism work, and the deep experience she gained through curating Muslima and forging meaningful connections with Muslim women around the world, this talk highlights the various expressions of strength and courage found among Muslim women. What you’ll discover from this talk is the inspiring ways Muslim women globally have been able to move beyond limitations and are, instead, using their art, writing and leadership in a positive way to achieve gender equality and, in the process, are shifting the conversation about Islam.
Far from being victims, these courageous Muslim women are the key to fighting extremism globally.
This powerful talk is accompanied by the art, photography, and stories Samina curated for the internationally acclaimed art exhibition, Muslima: Muslim Women’s Art & Voices.
- Explore the Toolkit Samina created for the International Museum of Women, which is meant as a companion piece to the Muslima: Muslim Women’s Art & Voices exhibition. The toolkit is focused on the lives and contributions of Muslim women around the world and is specifically designed to help facilitate conversation, better understanding, and actions between diverse communities. This discussion toolkit can be used at town hall meetings, in discussions at schools, after school programs, houses of worship, senior citizen centers, community centers, faith– and interfaith-based organizations, businesses, nonprofits, and book groups.
- Muslima curator Samina Ali speaks at the International Museum of Women’s event, “From Sharjah to San Francisco: Muslim Women on Peace, Identity, and Art.”
A fierce speaker, writer, curator, and activist, Samina is a powerful voice.
“Equally gifted as a curator, writer, moderator, and speaker, Samina’s sensitivity to the perspectives of other women and her unique ability to connect with her audiences on a deep emotional level, inspires and challenges us to confront stereotypes and perceptions. Her talents as a writer shone through in her deeply personal contribution to MAMA: Motherhood Around the Globe. As curator of Muslima: Muslim Women’s Art & Voices, she searched the globe to interview and profile extraordinary artists and leaders who are making a positive impact in their communities and globally. By weaving together the diverse voices, perspectives, and creativity of Muslim women artists and human rights advocates from a range of backgrounds, she ensured that Muslima represented a beautiful, powerful, and complex tapestry of voices. With her keen editorial eye, Samina shaped Muslima into a platform for Muslim women’s voices and art to break through persistent myths and prejudices. A fierce speaker, writer, curator, and activist, Samina is a powerful voice for greater understanding across what are all too often the differences that divide us.”
— Catherine M. King, Executive Producer
Global Fund for Women
She speaks from a place of compassion and courage.
“Samina Ali is a woman of truly global vision, creativity, and courage. As a College Dean years ago I hired her to teach her first full-time college writing classes. To this day I have never forgotten watching her teaching a lesson on Foucault and Empowerment to a culturally diverse classroom crammed with students who literally hung on her every word. Within just a few short years she had already launched an international career as an award-winning author and popular speaker. Samina’s firm but gentle voice as a human rights advocate is never shrill, and always persuasive. She speaks from a place of compassion and courage. Today whether she is teaching creative writing, curating museum exhibitions, keynoting at conferences, or helping to shape public opinion nationwide as a popular speaker, her audience senses that same integrity. Yet through it all Samina remains just as she has always been from the first: a young woman fiercely committed to inspiring and informing and empowering us all – just as I first saw her in that college classroom more than a decade ago.”
— Dr. Scott Lankford holds a PhD in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University. His book Tahoe beneath the Surface received a bronze medal as Nature Book of the Year in 2010 from Foreword Magazine.
Topic 2: The Craft of Fiction & Nonfiction
As an award-winning author and experienced professor of both fiction and nonfiction writing, Samina delivers an astonishing presentation that weaves together her personal history, the creative process, and her uniquely forged insights on social justice, feminism and political and personal freedom. With humor and wisdom, Samina shows you how the age-old form of storytelling is more vital in today’s ever-evolving technology-driven world than ever before.
FORA.tv: Against All Odds in a Man’s
Samina Ali is one of the most perceptive voices in Muslim America.
“Samina Ali is one of the most perceptive voices in Muslim America. I taught her book in my class at Harvard University and the students were so moved by it that I followed up by inviting Samina to campus. She is a gifted lecturer who was able to reach the audience by taking complex ideas about faith and making them easily accessible. She touched the audience’s minds and hearts — and was invited back again on several occasions. She’s smart, insightful and speaks from the heart. Her message is one everyone needs to hear.”
— Ali Asani. Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Literatures, Director, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Islamic Studies Program, Harvard University.
Her warmth, passion, poise, smarts, wisdom, and accessibility resonated with people.
“I was on a committee that invited Ms. Ali to Yale to present at a symposium entitled “Knowing South Asia.” She was one of three prominent writers featured and one session was dedicated entirely to a discussion of Madras. The topics explored ranged from the book’s relevance to Women’s Studies, to its feminist themes, to its Indian-ness, to its Muslim-ness, to the author’s hybrid South Asian diasporic identity, to the role of music in the book and its literary musicality. Ms. Ali discussed her textual themes and the issues she has confronted as an author with her particular background, but also weighed in on pressing Muslim issues, including her own political activism on behalf of women in Islam. Her presentation was the high point of the entire day-long event and was the enthusiastic talk of campus for days and weeks thereafter. Her warmth, passion, poise, smarts, wisdom, and accessibility resonated with people.”
— Dr. Naomi Pabst, Yale Professor turned Intuitive Consultant and Transformational Teacher
Topic 3: Motivational: A Writer With No Words
At 28-years-old, Samina went to the hospital to deliver her first child and instead landed in the neuro-ICU with multiple-organ failure and such severe brain trauma that even the neurologist thought she would never fully recover. When she was released from the hospital, Samina had a newborn she couldn’t take care of, severe loss of functions, and a manuscript to a novel she was told she was now too brain-damaged to complete. In this powerful and unsentimental talk, Samina tells an unforgettable story of how she took her health into her own hands and proved the doctors wrong by creating her own determined path to her recovery. A dynamic speaker, she inspires us to do as she did: be bold, follow your intuition, and live a fully realized life.
Key Links: A Labor of Love
Her interests in advocating for women and her life threatening illness provide parallels to Malala.
“As a neurointensivist I am humbled by the remarkable outcomes that some of my patients experience. On occasion a particular patient will demand all of my skills and Samina was one of them. She was nearly dead and her newborn was critically ill. All hyperbole aside, her recovery was miraculous. She now has the ability to change the world; her interests in advocating for women and her life threatening illness provide parallels to Malala. Maybe she survived for that reason.”
— Wade S. Smith, MD, PhD, Professor and Vice Chair of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco
Samina inspires and empowers, truly a model for young women anywhere!
“As the U.S. Cultural Attache in Rome, I was fortunate to work with Samina Ali on a speaking tour around Italy … Samina inspires and empowers, truly a model for young women anywhere!”
— Consul General, U.S. Consulate General Marseille, France