Many of you will have heard of Saiyyidah Zaidi of Working Muslim through her writing occasional articles for SISTERS magazine. This year, she has embarked on a new project that is going to disrupt the way that Muslim women are perceived in both the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds. Sister Saiyyidah is taking the role of a Muslim woman back to one inspired by all the different aspects of Khadijah (RA), insha Allah. In this interview, we speak to Saiyyidah to find out more about Millionaire Muslimah.
Na’ima B Robert: Tell us about Millionaire Muslimah. What exactly is it?
Saiyyidah Zaidi: Millionaire Muslimah (great name isn’t it mashaAllah?) is a movement designed to enable Muslim women to find abundant financial freedom. At some point in our lives we are stressing about how we will pay for groceries or where the money for the next rent check will come from – that is living from paycheck to paycheck. I think it is about time for Muslim women to move out of this situation into one where they are truly financially free and relying only on Allah (SWT), following in the footsteps of Khadijah (RA).
On the website, we provide a number of free resources and training, including a VIP StartUp Community which includes $1,164 of training that we are giving away for free alhamdulillah. I truly want to empower Muslim women to be in a situation where we have abundant lives bi’ithnillah.
To quote one woman’s experience, “I went from being the perfect mum and the perfect wife to broke, unemployed, and alone. No one calls you poor when you’re married and staying at home with your kids – not even when all the money really belongs to your husband. You think, ‘His money is our money,’ and so on. Then one day he leaves and takes everything with him – except the kids, thank God. I didn’t even know where to mail the mortgage. Now my kids and I live at home with my parents. When you’re in your twenties and you move back in with your parents, people think you’re lost and trying to find your way. When you’re forty and move back in, everyone thinks you’re pathetic.”
You see, financial dependence is marked by risk and vulnerability vis-a-vis your very survival. Beyond the numbers, it’s about you not being willing and/or able to take care of yourself and those who literally depend on you for their well-being if you had to.
The truth is that many Muslim women do have to work actively for their necessities as single women or single mums. And many Muslim women choose to work even if they don’t have to in order to exercise their God-given talents. Even so, Muslim women and mums, whether single or married, are often financially dependent because they are living from paycheck to paycheck. All it takes to be in financial jeopardy is for the company to be downsized or bought out or for you to become chronically ill and be unable to work on a schedule created by somebody else and/or in a way required by somebody else. For many, all it takes is missing one or two paychecks for there to be dire consequences.
Our position at Millionaire Muslimah is that it is not only your God-given right to fulfil your desire to work for yourself, it is essentially called for given the conditions we face today, regardless of your marital or motherhood status or location in the industrialised or developing world.
NBR: What inspired you to launch this project?
SZ: Earlier in 2015 I was speaking to my mum and she told me that one of my best friends had just turned down the job of her dreams at an international social media company because she could not afford the deposit for a nursery place for her two children. I was devastated on her behalf and pretty annoyed that she was forced into this situation. My friend had been through seven interview stages and she wanted the job really badly, but to cut to the chase, at the end she couldn’t take it on because, like me, the happiness and safety of her children were paramount.
I had the idea for Millionaire Muslimah many years ago when I was reflecting on the Sahabiyyat and Muslims from the time of early Islam – they were the millionaires and billionaires of their time and were able to do it all without compromising their role as a Muslim. But I never got the project started. Then. Something. Changed.
At this point I decided to turn my idea of providing support for Muslimahs to own a business into a reality so they can have the money to live their dream lives, whatever that may be. The Millionaire Muslimah Movement was born. With Allah’s help and guidance, we are on a mission to create and grow 10,000 Muslimah-owned businesses in the next five years and, even more, provide halal microfinance loans to women in the developing world with our strategic charity partner. As soon as I put the phone down with my mum, I went into launch mode: I bought the domain name, set up a Facebook page and made a video. In the middle of filming the video for why I set up Millionaire Muslimah, the jummah khutba started and I thought I need to do this now so I carried on and alhamdulillah the project hasn’t looked back since.
Everyone I speak to is totally inspired – this includes non-Muslims in America through to some Muslim men in Saudi and UAE. I love rocking the boat in a halal way and I truly believe that we are doing just that at Millionaire Muslimah!
NBR: But who wants to be a millionaire, anyway? And why?
SZ: What an awesome question! I think many of us spending our lives focusing on the Akhirah and that is absolutely right in one sense, but the time we spend in the Dunya will lead us to a higher station in the Akhirah insha Allah, and I believe that by aiming to be a millionaire in this world maybe we will be a billionaire in the next, right?
Now what does being a millionaire mean? A few decades ago, being a financial millionaire would have changed an individuals lifestyle dramatically. But for many Muslim women, just having an extra $1000 a month would change their lives dramatically and I want to show Muslim women how they can make that extra $1000 a month and then use a rinse and repeat system to multiply that several times.
You may be asking “Why is Sr Saiyyidah focusing on money?” Well, here is the thing, I know from personal experience when there isn’t enough money to cover the basics, the majority of your energy shifts from having ihsan in your worship to Allah I and experiencing gratitude and thanks, to one where you are just focused on how you will make ends meet. Unfortunately, we women are the ones that suffer because we either have no control over the purse strings, are at home unable to go out to work or are in a situation where there isn’t enough coming in. I have worked with many hundreds of women in this situation and it’s time for a change, inshaAllah.
Why do I encourage women to have the Millionaire Muslimah Mindset? Because when you do then insha Allah you are not just financially free, you also have more time to focus on your important relationships (husband, children, family), as well as being able to give more in zakah and sadaqah and more importantly, have even more time to be a better slave of Allah (SWT).
For me, the biggest freedom that my business has given me is not having to ask anyone if I can have the last ten days of Ramadan off as annual leave, worrying about how I will take a day off for ‘Eid and not stressing about where to find the money if we would like to go on ‘Umrah or visit Allah’s beautiful world to marvel at His wonderful creation. Who doesn’t want that?
I’d like to share the story of two friends: the hypothetical situation of Ayesha and Sara. Ayesha starts a business and after a year or two she is bringing in $50,000 a year and then five years later she is still bringing in $50,000 a year. Ayesha’s friend Sara wanted her business to grow after the first couple of years and, with the right systems in place, five years later she was running a seven-figure business. Ayesha became complacent; the $50,000 a year was enough for her, but she knows that she could have had an extra three or four zeros on the end! If she had systems in place, this would be achievable.
Many Muslim women are doing the same thing as Ayesha, leaving money on the table, and we are talking about serious amounts of money. This makes the difference between you being able to set up a waqf to help the community as sadaqah jariyah or not. It might be the one thing that will help you set up a fund to cover education costs for those in need.
NBR: Tell me more about citing Khadijah (RA) as a role model
SZ: The interesting thing about Khadijah (RA) is that she is a role model for us in so many ways. Many don’t know that she was mentored by her father, a very successful businessman. Khadijah (RA) set up her first husband in business, ie she financed it for him, and then after he died she was left as a single mother to raise two children. She then married again and had another daughter but their marriage ended due to incompatibility. So we now have a woman who has lost a husband due to death and another due to divorce, with three children so in a situation where she is the one having to bring in the bread! She is both their mother and father. Masha Allah, it was Khadijah (RA)’s business ability that made her business one of the best known amongst the Quraysh, and she only employed hard-working, honest and distinguished managers who would export goods on her behalf to foreign lands. She then married the Prophet (SAW) and was able to support him financially, psychologically and in every other way that a wife can. She was there for him. Always.
For me, the reason why Khadijah (RA) is a role model for Muslim business women is not purely because of her financial success and how she was able to fund the da’wah at the beginning, its also because she had a unique skill where she bought together the practicalities and psychologies of running a business and implemented it in a way that bought her, her husband’s and the Ummah a huge amount of success. We owe her a huge debt and if we are able to follow in her footsteps and make moves to have financial freedom and also give more to the da’wah then I think we are helping to make the world a better place and being more content in the process, insha Allah.
One of my mentors, Tony Robbins, has a mission to feed 100 million people every year – when I first heard that, it blew me away and made me think, Imagine if he was a Muslim doing that… And then I realised that if I set myself the ambition to be that Muslim then I would need to be abundantly financially free. I started on that journey and now I help others to do just that, so we are rich, happy and whole, following in Khadijah t’s footsteps insha Allah, may Allah accept it.
NBR: What is happening this month?
SZ: Millionaire Muslimah’s mission is to help 10,000 Muslim women start businesses in five years plus provide halal microloans in the developing world with the help of my coach. I have put together a wonderful team of people to make that happen, and we will be providing a free video training series for Muslim women who are interested in finding out more about how to start their own business: “How to Start A Million Dollar Business Even If You Don’t Have an Idea or Know Where to Start!” This is a four part video training and will address the biggest challenges Muslim women face when they start a business. It will provide information on how you can join the VIP StartUpCommunity for free (saving $1164) and what you can do if you want to get even more in depth training.
I truly believe that having accountability from a mentor and a community where you can brainstorm is very powerful. You get your answers as others get inspiration and vice versa. Even the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, indicated that we reflect the people we are surrounded by, so being in a strong group of Muslimah entrepreneurs will pull you through any fear. And that is what the Millionaire Muslimah Movement is all about – creating a community of like-minded Muslimah business owners where we support each other and watch each other flourish and thrive in abundant financial freedom through our 100% halal online businesses, insha Allah!
If you would like to know more about Millionaire Muslimah, please go to www.MillionaireMuslimah.com/Sisters-Magazine where you can sign up for the four part video training series“How to Start A Million Dollar Business Even If You Don’t Have an Idea or Know Where to Start!” with Saiyyidah Zaidi and get information on how to join the VIP StartUp Community.
Saiyyidah Zaidi is the Positive Psychologist and Expert Growth Coach at Millionaire Muslimah where we, with Allah’s help and guidance, are on a mission to create and grow 10,000 Muslimah-owned businesses in the next five years and provide 10,000 halal microfinance loans to women in the developing world.
Saiyyidah is an international speaker and is known for her training and seminars on entrepreneurship, work faith balance, positive psychology, high performance and abundance. Saiyyidah is a regular guest on Islam Channel and has appeared on Channel 4, BBC and has written for Psychologies, SISTERS, OnIslam and other international magazines and blogs.
You can contact Saiyyidah and find out more about her work at www.MillionaireMuslimah.com