Meet Haute Hijab’s Blog Editor - Dilshad D. Ali
Posted on Dec 10, 2018
Salaam Alaikum everyone!
I’ve spent my entire career as a journalist and editor writing, editing and publishing other people’s stories to the point that being faced with writing this introduction to you feels a bit daunting! I’m so excited to be here -- shaping, writing and producing articles, posts and content for the Haute Hijab community and beyond! I normally don’t put the spotlight on myself (well, beyond my intermittent oversharing on various social media channels), but we’re going to be spending a lot of time together here on the HH blog, so let’s get to know each other!
Writing, editing and journalism is in my blood -- particularly covering and coordinating coverage of American Muslim communities. I studied journalism (and German) at the University of Maryland a long time ago (don’t ask me how long!) and am a Terp for life! At the start of my career, I was determined not to be a religion reporter, as every member of my Muslim community growing up would tell me (upon hearing I was studying journalism) - “That’s so good! You can help to write the truth about Muslims!”
I, however, did not want the expectations of my community upon me and my reporting. I wanted to be a reporter and eventually editor who just happened to be Muslim. Funny how things work out though. After two years of being an education writer, I married and moved to New York City, where I promptly had our first child. After staying home a year with him, I was itching to work and landed a contract gig covering arts and culture for a media site based out of Cairo - IslamOnline (now About Islam). Two months after I began filing stories, something happened that forever shaped the trajectory of my journalism career -- 9/11.
I spent the next year writing articles about how Muslim New Yorkers were dealing, surviving and living in the wake of the horrible terrorist attacks of 9/11, and out of that year bred an entire career covering and coordinating coverage of American Muslims and global Islam for a variety of Muslim and multifaith media outlets -- from Islam Online to Beliefnet to Patheos (as well as freelancing for the New York Times, Newsweek, Nieman Reports, Azizah Magazine, The Atlantic, Religion News Service and others). And now, Haute Hijab, where I get to focus on something that is near and dear to my heart -- Muslim women.
It’s such a privilege, really, to be at a point in my career where I can dive deep into the issues, stories, trends and questions Muslim women are facing. I started wearing my hijab in my late 20s, something I had never planned to do, after performing the Hajj pilgrimage with my husband. My relationship with my hijab has been such a touchstone in my life -- at turns grounding me in my faith and keeping me tethered by a tenuous strand when life’s struggles test my relationship with Allah (S).
The constant struggle to feel like I am made to represent Muslim women because of my hijab -- to know that it is a part of me while also not the only thing that defines me, that it isn’t always a reflection of my insides, and that wearing it isn’t necessarily an indicator of one’s piety -- are all things that have helped inform my own reporting and writing on American Muslim women, pushing me to dig deeper into the questions we ask and stories that should be heard and shared. I’m so excited to explore these and other topics (which of course include the intersection of fashion and modesty) with you.
On a personal and professional note, I am Haute Hijab's first remote employee, telecommuting from my home in Virginia. Though I wish I could be in the office full time (I miss living in New York!), I am grateful to work out of my home office. My husband and I have three wonderful children (and one gloriously plump cat), and our eldest son is autistic. Caring for him (and managing his team of caregivers, education, medical issues and a million other things) has been one of the most soul-shaping experiences of my life. What a blessed privilege and beautiful agony it is to be his and all our children’s mother.
I’ve written extensively for seven years now about our family’s autism living and disability stories in general, so I guess it’s not entirely true that I stay out of the spotlight. Exploring this personal side in my writing has taught me to focus on the emotional and internal struggles we all face, whether in wearing the hijab (or not), raising children, balancing family and work, pursuing leadership roles, fighting for social justice or the myriad of things we do in our lives.
I hope to build off of my body of experience and grow the editorial side of Haute Hijab into a robust and thriving community of strong writers and quality stories. Our blog and editorial content will explore all aspects of a hijabi’s life, be on the forefront of issues and stories about Muslim women, bring Haute Hijab news and happenings to you and be a destination hub for all things about and pertaining to Muslim women.
Haute Hijab is more than a place to buy the most beautiful and high-quality hijabs, which of course is a top priority. It is also an experience and a platform to learn more about what drives, motivates and captivates Muslim women. What we struggle with and what we dream about. Our activism and our mental health, and all aspects of, well, our living.
Come join me as we explore these stories.