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We talked to Esra Alhamal about the art of Islamic enlightenment, Azeezat Adeola about mindfulness in knitting and how to start and knit for social issues, Neda about pole fitness, confidence in her body and online trolls, Chaimaa Creates in baking and cake design, Katie Haseeb in illustration and fine art, Brooke Benoit in jewelry design, Firdaws Clotaire in ceramics and pottery, and Zainab Alema on her journey to becoming a professional rugby player and encouraging more Muslim women to get involved in the sport.

Last month we spoke to a photographer and food blogger

If you would like to interview a Muslim woman about her hobby, contact us: [email protected]

Most of what I do is on my Instagram @hafsahhafeji.

What is your name in relation to your hobby?

I’ll be honest, I’m not entirely sure what I can describe as my hobby, but the closest I can come to it is being a ‘nature explorer’. I tend to obsess over anything that you think falls into this category. For a very long time I saw myself as someone who jumped between hobbies and never stuck to anything, but then I noticed a pattern in the hobbies and realized it wasn’t me. who was “jumping” between hobbies, but rather me looking for different ways to interact with the natural world. Some of the interests I have collected include growing food, gathering, dyeing plants, trimming, weaving and pottery.

How did you come to this hobby?

Gardening and growing food were the first of my hobbies which, very fortunately for me, through my studies as a horticulturist became my job! I really enjoy the work I do, but as I associated it with my gardening work, I didn’t feel as relaxed as before. So, I instinctively started looking for other activities that gave me the opportunity to relax and immerse myself in nature that I constantly crave. I started learning how to forage for food, explore nature by taste and follow the seasons, find the best time to pick a coiled dock or make sure I didn’t miss the wild garlic harvest window at the end of the street.

As I poked around I began to understand other uses for many edible or sometimes even inedible plants and the one that stuck with me was the use of these plants to make natural dyes. I have since been on a little experimental journey of creating dyes from nettles, dandelions, herbs and more. During my experiences, I met brilliant natural dyers and discovered a community of dyers and weavers that led me to take a course where I learned how to weave natural sheep fleeces into scarves, rugs and art. wall.

Likewise, woodcarving was born out of a chance encounter with a woodworker in Spain who gave me the opportunity to practice woodcarving. Working so intimately with this natural material made me feel extremely connected to nature’s processes, which inspired me to attend formal workshops and learn more.

What is your favorite thing about exploring nature?

I think it’s all about being able to engage with the natural world. For me, each of these hobbies is like a form of zikr, I am constantly impressed by the intricacies of nature as well as what I am capable of doing with my hands. I also really enjoy the process of challenging myself and getting out of my comfort zone by learning a new skill. From being in environments that sometimes don’t see people from my background to testing my abilities by learning a new carving technique. Thanks to them, I also had the opportunity to meet and be inspired by incredible people. My love for gardening and culture brought me to Spain where I met a wonderful community of Muslims in the Alpujarras mountains. Learning to weave has brought me into contact with a whole community of sheep farmers in Wales and I can’t wait to meet more amazing people.

What’s the hardest thing about x?

Space! Find enough space in the house to store the tools, the dyed fabrics or the loom that I really want to buy! The cost of workshops or courses can also be a bit high. While these days you can learn just about anything on youtube, I prefer to learn with people, so for me that’s something to consider when you start learning something new.

How do you stay motivated?

My love for learning and growing as a person as well as feeling closer to all the beauty that Allah has created.

What is the job you are most proud of and why?

A spoon that I carved out of wood. It was hard physical work and learning different knife techniques was really hard, as well as understanding wood growth patterns to carve smoothly and staying really focused to make sure I didn’t accidentally cut my finger! But I managed to capture those skills in a day and created something functional and practical that was truly rewarding.

Between your hobby and your job, your family, your personal errands, etc., how do you organize your time and make sure you stay on top of everything?

Staying on top of everything is definitely a challenge, especially since there is an overlap between my hobby and my job which can sometimes be enjoyable – however, it also means I justify spending my working hours at researching dyeing plants when it really isn’t work! To manage and take advantage of both, I quite informally block out certain days of the week where I can experiment with something I’ve learned or research something new. Weaving baskets is something I hope to learn next!

Who are your biggest inspirations/who are the people making waves in this field?

My biggest inspirations are the people I meet while discovering these hobbies. Not only do I learn these trades, but I also take away the generosity, kindness and openness that these fellow students and/or teachers give. Amazing artists like a wood craftsman I met while doing voluntary gardening who saw my passion for nature and taught me how to “read” wood, smells, textures and growth patterns of trees which affect the workability of the material. A lovely couple in England who had a garden full of plants used to make dyes who I bonded with through our mutual love for craftsmanship but at the time noticed my struggle with the direction of my work and were so generous in their advice. Each experience has allowed me to meet inspiring people who, in turn, inspire me to continue and learn more.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into Nature Exploration?

I would simply start by exploring nature with walks, touching trees, plants and the ground. And a mix of going where you feel inclined and trying what’s easily accessible to you. Maybe gardening or foraging (with a guidebook or a really good book and only eating things you are 100% sure about), both can be done inexpensively.