The Digital Sisterhood (TDS) is a start-up, founded by Cadar Mohamud, which aims to unite Muslim women globally through highlighting the importance of cultivating their own spaces, creating their own content and being the authors of their own stories. Our goal is to counter pre-existing narratives on what it means to be a Muslim woman in the world today.
Our stories delve into themes like mental health, suicide, domestic violence, finding love, faith, grief, family, identity, Islamphobia, racisim and health.
By amplifying stories that aren’t awarded the same opportunities to be heard, we were able to not only unite a vulnerable global community together, but we were also able to disrupt damaging mainstream narratives about Muslms women. In the end, after all, success and unprecedented increasing listenership around the world, we know now more than ever that telling a good story can be an influential tool for social change.
Muslim women led podcasts are primarily self-funded which often means that they sacrifice a lot of their resources, don’t receive adequate pay and can only stay operational for so long. This means that 50% of the population of 1.6 Billion Muslims aren’t being served with quality, authentic and relatable content.
For years Muslim women were portrayed as foreign objects that needed to be explained by outside sources. In effort to explain the mystery behind Muslim women, we became a topic of discussion in news outlets, debates and even legislative policies. These conversations resulted in a conclusion that Muslim women have to be saved; saved from ourselves, our religion, or the men around us. The media, a canvas that should be used for self expression and truth telling, was in turn weaponized against us and we haven’t been able to tell our side of the story.
Which meant that we have faced two battles, 1) justifying our humanity and autonomy 2) narrating our own stories.
The Digital Sisterhood (TDS) podcast’s goal is simply to take the mic back and share it with as many muslim women stories and testimonies as we could. It was long overdue. And in just two seasons TDS has managed to inform and inspire action as well as encourage engagement with the hearts and minds of muslim women everywhere.
Before we start looking for stories, the team brainstorms relevant topics we think are important. For example, in our recent viral episode Her Name Is Hana, we knew we wanted to tell story about the Mental health struggles because its very hush hush in the muslim community. The reason for that is often cultural. Muslims stigmatize mental health with religious superstitions that depression is linked to a crisis of faith.
Our Game plan was to:
Firstly, pick a topic, cast a story and find a great storyteller with a deep connection to the topic.
Secondly, Someone who had a deep understanding of the cultural and religious barriers and context.
Thirdly, a key feature we wanted was a guest with intersectionality i.e black, a woman, Muslim etc.. to add layers + perspectives not often shared.
We had a hardtime finding guests who was open to sharing their story with the world, as the topic is very hush hush in the Muslim community. That was a major barrier.
We also experienced a lot of financial barriers when it came to paying for the equipment, studio time, writers and producers to help make this episode special. We relied on a lot of volunteers, donations and people who just believed in this project just as much as we did to give us support where we needed it.
It was deeply important for us as first-generational Muslims to combat this deep and problematic narrative in hopes to destigmatize the topic and bring awareness.
The Digital Sisterhood podcast garnered over 7 million podcast listens just from 2 seasons, with a staggering 1 million listeners just from our viral episode, titled: Her Names Hana (season 2 episode 15)! The organic conversation surrounding our podcast earned 11 million views, 100,000 followers across all of our social media, and we’re listened to in over 147 countries world wide. Spotify considered us in the top 1% most followed podcast.
Beyond metrics, the podcast managed to bring a community of muslim sisters together who dont have too much opportunity to connect both in person and online. With every episode drop our listeners have taken to twitter how these stories are shaping their faith, relationships and debunking negative narratives told against them.
The Digital Sisterhood podcast has been featured by outlets such as Buzzfeed, Cosmopolitan, Grazia, GQ middle east, Arab News, Toronto Star, City News, and many others for its entertainment value, authenticity and powerful storytelling.
Our main goal was to start a dialogue and bring awareness on the topics the humanity of Muslim by sharing their authentic stories. But we hadn’t anticipated all the emails and messages of people coming forward with their stories, testimonies, thanks and heartfelt pleas to keep going.
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