Ayesha Milanzi is a final year Law student at university and will also be one of the speakers at this year’s Muslimah Today women’s conference hosted by the Institute for Learning and Motivation South Africa (ILM-SA), where she will be discussing “The chronicles of a Muslimah at university: balancing deen and dunyaa”. The 2019 Muslimah Today women’s conference will be taking place at the Durban Botanic Gardens Conference Hall on Sunday, 15 September. Tabloid Newspapers spoke with Ayesha about her experiences thus far

Tabloid Newspapers (TN): Why did you want to study Law?
Ayesha Milanzi (AM): I have always wanted to be an advocate for change and I feel like studying Law and working towards becoming a human rights lawyer, will fulfil my dream of being an active change driver. I sincerely believe that law is at the cornerstone of every problem faced within the country. I believe it needs reform and amendments and I want to actively be a part of that process. Furthermore, perhaps it is my Islamic intuition but I have always believed in justice, law and order. I believe that for society to be better, we need to do better and doing better consists of not only being accountable and transparent in our conduct, but also ensuring that perpetrators do not tarnish the rainbow nation. Law for me, is my attempt of being better and doing better for the welfare of the country.
TN: Did your family support your decision to pursue law?
AM:Yes. Although there were some reservations in the beginning, my family eventually conceded and supported my decision wholeheartedly. Since then, they have been my biggest motivation as well as my loudest cheerleaders.

TN: You have a blog called ‘Reality of a Hijaabi’ – why did you begin this blog?
AM: Perceptions. People’s perception varied and inspired me to start this blog. One particular conversation that actually pushed the formation of this blog, it happened on campus when a fellow classmate adamantly insisted that Muslim women, specifically those that wear the hijaab, do so due to the “oppression of Islamic laws” which ultimately leads them to veil who they actually are. The blog was my answer, where I stated that Muslim women who veil themselves should be viewed beyond the scarf covering. We are still prone to every challenge faced by others our age. The blog was my answer to show that we choose to wear that hijaab and we are no different from everyone else. Islam is my way of life but it doesn’t take away who I am as an individual.

TN: What are some of the challenges you encounter being a Muslim at university?
AM: I haven’t faced any challenges per se, except for perhaps the university’s lack of consideration for Muslim (and other minority religions). I have found myself having to write on Eid day and attend lectures during prayer times. These have honestly been my biggest challenges which I’m still struggling with till to date. The crown of all challenges faced is when events aren’t catered halal and that really hurts.

TN: What are some of your personal achievements so far?
AM: I pride myself in the fact that I am a student and for me that’s my biggest achievement, having passed matric and studying towards obtaining my Law degree. I have served as a diligent member and advocate of the Black Lawyers Association- Student Chapter for four years in my capacity. Firstly as a member, the sub-committee executive member and lastly as an elected media and PRO executive. I am also an honorary member of the Golden Key International Honour Society. However, my biggest achievement is and will always be making my mother proud of the daughter that he has raised.

TN: What are some of the goals you have for the future?
AM: I would like to become an international human rights lawyer and work with the United Nation towards achieving world peace. I believe that education is the keys to success, however it takes a village to raise a child. I can attest to that given that Naseem Abu, SANZAF, Gift of the Givers and the Willowton Bursary have played lead roles in funding the educated individual that I am today. In commemoration of their kind acts towards me, I would like to continue in their footsteps and open a functioning school within impoverished communities so that the generation to come also has the opportunity to own success.

TN: You will be one of the speakers at the Muslimah Today Woman’s Conference, can you highlight what you will be speaking about?
AM: The chronicles of a Muslim student. My presentation will be a reflection of how I have managed to balance being a Muslim student and just a student. It will hopefully eliminate the perception that all students fall into the world of drugs, fornication and “living off the edge”.
TN: What are you currently reading?
AM: Robert Sobukwe: How can man die alone?

TN: Favourite film?
AM: Kabhi Kushi Kabhie Gham

TN: What are some of your other hobbies or interests?
AM: I enjoy eating, sleeping, writing and cooking. I also have an interest in fashion designing and landscaping.

TN: Favourite food?
AM: Mac and cheese, hot chicken wings and chicken biryani

TN: What is your message to other Muslim students at university?
AM: You are Muslim first and everything else you want to be second. You are always going to a topic of discussion as a Muslim, sometimes good and sometimes bad but remain true to who you are and do not let yourself become as they identify you. Enjoy your life and make the best of memories in university whilst you still can. Always remember that not everyone is the bad guy, sometimes all that is needed is a conversation. It’s hard, but stay on green, stay happy and study hard.

TN: If you could solve one problem in the world for women, what would it be?
AM: Patriarchy, I would eliminate the thought of women being visualised as submissive and subject to the domination of men.