Farrah Fazal defines her mission as “shining a light into the shadows without fear or favor, and telling stories through the lens of curiosity, compassion, and connection define my passion and purpose as an investigative/conflict journalist and correspondent.”
An award-winning television and digital journalist with experience in local, international, and investigative reporting, Farrah has been a producer, managing editor, anchor, conflict journalist, and correspondent. Born in Dar es Salaam, she is currently based in California as a freelance correspondent with CBS NEWS. Previously, she had worked in many States, focusing on immigration, race, diverse communities, poverty, war, social justice, and terrorism.
Traveling to Kenya and Somalia, Farrah told stories of refugees, separated families, the travel ban, terrorism, and the worst famine/drought since World War II. She was one of the very few chosen to travel to Pakistan in 2013 during the conflict with the Taliban, and her story on bilateral relations with the US-led to an Emmy award, one of a dozen of awards she has received.
More recently, Farrah's video of rioters breaking into stores after the 2014 Grand Jury verdict in Ferguson, MO, went viral, and she has also reported on guns, drugs, money laundering, undocumented children, sex trafficking, and immigration on the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Stories have the power to make a difference,” says Farrah. She recalls trying to find a three-year-old girl named Anfa in a Somali refugee camp, who had not been allowed to travel to the US with her mother, soon after she was born. Her story was told on KSTP TV, and seven months later, with the help of a Congressman's office, Anfa was reunited with her parents.
"I consider myself a servant of my craft, in service of stories that make a difference,” says Farrah. During the Diamond Jubilee Mulaqat in Atlanta, she recalls, “I felt centered and I knew I was called to tell the stories of the voiceless.” She went to Syria in the middle of the war, telling stories of refugees, the resilience, kindness, and compassion she found in children who had survived chemical attacks, in mothers whose husbands were missing, and in people who had been tortured but still believed in love and hope, all of which “brought me to my knees,” she says. Clearly, her passion is making a difference, and the voiceless are being heard.
Giving voice to others in a local context is Nausheen Husain, who uses her writing skills as a Senior Reporter at the Chicago Tribune. Drawn to reading and writing from a young age, and encouraged by her parents, she pursued Journalism as a career. A graduate of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and New York University, she has worked at Newsweek International, the Huffington Post, and the Chicago Sun-Times. She is engaged primarily in data analysis, and reports also on migration and Muslim communities in Chicago, as well as local issues, politics, education, and crime.
Nausheen takes inspiration from a hadith, that says, "A nation in which the rights of the weak are not wrested in an uninhibited manner from the strong will never be blessed." She also reflects on the Qur’anic message to humanity about oppression and struggling for justice, sharing that “Journalism, as I've grown to understand it over the past 15 years, is one way to do this.”
Nausheen comments that “Good reporting doesn’t mean that Muslim journalists must only write stories that make Muslims look good because this denies human nuance. It doesn’t mean that we must report in a way that caters to only a Western understanding of the world, because this denies accuracy. It certainly doesn’t mean that we ignore communities who have been systemically weakened in favor of self-serving coverage of our own community because this denies our core responsibility toward those who are neediest."
Nausheen believes we must write accurate and complete stories about all people, Muslim and non-Muslim, who are working towards social justice and equity, including refugees and immigrants, the homeless and displaced, those suffering under burdensome debt, and " struggling within what is still a patriarchal world. Reporting is an act of citizenry.”
The Ismaili Media and Communications Alliance
A recent addition to the Ismaili Professionals Network is the Ismaili Media and Communications Alliance (IMCA), which provides a platform through which these professionals can network and connect, circulate information on career development, employment, seva opportunities, conferences, and educational workshops. Nausheen played a key role in launching this group, which now stands at 400 members, that will help mentor students interested in this field and benefit the Jamat in knowledge-creation and distribution.