"Speak now or forever hold your peace in pieces."
Shafiqah Othman is a Malay Muslim originally born in Singapore on 15 September 1994. She attended Anderson Secondary School in Singapore for 2 years before moving to Malaysia in 2008, and eventually completing her secondary school education in Sekolah Menengah Bukit Jelutong, Shah Alam.
After obtaining her SPM certificate in 2011, Shafiqah spent two years of her life in a haze. She was not qualified to a college yet as she was still awaiting her citizenship for Malaysia. Somewhere between these two years, Shafiqah was confronted by an atheist who told her on social media that Islam is a misogynistic and oppressive religion towards women. It was only then that Shafiqah realized that she could not defend her religion as she had no knowledge of her beliefs, except for the basic things that she had been taught in schools. Thus, she started on her journey of self-discovery and spirituality. This led to her first post on Islam: “Does Islam degrade women?” which was meant as a response to the atheist that had questioned her. Unfortunately, she had lost his contact when she had finished writing it.
Shafiqah’s father, Othman Hamzah, is an 80s singer known for his song “Gadis Melayu” and “Musliha”. Although still singing, he is now mainly a family man that is self-employed. He serves as one of her biggest role models, in terms of both character and spirituality. It was her father’s patience, moderation and kindness that spurred her further into wanting to learn more about Islam. He smiles through any adversity, and one of Shafiqah’s goals in life is to be able to adopt her father’s emotional strength.
Shafiqah started being active in the world of activism after her next article “Hijab: Compulsion or choice?” was read by Marina Mahathir, thanks to a Twitter friend. From there, she was introduced to Sisters In Islam and Musawah, and soon her network of public relations grew. She is also a columnist under The Malay Mail Online and a part of Komuniti Muslim Universal (KMU).
Currently, Shafiqah studies Diploma in Graphic Design in Management and Science University (MSU), Malaysia. She is hoping to forge her three interests, art, writing and religion, into one and use her talents to further her advocacy and help in spreading messages through a creative outlet.
“If I were to remain silent, I would be guilty of complicity.” – Albert Einstein