(Muslim Journal, Vol. 65, No. 14, December 18, 2020)
By Ayesha K Mustafaa
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Fareedah Shaheed’s website for her business Sekuva, as CEO and founder, opens with this statement: “You Need to Protect Your Kids from Predators and Hackers.” So she’s taken on a task that has stumped professional security firms, yet her efforts earned her a place on Forbes’ “30 Under 30 Feature” of 2021.
Fareedah goes on to explain on her website, “Many say that I’m good at breaking down industry jargon into layman’s terms. Like how I no longer use the term ‘cybersecurity’ and have shifted into using ‘online security’ or ‘online safety’.
“But the truth is my experiences growing up in online chat rooms and gaming sites are what really make up my expertise. And my experiences in formal education and corporate (threat intelligence/security awareness) just solidify it all.”
On her site, Fareedah adds, “While I may be good at taking a complex subject and making it relatable, I’m actually better at connecting with souls. And the one thing your soul needs as a mother is peace.
“Peace about your kid’s safety whether they’re online or offline. And because your kids are spending more time in the digital world, you want to know that you’ve done everything possible to keep them SAFE.
“And if you want to protect your kids in this digital age, you must learn the foundations of online safety and stay in the know.”
Her proud mom, Umm Zakiyyah, brought to our attention her daughter’s work and achievements, adding, “I’m humbled, honored and beyond proud of my daughter Fareedah Shaheed for being named as one of Forbes 30 Under 30. (Maashaa Allah!)
“What has earned her this honor? She helps mothers protect their kids online through her company Sekuva, which she founded in 2018 and used to launch her groundbreaking ‘Safe Kids Movement.’
“Due to her amazing work, she has been featured by Cisco, NBC 29, Fox 25, Fox 46, InfoSecurity Magazine, and Radio One. Earlier this year, she was named Cybersecurity Personality of the Year.
“So if you’re a mom (or a concerned parent) and want to keep your kids and family safe from hackers and predators online, you can join her movement here: safekidsmovement.com.”
Mother-and-Daughter are working on a collaboration via their “UZ Heart & Soul Care community – uzhearthub.com.”
Umm Zakiyyah then adds, “Please join me in saying a heartfelt ‘Ameen!’ in this prayer for my daughter: May Allah continue to bless her, preserve her, and grant her the highest success in all her worldly and spiritual endeavors.” ~ Ameen.
Fareedah share some of her thoughts from the perspective of her Muslim faith and upbringing. She explained that she is a third-generation Muslim. “My grandparents on both sides converted to Islam before my parents were born. My grandparents were first introduced to Islam through the Nation of Islam and then in 1975, they made the transition to Orthodox Islam.”
Asked how does she balances career and work among non-Muslims and such an intense environment, she replied, “I’m just myself. I refuse to show up as less than to anyone just to make someone comfortable.
“People may make comments or treat me differently, but one thing that has helped me was living in my own bubble. Meaning, I’m laser-focused on my goals and anything outside of that gets less attention and energy.
“I’m still a human being, so I’ll have moments of frustration and will need to talk it out. But at the end of the day, my focus is showing up as my best self. This means pausing work to pray, taking off for Eid, and learning to protect my peace.”
Just when you think she’s maximized her personal reserves, she added, “To me, it’s all a harmony, but nothing is perfectly balanced. At the same time, we can create some sort of harmony between both realities.
“One of the biggest ways I create harmony between them is recognizing that both worlds are actually one. At the end of the day, it’s Allah’s earth, and we are all Allah’s creation. The harmony we need is more internal than external.”
So any advice to young aspiring Muslim youth to live their Deen and accomplish at the top of their professions? Fareedah responded, “One piece of advice I’ve gotten from my mother that has always stuck with me is, ‘No matter what happens in your life, never abandon your prayers.’
“This means no matter how guilty, bad, tired, or unworthy I feel, the five foundational prayers remain a part of my life. This has carried me through many things.
“It’s also important to realize that you simply cannot separate your worldly success from your spiritual success. In order to be truly successful in this world and the Next, and to actually fully enjoy your success in this world, you have to continuously work on your internal and spiritual self.”
On the frontline of securing our youth on their exploring the internet – now a necessity – Fareedah has the fortitude needed to perform her tasks.
“There have been countless studies on the correlation between mindset and reality,” she said. “Simply put, if your internal compass is broken, you’ll forever be lost. The beautiful places you visit along your journey won’t matter, because you’ll be empty inside and ironically you won’t be able to enjoy them.”
She reminds herself, “True success is both internal and external; Allah is Merciful, so I strive to build a personal connection with Him. Sometimes we view praying five times a day, saying our adkhaar, praying sunnah prayers, or reading the Qur’an as a burden.
“And honestly, sometimes it can be difficult to keep up; we’re all human after all. But the reality is, this is all ultimately for us. It’s all a soul exercise to develop a stronger internal compass.
“We all understand that after exercising, we will be sore. And we have accepted that because we know it’s for a good reason, and it’ll help us reach our goals. We have to do the same thing with our souls.
“It’s all an internal exercise. By prioritizing my regular prayers, late-night prayers, daily Qu’ran, and morning and evening adkhaar, I’m able to show up and play in this world like a giant.”
When the Qur’an said to us “save your families and save yourselves,” it was not in gest; Allah also ushered forth the talented to be “watchful” and “pray.” He gave us Fareedah Shaheed.
Fareedah’s feature in the Forbes 30 Under 30 can be read at: forbes.com/30-under-30/2021/enterprise-technology. For more information on her movement to safeguard our children, visit www.safekidsmovement.com.