Tell SHFM members a little about yourself:
Hi everyone! My name is Zee Shami and I was born into an Arab-Muslim family and raised in Dearborn, Michigan - Home of Henry Ford! I consider myself a cultural Muslim (someone who identifies as being a Muslim, yet rather liberal in practice). I lead my life in a way that’s motivated by faith and my overall mission in life is to be a good person who practices good deeds in the world. I welcome and befriend people of ALL backgrounds (race, religion, gender, ethnicity, etc.) regardless of where I am or who I’m with.
What inspires you and how do you try to make an impact?
I’m very much inspired by diversity and well-being. I believe that life is a gift we are given and it’s our responsibility to be the best (and most authentic) that we can be + share that greatness with others. I try to make an impact by being a good mom/mentor, friend, leader and social influencer; I do my best through my personal and professional relationships every day.
What is the Holy Month of Ramadan, and what are your traditions when celebrating?
Ramadan is known as a time of spiritual reflection, self-improvement and heightened devotion and worship. Muslims are expected to put more effort into following the teachings of Islam during Ramadan. Fasting (restricting food intake during the day) for 30 days (beginning at dawn and ending at sunset) helps to prevent health problems such as high cholesterol, heart disease and obesity, as well as improving mental health and wellbeing. There are instances where one does not have to fast (such as individuals with compromised health or age, travel, etc.). Ramadan is a time that brings my immediate and extended family around the dinner table together every evening. It’s like enjoying a Thanksgiving dinner every day! The dining room table is displayed of delicious & healthy food + it’s a great reason to build stronger family relationships.
As an Arab-American, Muslim, Woman Business-owner, what are common misconceptions that you are able to dispel through your business?
Haha, I get this question a lot and I’m glad to answer it! Due to the fact that I consider myself a “Universal” person, it brings me great pride that I’m able to express this part of myself through my company. Many times people have assumed (being that I wear a headscarf) that ZeeTheCook is strictly “Middle-Eastern” or “Arab” or a “Muslim” company- but that is not true.
At ZeeTheCook, we are ALL about diversity and one of our great missions is to bring people of all walks of life together as ONE! Our staff, students and programs are very diverse; as well as our menus when we teach cooking & baking classes: Italian, Mexican, Asian, Mediterranean, etc., we welcome it all!
What would you like others to know about your culture or heritage?
I want everyone to know that “Arab-American” is not only considered “Muslim”. Arab-Americans practice different religions (some are Christians, some are Muslim, etc.). They work in a variety of fields and have a range of educational backgrounds and political affiliations. Despite this diversity, Arab Americans have a shared sense of history, language and cultural heritage.
What ways can SHFM members support Arab History Month and the Middle-Eastern culture in our organization or beyond?
Great question! My first thought is: don’t believe everything you’ve seen or heard on the news. The news, media and internet have shared a lot of false information about Arab-Americans or even Muslims, in general, leading people to stereotype and grow hatred in their hearts (unfortunately).
I want ALL people to know that Terrorism has absolutely NO place in Islam. It even says in the Quran, “Whoever kills an innocent human being, it shall be as if he has killed all of mankind and whoever saves a life, it is as if he had saved the life of all humankind”. Please take careful consideration as to where you receive education on other cultures/religions and be open to learning and befriending Arab-Americans, because you never know if you’ll find your next best friend or the next best meal!