“I never would’ve seen myself in this position.”
Nadah F. is sitting on a soft rug in a studio loft, her legs curled to the side. Sunlight streams through the windows, and a sage green hijab frames her face. “But there we were. My friends and I couldn’t imagine what Ramadan would be like without being able to attend the mosque. And being separated from your community, especially during the pandemic, can be challenging.”
When shelter-in-place orders began in the early spring of 2020, Nadah, a software engineer on the privacy team at Meta, noticed many faith organizations scrambling to find alternative ways to observe the month together. Some adapted by hosting virtual sermons and holding outdoor prayers in congregation. As she worked from home, Nadah watched the weeks tick by, and as late April—and with it, the start of Ramadan—approached, she knew she had to do something.
“I recognized the struggles that our mosques and Islamic centers would be facing during this time. With everything suddenly needing to be virtual, many community members were not well-equipped to shift everything online,” Nadah, says. “I saw it as an opportunity to support my community.”
Nadah has always held community work as a priority in her life.
The University of California at San Diego’s campus is the kind of place where students are just as likely to carry longboards and burritos as computer science textbooks. It’s also where Nadah earned her undergraduate degree, in 2018. When she graduated with her bachelors in Computer Science, she was selected as the student speaker for the Jacobs School of Engineering Ring Ceremony. “I applied to this opportunity because I knew I had something to say,” Nadah remembers.
From hosting coding workshops in underserved schools to establishing Muslim Women in Tech, an organization of professionals that’s grown to over 1,600 members, Nadah has always held community work as a priority. “I spoke about our commitment and responsibility as engineers to use our skills and privilege in the realm of public service,” Nadah says. “And now, two years later, with this opportunity to work with the Muslim community through my position at Meta, I truly felt like this was a manifestation of this message I was trying to convey to my peers.”
Nadah finished her graduate studies at UCSD in 2019 with a specialization in systems and security. After completing internships at Intuit, Google and Meta, Nadah ultimately chose the latter. “The idea that Meta had privacy as a company priority, and the interesting problems that we are trying to solve was what drew me to this area and what eventually solidified my decision to join full-time,” she explains.
Like many others across the world, Nadah found herself working from home in 2020.
Just a couple of months after joining Meta in early 2020, Nadah’s whole reality changed. She, along with countless others across the globe, was now away from her family, the office and community, spending most of her life at home. As Ramadan approached, Nadah had a video call with a strategic partner manager at Meta who specializes in community partnerships.
“We were talking about reaching out to different mosques and community centers and understanding their needs this Ramadan. As much as it hurt to see the impact COVID-19 was having on so many people in Muslim communities, I am very much an action-oriented person and had been thinking about how I could use my position of privilege at this company to support others.”
“I organized a workshop with the Islamic Shura Council to share resources about Facebook Live and Charitable Giving tools
,” Nadah explains. “We reached 89 faith leaders from various institutions and delivered Live kits to over 50 Muslim organizations.”
Nadah describes this partnership as a significant contribution in her time at Meta so far. “I’m a software engineer, but working on Meta's initiatives to support Ramadan exposed me to so many other aspects of the company. I was also able to work cross-functionally with engineers, program managers, privacy program managers, content designers and the Facebook Live and Charitable Giving teams.”
This challenging time has also enabled Nadah to celebrate Ramadan in a way that made her feel less isolated. “I actually moved back home with my family and I’m very grateful to be able to fast and pray with my parents and sisters,” she explains. “Ramadan is a month of spiritual growth, and having the extra time for introspection and worship has been incredible.”