By Yusra Jabeen, Editing & Additional writing by Adam Rizvi, TIO: January 6, 2019: Montgomery Committeewoman, Dr.Sadaf Jaffer was sworn in on January 3 as the mayor of Montgomery township.
We have just entered the year 2019, and women in the United States have already shown women power! As visionary and great leaders, they are not just engaged in politics but are breaking records! In 2018, a record amount of women were elected to the United States House of Representatives. Republican Marsha Blackburn became the first woman to be elected as senator from Tennessee. Republican Kristi Noem is the first female governor of South Dakota. Democrat Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland are both the first Native American women elected to Congress. History is being made! Despite the present negativity and bias against Muslims, it is heartening to see that Muslim candidates have been elected nonetheless. Democrat Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar are the first Muslim ladies elected to Congress. The election of Muslim women has also occurred in local politics. In New Jersey, Dr. Sadaf Jaffer becomes the first South Asian Muslim American woman to be elected mayor.
Dr. Jaffer was elected to serve as a Montgomery committee person. The new mayor is a scholar and activist and has always been interested in public services. She has worked for the United States Marine Corps Centre for Advanced Operational Culture Learning and the US Department of State’s Bureau of South Asian Affairs. She is currently a postdoctoral research associate in South Asian studies at Princeton University where she teaches courses on South Asian, Islamic and Asian American Studies.
She is currently working on a book entitled Lady Genghis Khan: Ismat Chughtai, Progressive Literature, and Secularism in Modern India, which offers new perspectives on Islam and secularism in modern India through the lens of celebrated Urdu writer and Indian cultural critic Ismat Chughtai.
While speaking to this writer Yusra Jabeen, Dr. Jaffer let her guard down and revealed her inner thoughts. Jaffer told us that her family belonged to Kutch, Gujarat. Though she has not been able to visit her native city, she has stayed in India, specifically in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh to study the Urdu language and to connect with her people, culture and values. She studied Urdu at the American Institute of Indian Studies in Lucknow from 2005 to 2007. During her stay, she was gratified to not only improve her Urdu but to also become familiar with the history of Lucknow. She felt more connected to her Indian heritage. She also wanted to learn more about Islam in the present and understand the current lifestyle of her culture.
Dr. Jaffer earned her bachelor’s degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and obtained her Ph.D. in near eastern languages and civilizations with a secondary field in studies of women, gender and sexuality from Harvard University.
Dr. Jaffer’s first foray into politics was in 2016 when she sought a position in the Montgomery Committee as a write-in. In spite of not succeeding in 2016, she was not discouraged and sought a position again the following year in 2017 when Dr. Jaffer won her seat on the Township Committee. She has been active in Montgomery Committee and, specifically, worked with the Montgomery Mosaic Organization, which has held meetings in different houses of worship for community building. Dr. Jaffar has always been passionate about community building. She thinks it is wonderful to bring people together who might not otherwise have ever met each other. By doing this, people start to understand each other, thereby bring the community together.
Sadaf speaks about both positivity and her values. She said that “politics is the art of the possible” and that each person makes decisions based on his or her values. She explained her values and approach, “It is really about putting people first and thinking about what can serve our community best. I hope to continue to work for the people in my role as Mayor.”
Hon. Dr. Sadaf Jaffer will not only work for the people in Montgomery Township but hopes to inspire others to be more vocal about their thoughts and beliefs. She has always believed that women play a very important role in all societies and that a woman’s voice has a lot more power than what people think. She plans on encouraging that inner power so help the future generation to be more vocal, active and stronger.
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