The Sun and Sisters group rose to virality on TikTok after creating a halal travel friendly group for Muslim women everywhere.
Finding like-minded travel buddies can be a challenging feat for the best of us, however, this can be even more difficult for Muslim women.
Over the last decade, the amount of Muslim sisters wanting to travel has grown enormously. Unfortunately, not all sisters know someone willing to travel with them, or they may struggle to make friends that enjoy the same things as them.
Cue Sun and Sisters, the halal-friendly travel group that rose to virality (practically) overnight. On the Sun and Sisters group, the aim is to connect with other like-minded Muslim women and make friends to travel with.
I sat down with an exclusive interview with Aliyah, the founder of Sun and Sisters, who talked to me about her motivations behind the group.
Why did you create Sun and Sisters?
I joined this travel group with boys and with girls, but it was more catered towards British culture. They were drinking, smoking and I’m not into that sort of thing. I went to Cornwall last year, and I made two really good friends that are still my best friends today.
I thought, imagine if this was all girls or everyone was Muslim, I would feel a lot more comfortable. I wanted to be able to bring the Islamic element. I want to be able to bring people together, where we could pray together and do fun activities. So I did this. I needed more Muslim people around me and I wanted to create a safe space for Muslim women.
Where do you find Muslim girls? It’s not like you can go to a club. It’s not like you can go to a bar and just walk up to everyone and say ‘Oh, hi, let’s be friends.’ Creating this group was to bring everyone together, really. That was my motive.
if you are choosing to travel, I want there to be Sun and Sisters member in the country that you’re in, so you could feel you could feel safe and that you have people you can turn too.
When did you start the group?
I started this literally just after I graduated in November 2021. It was about three o’clock on a random night when I made the group.
Funnily enough, when I first made the group I didn’t like the name at first! I thought to myself the username wasn’t taken and I can use it without having to put numbers or dots.
I made the TikTok and I set my intentions with Allah. I told myself I’m doing this all in his name and whatever good comes from it I’m happy.
I thought to myself if I wake up with 50 or 100 followers, I’m going to be happy. When I woke up there was 500 and I was like, Oh my gosh, like, what happened?
I didn’t realize the demand. I just knew that I wanted to make new friends and I wanted them to be Muslim. After that I opened it up to everyone. if you’re happy to come, are ok with participating in Islamic guided things and are ok with us going off to pray whenever we need then we’re going to have fun.
Since then, it’s just been growing and growing and growing.
What activities do the group engage in?
There’s two types of activities. There are the official Sun and Sisters meet, like the go-karting trip or the Wales trip I plan myself. Everything else is usually through group chats or Facebook members asking me to post things.
A lot is happening, but a lot has been on pause because COVID has only started to ease up just now. Mostly girls just meet up for dinner.
There’s now little subgroups within Sun and Sisters. There’s sisters stories where we’ve got a little book club going. We meet every Friday or every other weekend, share books and have fun.
Some girls have gone to Barcelona. We post travel notices on Instagram when girls are going to New Zealand, Cairo, Italy, Greece. I hosted my own event back in January. That was amazing. I think about 15 sisters turn up, it was so much fun.
The weirdest thing is it doesn’t matter who you are or what age you are or what disability you have. You’re welcome here and everyone gets along. At my meet, there was a woman that was 35 and a deaf girl and everyone was getting along and everyone was helping each other and it was just so beautiful to see. I nearly cried because I thought to myself, I did this. This is my dream coming true right in front of me.
What are some challenges you’ve faced since creating the group?
Immediately after a video goes viral, I get a lot of anxiety because I got so many comments saying I was trafficking, or that I was a man. (I can confirm these claims to be 100% false!)
I’m doing everything I can to prove I’m a woman without showing my face because I’m not comfortable with my face on the internet. Considering I didn’t have that many followers at the time, I had people telling me ‘you need to tell us who you are. You tell us where you live.’ What about my safety?
It gave me a lot of anxiety, but now I’m over it. If I get negative comments I just delete them because it encourages more comments. Since I deleted all of them, I’ve not had one.
It’s funny, I made this group to make friends and I’ve only made one friend so far! I’m so busy facilitating everything and running Sun and Sisters there’s not really enough time to make the friends, although I am trying to go to more meets.
How safe is the Sun and Sisters page?
The community is regulated as much as possible. We check to make sure that you are a woman through your DP. If you don’t have a DP or your profile doesn’t look legit then you have to send us a picture of yourself, a video of yourself and a voice note before you get approved.
What are your plans for the future?
An app is definitely on the way, insha’allah.
I was talking to a member and was asking her if she’s happy with hostels. She said it’s impossible to pray in hospitals. At the time I thought how good would it be to have Sun and Sisters hostels scattered all over the world. It would have a prayer room and would only be for women, and cheap. That’s the most important thing. If we’re going to allow people to be safe together, it still has to be affordable.
I see this going places, especially with the vision that I had with the whole business. It just fits perfectly.
Do you have any advice for people who are wanting to start something but are unsure?
The first thing is, I would say this to any Muslim women, make sure your full intention is with Allah and you’ve made you’ve done everything in his image and you’re happy that you could present this idea to him and he’ll be like, This is good. You know what I mean? And away from that, dunya wise, go for it. You’ve got nothing to lose. The worst thing that could happen is you get zero followers and no one’s seen it anyways. And then what? You start all over again.
Just do it. Literally, just do it. And I think that’s the most generic advice, but it’s something that I had to implement in my own brain for me to push myself to do anything.
I wouldn’t always say it’s going to happen overnight. I do think that I was very lucky it happened to me. Be patient with it and have sabr, you know?
If you’re interested in joining the Sun and Sisters’ community then click here.
*Interview has been edited for length and clarity