Eman El Badawi holds many roles – wife, mother, farmer, volunteer, and most recently, Mayor. Local politics is not something Eman actively sought out, yet through a mixture of life choices and circumstances, she campaigned for and was elected the first Muslim, Indian-Egyptian mayor of Cranbury, NJ. Not only was she the first Muslim woman in the role, Eman was also the first minority elected to the township committee.
The Islamic faith tradition guides Eman through her work and daily life. She feels that service, in general, is at the core of Islam. Muslims are instructed over and over to serve others, whether it is the poor, needy, orphan, elder, neighbor, etc. Eman sees her position in township politics as an extension of that service. Town politics is not the only place where Eman volunteers her time. Being a mother of six, she is actively involved in her children’s schools. Eman is a Regional Coordinator for the Sisterhood and serves on the Israel-Palestine Task Force, volunteers with refugee resettlement, her local Church pantry, is the Outreach Director of the Islamic Network Group, partakes in speaking opportunities when available, and makes time for her farm everyday. Eman, along with her family, annually serves customers during the Muslim holiday of Eid Ul Adha, allowing them to perform the ritual sacrifice of a sheep and share the meat with friends and those in need.
Besides her faith, the genuine joy of getting work done is what inspires Eman to keep motivated and volunteer. Creating a community of service-oriented volunteers can be just as rewarding and important as service work. As a human, she believes, you have to find mechanisms that ground and humble you – volunteering is that for Eman.
When asked how she finds the time and energy, Eman’s answer goes back to her faith. She states “the Creator creates a path for us and sometimes we can’t see where those paths will lead. If we trust a little in ourselves, trust in the unseen, and take a little risk, you’ll find that we are so needed and our efforts are needed in different capacities.”
Eman’s favorite part of being in the Sisterhood is the ability to have conversations with people she would otherwise never meet. She appreciates the Sisterhood’s actions for human rights and firmly believes in interfaith work and creating connections. She says, “At the core of everyone is the need for prosperity, love, light, and family. There is nothing more simple, we all want the same thing.” Eman serves as an inspiring example for all on how to lead a life dedicated to community service.