In the name of God the Merciful, the Mercy-Giving
Ours is an age filled with fantasies of superheroes coming to the rescue and a daily existence filled with very real villains. This is an age where we can also feel hopeless, but we are here to show you that every day hundreds of sheroes and heroes spend their lives fighting for you. From racial justice organizers to union leaders, spiritual freedom fighters to street corner revolutionaries, these 100 people featured are just a small portion of the American Muslims who organize daily for a better world for all. We are deeply embedded in every layer of movement leadership in a country we know was founded with the blood and sweat of our ancestors who prayed with their foreheads on this land before it was called the United States of America.
We are moved by those who struggled under far worse circumstances than our own— from enslaved Africans practicing Islam in hiding, to government repression during the civil rights era, to an American war machine that has taken the lives of millions of Muslims abroad. It is in remembering these realities that we also reflect on how each of these generations before us stood up. They struggled to make the world better than what they were born into, and that is what we must do now. As the Qur’an states so clearly to us:
This is a celebration of the people on this list and the thousands of other unsung heroes. Muslims are standing up daily in cities, communities, houses of worship and college campuses around this country in unprecedented numbers. We need each of us to face down what is in front of us. Together we will inspire each other, love one another and live into the call written in our faith and in the actions of our Prophets (May Peace and Mercy be upon them all).
Muslim Organizing Across the United States
The Muslim community lives at the center of a number of social injustices that impact people throughout the United States broadly, ranging from mass incarceration and immigration struggles to racial and religious profiling. However, the interfaith funders recent report Building Bridges, Building Power: Developments in Institution-Based Community Organizing reported that mosques represent only 1% of the 4500 total member institutions that make up the ecology of the Congregation-Based Organizing (CBO) field.
Within certain philanthropic circles, this has led to a myth that Muslim communities are not engaged in community organizing. While Muslim communities may not be broadly represented within the non-profit institution that is CBO, this says as much about that field as it does about Muslim organizing. For generations Muslim communities, led by the African American Muslims have been deeply embedded in civil rights and social justice movements across the United States.
One of the primary goals of MPower Change is to be a grassroots platform for the American Muslim community that has been missing on the national level. We believe that it is providential that we launched MPower in 2016, the year when so much has been said about Muslims without us. This election is just the beginning for us to build real political power to organize Muslims at the grassroots level in alliance with communities who stand with us for social justice and human rights.
There has never been a better time to create a strong, collective voice to organize and mobilize millions of Muslims and allies across the country. It is our hope that this list can be a call to Muslim organizers, activists and lovers of social justice everywhere to stand united in the face of injustice, in the face of hate to build for generations to come and on the shoulders of those who preceded us.
MPOWER CHANGE IS A GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT ROOTED IN DIVERSE MUSLIM COMMUNITIES THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES WHO ARE WORKING TOGETHER TO BUILD SOCIAL, SPIRITUAL, RACIAL, AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE FOR ALL PEOPLE.
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Aisha al-Adawiya, Founder — Women in Islam & Curator at the Schomberg Center — Harlem, New York
A community builder in Harlem since the time when Malcolm X walked those streets, Aisha al-Adawiya is the founder of Women In Islam, Inc., an organization of Muslim women which focuses on human rights and social justice. Ms. Al-Adawiya coordinates Islamic input for the Preservation of the Black Religious Heritage Documentation Project of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
Mark Crain is a digital strategist, community organizer, and online campaigner based out of Detroit. He’s the Mobile Innovation Director at MoveOn.org, is a co-founder of MPower Change, and is the project director for Dream of Detroit — a Muslim-led and community-based neighborhood development group. Mark previously spent time at the Obama 2012 campaign, Chicago’s Inner-City Muslim Action Network, and, once upon a time, managing his own web design firm, DeCrain Solutions.
Fahd Ahmed came to the United States as an undocumented immigrant from Pakistan in 1991. He has been a grassroots organizer on the issues of racial profiling, immigrant justice, police accountability, and national security over the last 13 years. Fahd has been involved with DRUM in various capacities since 2000, when he had family members facing deportation, and entrapment as part of the War on Drugs. He has been the Executive Director of DRUM since 2014.
Imam Zaid Shakir, co-founder — Zaytuna College and the Lighthouse Mosque — Oakland, California
Imam Zaid Shakir is a life long community organizer and activist and is amongst the most respected and influential Islamic scholars in the West. Imam Zaid Shakir is a co-founder, serves on its Board of Trustees, and senior Faculty Member of Zaytuna College located in Berkeley, CA. As an American Muslim who came of age during the civil rights struggles, he has brought both sensitivity about race and poverty issues and scholarly discipline to his faith-based work.
Rami Nashashibi, Founder and Director of the Inner City Muslim Action Network and Professor University of Chicago School of Theology, Chicago, Illinois
Rami Nashashibi has served as the Executive Director of the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) since its incorporation as a nonprofit in January 1997. He has a PhD in Sociology from the University of Chicago and has been an adjunct professor at various colleges and universities across the Chicagoland area. Rami lives with his wife and three children on Chicago’s Southwest Side.
Imam Taha Hassane, Imam Islamic Society of San Diego, San Diego, California
One of the leading Imam’s advocating for social justice and community organizing in the United States, Imam Taha Hassane is currently serving as the Imam/Director of the Islamic Center of San Diego. Imam Taha graduated from Institute of Islamic Sciences at the University of Algiers, Algeria, and served as a high school teacher and Imam in Tenes, Algeria for ten years before coming to the United States. He is a board member on the Interfaith committee for worker Justice of San Diego County and a board member of the Interfaith Worker Justice, based in Chicago.
Mustafa Abdullah, Lead Organizer for the ACLU of Missouri — St. Louis, Missouri
Mustafa Abdullah is the Lead Organizer for the ACLU of Missouri where he works to protect the civil liberties of all Americans through advocacy, organizing, and public education. He is currently a board member of Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates. Mustafa previously served as an organizer with an Industrial Areas Foundation affiliate in North Carolina where he worked on a variety of local non-partisan, grassroots campaigns.
Maryam Amirebrahimi, Muslim Scholar & Writer — Santa Clara, California
Maryam Amirebrahimi is a Muslim faith leader who has a strong background in leadership and is a passionate advocate for social justice. With a degree in Islamic Studies from Al-Azhar University and she focuses on addressing issues within the Muslim community. She use’s the critical race lens to address identity in Muslim communities, specifically related to social and emotional issues ranging from doubts of faith, depression/suicide, porn, drug, alcohol addictions, sexuality, racism, sexism, and many other important issues in the Muslim community.
Sarah Jawaid, Community Organizer LA Voice/ PICO National Network — Los Angeles, California
Sarah Jawaid is a community organizer with LA Voice, a non-profit
affiliate of the PICO National Network, where she does faith-based
social justice organizing and leadership development in Los Angeles.
She has worked on policy change for affordable housing issues,
economic opportunity, and criminal justice reform — the most recent win
being the passage of Proposition 47, a state-wide ballot initiative to
redirect money from prisons to schools. Jawaid is also a certified
Mirna Haidar, Founder Z Collective & Lead Organizer and Advocacy Trainer at the Arab American Association of New York — Brooklyn, New York
As a refugee in the United States, Mirna found home in being a full-time civil justice and human rights activist. She co-founded Zcollective an Arab and Muslim social justice collective in Michigan. Mirna has been working with Muslim, Arab, and Immigrant communities since living in Lebanon and continues to do so 10 years later in the U.S. She currently serves as the Steering committee member of MASGD where she works on identity, intersectionality, and politics. Mirna is currently a CUNY Law 2019 student pursuing her social justice lawyering degree.
Najeeba Syeed, Professor Claremont School of Theology & Director of the Center for Global Peacebuilding — Pasadena, California
Najeeba Syeed is a professor at Claremont School of Theology and director of the Center for Global Peacebuilding. She is recognized as a leader in peacebuilding and twice received the Jon Anson Ford Award for reducing violence in schools and in the area of interracial gang conflicts and was named Southern California Mediation Association’s “Peacemaker of the Year” in 2007.
Zahra Billoo, Executive Director CAIR — San Francisco Bay Area — San Jose, California
As the executive director of CAIR San Francisco Bay Area (CAIR-SFBA), Zahra Billoo strives to promote justice and mutual understanding. Zahra joined CAIR-SFBA in 2009, and immediately embraced her roles as community organizer and civil rights advocate. She frequently provides trainings at mosques and universities as part of CAIR’s efforts to empower the community, while building bridges with allies on civil rights issues. Zahra also represents victims of discrimination and advocates for policy changes that uphold civil rights for all.
Imam Dawud Walid, Executive Director CAIR — Michigan — Detroit, Michigan
Dawud Walid is currently the Executive Director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI), which is a chapter of America’s largest advocacy and civil liberties organization for American Muslims and is a member of the Michigan Muslim Community Council (MMCC) Imams Committee.
Saliha Shakir, Co-Founder New Islamic Directions & the Lighthouse Mosque — Oakland, California
Saliha Shakir has been a lifelong advocate for social justice who has taken important political stands from organizing around divestment from apartheid South Africa, to supporting important work around the world today. As a founder of the Lighthouse Mosque in Oakland and New Islamic Directions she supports Muslim community work around the United States.
Hamza & Hussein Abdullah, Former NFL Players and Founders of the AsHab Network
Hamza and Husain Abdullah grew up in Pomona, CA two of a twelve children household. The two brothers were fortunate enough to spend the 2003 and 2004 seasons together before Hamza graduated from Washington State and was subsequently drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2005 NFL Draft. Hamza was later acquired by the Denver Broncos in the 2005 season where he starred on special teams before becoming a starter for the Broncos during the 2nd half of the 2007 season. In 2012 they received international news coverage as they decided to forgo the NFL season so they could instead make the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.
Recently both have retired from football and they are focused full time on community activism and community service. They recently founded the AsHab Network which is focused on bringing together Muslim athletes and artists to respond to the important political and social issues of our times.
Sultan Muhammad, National Imam — The Nation of Islam — Chicago, Illinois
Sultan Muhammad is the Imam of Mosque Maryam which is most popularly noted as being the international headquarters of the Nation of Islam (NOI). The nephew of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed Imam Sultan Muhammad has worked tirelessly in helping connect the NOI to the larger Muslim community and to train its members in the universal applications of Islam as dictated by The Holy Qur’an and the life example of Prophet Muhammed (SAW). He has served as an instructor in Arabic & Islamic civilizations, and taught Prayer, Aqidah (Islamic Theology), Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence), Qur’anic recitation, and eventually was appointed by Minister Louis Farrakhan to oversee the Islamic development of his national ministers.
Sherman Jackson, King Faisal Chair in Islamic Thought and Culture and Professor of Religion and American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California — Los Angeles, California
Dr. Jackson is a leading voice on issues of racial justice, Islam and Muslim thought. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and has taught at the University of Texas at Austin, Indiana University, Wayne State University and the University of Michigan. From 1987 to 1989, he served as Executive Director of the Center of Arabic Study Abroad in Cairo, Egypt. He is the author of several books, including Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking Towards the Third Resurrection (Oxford, 2005) Islam and the Problem of Black Suffering (Oxford, 2009), and most recently Sufism for Non-Sufis? Ibn ‘Ata’ Allah al-Sakandari’s Taj al-‘Arus (Oxford, 2012).
Dr. Jackson is a co-founder, Core Scholar, and member of the Board of Trustees of the American Learning Institute for Muslims (ALIM), an academic institution where scholars, professionals, activists, artists, writers, and community leaders come together to develop strategies for the future of Islam in the modern world.
Ramon Mejia, A founding Organizer of #VetsVsHate, and member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, and Regional Organizer of Veterans Challenge Islamophobia — Dallas, Texas | Biloxi, Mississippi
Ramon Mejía enlisted in Marine Corps out of economic necessity. He served in Supply Ops. and participated in the initial invasion of and deploying to Dhi Qar Province, Iraq in 2003. As a result of his experience in Iraq, he converted to Islam in 2008. As an anti-militarism activist, he works to end militarism by transforming himself, military culture and American society. He has been an active organizer in countering local manifestations of hate and racism by neo-Nazis and paramilitary groups in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Ramon is a Social Studies teacher and community organizer as well as a founding Organizer of #VetsVsHate, and member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, and Regional Organizer of Veterans Challenge Islamophobia.
Imran Siddiqui, CAIR-Arizona Executive Director — Phoenix, Arizona
Imraan Siddiqi is a the executive director of CAIR-Arizona an editor of StopIslamophobiaNow.com, & an Entrepreneur. He writes on the experiences of Muslim Americans as well as the subject of Islamophobia. He has been published in outlets such as The Dallas Morning News, The Oregonian, Huffington Post, CounterPunch, SuhaibWebb.com, altMuslim, among many other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @imraansiddiqi.
Alia Salem, Executive Director of the Dallas / Fort Worth chapter of CAIR
Alia Salem is the Executive Director for the DFW Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and is a committed activist working for social justice, understanding and empowerment in her community. Alia graduated Cum Laude from the University of Texas at Arlington with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. Her three focuses of study are in Communications, Sociology and Religion/Culture with a minor in French. As an eighth generation Texan with Egyptian roots, Alia is a proud Fort Worth native and resident with strong ties to the entire DFW community.
Usama Canon, Founder & Executive Director of the Ta’leef Collective — Fremont, California
Usama Canon is the founding director of the Ta’leef Collective. Originally formed in 2002 as part of the outreach program for the Zaytuna Institute, Ta’leef became an independent body in 2005. It is now a non-profit organization based in California that aims to provide a healthy, culturally relevant understanding of Islam, serving not only converts but also Muslim youth who find themselves alienated from the religion.
Usama also serves as a Muslim Chaplain for Muslim prison inmates under the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, as well as a spiritual advisor for the Chicago-based Inner City Muslim Action Network (IMAN). He is also one of the founders, together with Ta’leef Collective projects coordinator Micah Anderson, of Oudimentary, a company dealing in traditional incense and perfumes.
Varisha Khan — Seattle, Washington
Varisha Khan is a journalist, community organizer and activist. She is currently studying at the University of Washington (UW), with a double major in Journalism and Political Science. Motivated by her experience growing up in a national climate that became increasingly hostile toward American Muslims, she plans to pursue a career in public interest law after graduation. Inspired by Islamic teachings, Ms. Khan has made it her life’s mission to give back to society. She has been an advocate, both speaking and writing for rights of children and families from Syria seeking refuge in the United States. She is active in the American Muslim and Middle Eastern heritage communities at UW, as she volunteers to do humanitarian and relief work with local non-profits including OneAmerica, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and Americans for Refugees and Immigrants. She is part of a board to create a Middle Eastern Commission in the Associated Students of UW. Her journalistic work has been published in The Seattle Globalist, The Daily of UW, and the International Examiner.
Najah Bazzy, Zaman International — Canton, Michigan.
Najah Bazzy is a Transcultural Nurse Clinical Specialist and a Diversity Specialist with 25 years specializing in the area of transcultural health care. She has an extensive background in critical care nursing with special expertise in Arab and Muslim health care, beliefs, and practices. She is CEO of Diversity Specialists and Transcultural Health Care Solutions. Mrs. Bazzy is also the Executive Director and founder of Zaman International, a Humanitarian Non Profit Organization which provides crucial services to many in the Metropolitan Detroit through its programs such as Bayt Al-Zahra Crisis Assistance and Refugee Resettlement.
Hatem Bazian is a co-founder and Professor of Islamic Law and Theology at Zaytuna College, the 1st Accredited Muslim Liberal Arts College in the United States. In addition, Prof. Bazian is a lecturer in the Departments of Near Eastern and Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Bazian between 2002–2007, also served as an adjunct professor of law at Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. In Spring 2009, Prof. Bazian founded at Berkeley the Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project at the Center for Race and Gender, a research unit dedicated to the systematic study of Othering Islam and Muslims.
Imam Abu Qadir Al-Amin, Imam at San Francisco Muslim Community Center — San Francisco, California.
Imam Abu Qadir Al-Amin, received his first appointment as Resident Imam in 1981 by the esteemed leader of Muslim Americans; Imam W. Deen Mohammed. Imam Al-Amin has served as Muslim Chaplain at the Federal Prison FCI Dublin, CA. Additionally, he worked for the Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice as Program Director and Associate Director for 23 years. As Imam of the San Francisco Muslim Community Center, he served as Convener of Western Regional Imams’ from 1995 thru 2010. He has been involved in city and state wide issues and concerns as a community organizer throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Tanzila ‘Taz’ Ahmed, Campaign Strategist at 18 Million Rising & C0-Founder of Good Muslim/ Bad Muslim — Los Angeles, California
Tanzila Ahmed is an activist, storyteller, and politico based in Los Angeles. She was a long-time writer for Sepia Mutiny, and was recently published in the anthology Love, Inshallah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women and currently writes a monthly column called Radical Love. She is a campaign strategist at 18 Million Rising, Tanzila also organizes with Bay Area Solidarity Summer and South Asians for Justice — Los Angeles.
Andre Carson, U.S. Representative for Indiana’s 7th congressional district — Indianapolis, Indiana
Now in his 4th full term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman André Carson has established himself as an influential leader and respected public servant, fighting for good paying jobs, economic growth, and safer communities for Indiana’s working families. Congressman Carson consistently fights for the Middle Class, securing hundreds of millions for investments in public safety, education, infrastructure, and the creation and protection of thousands of good paying jobs. Congressman Carson is married to local educator Mariama Carson. They are the proud parents of a nine-year-old old daughter, Salimah, and live in Center Township.
Alia Sharrief is a hip hop artist, film director and editor, community activist and founder of The Hijabi Chronicles. Alia’s music has been featured in several major news sources including CNN, Al Jazeera, and The Huffington Post. She has performed all over the country and internationally, sharing the stage with such notable artists as Kendrick Lamar and others. Alia was born and raised in Sacramento and identifies her Grandmother, who was a civil rights activist as one of her biggest inspirations. Alia Sharrief actively advocates for justice, human rights, female empowerment, unity, and equality. She has served as an ambassador for CAIR (Council on Islamic Relations) and as an associate producer for several shows on KPFA Pacifica Radio a progressive music and talk radio station including the popular investigative news magazine “Flash Points.”
Imam Talib Abdur-rashid, Imam Mosque of the Islamic Brotherhood. Harlem, New York
Imam Al-Hajj Talib ‘Abdur-Rashid is the religious and spiritual leader of The Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood Inc. The mosque, located in Harlem, New York City, is the lineal descendant of the Muslim Mosque Inc. founded by the late El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X), in 1964.
Imam ‘Abdur-Rashid is also Ameer (President) Emeritus of the Majlis Ash-Shura (Islamic Leadership Council) of Metropolitan New York. Nationally, he serves as the Deputy Ameer (Vice President) of The Muslim Alliance in North America.
Mohammad Khan, Campaign Manager at MPower Change, Queens, New York
Mohammad Khan is a campaigner, strategist, and political organizer. He’s currently the Campaign Manager at MPower Change, where he develops and directs campaigns to build the political and social capital of Muslim communities in the fight for justice for all people. Prior to joining MPower, Mohammad worked on electoral, issue, and civic engagement campaigns in New York, including gubernatorial and City Council races, coalition work on economic and criminal justice, and efforts to protect public education and expose political corruption. His work focuses on transformative movement-based organizing and building the power of marginalized communities.
A native of Queens, Mohammad serves on the boards of the Muslim Democratic Club of New York — which works to empower Muslim communities in local politics — and Citizen Action of NY, a grassroots social justice organization, as well as the State Committee of the NY Working Families Party. When he’s not campaigning or organizing, Mohammad enjoys powerlifting and indoor and outdoor gardening.
Keith Ellison, U.S. Representative for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district — Minneapolis, Minnesota
Congressman Keith Ellison represents Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Fifth District includes the City of Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs and is one of the most vibrant and ethnically diverse districts in Minnesota.
Rep. Ellison’s guiding philosophy is based on “generosity and inclusion” and his priorities in Congress are building prosperity for working families, promoting peace, pursuing environmental sustainability, and advancing civil and human rights. Rep. Ellison was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. He has lived in Minnesota since earning his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1990. Keith is the proud father of four children.
Margari Aziza Hill is co-founder and Programming Director of Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC). After converting to Islam in 1993, her life experiences as a Black American woman have informed her research and writing on Islam, education, race, and gender. She has nearly a decade of teaching experiences at all levels from elementary, secondary, college level, to adult education. She has given talks and lectures in various universities and community centers throughout the country.
Asad Ali Jafri, Arts Advocate & Consultant — Chicago, Illinois
Starting in Chicago and spreading his work all over the world, Asad Ali Jafri is a cultural producer, global arts leader and interdisciplinary artist with a creative vision for sustainable social change. As an innovative thinker, Asad utilizes the universal language of art to connect communities, cultures and people to transform interactions, perceptions, and collective consciousness. Until 2012, as Director of Arts and Culture for IMAN (Inner-city Muslim Action Network), Asad produced Takin’ It to the Streets: Urban International Festival and the Community Café series featuring hundreds of artists and attracting thousands of people. Asad continues to produce events across the globe, including most recently in South Africa, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom.
Salimah Hankins, Senior Staff Attorney in the Housing Program at Community Legal Services— San Francisco, CA.
Salimah Hankins is a Senior Staff Attorney in the Housing Program at Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto (CLSEPA), California, where she does anti-displacement work in Silicon Valley. She has worked as a fair housing attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland and a consulting attorney for the Fair Housing Justice Center. Salimah has also served as a legislative aide to Massachusetts Senator Wilkerson, pro bono counsel at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and Director of Legislative Advocay at Dignity and Power Now. Since 2013 she has also served as a human rights consultant for the US Human Rights Network (USHRN), advising domestic grassroots groups on their advocacy efforts before the UN treaty bodies and coordinating the civil society side of the U.S government review under the “race treaty” before the 2014 CERD Committee in Geneva. In addition, Salimah has authored the 2013, 2014, and 2015 USHRN human rights status reports, which chronicles human rights abuses in the United States and engages grassroots groups and national organizations alike in human rights work, with a focus on housing as a human right. In 2013 and 2014, she served as director of Human Rights for a Brooklyn-based human rights organization, working primarily with women of color. Originally from New Orleans, Salimah has called Boston, Baltimore and Brooklyn home.
Sylvia Chan Malik, Assistant Professor Department of American Studies, Rutgers University — Rutgers, New Jersey
Sylvia Chan-Malik is Assistant Professor of American and Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University. Her research examines the intersections of race, religion, gender, and sexuality through critical frameworks of American transnationalism and comparative ethnic studies, with a specific focus on the history of Islam in the United States. With a PhD in Ethnic Studies from the University of California-Berkeley she is currently working on a book titled, Insurgent Traditions: Race, Gender, and American Islam 1923–2013 which “reshapes the conversation around what is currently called the racialization of Islam, displacing the racialization of Muslims as a post-9/11 phenomenon, and instead, tracking contemporary the U.S. to the early 20th century and establishing foundational linkages between Islam and blackness.”
Linda Sarsour, co-founder MPower Change and Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York — Brooklyn, New York
Linda Sarsour is a working woman, racial justice and civil rights activist, every Islamophobe’s worst nightmare, and mother of three. Ambitious, outspoken and independent, Linda shatters stereotypes of Muslim women while also treasuring her religious and ethnic heritage. She is a Palestinian Muslim American and a self-proclaimed “pure New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn!” She is the Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York and co-founder of the first Muslim online organizing platform, MPower Change.
Iram F. Ali, Campaign Manager at Moveon.org — Brooklyn, New York
Iram F. Ali is a Pakistani born and Brooklyn raised poet, writer, and digital campaigner. She consistently seeks to center marginalized identities as a pathway to justice and collective liberation through a decolonial and anti-racist lens. Iram is currently a Kairos Fellow at MoveOn.org as a part of the digital campaigning team. She most recently led campaign tactics around the Flint water crisis and worked to provide protest support to various student and immigrant groups as they chose to take a stand against Trump’s hate and bigotry. Before joining MoveOn.org, she was an Associate Director at Iraq Veterans Against the War, a non-profit organization seeking to dismantle U.S. militarism.
Hassan Shibly, Executive Director CAIR — Florida. Orlando, Florida. Issue Areas: Islamophobia, Civil Rights
Hassan Shibly, the son of Syrian immigrants, who was raised in Buffalo New York. During his time in Law School, Hassan served as a Public Interest Law Fellow and on the Human Rights Advisory Committee. He was admitted to the Florida Bar in December 2011. He runs a successful academic publishing company focusing on the traditional Islamic sciences, and is the founder of the Center for American Muslim Understanding. Hassan’s work has earned him the attention of various Islamophobic publications, which criticize Hassan for “deceiving the American People” by “promoting a peaceful and tolerant image of Islam.”
Imam Siraj Wahhaj, Imam Masjid al-Taqwa & Founder of the Muslim American Alliance of North America (MANA). Brooklyn, New York
Imam Siraj Wahhaj is the current Imam of Masjid Al-Taqwa in Brooklyn, New York. He received his training from Ummul Quran University in Mecca and has become a world-renowned speaker on Islam. Imam Wahhaj has been on the ISNA Majlis Ash-Shura since 1987 and has also previously served as ISNA Vice-President. He has been a member of ISNA’s Planning Committee and served as a member of the Board of Advisors for North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) from 1989 to 1993. He is the Amir of the Muslim Alliance of North America (MANA). Imam Siraj has appeared on several national television talk shows and interviews; especially about his anti-drug campaigns in his native Bedford-Stuyvesant. He received high praises from the media and NYPD for initiating his anti-drug patrols in Brooklyn in 1988. Among other achievements, Imam Wahhaj was the first person to give an Islamic invocation to the United States Congress in 1991.
Aber Kawas, Arab American Association of New York — Brooklyn, New York
Aber Kawas graduated in 2014 from The City College of New York’s International Studies Program a concentration Latin American Studies. Aber has interned at CAIR New York, Urban Justice Center’s Street Vendor Project and is now the Youth Lead Organizer at the Arab American Association of New York where she previously worked as a Fellow in 2012 registering over 800 voters with the Verazzano Bridge Coalition. She has worked with several organizations in the city around issues such as immigration, police surveillance, racial profiling, ect. and hopes to work to improve the conditions of immigrants in the New York area by providing programs and services to both them and their children.
Sharmin Sadequee former Director of the Prisoners and Families Committee of the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms
Sharmin Sadequee is an organizer, artist, anthropologist, and a proud sister of a political prisoner who grew up in the US South in a Muslim family from Bangladesh. As an activist and organizer, she has been working with women and families whose loved ones have been unjustly accused and imprisoned in the war on terror.
She is the former Director of the Prisoners and Families Committee of theNational Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms, (NCPCF), where she developed and initiated several innovative national programs and support groups for Muslim prisoners and their families, including National Ramadan Letter Writing Campaign, Ramadan Gift Program and the National Conference of Families of Muslim Prisoners.
Jerusha T. Lamptey, Assistant Professor of Islam and Ministry at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York & Director of the Islam, Social Justice, and Interreligious Engagement Program (ISJIE) — New York, New York
Jerusha T. Lamptey’s research focuses on theologies of religious pluralism, comparative theology, and Muslima theology. Dr. Lamptey’s first book, Never Wholly Other: A Muslima Theology of Religious Pluralism, explores the Qur’anic discourse on religious ‘otherness’. In this book, she draws upon feminist theology and semantic methodology to re-interpret the Qur’anic discourse and challenge notions of clear and static religious boundaries by distinguishing between and illuminating the complexity of multiple forms of religious difference. Her current book project focuses on comparative feminist theology. In this project, she aims to articulate a comparative Muslima(Islamic feminist) theology in conversation with various Christian feminist theologians.
Jamiah Aniece Adams, Campaign Director at MoveOn.org — Washington D.C.
Jamiah Adams produced educational, advocacy and documentary media for the web, television and film. Her consulting work went hand in hand with a keen acumen for social and digital media strategy as she advised organizations on how to augment their presence on the Internet through use of existing web tools; paid advertising and social media. In 2006, Jamiah began producing new media for CBS Entertainment and from there transitioned to a director position with a web media advocacy foundation. She uses her knowledge of production, coupled with executive experience in both the mainstream and digital media to consult for advocacy, faith and policy organizations to improve the lives of working Americans and others who need their cause amplified.
Mujahid Fletcher, Founder of Islam in Spanish — Houston, Texas
Born and raised in Colombia until the age of 8, Mujahid Fletcher migrated with his family to Houston, TX. After a turbulent adolescence filled with gang violence and serious trouble, his parents sent him back to his homeland where Fletcher says his life took a positive turn. He returned two years later to Houston and shortly thereafter was introduced to Islam by a friend. After studying the religion for a year, he embraced Islam, and later founded IslamInSpanish, a non-profit organization which provides Islamic audiovisual products and services in Spanish.
Omid Safi, Professor & Director of the Duke Islamic Studies Center — Durham, North Carolina
Omid Safi is a champion of social justice and religious pluralism in the American Muslim community. Professor Safi is the author of a popular blog on the On Being website and his most recent book, Memories of Muhammad, deals with the biography and legacy of the Prophet Muhammad. He has forthcoming volumes on the famed mystic Rumi, contemporary Islamic debates in Iran, and American Islam.
Alwiyah Shariff, Civic Engagement Coordinator for the Ohio Student Association — Columbus, Ohio
Alwiyah Shariff is the Civic Engagement Director at the Ohio Student Association (OSA). OSA organizes powerful young communities across Ohio through values-based issue & electoral organizing, direct action, and skill building. She has focused her organizing in the past few years around the criminalization and murders of people of color. She currently runs the biggest civic engagement program — aiming to register 20,000 new young voters on 5 campuses across the state.
Moumita Ahmed, Founder of Millennials for Bernie Sanders
Moumita Ahmed is the Founder of Millennials for Bernie Sanders, and a grassroots organizer with People for Bernie Sanders. She has spent years campaigning for progressive democrats in New York, including as deputy field director for Zephyr Teachout, who ran as a progressive challenger to incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo and won 35% of the vote. Moumita was a pivotal leader in the grassroots campaign for Bernie Sanders, founding Millennials for Bernie Sanders, which now has almost 200,000 followers across various social media platforms and reaches nearly 5 million users a week. She also worked for the Working Families Party as a digital organizer on the #WFP4Bernie campaign. Moumita is currently working to continue to organize millennials to engage in politics and take on the establishment with grassroots power.
Naqi Haider, Founder of Muharram in Manhattan — New York, New York
Naqi Haider is founder of Muharram in Manhattan (MIM) initiative which strives to provide inclusive religious programming for the Shia students and professionals in Manhattan, and works in collaboration with the Islamic Center of NYU. He is the founder and Editor of the MIM blog which features original articles from writers from across the United States and Europe. Currently Naqi is working to establish the first Shia Chaplaincy in New York.
Hind Makki, Interfaith Educator — Chicago, Illinois
Hind Makki is an interfaith educator who develops and delivers trainings on civic integration and community empowerment. She is involved in building Muslim-Jewish relationships in Chicago and is an alumna of the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute and is focused on challenging misogyny, racism and sectarianism in Muslim communities across the country.
She is the founder and curator of Side Entrance, a crowd-sourced website that documents women’s prayer experiences in mosques around the world. Hind is also a founding member of MuslimARC, a collective of Muslim activists who develop tools and educational resources to address racism within their communities.
Ahmad Abuznaid, COO & Co-Founder of the Dream Defenders — Miami, Florida
Ahmad Nabil Abuznaid, Esq. is a co-founder of the Dream Defenders and currently serving as its Chief Operating Officer and leading in legal/policy matters. The Dream Defenders are an uprising from communities in struggle committed to shifting the culture through transformational organizing. They are a liberation movement; actively committed to struggling against racial, economic, and sexual oppression.
Ahmad was born in East Jerusalem, Palestine. It was there growing up while living under occupation that he first developed his interest in social justice. Ahmad is a member of the Florida bar in good standing. In 2014 Ahmad advocated before the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the United States Commission on Civil Rights, and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Conference.
Donna Auston, Doctoral candidate in the department of Anthropology at Rutgers University
Her research interests include examinations of race, ethnicity, gender, the body, phenomenology and embodiment, religion, language, media representation, and Islam in America. Her dissertation is an ethnographic exploration of spirituality and protest through an examination of Black Muslim life in the era of Black Lives Matter. She has been researching and writing about the history and experiences of American Muslims for many years, with particular focus on the African American Muslim community. She has a book chapter entitled “Color Me Invisible: The Hidden Legacy of African American Muslims,” which appears in The Black Experience in America, Second Edition (Gayle T. Tate & Edward Ramsamy eds).
Darakshan Raja, Co-Director at the Washington Peace Center — Washington D.C.
Darakshan Raja is from the Bronx with Pakistani roots, and moved to Washington DC in order to impact policy. She is the co-founder of the Muslim American Women’s Policy Forum and serves on the Board for API Domestic Violence Resource Project in DC. Most recently, Darakshan worked with the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center on a range of criminal justice evaluations, including evaluating the Violence Against Women Act and the Texas Juvenile Justice Department’s intervention for addressing sexual violence within state facilities. During college, Darakshan worked for the passage of a comprehensive sexual assault policy at CUNY. As an advocate, Darakshan worked as a rape crisis counselor on a Sexual Assault Response Team. She currently serves on the Advisory Board for a study on the intersection between forced marriage, sexual violence, and domestic violence for South Asian communities.
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Imam Ibrahim Kazerooni, Imam at the Islamic Center of America — Dearborn, Michigan
Imam Ibrahim Kazerooni is the Imam at one of the largest mosques in the United States, the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan. Born in 1958 in the city of Al-Najaf in southern Iraq. Imam Ibrahim was born into a family of theologians and like many generations of his forefather he began his religious studies at an early age and continued them until his life took an unexpected turn. In 1974, he was arrested by Saddam Hussein’s regime. He was imprisoned for more than 5 months. After being released, Ibrahim decided to leave Iraq. He spent few years in the Middle East and traveled to Lebanon, Turkey, and Iran in search of a safe place to stay. While in Iran, he completed his theological studies. Fearful of Iraq’s secret police, he fled to England and began his secular education. He graduated from the Illiff School of Theology in Denver in
Ibrahim has taught Comparative Mysticism, Introduction to Islamic Law & Theology, Qur’anic Exegeses, The History of Hadith, and Islamic History. He has traveled to many countries in pastoral capacity as an Imam for the Muslim communities as well as on lecture tours.
Faiza N. Ali, Liaison to Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito at the NY City Council — New York, New York
Faiza N. Ali is a community organizer, justice activist and diehard Mets fan. She currently works for Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito at the NY City Council serving as a liaison on vital city issues including public safety, youth, criminal justice and Muslim engagement. Faiza is the former Advocacy & Civic Engagement Director at the Arab American Association of NY where she led police and immigration reform campaigns. Prior to joining AAANY, she was an organizer with Brooklyn Congregations United, a faith-based organization seeking to empower grassroots leaders to transform their communities and neighborhoods. True to her organizing spirit deeply rooted in her faith and values, Faiza continues to explore ways to build community power. She played a critical role in the campaign to add two Muslim holidays in New York City public schools, a 10 year struggle, while serving on the steering committee of the Coalition for Muslim School Holidays.
Imam Dawood Yasin, Faculty at Zaytuna College and Founder of Evergreen Soul
Dawood Yasin is a faculty member at Zaytuna College. He grew up hiking and camping and has led Zaytuna students and the general community on many outdoor trips since arriving in the San Francisco Bay Area two years ago. Dawood has trained at the Maine Primitive Skills School, which included training in effective shelter building, water procurement and purification, fire making, aided and aidless forms of navigation, and native awareness skills that increase a person’s “literacy” in the outdoors. He has completed a wilderness training program from the Bay Area Wilderness Training organization, which certified him to lead groups on backcountry backpacking trips. He is currently First Aid and CPR certified and is working on his Wilderness First Aid certification. Dawood is also an accomplished bow hunter and spends time in the backcountry of Colorado pursuing Rocky Mountain elk.
Drost Kokoye, Founding board Member of the American Muslim Advisory Council — Knoxville, Tennessee
Drost Kokoye is a 24 year old who came to the US as a refugee from Halabja in Iraqi-occupied Kurdistan. She is a founding board member with the American Muslim Advisory Council, an organization dedicated to building relationships between Muslim communities and the local, state, and federal government agencies around them. Drost is also a member of Knoxvillians Against Injustice, a group dedicated to connecting marginalized communities across East Tennessee. Drost is currently in law school and hopes to return to the Tennessee State General Assembly upon the completion of her degree to add the legal backing her community needs to push back on the regressive policies that are tested there and then used as a template across the nation.
Ahmed Bedier, Founder of United Voices for America — Washington D.C.
Ahmed Bedier has worked for the past decade as a community organizer, radio show host, human rights advocate, television commentator and interfaith leader. Bedier is the founder of United Voices for America, president of the Human Rights Council of Tampa Bay and serves on the state board of the American Civil Liberties (ACLU) of Florida. For the past five years Ahmed Bedier has co-hosted TrueTalk a global affairs live radio show on Tampa NPR affiliate and community radio station WMNF 88.5fm.
Faatimah Knight — Oakland, California
Faatimah Knight is a faith leader and community activist. In 2015, Faatimah received an honor from the White House, the White House Champions of Change recognition for the initiative Rebuild with Love which sought to bring attention to hate crimes targeting black churches and raise funds to rebuild them at a time of considerable civil unrest. Faatimah lives Oakland with her husband where she writes and plans for the future. Faatimah currently acts as the Religion co-Editor for Sapelo Square, an online publication that explores the intersections of Black Muslim life. She is also a director for Lamppost Education initiative.
Amani al-Khatahtbeh, Founder & Editor in chief of Muslim Girl — New York, New York
Amani al-Khatahtbeh is the founding editor-in-chief of MuslimGirl.com, one of the top Muslim women’s blog in the United States. She regularly provides commentary on social/cultural/political issues to media like CNN, Al Jazeera, and BBC. She speak at events and conferences on civil rights, Middle Eastern politics, women’s and cultural issues, and new media. She is an activist and one of the student organizers that kicked out former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice from Rutgers University in 2014. She has been performing spoken word poetry for five years. Formerly the media relations specialist of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and controversial opinions editor and columnist at The Daily Targum.
Shahid Buttar, Director of Grassroots Advocacy, Electronic Frontiers Foundation — San Francisco, California
Shahid leads EFF’s grassroots and student outreach efforts. He’s a constitutional lawyer focused on the intersection of community organizing and policy reform as a lever to shift legal norms, with roots in communities across the country resisting mass surveillance. Since graduating from Stanford Law School in 2003, Shahid worked in private practice promoting campaign finance reform and marriage equality for same-sex couples, built the communications team at the American Constitution Society for Law & Policy, and founded the program to combat racial & religious profiling at Muslim Advocates. From 2009 to 2015, he led the Bill of Rights Defense Committee as Executive Director. Outside of work, he DJs and produces electronic music, writes poetry & prose.
Three months ago, Shahid launched a network of grassroots organizations, campus groups, and hacker spaces called the Electronic Frontier Alliance. The Alliance includes 24 groups working across 10 states from coast-to-coast to inform and mobilize their neighbors in a variety of ways.
Kevin Marshall, Muslim Civic Engagement Fellow at Faith in Texas — Dallas, Texas
Kevin Marshall is currently the Muslim Civic Engagement Fellow at Faith in Texas, a multifaith movement engaging mainstream faith communities of low to moderate means in the most critical American social justice struggles today: mass incarceration, immigration reform, immoral economy and public education reform. Prior to his work with Faith in Texas, Kevin worked as a union organizer with Texas AFT and as a community organizer with the Texas Organizing Project. Parallel to his work in organizing and civic engagement, Kevin is pursuing academic and traditional Islamic ethical studies under his teacher Khalil Abdur-Rashid. Indeed, the Islamic ethical tradition’s lasting relevance in solving social justice issues is at the forefront of Kevin’s approach to organizing for social justice.
Imam Khalid Latif, Executive Director and Chaplain (Imam) for the Islamic Center at New York University (NYU)
In 2005, Imam Latif was appointed the first Muslim chaplain at NYU. At NYU, Khalid initiated his vision for a pluralistic American Muslim community, rooted on campus and reaching out to the city. In 2006, Imam Latif was appointed the first Muslim chaplain at Princeton University. In 2007, Imam Latif’s position was fully institutionalized at New York University, and so he committed himself to that institution and the building of a Muslim life institution. Today’s Islamic Center is a leader among American Muslim organizations, uniquely shaped to contribute to the future of Muslim practice in the West.
Andrea Ortez, Parent Mentor Statewide Program Director Southwest Organizing Project
Andrea Ortez is a community organizer with the Southwest Organizing Project, where she is currently directing multiple youth initiatives within various elementary schools on the southwest side of Chicago.
Shakeel Syed, Executive Director of the Islamic Shura Council — Anaheim, California
Shakeel Syed is the Executive Director of the Islamic Shura Council, a federation of mosques & Muslim organizations serving more than half a million Muslims in Southern California. Syed also serves as the Vice President of the Board of ACLU-Los Angeles and as a board member of American Muslims for Palestine. Syed is a long time community activist and organizer who has received several awards from community organizations such as the Orange County Labor Federation; OC Human Relations Commission and Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice among others.
Dalia Mogahed, Director of Research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding — Washington D.C.
As director of research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, Dalia Mogahed keeps her finger on the pulse of the Muslim world. She served on Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in 2009, advising the president on how faith-based organizations can help government solve persistent social problems.
Shaykh Omar Suleiman, Director of the Islamic Learning Foundation of Texas & Founder ILMFlix — Dallas, Texas
Shaykh Omar Suleiman is a world-renowned Islamic scholar from New Orleans, Louisiana and a leading advocate in the Muslim community on social justice and racial justice issues. In New Orleans, he served as the Imam of the Jefferson Muslim Association in New Orleans for 6 years and was also the Director of the ICNA Relief Muslims for Humanity Hurricane Katrina Relief effort.
In the year 2012, Imam Omar moved to Dallas where he became the director of the Islamic Learning Foundation of Texas and founded the ILMFlix website and APP which has about 200,000 subscribers worldwide.
Tariq Touré, Founder — CitizenToure — Baltimore, Maryland
Tariq Touré is a Journalist, Poet and Social Justice Advocate born and raised in West Baltimore, Maryland. With a Master’s Degree in Social Work concentrating in Macro practice from Howard University, Touré has paired his renowned creative spirit with lifelong change agency and catapulted himself among the best emerging new millennial thinkers in the world.
In 2014 and 2016 Touré organized the first two annual “Professional Athlete Summits.” Touré is the co-founder of the first Interfaith Rally Against Hate (IRAH). Touré’s debut compilation of poetry, “Black Seeds” was the number one selling book in African American Literature and Poetry in 2016’s Black History Month and is ranked in the top 100 best sellers on Amazon. International Hip Hop artist Black Thought and renowned Baltimore Author D. Watkins have regarded Tariq Touré as the “Amiri Baraka of this era.
Ayisha Irfan, Education, Justice and Policing Policy Analyst at the Office of the Manhattan Borough President — New York, New York
Ayisha Irfan is the Education, Justice and Policing Policy Analyst at the Office of the Manhattan Borough President. Having studied biology at CUNY Brooklyn College during undergrad, her life took an unexpected turn in 2011 when she was moved to action following the revelation of the New York Police Department’s broad Muslim surveillance program. Recognizing that the Muslim community badly needed to build power, and having never heard the words “community organizer” before, she hit the ground running at the Arab American Association of New York, where she was tasked with organizing youth people in Brooklyn around a legislative campaign to curtail the NYPD’s unconstitutional practices, while teaching herself how to organize.
Ayisha is committed to both creating social change on both the individual and systemic level, and in addition to her policy work, she is the co-founder of the Muslim Writers Collective, a grassroots national initiative dedicated to reclaiming the Muslim narrative through story telling.
Shaykh Muhammad Adeyinka Mendes, Founder of Sacred Service — Atlanta, Georgia
Muhammad Adeyinka Mendes was born in the United States and raised in both the US and in Nigeria. At the age of 17, he embraced Islam after a life changing journey to Israel. He and his family reside in Atlanta, Georgia, where he serves as Imam at Masjid al-Mo’mineen (Mosque of the Faithful), a Researcher and Instructor with the DC-based Fawakih Qur’anic Arabic and Islamic Studies Institute, and founding director of Sacred Service, an organization committed to the spiritual healing of humanity and a lived articulation of Islam rooted in the socio-cultural realities of indigenous Americans. He also serves as Director of the Tahfeeth al-Qur’an Program and Chair of Islamic Studies at Mohammed Schools of Atlanta, co-founder of the youth mentorship program, Kombutsu Boys To Men Rites of Passage and is active supporter of Muslim Men Against Domestic Violence and the Bait as-Salaam Network for Homeless Women and Children.
Dr. Maha Hilal, Executive Director of the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms — Washington D.C.
Dr. Maha Hilal is the Executive Director of the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms, an organization dedicated to addressing civil and human rights abuses related to preemptive prosecutions and thoughts crimes in the War on Terror. She is also an Islamophobia consultant for the Team Baluchi Defense Team of the Office of the Chief of Defense, where she supports research on disparities in the legal system that Muslims face. Maha earned her doctorate last May from the Department of Justice, Law and Society at American University in Washington, D.C.
Brother Ali (Ali Newman), Hip Hop Artist — Minneapolis, Minnesota
Brother Ali is a highly respected Hip Hop artist, speaker and activist from Minneapolis, MN. His decade long resume includes six critically acclaimed albums, mentorships with Iconic Hip Hop legends Chuck D and Rakim. Ali has won the hearts and minds of Hip Hop fans world wide with his intimate song writing, captivating live performances and outspoken stance on issues of Justice and Human Dignity. His activism has ranged from his long time involvement in the Imam Warith Dean Muhammad community, to his involvement with the occupy homes movement.
Zehra Naqvi, Lawyer & Founder of the Observeum — New York, New York
Zehra Naqvi was born in Karachi and raised in New York, she’s a lawyer by profession and a “storyteller by soul, and a favorite with TSA for her global wanderings. Always busy, practical, and whimsical, she talks too fast, takes on too much, and looks to humor and writing as a means of making sense of it all.” She is the founder of the Observeum which collects stories and experiences as she goes about her everyday life. Follow the curator on Twitter @TheObserveum.
Terrence Muhammad, Leadership Committee Coordinator for the Hip Hop Caucus National Office — Greensboro, North Carolina
Terence Muhammad was born and raised in Greensboro, NC where he later attended NC A&T State University. This is where he started his journey in community activism/organizing. He is now the Logistics/Leadership Committee Coordinator for the Hip Hop Caucus National office. Mr. Muhammad has been involved in community organizing for over 20 years in areas ranging from economics, education, climate change, police accountability, health, youth issues, and a whole lot more. His work involved educating people young and old on the issues and then organizing and mobilizing them to affect change in policies whether it be through voting or speaking out at public/civic forms.
Jasiri X, Founder 1Hood & 1Hood Media — Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Hip Hop artist and activist Jasiri X is a six time Pittsburgh Hip Hop Award honoree with his finger on the pulse of today’s social justice issues and an international reach. Jasiri continues to gain support for his intelligent and thoughtful commentary through his chosen medium of politically and socially conscious Hip Hop. Not content to simply speak on injustice, Jasiri’s passion inspires him into action. He is deeply involved within national civil rights movements working nationally with The Gathering for Justice, Blackout for Human Rights, Justice or Else, BYP100 and Sankofa and works tirelessly within the local community in Pittsburgh. He is one of the founders of Pittsburgh anti‐violence group 1Hood, which works on a community level to organize and incite change.
Shaykha Muslema Purmul, Co-founder at the Safa Center for Research and Education — Los Angeles, California
Shaykha Muslema Purmul was born in Raleigh, North Carolina and raised in San Diego, California. Her parents are originally from Afghanistan and they came to the US in the early 80s. After graduating from the University of California-San Diego, she left to study in Egypt where she spent the better part of the next 7 years. She completed the bachelor’s program in Sharia from al-Azhar University in Cairo and also completed almost two years of graduate work at the American University in Cairo in Islamic Studies.
Currently she serves the Muslim students at UCLA and USC as a chaplain with Institute of Knowledge and is the Co-Founder and Scholar-in-Residence at Safa Center for Research and Education.
Fatima Salman, President of MSA National — West Bloomfield, Michigan
Fatima Salman is a passionate activist of social justice, Fatima is committed to helping underserved populations and communities achieve their potential through empowerment, advocacy, and involvement. According to Fatima here theory of change is simple, “that when individuals are able to recognize their unique and special potential, and are given a chance to nurture this potential, they will become empowered and able to become effective leaders and create change for themselves and their communities.” She works with ISNA, MYNA and she is also amongst the inaugural fellows for EMERGE-USA. Fatima has recently received a fellowship and been trained with Women’s Media Center’s Progressive Women’s Voices 2016 media and leadership training program.
Kalia Abiade, Advocacy Director at the Center for New Community — Chicago, Illinois
Kalia Abiade is the Advocacy Director at the Center for New Community, which tracks organized racist movements in the United States. She spearheads the organization’s work to equip and mobilize grassroots organizations and national coalitions to challenge discrimination in public discourse, practice and policy, with an emphasis on immigration and national security. Kalia brings to her work more than a decade of experience as a newspaper editor and reporter. She lives with her husband and their three children on Chicago’s South Side.
Hatem Abudayyeh, Executive Director of the Arab American Action Network — Chicago, Illinois
Hatem Abudayyeh is the Executive Director of the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), a community based organization that helps empower Arab Americans and Arab immigrants across Chicagoland through organizing, advocacy, social services, youth development programming, and arts and culture. The son of Palestinian immigrants who themselves were leaders in Chicago’s Arab community, Hatem was born in Chicago and coached varsity basketball and baseball as an administrative assistant at Mather High School before joining the AAAN.
Ras Ceylon , Musician, Educator and Community Organizer— Oakland, California
Ras Ceylon is an educator, organizer and emcee based in Oakland, California. He is the first rapper of Sri Lankan descent to release a Hiphop album and spearheaded the post-civil war “Heal Lanka” movement in his island homeland. With a professional music and education career spanning the past 15yrs, Ras has performed all over the world and has educated/mentored/counseled hundreds of youth in the Bay Area and beyond. His music, education and activism work has always been grounded in social justice. Fully embracing Al Islam about three years ago, Ras is very serious about The Deen, his work as a full time teacher/artist and manager of his wife, Alia Sharrief.
Marya Bangee, Community Organizer — Los Angeles, California
During her undergraduate studies at the University of California Irvine, Marya led several campaigns around issues of social justice and civil liberties. After graduation she led the national advocacy campaign for the Irvine 11, a highly publicized trial of eleven Muslim students who were prosecuted for exercising their freedom of speech in pro-Palestine activism. After UCLA, Marya completed the prestigious Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs, as well as worked as a Community Organizer for the Industrial Areas Foundation, where she organized communities around the Affordable Care Act as well as the LA mayoral campaign.
Dr. Suzanne Barakat & Farris Barakat
Since the tragic killing in North Carolina of the young American Muslims Deah Barakat, Yusor and Razan Abu Salha the Abu Salha and Barakat families have joined together to fight against Islamophobia and discrimination across the United States. Two of the most public voices from these families have been Deah’s sister and brother Suzanne and Farris Barakat. Here is a recent clip from Suzanne Barakat speaking at a rally in San Francisco after the recent killings in Orlando.
Born and raised in Oakland, California, Salih Muhammad has strived to consistently improve the condition of his people. For most of his life, he has been critically engaged in a number organizations, struggles, and movements for the larger purpose of elevating the condition of Black People. In 2009, Salih graduated from the Muhammad University of Islam where he helped to establish a student run coffeehouse. Muhammad was admitted into the University of California, Berkeley, where he excelled as a community leader helping to restart the Black student Union, which he would chair for nearly 2 years. As chair of UC Berkeley’s Black Student Union he made numerous political and social achievements for Black students including hosting the Afrikan Black Coalition Conference — the largest Black Student conference in California. He currently teaches High school students in Oakland, Ca and is the Executive Director of the Afrikan Black Coalition.
Imam Bilal Ansari, Director of Student Life at Zaytuna College — Berkeley, California
Imam Bilal Ansari is a life long community organizer who has worked on both the east and west coasts in faith rooted organizing. Today he serves as the Director of Student Life at Zaytuna College. In this role, he focuses on student leadership development and oversees counseling services, residential life, student activities, student government, and student organizations. He has also served as a prison chaplain in federal and state correctional institutions and has worked as a community organizer in both urban and rural communities. He is currently completing a Doctorate of Ministry degree in Practical Theology from the Pacific School of Religion.
Ndidi Okakpu, Community Development Consultant — Chicago, Illinois
Ndidi A. Okakpu is a consultant in community development and social enterprise with an extensive background in business, nonprofit management , community organizing and relations, and activism. She seeks to cultivate holistic community development backed by strong and sustainable models for growth in marginalized communities and those most in need.
Imam Suhaib Webb
Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American-Muslim educator, activist, and lecturer. His work bridges classical and contemporary Islamic thought, addressing issues of cultural, social and political relevance to Muslims in the West. After converting to Islam in 1992, Webb left his career in the music industry to pursue his passion in education. He earned a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and received intensive private training in the Islamic Sciences under a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. From 2004–2010, Suhaib Webb studied at the world’s preeminent Islamic institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, in the College of Shari`ah.
Mona Haydar, co-founder, Talk to a Muslim — Cambridge, Massachusetts
Mona Haydar is a poet, activist, practitioner of Permaculture, meditator, and mountain girl, solar power lover and a tireless God-enthusiast. She practices a life of sacred activism, poetry, contemplation and advocacy for living gently upon the Earth. She teaches classes and retreats on mindfulness and Islamic spirituality, leads workshops on creative writing and performs her poetry. Her words have found homes in the hearts of seekers, wanderers, poets, artists, lovers and stewards of the Earth. She grew up in Flint, Michigan, graduated from the University of Michigan and has since lived in Damascus where she studied Arabic and Islamic spirituality then went on to live in the mountains of Northern New Mexico at Lama Foundation and in the Redwood forest of Northern California with her husband and son. Mona and her husband, Sebastian set up a stand in Cambridge, Massachusetts with signs that read ‘Talk to a Muslim’ ‘free coffee and donuts’ ‘free conversation’ and ‘Ask a Muslim’ encouraging open and loving dialogue which garnered the attention of NPR, Al Jazeera, The Boston Globe among other media outlets.
Namira Islam, Co-Founder & Executive Director at Muslim ARC — Detroit, Michigan
Namira Islam is a lawyer and graphic designer. She is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of MuslimARC, the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative. She has practiced in poverty law providing legal services to low-income individuals in Flint, Michigan. She has also worked on prisoners’ rights litigation and interned at the trial and appellate levels in international criminal law and war crimes for the United Nations in The Hague, The Netherlands. Her legal background includes research on the UN Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training with a focus on racism.
Su’ad Abdul Khabeer, Assistant Professor of Anthropology/ African American Studies & Senior Editor, Sapelo Square — Chicago, Illinois
Su’ad Abdul Khabeer is a scholar, artist, and activist who uses anthropology and performance to explore the intersections of race and popular culture. Her latest book is, “Muslim Cool: Race, Religion and Hip Hop in the United States(NYU Press 2016), is an ethnography on Islam and hip hop that examines how intersecting ideas of Muslimness and Blackness challenge and reconstitute US racial orders.”
Ishraq Ali is a community organizer who has worked in faith based organizing, online organizing and environmental activism on both coasts of the United States. He got his start in grassroots work thru MAS Boston, then organized with the IAF affiliate DuPage United, came back to NY and organized with New York Communities for Change on non partisan GOTV campaigns, tenant organizing, foreclosures and school reform issues.
Ishraq is currently learning LA’s progressive landscape with the New Leaders Council. He also works closely with the youth group committee of the Muslim Umma of North America in Koreatown and the Zawiya Perspective in Orange County.
Shahana Hanif, Community Organizer, Tenants Rights Activist, Language Justice Advocate — Brooklyn, New York
Shahana Hanif is a Brooklyn-born Bangladeshi performance artist, storyteller, disability justice activist, and community organizer rooted in immigrant rights and representation, affordable housing, and language access. She spearheaded CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities’ public housing organizing program through which she builds grassroots community power of low-income, limited English proficient, immigrant Bangladeshi, Korean, and Chinese tenants. Shahana has developed a Bangla social justice language bank resource guide used by Bengali youth and those working with Bangladeshi immigrants.
Mark Gonzales, C0-Founder of the New Medina & the Center for Narative Storytelling — Oakland, California
Mark Gonzales is a global social innovator and impact educator who has spent his first four decades exploring five continents and 20+ countries from a policy and every-day-people perspective. He has taught at Stanford, designed capacity trainings for the United Nations, directed a non-profit for youth violence prevention and conflict resolution, and coached leaders at professional pivot points in their life. Most recently he worked to found the New Medina in Sousse, Tunisia which is a co-working space, story lab and community center. He also recently published his first book, In Times of Terror, Wage Beauty.
Laila Abdelaziz, Legislative and Government Affairs Director CAIR-Florida — Orlando, Florida
Laila Abdelaziz is responsible for advancing CAIR Florida’s mission and vision in Florida’s municipal, county, and state governments. Her focus is to establish better understanding and stronger relationships between Florida’s Muslim American community and the elected leaders who represent and serve them. Laila prides herself in being a community organizer and is involved in various community and political organizations and campaigns. She enjoys reading and reflective writing and has been published in various state and national news outlets and publications. She was born in Ramallah, Palestine to a Palestinian father and Russian mother and raised in Baltimore, Maryland.
Imam Jihad Saafir is the Imam of Masjid Ibaadillah in Los Angeles, California. In 2006 Jihad was given the enormous task of assisting his father with overseeing religious affairs at Masjid Ibaadillah. In following the direction led by his father, Jihad Saafir began the “Ibaadillah Weekend Institute”. He conducts weekly classes for men, women, and children, teaching the sciences of Tajweed, Spoken Arabic, Classical Arabic, and Fiqh. Currently, Jihad attends National University where he is enrolled in the Arabic program and is expected to graduate with a bachelors of art in Arabic Studies in 2011. He is a Muslim Chaplain at the California Institution for Women. He is also an Imam at Masjid At-Taqwa in Pasadena, CA.
Rasha Mubarak, Orlando Regional Coordinator for the Council on American Islamic Relations of Florida — Orlando, Florida
Rasha Mubarak is a Palestinian-American Muslim community activist and leader. Mubarak serves as the Orlando Regional Coordinator for the Council on American Islamic Relations of Florida leading communications, fundraising and Know Your Rights presentations. Mubarak is also the Director of Public Relations for the Muslim Women’s Organization of Florida.
Dustin Craun, Founder Ummah Wide, Salaam Bank, & Co-Founder MPower Change — Berkeley, California
Dustin Craun is one of the co-founders of MPower Change & the Founder of Ummah Wide, a digital media and film production startup telling stories that transcend the borders of global communities. He is a social innovator, writer, digital strategist, community organizer, and educator. His writings on race, philosophy, and Islamic studies have been published in academic journals and popular publications. He has worked in community organizing and community institution building for the last fifteen years with organizations such as the PICO National Network and Zaytuna College.
Khaled Beydoun, Professor of Law, Barry University — Detroit, Michigan
Khaled A. Beydoun joined the Barry University School of Law as an Assistant Professor in Fall 2014. He is one of the nation’s foremost experts on the legal construction of Arab and Muslim American identity, and discrimination, profiling and policing targeting both groups. Before joining Barry Law, Professor Beydoun taught at the UCLA School of Law, and practiced in the areas of civil rights, criminal defense, and international law. Professor Beydoun’s scholarship focuses on the intersection of race, religion and national security, with an acute emphasis on Criminal and Immigration law. His pioneering scholarship on Arab and Muslim-American identity has facilitated greater understanding of these two populations.
Shaykh Yasir Qadhi, Resident Scholar at the Memphis Islamic Center & Professor of Religious Studies at Rhodes College
Shaykh Yasir Qadhi is one of the few people who has combined a traditional Eastern Islamic seminary education with a Western academic training of the study of Islam. Shaykh Yasir graduated with a B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Houston, after which he was accepted as a student at the Islamic University of Madinah. After completing a diploma in Arabic, he graduated with a B.A. from the College of Hadith and Islamic Sciences, and then completed a M.A. in Islamic Theology from the College of Dawah. He then returned to America, and completed a PhD in Religious Studies from Yale University.
He has authored several books, published academic articles, and appeared on numerous satellite and TV stations around the globe. His online videos are of the most popular and highly-watched Islamic videos in English. Shaykh Yasir Qadhi is a resident Scholar of the Memphis Islamic Center. He is also a professor at Rhodes College, in the Department of Religious Studies.
Zulfat Suara, Chair American Muslim Advisory Council — Bolivar, Tennessee
Zulfat Suara has contributed to her community as a cultural role-model and activist. She has served in organizations such as the Business and Professional Women of Tennessee, Inc., Women’s Day on the Hill, and the Tennessee Women’s Political Caucus. She has also served as President of the Junior Achievement program, an economic education platform for Hardeman County. In 2015 she was inducted into the Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame.
Umar Hakim, Executive Director of Systems for Human Empowerment — Los Angeles, California
Umar Hakim is a community builder in the Los Angeles community, as Executive Director for Systems for Human Empowerment, which is a 501c3 organization based in South Los Angeles. Their mission “is to teach life skills to economically underprivileged youth and adults so that social ills are replaced with opportunities for intellectual and economic empowerment.”
Yusufi Vali, Executive Director of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center — Boston, Massachusetts
Since 2012 Yusufi Vali has served as the executive director of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center. For the previous three and a half years, he was a community organizer with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO). At GBIO, his most blessed moments included working with parents and teachers at the Dearborn Middle School in Roxbury to win a commitment of a $50 million renovation and working with Greater Boston Muslim community to organize the first-ever public meeting at an Islamic Center between the Massachusetts governor and 1,200 Muslims in May 2010.
Sohail Daulatzai, Associate Professor Film, Media Studies, and African American Studies at University of California-Irvine — Los Angeles, California
Sohail Daulatzai works at the intersection of a number of worlds — activism, academia, film but all rooted in decolonial politics. Born at the Af-Pak border and raised in L.A. near the U.S-Mexico border, Sohail Daulatzai writes about race, culture, and politics. He has written liner notes for the 2012 release of the 20th Anniversary Deluxe Box Set of Rage Against the Machine’s self-titled debut album, as well as the DVD liner notes to the award-winning documentary Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme, and the centerpiece for the exhibit catalog Movement: Hip-Hop in L.A., 1980-Now.
Sohail is the co-editor of Born to Use Mics: Reading Nas’s Illmatic, and is the author of Black Star, Crescent Moon: The Muslim International and Black Freedom beyond America. Most recently he curated the gallery show and accompanying book, Return of the Mecca: The Art of Islam & Hip Hop. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Film and Media Studies and the Program in African American Studies at the University of California, Irvine. He currently lives in Los Angeles and is working on a graphic novel.
Stephen Jamal Leeper, Ethnic Studies Middle School Teacher, San Francisco Unified School District — Oakland, California
Stephen Jamal Leeper is a writer, educator, and organizer. Above all, he is a believer, he believes in the power of words, of pedagogy, and of dreaming. A dream was realized when his principal asked him to develop the first ever middle school Ethnic Studies program in San Francisco Unified School District. In 2014 he created and implemented the pilot curriculum. Units of study range from an investigation into the evolution of policing from slave patrols to an examination of the life cycles of social movements from past to present. The inquiry based approach to the class has students analyzing case studies such as Michael Brown and the Ferguson uprising and the DREAMers Movement. Stephen Jamal is also a member of the district’s Ethnic Studies Working group which was tasked with common core aligning the existing high school Ethnic studies curriculum.
Reema Ahmad, Executive Director — Project Mobilize — Chicago, Illinois
Reema Ahmad is a community organizer with experience in political, electoral, and issue-based campaigns. She collaborated with community leaders to co-found Project Mobilize, a political action organization dedicated to increasing civic participation and representation from politically marginalized communities across Chicago and surrounding suburbs. Ahmad later joined Asian Americans Advancing Justice — Chicago, where she managed the Pan-Asian Voter Empowerment Coalition of 13 social service community-based organizations.
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