“A Way Forward: A New Mind for A New People”
A Historical Perspective on The Ministry of Imam W. Deen Mohammed
Presented by American Islamic College and Study Al-Islam
Conference: Saturday, September 24, 2022
8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Conference (check-in begins at 7:00 a.m.)
Welcome: American Islamic College
Opening Prayer: Imam Omar Abdul Karim
Opening Remarks: Imam Faheem Shuaibe
Session 1: Al-Islam in America – A Struggle for Preservation and Restoration of Humanity
“And what is [the matter] with you that you fight not in the cause of Allah and [for] the oppressed among men, women, and children who say, ‘Our Lord, take us out of this city of oppressive people and appoint for us from You a protector and appoint for us from You a helper’?” (Qur’an 4:75)
Provide a historical overview of the struggle of enslaved Africans and their descendants as “Strangers In A Strange Land” to assert and restore their humanity and their religious identity for the emergence of Al-Islam in America.
Moderator: Imam Tariq El-Amin
-Imam Zaid Shakir – “The Black Atlantic Experience”
-Dr. Edward E. Curtis IV – “An Overview of 20th Century Self-Identified Muslim Communities and Organizations, amongst African Americans”
-Ayesha K. Mustafaa – ‘The teachings of Mr. Fard Muhammad and The Hon. Elijah Muhammad (ra) to “Re-Educate the So-Called Negro” with a Hybrid Islam”
Session 2: A Cultural and Psychological Hijra: Spiritual Migration from the 1st to the 2nd Resurrections
None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten but We substitute something better or similar; Do you not know that G’d has power over all things? Do you not know that to G’d belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth! And besides Him ye have neither patron nor helper. (Qur’an 2:106-107)
In February 1975, Imam W. Deen Mohammed (ra) was unanimously chosen as the next leader of the NOI upon the passing of his father, the Hon. Elijah Muhammad (ra). Soon after stepping into leadership, Imam Mohammed began fortifying his independence and laying the groundwork to distinguish his leadership and vision as A Way Forward. He shifted the thinking of his followers through developmental stages by making noticeable changes such as establishing his beliefs upon the authority of the Qur’an and elevating the status of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him/PBUH), ending the concept of man being G’d, changing the name of the organization and the Muhammad Speaks Newspaper, renaming Ministers as “Imams”, and replacing the image of the star and crescent on the flag with an open Qur’an.
During this transitional period, the followers from “the 1st Resurrection” bore cumbersome responsibilities (may Allah reward them for their sacrifices). They were holding together a movement in motion, parenting families with 2nd, 3rd and even 4th generations of ambitious and educated young Muslims who were born into this new ideology and struggling to meet the demand of Islamic scholarship that was needed to advance the new thinking.
Moderator: Dr. Aisha El-Amin
-Dr. Nasir Ahmad – “Turn Your Face Towards Another Qiblah: Identify the Markers on the Journey of Development Made by the Members”
-Imam Darnell Karim – “From Ministers to Imams: Challenges, Successes, and Failures”
-Imam Siraj Wahhaj – “Freedom of Expression and Independent Thinking: Reflections on My Personal Journey as an Imam under the Leadership of Imam W. Deen Mohammed”
Session 3: A New People In America, The Muslim African American
“And We made a people considered weak (and of no account) inheritors of lands in both East and West – Lands whereon we sent down our blessings..” (Qur’an 7:137)
Imam Mohammed said: “It is genetic; al-Islam laid dormant for hundreds of years to now burst forth as a new growth, creating a new people – the Muslim African Americans.” He understood human development from studying the Qur’an, the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and “old world” established Muslim civilizations in Africa and the Middle East. He came to realize that African “Blacks” – descendants of an enslaved people – developed in America, nearly 9000 miles away from their homeland in Africa were a new social group, a “new people” essentially with a new mind, and new sensitivities which were developed by their common experiences of enslavement.
Moderator: Omar Yamini
-Precious Rasheeda Muhammad: – “Twelve Year Retrospect: Lessons learned from Imam W.D. Mohammed’s (ra) Year 2000 Harvard University Keynote Address on Al-Islam in America”
-Dr. Fatimah Fanusie: “The Pioneering Work of Imam W. Deen Mohammed (ra) A Blueprint for Human Excellence in America”
-Imam Al-Hajj Talib’Abdur-Rashid – “What’s My Name? The Historical Identity Search of Muslim Americans of African Descent”
Session 4: Then Came the Test – Enhancement of Our Knowledge of the Religion of Al-Islam
“So high [above all] is Allah, the Sovereign, the Truth. And, [O Muhammad], do not hasten with [recitation of] the Quran before its revelation is completed to you, and say, “My Lord, increase me in knowledge.” (Qur’an 20:114)
Imam W. Deen Mohammed (ra) inherited the largest Muslim community in the US and managed to lead in faith and practice, a spiritual migration of his community from a hybrid form of Islam to a more mainstream Islam that connected his followers to Muslims across the globe. He believed his followers were positioned by virtue of circumstances to develop their own unique understanding of Islam.
Imam W. Deen Mohammed (ra) required his community to study the Qur’an in its revealed original language Arabic, study and follow the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), who lived some 1400 years ago. He established Islamic learning opportunities to ensure that the future generations would continue in the direction that the movement was headed and envisioned by its leader, Imam W. Deen Mohammed (ra).
Moderator: Keyal Pebbles-Abdullah
-Aneesah Dawan: “The Ministry of Imam W. Deen Mohammed on Creating Educational Opportunities for Women to Understand and Translate the Qur’an in Its Revealed Language”
-Imam Wazir Ali: “The Ministry of Imam W. Deen Mohammed (ra) Amplified the Study of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as a Pathway to Understanding the Qur’an and Connecting to the Muslim World”
-Imam Rashad Abdul-Rahmaan: “The Unique Tafsir of Imam W. Deen Mohammed on the Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Its Influence on Muslim Americans’ World Views, Civic Responsibility, and Interfaith Relations”
Session 5: Give Me a Good Life – Claiming Our Inheritance
“And of them are those who say ‘Our Lord give us good in this world and good in the Hereafter, and save us from the torment of the Fire'” (Qur’an 2:201)
Imam W. Deen Mohammed (ra) was born and raised in the Nation of Islam (NOI). His parents, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad (ra) and Sister Clara Muhammad (ra), included in his formal education the Holy Qur’an as the primary source of study. Imam W. Deen Mohammed (ra) believed that the Qur’an was a “living book” as revealed to Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), and that unlocking the proper understanding of scripture would aid his people, the descendants of enslaved Africans, in their continued struggle for liberation. Imam W. Deen Mohammed (ra) coined the phrases “Words Make People” and “Man means Mind” — placing emphasis on spiritual thought, language, and intellectual understanding when explaining the Qur’an within the context of the unique experiences of Muslim African Americans. This unique interpretation of the Qur’an is what his students today refer to as the tafsīr of Imam W. Deen Mohammed (ra). His leadership has produced intergenerational Islamic scholars and leaders in all fields of knowledge, which he described in scriptural language as the 4 birds: education, government, business and cultural (he used cultural and religion interchangeably). Imam W. Deen Mohammed (ra) received notoriety and acceptance from world Muslim leaders, Pope John Paul II, and high-ranking government officials.
How will Imam W. Deen Mohammed (ra) be remembered by the Muslim African-Americans, the Muslim world, and in history?
Moderator: Imam Makram El-Amin
-Dr. Rashad Ali – “New Madinah – An Exemplary Approach to Imam Mohammed’s (ra) Emphasis on, and Vision of, Community Life”
-Imam Muhammad Abdul-Aleem – “Imam W. Deen Mohammed (ra) and the Promise of the U.S. Constitution”
-Imam Yahya Abdullah – “From Nation to Community – Imam W. Deen Mohammed’s (ra) Vision for “A Way Forward” and Its Consistency with the Qur’an as Exemplified by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)”
6:00-6:20 p.m. Reflections: Laila Muhammad, Daughter of Imam W. Deen Mohammed (ra)
6:20-6:40 p.m. Imam Talib Shareef: “Thee Global Influence of the Ministry of Imam W. Deen Mohammed”
6:40-7:00 p.m. Closing comments by American Islamic College (AIC)
7:00 p.m. Acknowledgements by Fitrah Muhammad, Executive Producer of Study Al-Islam
Speakers & Moderators
Imam Zaid Shakir is amongst the most respected and influential Muslim scholars in the West. Born in Berkeley, California, the second of seven children, he accepted Islam in 1977 while serving in the United States Air Force. He went on to obtain a BA sigma cum laude in International Relations at American University in Washington D.C. and later earned his MA in Political Science at Rutgers University.
Dr. Edward E. Curtis IV is a publicly engaged scholar of Muslim American, African American, and Arab American history and life. His thirteen books have been called “essential,” “exemplary,” “approachable,” “groundbreaking,” “must-read,” “wonderful,” and “a model of clarity.”
Professor Ayesha K. Mustafaa has been the editor of Muslim Journal weekly newspaper since January 1989. She is a graduate of Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Penn., with a BA Degree and Double Major in Psychology and Political Science. She has a Master’s Degree in Journalism from Columbia College of Chicago, IL. She traveled with delegations led by Imam W. Deen Mohammed to Saudi Arabia, to Jerusalem and the West Bank, and there met Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat. She presented at the 3-day International Media Conference, hosted by the Focolare Movement’s NetOne Media Group held in Rome, Italy, in 2004, with 800 participants from over 20 countries. She is the third woman editor of the nearly 47-year-old newspaper and its longest tenured editor. Since moving to Jackson, she has worked as editor of The Mississippi Link weekly newspaper, now serving as one of its contributing writers. In 2015, she joined the Tougaloo College Mass Communications Department faculty as an assistant professor after two years as an adjunct professor. She is a board member of the International Museum of Muslim Cultures and advisory member of The Mississippi Free Press.
Dr. Nasir Ahmad is Resident Imam of Masjid Al Ansar Miami, Florida, Director of Schools, and was Personal Assistant to Imam W. Deen Mohammed. He is coordinator for State of Imams, Florida and Assistant Regional Imam for the Southeastern United States.
Imam Darnell Karim is a childhood friend to Imam W. Deen Mohammed and Muslim for more than seventy four years, his entire education was attained under the direction of The University of Islam/Clara Muhammad School systems. Imam Darnell began his studies in the Arabic Language and Islamic studies at the age of eleven. The most well-known of his instructors was Professor Jamil Diab for more than ten (10) years. Professor Diab, an Azhar University graduate located in Cairo Egypt. He continued his studies under the Leadership of Imam W. Deen Mohammed, and became an Instructor of Islamic Studies and Arabic language at the Clara Muhammad School from 1976 to 1987. He frequently travelled to many Masajid (Islamic Centers) throughout the United States to instruct Muslim adults in Islamic studies and the Arabic Language. Imam Karim’s recitation of the Holy Quran is considered equal to native born Arabic speakers with the highest spiritual quality.
Imam Siraj Wahhaj is currently the Imam of Masjid Al-Taqwa in Brookyn, New York. Imam Wahhaj is well known among Muslims in North America as a dynamic speaker and tireless supporter of Islamic causes. He received Imam training at Ummul Qura University of Makkah in 1978 and has gone on to become a national and international speaker on Islam. Imam Wahhaj has been Vice President of ISNA U.S. since 1997 and has served on Majlis Ash-Shura since 1987. He is a past member of ISNA’s Planning Committee and has served as a member of the Board of Advisors for NAIT from 1989-1993. He is also a member of the Board of Advisors for the American Muslim Council.He has appeared on several national television talk shows and interviews especially about his anti-drug campaigns. He received high praises from the media and NYPD for initiating anti-drug patrol in Brooklyn, New York in 1988. Imam Wahhaj was the first person to give an Islamic invocation to the United States Congress.
Precious Rasheeda Muhammad (a.k.a. “The History Detective”) is an independent scholar, author, lecturer, and researcher widely recognized for her original research contributions to the study of Islam’s growth and development in America. Her contributions can be found in academic journals, newspapers, magazines, encyclopedias, exhibits, award-winning books; on CNN.Com and NPR; at the Smithsonian; on podcasts, such as The Universal Title: Muhammad Ali’s Spiritual Journey, for which she served as an executive producer and principal writer; and more. Precious also brings decades of commitment to interfaith work, including significant roles in planning and implementing the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions program held in Melbourne, Australia. For her community-building work, in the academic community and beyond, Coe College awarded Precious an honorary doctorate in 2010. For those contributions and helping change the way that Harvard University looks at Islam, as an area of study, Precious earned the special honor of becoming a Harvard Divinity School Bicentennial Peter J. Gomes STB ‘68 Honoree in 2017. Her personal and professional motto is “Building community through history.” She lives in Virginia with her husband and two daughters.
Dr. Fatimah Fanusie is a historian of 19th and 20th century American religion whose research is an evolving reappraisal of the study of African American Islam and the modern Civil Rights Movement. Dr. Fanusie is currently the Program Director of the Justice Leaders Fellowship at the Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies in Towson MD, the Lead Historian and archivist for the Howard Thurman Historical home in Daytona Beach, Florida, and Lecturer in the Islamic Studies department at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Fanusie’s publications include the article “Ahmadi, Beboppers, Veterans and Migrants: African-American Islam in Boston, 1948-1963”, ed. Ted Trost and Wilson J. Moses, The African Diaspora and the Study of Religion, 2008 and other short reference articles. Dr. Fanusie received her BA in History and Arabic from Lincoln University, her MA in American History from Tufts University, and PhD in American History from Howard University.
Imam Al-Hajj Talib’Abdur-Rashid is the Senior Imam of The Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood Inc. (Harlem, NYC). He has served as a Muslim leader and teacher for more than three decades in various positions of responsibility – including the founding Deputy Ameer of MANA (the Muslim Alliance in North America), Ameer of the Majlis Ash-Shura ( Islamic Leadership Council) of New York, and currently as the chairman of The Association of African American Imams (NYC).
Aneesah Dawan serves in leadership capacities locally and nationally as Director of Government Shuraa at the Islamic Center for Human Excellence in Little Rock, Arkansas, Assistant Director of Public Affairs with the Community Wide Shuraa Conference, board member and youth facilitator for Kamp Khalil, Inc., lecturer for the Islamic Learning Institute, member of the Progressive Leadership Legacy Association, and lecturer for Study Al-Islam National Broadcast. She has a post-secondary education in the areas of Philosophy & Religious Studies from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and Criminal Justice at the University of Houston-Downtown. Aneesah studied Arabic and Islamic Studies at Abu Nour University in Damascus, Syria, obtaining a 2-year Arabic language certification. Aneesah’s early Islamic and Arabic education came from the scholarships of Imam W. D. Mohammed, Imam Darnell Karim and studied Arabic and the science of tajweed came under the tutelage of Imam Qasim Ahmed. Aneesah has utilized her knowledge of Quran, the life of Muhammed the Prophet (saw), and the tafsir of Imam W. D. Mohammed to provide leadership training courses in Little Rock, Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee.
Dr. Wazir Ali is the Imam of the historic Masjid Warithud-Deen Mohammed and Masjid Al-Qur’an in Houston, Texas. Both communities have experienced unprecedented growth under Imam Dr. Ali’s leadership. Masjid Warithud-Deen Mohammed built a new state of the art facility in 2010 and is in the planning stages of the construction of a community center and a senior housing complex. Imam Dr. Ali is a founding member of Masjid Al-Qur’an. Under Imam Dr. Ali’s leadership, the average weekly Jum’ah attendance grew from 10 to over 500. Dr. Ali completed an eight-year mentorship program in Islamic Studies, comparative religion and Masjid administration under the guidance of Imam Qasim Ahmed. Imam Ali is also a student of the preeminent American Muslim scholar, the late Imam W. Deen Mohammed (may Allah have mercy on him). Imam Ali holds a Doctorate degree in clinical nutrition from Rutgers University, a Master of Science degree in kinesiology from the University of Texas Pan American, and Bachelor of Science degrees in nutrition and psychology from the University of Houston.
Imam Rashad Abdul-Rahmaan studied under Imam W. Deen Mohammed “The Mosque Care Youth Dawah Program” from 2003-2007. He continued his studies in Philosophy and Comparative Religious Studies at Northern Illinois University and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee from 2007-2009 and Studied Islamic Studies at Medina Institute in 2018. From 2009-2015 he served as the Assistant Imam and Assistant Director of Education at Clara Mohammed School at Masjid Sultan Mohammed (Milwaukee, WI). From 2018-2019 he served as the Assistant Director of Education at Mohammed Schools of Atlanta (Atlanta, GA). He currently serves as the Assistant Imam of the Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam and is the Founder and Director of The Institute of Qur’an Study and Leadership, an institute formed for the advanced study of Al-Islam based upon the language and commentary of Imam W. Deen Mohammed (2020-present). He has recently published “The Message of Al-Islam” and “The Foundations of Al-Islam”.
Rashad N. Ali, MD, JD is one of the Principle Founders of an Islamic Community in Mississippi named New Medinah. For more than 35 years, he has worked to bring this vision into the true reality of a viable Municipality rooted on the premise of the Oneness of God, unlike any other municipality in this country. Dr. Ali continues to demonstrate his concerns for Community Development and Community Life by collaborating with various multi-racial, multi-religious, for-profit and non-profit organizations that are interested in striving to sustain clean, healthy, and wholesome living environments, “Environments that make it easy to remember the Creator.” Dr. Ali is a 16-year US Air Force Veteran and a board-certified OB-GYN Physician with additional training in Internal Medicine and Emergency Medicine. He is an attorney that examines and testifies in medical malpractice cases. Also, he has a Business Management Degree from UCLA Anderson School of Business. He frequently travels nationally and internationally seeking opportunities to improve healthcare, develop business relationships, and promote community development, as well as addressing various humanitarian issues. Dr. Ali remains enthusiastic about utilizing his education and training as dawah tools to propagate Islam as presented by his leader and teacher, Imam W. Deen Mohammed.
Imam Muhammad Abdul-Aleem has been involved with on-going Islamic projects since his early conversion to Al-Islam in 1968. In 1968, he also began the development of the five-volume concordance to the Holy Quran. This project has molded his Islamic character and provided a framework for his later work as an Imam. He attended the Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University of Saudi Arabia in 1977, and spent two years studying Arabic Language, Islamic law, and Quranic studies. Afterwards, Imam Abdul-Aleem returned to Philadelphia, where he earned a graduate degree in secondary education, with concentrations in physics and environmental science.
Imam Yahya Abdullah is the Imam of Masjid Muhammad in Jacksonville, Florida founded in 2016. He was Imam of the Islamic Association of Desoto, Texas founded in 2002 and Imam of the Dallas Masjid for 18 years where he established a full-time Sister Clara Mohammed school in 1983. Imam Abdullah was a personal friend of Imam Mohammed (ra), his business partner, and they successfully imported 2,000 high quality men’s wool suits from China. He attended the Arabic language program at the Saudi Academy in Washington, DC in 1987 where he was class valedictorian. Imam Abdullah was a presenter at the annual Dawah conference held in Cairo, Egypt at the Al-Azhar University. In 1988, he co-produced a nationally aired documentary, The Hajj Pilgrimage to Mecca. In the same year, he founded African American Men Against Narcotics (AAMAN), a group dedicated to drug prevention and rehabilitation and was also featured in a nationally acclaimed documentary on PBS entitled War on Drugs. The author of four books: Elements of Progressive Leadership, Dynamics of African-American Male Development – Manhood Training Curriculum Outline, Religion is the Solution to the Crime Problem in America and Developing The Human Potential. Imam Abdullah is a frequent lecturer throughout the United States and the Caribbean at colleges, universities, radio/television stations and banquets.
Imam Omar Abdul Karim believes in empowering human life through the pursuit of faith and good works. He is the Executive Director of the nonprofit Ephraim Bahar Cultural Center (EBCC). He majored in computer science and then returned to his roots in Al-Islam conducting community work servicing the spiritual and social needs of the Muslim community and the local community residents. He became an active member and volunteer at Masjid Al Mu’minun and then became an Islamic Studies teacher and the Dawah coordinator. As the Dawah coordinator Imam Omar Abdul Karim helped to establish Masjid Al Mu’minun’s first social justice parade called “The Walk for Moral Excellence” in 1993. As a practicing Muslim and a dedicated professional, his goal is to create programs through the EBCC that can motivate and inspire future generations.
Imam Dr. Mikal Ramadan has been a member of this community since 1962 when his family joined the Nation of Islam. He has practiced full-time emergency medicine for over 40 years. Dr. Ramadan and his family moved to Chicago in 1975 after a private meeting which he had with Imam WD Mohammed in the National House in Hyde Park. In 1975 he served as the national committee coordinator under Imam W D Mohammed. In 1977 he served as the Director of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad Memorial health facilities corporation. He served as the Resident Imam of Masjid Al-Taqwa for 14 years until deciding not to seek ratification in 2013, at which point he was succeeded by current Resident Imam, Tariq I. El-Amin. Dr. Ramadan is the co-founder of the Muslim Health Consortium (MHC) and continues to teach Al Islam as student of Imam W.D. Mohammed.
Imam Faheem Shuaibe is Resident Imam of Masjidul Waritheen in Oakland, California for 38 years. Faheem is a lifelong student Of Imam W. Deen Mohammed (ra). He is the founder of M.A.R.I.A.M. (Muslim American Research Institute Advocating Marriage), A Clear Understanding Institute and The Sacred Life Project (A public language codification project focused on the language, logic, and legacy of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed (ra)). Along with other African American scholars (e.g., Asa Hilliard, Iyanla Van Zant, Dr. Na’im Akbar, et. al.) Imam Faheem Shuaibe has been inducted into the African American Intellectual Royal Family by the Institute for the Advance Study of Black Family Life and Culture. He is a frequent lecturer at Cal Berkeley’s “Holy Hill” for the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) which trains doctoral and post-doctoral students of Philosophy, Theology and Interfaith and American Baptist Seminary of the West. Faheem consults and advises large and small companies and organizations, including The Commonwealth Club of San Francisco CA, AT&T; Chiron Corporation of Emeryville CA, University of California, Yale University’s School of Law, Howard University, Fordham University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Princeton University, New York University, University of Washington in St. Louis, Xavier University, Buffalo State College and many more. He is an Netreprenuer and hosts 5 weekly Blogtalk Radio broadcasts, and under his Clear Understanding Broadcasts; “Wealth Creation and Preservation, “All Things Human”; Universal Dimensions of Leadership; and The Qur’an Salat Institute. His lectures are also broadcasted 24/7 on aclearunderstanding.institute and Vimeo.com. Author of “The Clear Path to Human Development: Human Science in Scriptural Language” and “The Reality Of Our Sacred Human Nature: Our Origins and Our Destiny” which premiered as the #1 new release in Religious Philosophy on Amazon.
Laila Muhammad is an educator, advocate, storyteller and a certified reiki practitioner. She is the daughter and 1st born to Imam W. Deen Mohammed and Sister Shirley Muhammad. Laila Muhammad is a fifth generation African American Muslim. She was born in Philadelphia, PA, raised in Chicago, IL and is now living in Roselle, NJ. She graduated from the University of Islam school, now known as the Sister Clara Muhammad School System. Currently, Laila works with a team of educators on curriculum and policy for the eighty-five-year-old private education system. Laila holds a degree in Child Development
In 2008, she organized the program, “A Shared Memory,” for the purpose of bringing diverse people together into a shared freedom space, to share past, present and future collective and individual life experiences. At present, A Shared Memory is often requested with traveling historical exhibits and an annual conference that brings together like minds to reflect on and to explore the language of Imam W. Deen Mohammed. Laila has published two books of poetry, Sharing and Life is a Cup to be Filled, and has several new publications forthcoming. She invites you to visit her website.
Imam Dr. Talib M. Shareef is President and Imam of the historic Masjid Muhammad, The Nation’s Mosque, in Washington, D.C. He retired from the U.S. Air Force with 30+ years of service; he has a Doctorate Degree from Global Oved Dei Seminary and University, an MBA from American Intercontinental University, a Diploma from the Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University, and the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center and he is a student of the late Imam W.D. Mohammed. Under the high patronage of His Majesty Mohammed VI, the King of Morocco, Imam Shareef received the Kingdom’s highest Royal Medal and honor for his outstanding interfaith leadership. Chosen to speak, stand with, and introduce President Biden for the Eid reception at the White House representing Muslim Americans. He was also honored to sit with and be recognized for his service by President Obama at the White House. He was the first Imam with military service to open a session of the U.S. Congress with prayer. He facilitated interfaith peacebuilding, religious freedom, human rights, and preventing terrorism forums in the countries of Denmark, S. Korea, Uzbekistan, Nigeria, South America, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Germany, Philippines, Palestine, Israel, and N. Ireland.
Imam Tariq El-Amin holds a Master of Divinity focused on Islamic Chaplaincy and serves as the Resident Imam of Masjid Al-Taqwa on Chicago’s southeast side. Imam Tariq is the creator, host and producer of The Black Glue Podcast, & the former daily host/producer of Radio Islam USA on WCEV 1450am where he conducted hundreds of interviews on politics, social justice, interfaith cooperation, activism and more. Imam Tariq’s notable benedictions include Chicago Mayoral inauguration, Cook County Board meetings, Illinois State’s Attorney’s Office Victims Memorial and Dr. Tim Black’s Interfaith Memorial Service. He is noted for his advice on WBEZ radio, CBS News, Chicago Tribune, and Philadelphia Tribune.
Dr. Aisha El-Amin has over twenty-five years of experience in K-12 and higher education. She’s served as a teacher, elected School Board member and senior administrator. Dr. El-Amin provides workshops around student engagement to Islamic weekend schools across the nation. As a certified mediator, Restorative Justice Circle Keeper, and Inter Group Dialogue Facilitator, Dr. El-Amin offers diversity trainings and facilitations guided by principles of Justice. Currently, she serves as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Equity and Belonging at Chicago’s largest public, Research 1 university. Some notable organizations that have recognized her leadership includes Operation PUSH, Muslim Women’s Alliance, Inner City Muslim Action Network, and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.
Imam Makram El-Amin is Imam of the historical Masjid An-Nur, he’s led a growing, culturally diverse congregation in his hometown to the forefront of interfaith dialogue and neighborhood outreach. Imam El-Amin was invited to share the stage with Bishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama. He was a delegate to an historic interfaith event in Rome with Pope John Paul II and member of an interfaith clergy delegation to the Holy Land. An advisor to Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, on religious issues and accompany the Congressman on international trade trips. The relationship has led to The New York Times writing an article on Imam El-Amin, tagging him the ‘congressman’s imam’ and emerging voice for religious tolerance and Muslim participation in the public square.
Omar Yamini holds a master’s degree in education with a focus on youth development. As a Chicago native, Omar was raised as a second- generation Muslim in a God fearing two parent household. At age 20, Omar invited harmful influences into his life, and as a result he went to prison for 15 years under the “Theory of Accountability”. The demoralizing experience affected his spirit and soul so deeply it compelled him to write his book; “What’s Wrong With You!” (What You, Your Children, and Our Students Need To Know About My 15 Year Imprisonment From Age 20-35) in 2012. Omar serves his community in multiple ways including as a board member of Masjid Al-Tawqa and Executive Director of Determined to Be UpRight.
Keyal Pebbles-Abdullah is a third generation African American Muslim with over 20 years’ experience in corporate America. She is a business owner, entrepreneur, and a community servant-leader. Sister Keyal shares her passion and commitment to Chicago’s youth through her extensive work and historic leadership at Chicago’s CMECCA School and IDance Chicago Performing Arts Team. She is well known in the community as the go to person to get things done and the storyteller between generations.