The Ask a Muslim series is an opportunity to change perceptions, address stereotypes, and start meaningful dialogue about the fastest growing yet most misunderstood religion on the globe, Islam. A great thanks to all the voices who contributed to the series. It would not have been possible to capture this season without the amazing scholars, thinkers, artists, and passionate Muslims below!

 

Omar Regan Born and raised in Detroit Michigan, comedian Omar Regan started off writing songs. In his teen years he was a member of S.O.A., a music group he founded with his brother, opening for artists including but not limited to Wu Tang Clan, Method Man, Red Man and Eminem. He started his career as a stand up comedian in November of 1999. He now travels internationally, leaving audiences in stitches wherever he goes, using humor to promote diversity and tolerance.

 

 

Dr. Su’ad Khabeer Dr. Su’ad Abdul Khabeer is an assistant professor of Anthropology and African American Studies at Purdue University. Su’ad received her PhD in Anthropology from Princeton University. Su’ad uses ethnography and performance art to explore the intersection of race, religion, and popular culture. Her publications include Rep that Islam: the Rhyme and Reason of American Muslim Hip Hop in the January 2007 issue of The Muslim World, Black Arabic: Some Notes on African American Muslims and the Arabic Language in the edited volume “Black Routes to Islam.” In addition to her academic writing, Su’ad’s poetry was featured in the anthology Living Islam Out Loud: American Muslim Women Speak. Su’ad has written for TheRoot.com, the Washington Post and blogs for trans-missions.org. Su’ad is also a Senior Project Advisor for the US Public Television award-winning documentary, New Muslim Cool.

 

Sumayya Ali Sumayya Ali has been recognized for her remarkable artistic integrity and versatility. Blessed with a “heart wrenchingly tender yet powerful soprano,” her intentions are to use her voice to heal, speak truth and enlighten. Sumayya has illuminated stages on Broadway, as well as concert halls and opera houses throughout the world. In addition to her theatrical work, she has started to break into film. Ms. Ali will make her film debut in Spike Lee’s newest movie Red Hook Summer. Currently, Sumayya Ali can be seen in the critically acclaimed Broadway revival of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess; understudying the title character as well as Clara and Serena. In addition to this Broadway run, Ms. Ali stays focused as an avid songwriter, recitalist and mentor.

 

Imam Murad Abdul-Zahir Imam Murad Abdul-Zahir is the resident Imam of Masjid Freehaven. During this time he was also actively involved in the Majlis Ash Shura of the Delaware Valley, a governing organization of Islamic leaders in the Delaware Valley (South NJ, PA and DE) area. Being a founding member of Masjidullah, a mosque in the West Oak Lane section of Philadelphia, Imam Abdul-Zahir not only served as assistant Imam, but also was the Chairman of the Committee For the Removal Of All Images That Attempt To Portray The Divine. Early in his career, Imam Abdul-Zahir was part of the Islamic teaching staff at the Sister Clara Muhammad School in West Philadelphia. As a student at Temple University, he studied the religion of Al Islam under such scholars as Dr. Ismail Faruqi and Dr. Hassan Hanafi. Imam Murad Abdul-Zahir also follows the teachings of the late Islamic scholar, Imam Wallace D. Mohammed.

 

Dr. Salman Yusuff
Dr. Salman Yusuff is a chaplain for the State of New Jersey’s Department of Corrections. He received his degree at the University of Ohio. A well-known and respected lecturer in the Islamic community, Dr. Yusuff speaks on various topics regarding Islam in America.

 

 

 

 

 

Idris Mackey
This husband, father, and self proclaimed bean pie expert is a child of the Philadelphia Islamic community. With a healthy balance of both secular and Islamic education, this thirty-something spends his time on the memorization and tajweed of Qur’an. Mackey shares his experiences of being a product of such a unique community and answers the questions with wit and charisma.

 

 

 

 

Congressman Keith Ellison
Keith Ellison has represented the Fifth Congressional District of Minnesota in the U.S. House of Representatives since taking office on January 4, 2007, becoming the first openly practicing Muslim to be elected to U.S. Congress. The Fifth Congressional District is the most vibrant and ethnically diverse district in Minnesota with a rich history and traditions. Keith, now 47 years old, was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. He moved to Minnesota in 1987 to attend the University of Minnesota Law School, where he earned his law degree in 1990. Keith is the proud father of four children.

 

 

 

 

Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr.
Prior to his current position, as Councilman for the fourth district Jones served as President and CEO for the Philadelphia Commercial Development Corporation and the Deputy Finance Director for the City of Brotherly Love from 1987-1991 under Mayor W. Wilson Goode. “In high school I had a dear friend who was a community activist and organizer – Chaka Fattah. We were involved in student government at the time, which led us into political involvement. I ran Fattah’s campaign for the State Legislature. Along that path we met other like-minded change agents such as now-State Sen. Vincent Hughes and (City Councilwoman) Blondell Reynolds Brown and that formed my political DNA,” he said when asked by Philadelphia’s Committee of Seventy why he decided to run for public office. “We got addicted to making a difference. It’s as simple as that. You don’t have to look out the window and accept things as they are. You can make an effort and make change. We followed that mold ever since.” Councilman Jones is a Philadelphia native, a alum of Overbrook High School and the University of Alabama where he received a Master’s certificate in Contract Compliance. He is married and has four children.

 

Michael Rashid (CEO, AmeriHealth Mercy Family of Companies) As President and Chief Executive Officer of the AmeriHealth Mercy Family of Companies (the largest organization of Medicaid managed care plans and affiliated businesses in the United States, touching the lives of more than 6.5 million individuals), Michael A. Rashid is responsible for the leadership, strategic direction, business development and operations of the organization headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mr. Rashid earned a Master’s of Business Administration in Finance from the Harvard Busi­ness School and a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from the University of Southern California. Mr. Rashid uses any influence he may have to assist the Islamic community in addressing both secular and religious issues. He was recently featured in Black Enterprise magazine and now serves as a frequent contributor, with commentary on the state of healthcare in the United States. Mr. Rashid serves on the boards of many organizations including Medicaid Health Plans of America, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority, the Philadelphia Zoo and Vision of Hope (Philadelphia Coalition Against Rape).

 

Amir Sulaiman
The Meccan Openings, is the latest album from critically acclaimed spoken word artist Amir Sulaiman. Hip-hop industry giants including but not limited to Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Kanye West, Dave Chapelle and Russell Simmons have praised his lyrical genius, and unique and relentless flow. In his global travels, Amir has shared the stage with artists such as Kanye West, Lauryn Hill, Common, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Pharoah Monch, Floetry, Black Thought of The Roots, Goapele, Stevie Wonder, The Last Poets, Dead Prez, Ghostface of Wu-Tang Clan, MOP, and more. A native of Rochester, New York, writer, activist, and educator Amir Sulaiman is blesses the mic with a political consciousness that has been said to be “profound without being preachy and stately, without being standoffish.” Amir Sulaiman began writing poetry at the age of twelve. In 1996, he began performing at colleges, universities, bookstores, and coffee shops as a student at North Carolina A&T. In his sophomore year, he released his debut poetry collection Words of Love, Life, and Death. This early work distends across the broad canvas of truth, struggle, relationships, and poetry. During his tenure at NC A&T, Sulaiman’s work was published in literary journals and collections including The Hazmat Review, All That Jazz, and Sauti Mypa.

 

Dr. Jamillah Karim
Jamillah Karim, Ph.D., assistant professor of religious studies, is the author of the new book, “American Muslim Women: Negotiating Race, Class, and Gender Within the Ummah.” 

Dr. Karim investigates what it means to negotiate religious sisterhood against America’s race and class hierarchies, and how those in the American Muslim community both construct and cross ethnic boundaries.

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