Zaynab Ansari spent a decade studying Farsi, Arabic, and traditional Islam, sitting with male and female scholars in seminaries in the Middle East, including traditional scholars in Damascus in the 1990s. Upon her return to the United States, she earned degrees in history and Middle Eastern Studies from Georgia State University.
Since 2014, Zaynab Ansari has served as a scholar-in-residence for Tayseer Foundation, offering enrichment courses and halaqahs to women and youth in the Muslim Community of Knoxville, and working on interfaith dialogue. She is currently an instructor at Tayseer Seminary, which features a one-year intensive in Islamic Studies, drawing students from Tennessee and all regions of the United States.
Ustadha Zaynab has previously written and taught for SunniPath. She has been a freelance writer for Azizah Magazine, a certified speaker with the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta, and a contributor to online Islamic educational portals such as SeekersHub. She has also served as the coordinator of oral histories for the After Malcolm Project, a digital archive of African-American Muslim history. She is part of the teaching faculty of the Ribaat Program, an online Islamic Studies curriculum led by Anse Tamara Gray, a leading woman scholar of traditional Islam. She is also a board member of Tayseer Seminary.
Abdalla Idris Ali served as imam and director, and founded the first full-time Islamic school in Toronto, Canada. He served as the principal of ISNA Islamic Community School for 17 years. He also served on ISNA’s Executive Council, Majlis Ash-Shura, Youth and Education Committee and as president of ISNA for two terms. He is the chair of the Islamic Media Foundation, a member of NAIT Board, a founding member of CISNA, and chair of ISNA Education Forum. Sheikh Abdalla was appointed director for CIENA in Kansas City, Missouri. He served on the board of trustees of IBERR, which serves minority communities. He is currently working as the executive director of ISNA Canada.
Wajahat Ali is a journalist, writer, lawyer, an award-winning playwright, a TV host, and a consultant for the U.S. State Department. As Creative Director of Affinis Labs, he works to create social entrepreneurship initiatives that have a positive impact for marginalized communities, and to empower social entrepreneurs, young leaders, creatives, and communities to come up with innovative solutions to tackle world problems. Beginning in early 2017, Affinis Labs will launch a global startup incubator network, aimed at identifying and fostering “emerging entrepreneurial talent from around the world that understands what makes the global Islamic economy special.”
Azhar Azeez, ISNA President, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from the prestigious Osmania University and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA). He currently serves as the Senior National Director of Islamic Relief USA. He is a member of ISNA Executive Council since 2002, served as the Vice President of ISNA twice from 2010-2014. He was elected as the President of ISNA in 2014 and was re elected to his second term in 2016.
Zahra Billoo, Ph.D. is the executive director of CAIR San Francisco Bay Area. In her work at CAIR, 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’s efforts have been highlighted in local and national media outlets including KTVU, MSNBC, the Christian Science Monitor, the San Jose Mercury News and NPR. She is a 2014 recipient of the National Lawyers Guild SF Bay Area Chapter’s Unsung Hero Award and a 2013 recipient of the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California’s Trailblazer Award. Zahra graduated Cum Laude from CSU Long Beach with degrees in Human Resources Management and Political Science. She earned her JD from UC Hastings College of Law, and is licensed to practice law in California.
Yaser Birjas is currently the Head of the Islamic Law and Theory Department at the Al-Maghrib Institute and the Imam at Valley Ranch Islamic Center in Irving, Texas. Shaykh Yaser started his career in Electronic Engineering in the UAE, than in Madinah where he graduated as class Valedictorian with the highest honors from The Islamic University of Madinah’s College of Shariah (Fiqh and Usool) in 1996. In 1997, he went to work as a relief program aide to rebuild a war-torn Bosnia. In 2000, he immigrated to the U.S. where he served as an Imam at Islamic Center in El Paso, Texas and a director of English programs in Da’wah and outreach for the Orland Park Prayer Center in Illinois. He went on to earn his masters in Adult Education and Training from the University of Phoenix in 2013. His specialty in the subject of marriage and relations made him a highly sought marriage counselor for the Muslim community.
Alauddin El-Bakri began his study of Islam at a young age in North Africa and continued his education in the Islamic sciences in Jordan, learning from predominant scholars in the Muslim world. He has served the Muslim community in the United States in numerous capacities, serving as Imam at several Islamic centers and establishing full-time and weekend Islamic schools. He has also served as a founding board member of IMAN (Inner City Muslim Action Network) in Chicago, as a book editor for IQRA and also is an advisory board member in many Islamic organizations. Having been trained in both the Islamic sciences and secular education, Shaykh Alaeddin has the ability to appeal to various audiences and his main focus is in helping Muslims develop a deep understanding of the self, life and faith. He currently serves as Khateeb at Saratoga Masjid in California.
John L. Esposito is the founding director of the Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding as well as a professor of religion and international affairs and of Islamic studies at Georgetown University. Esposito has served as consultant to the U.S. Department of State and other agencies, European and Asian governments and corporations, universities, and the media worldwide. He is a former president of the American Academy of Religion, the Middle East Studies Association of North America, and of the American Council for the Study of Islamic Societies. His more than 45 books and monographs include: Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think (with Dalia Mogahed), World Religions Today, and Religion and Globalization (with D. Fasching & T. Lewis).
Dalia Fahmy is an assistant professor of political science at Long Island University where she teaches courses on U.S. foreign policy, military and defense policy, international relations, causes of war, politics of the Middle East, and Islam and democracy. Dr. Fahmy’s current research looks at the changing role of Islamists in the democratic future of the new Middle East. She has published several articles focusing on U.S. Foreign Policy towards the Middle East, Islamophobia’s effects on U.S. Foreign Policy, and democratization and authoritarianism in the Middle East.
Yassir Fazaga is an inspiring, multi-lingual speaker sought-after from USA through Canada to the Middle and Far East. He was born in Eritrea in Northeast Africa and moved to the United States at the age of 15; has a Bachelors Degree in Islamic Studies from the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in Virginia; and received a Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Counseling from the California State University of Long Beach. Sheikh Yassir has served as the Religious Leader of Orange County Islamic Foundation (OCIF) in Mission Viejo, California. He was the Director of Mental Health Department at Access California Social Services Agency in Anaheim, where he helped families with different challenges in life which include: domestic violence issues, communication problems, marital matters, generational gap, difficult teens, some mental and personality disorders, divorce, grief, and single parenting, among others.
Tamara Gray is the founder of Rabata, an organization dedicated to promoting positive cultural change through individual empowerment, spiritual upbringing of women by women, and the revival of the female voice in scholarship. She lived in Syria for twenty years, studying sacred knowledge and traveling along the road of tarbiya (spiritual upbringing). Anse Tamara studied a full curriculum of Islamic sacred texts and subjects including: Shāfiʿī jurisprudence (fiqh), Islamic theology (ʿaqīda), Quranic sciences (tafsīr and tajwīd), Arabic grammar (naḥū), geography of the Muslim world, Islamic civilization and culture, Islamic history and classical methods of spiritual growth (tazkiya).
Mehdi Hasan is the award-winning presenter of ‘UpFront’ and ‘Head to Head’ on Al Jazeera English, born and brought up in the UK but now based in Washington D.C. He is the former political director of The Huffington Post UK, a regular contributor to the New York Times and the Guardian and the author of two books. Mehdi has been included in the annual list of the 500 ‘most influential’ Muslims in the world and his Oxford Union speech on Islam and peace went viral in 2013, amassing several million views online. He has interviewed, among others, Edward Snowden, Ehud Olmert, Imran Khan and General Michael Flynn.
Altaf Husain is a native of Cleveland, Ohio; and a double alumnus of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, having earned his BSc in biomedical engineering and his MS in social work. He received his PhD in social work from Howard University in Washington, DC. Dr. Husain’s research interests include the mental health and integration of immigrant and refugee families, and especially Muslim adolescents, in the United States. He serves as the vice president of ISNA, member of the board of directors of MSA National, and an advisory board member of the Peaceful Families Project- dedicated to the prevention of domestic violence. His past service to the community includes serving as a two-term national president of the MSA and an executive committee member of the Muslim Alliance in North America. Dr. Husain and his family reside in Northern Virginia.
Ameena Jandali is a founding member and content director at Islamic Networks Group (ING) where she co-designs and develops ING’s educational presentations and cultural competency seminars. Through ING, Ameena has delivered hundreds of presentations in schools, colleges, universities, churches, and other venues on Islam and related subjects. She has also appeared on many news outlets, speaking on issues relating to American Muslims. Ameena team teaches a class on Islam at San Francisco City College. She received her MA in Near Eastern studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and BA in history from the University of Illinois.
Abdul Nasir Jangda, born in Dallas, began his studies in Karachi at age 10 to memorize the Qur’an, and again after high school for the 7 year Alim course at Jamia Binoria, while concurrently completing a bachelor’s degree; and he has a master’s degree in Arabic and Islamic studies. He is a founding member and chairman of Mansfield Islamic Center, an instructor at Bayyinah Institute, and the founder and director of Qalam Institute. Through his weekly seerah podcasts, annual intensive programs on an array of subjects, and the full-time seminary, Shaykh Abdul Nasir teaches and personally mentors students, professionals, and families in an environment catered for them. His newest project is QalamNow. Qalam’s effort is to provide practical Islamic knowledge from the scholars you trust at your fingertips.
Hussain Kamani was born to a Hindu revert-to-Islam and Muslim father in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. With the blessings and du’a (supplications) of his parents, Mufti Hussain Kamani underwent a journey of a lifetime in pursuit of sacred Islamic knowledge. He began his pursuit of the Islamic sciences at the young age of six to memorize the entire Quran at the acclaimed Darul Uloom Madania in Buffalo, New York. By the blessings of Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, he was able to complete this momentous task in 1999. Having the growing thirst for knowledge, Mufti Kamani then traveled to the United Kingdom to attain more advanced formal Islamic authorizations in the field of Islamic theology. He studied at Darul Uloom Bury, the renowned seminary of the great revivalist and scholar of Hadith, Shaykh-ul-Hadith Zakariyya Kandhlawi (Rahmatullahi Alayh). Mufti Kamani completed the traditional six-year curriculum covering the Arabic language, Arabic morphology, Islamic jurisprudence, Tafseer of the Holy Qur’an, Hadith (Prophetic Sciences), philosophy, and Aqeedah (Islamic Creed) under the guidance of some of the pioneer scholars in England, including Shaykh Yusuf Motala, Shaykh Hashim, Shaykh Bilal and Shaykh Abdur Raheem bin Dawood amongst others. Upon graduation he was then was specially selected to enter a post-graduate level course in Islamic Law and Legal Verdicts (Fatwa). He completed this course in two years. Alongside his religious studies, Mufti Kamani was blessed with having the opportunity to study the secular and academic sciences. He completed his graduate degree in Business Management from the University of Coventry in England.
Faraz A. Khan is a full-time faculty member and the Honor’s Program coordinator at Zaytuna College. He lived in Amman, Jordan, for several years, studying and teaching the traditional Islamic sciences, with a focus on Hanafi law and legal theory, theology, logic, hadith studies, and Arabic grammar. He also served as an instructor and academic advisor at the Qasid Institute. He is a faculty member and researcher for Seekersguidance, and has translated into English classical Arabic texts in Hanafi jurisprudence, Ash`ari and Maturidi theology, and logic.
Khizr Khan was born in Pakistan. He attended Punjab University and University Law School. He was licensed to practice law in 1974. He moved to UAE and later to USA where he attended Harvard Law School for LL.M degree. He is licensed to practice law in New York and Federal District Courts, Southern and Western Districts of New York. He is member of the American Bar Association and New York State Bar Association. He specializes in Commercial Civil Litigation Electronic Discovery and HIPAA Compliance. During the 2016 Presidential race Khizr and Ghazala gave an impassioned speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Khizr criticized Donald Trump, famously asking him, “Let me ask you, have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy.” With Ghazala Khan he is proud parent of three including CPT Humayun Khan and four grandchildren.
Dalia Mogahed is a researcher, pollster, author, advisor and consultant who studies Muslim communities. 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. Mogahed is former Executive Director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, a non-partisan research center that provided data and analysis to reflect the views of Muslims all over the world. She and John Esposito co-authored the book Who Speaks For Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think, based on 6 years of research and more than 50,000 interviews representing Muslims in more than 35 predominantly Muslim countries. Accounting for more than 90% of the world’s Muslim community, this poll is the largest, most comprehensive study of its kind. Mogahed later appeared as a commentator in the award-winning, PBS-broadcast documentary Inside Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think (2010), which was based on her and Esposito’s book and produced by Unity Productions Foundation.
Yasmin Mogahed is known for her gift of captivating an entire audience with her thoughts and insightful reflections. She is a Psychology graduate, and attained her Masters in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a skilled creative writer, her literature speaks from the heart and after completing her graduate work; she taught Islamic Studies and served as a youth coordinator. Currently she’s a writer for the Huffington Post, an international speaker, and author who focuses most of her work on spiritual and personal development.
Yasir Qadhi is a lecturer and Islamic orator who has authored several books about Islam. He is a popular speaker in many Muslim circles in the United States, Canada, England and Australia. He was born in Houston, Texas, went to high school in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and graduated with a BSc in chemical engineering from the University of Houston. He pursued an education in Islamic studies, and left for the Islamic University of Madinah in Saudi Arabia. There, he completed a second bachelor’s degree, specializing in hadith studies, and then went on to complete an MA in Islamic theology. After the horrific events of 9/11, he decided to return to America, and completed a PhD in Islamic Studies from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Currently, he is an associate professor of religious studies at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN, the dean of academic affairs of Al-Maghrib Institute, and the resident scholar of the Memphis Islamic Center.
Linda Sarsour is a working woman, community activist, 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!” Sarsour is the former executive director of the Arab American Association of New York and co-chair of the Women’s March on Washington, which advocated for just legislation and policies regarding human rights and other issues in the largest single-day demonstration in U.S. history. Linda is most notably recognized for her focus on intersectional movement building.
Zaid Shakir is a co-founder, serves on its Board of Trustees, and senior Faculty Member of Zaytuna College located in Berkeley, CA. He is amongst the most respected and influential Islamic scholars in the West. 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.
He is a frequent speaker at local and national Muslim events and has emerged as one of the nation’s top Islamic scholars and a voice of conscience for American Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Imam Zaid has served as an advisor to many organizations, and influential leaders. He is ranked as “one of America’s most influential Scholars” in the West; by The 500 Most Influential Muslims, edited by John Esposito and Ibrahim Kalin, (2009). Recently, Imam Zaid is a signatory along with religious and spiritual Leaders from around the world who presented the UN Secretary General with a declaration in support of the Paris Climate Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, marking the largest number of nations ever signing an international agreement.
While many have cited Imam Shakir as example of Islamic moderation, his critics have questioned his moderate credentials by citing his expressed hope for the conversion of America to Islam and adoption of Islamic law in America. Dr. Ingrid Mattson stated that Imam Zaid is solidly grounded in the Islamic legal, ethical and intellectual tradition, which all Muslims share, as well as his personal understanding of the current political context.
Muzammil Siddiqi received his BA in Islamic and Arabic studies from the Islamic University of Medina, Saudi Arabia and later went on to complete a degree in comparative religion at Harvard University. Since 1981, he has served as the director of the Islamic Society of Orange County in Garden Grove, California. He is the chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America. Internationally, he is a member of the executive board of the International Assembly of the Council of Ulama’ in Makkah; a member of the Supreme Islamic Council of Egypt and the Supreme Council of Mosques in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. In October 2011, he was invited by Pope Benedict XVI to join him and many other religious leaders of the world in a pilgrimage of peace. Dr. Siddiqi served as the president of ISNA from 1996 – 2000, and former member of ISNA’s Majlis Ash-Shura.
Omar Suleiman is the Founder and President of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, and an Adjunct Professor of Islamic Studies in the Graduate Liberal Studies Program at SMU (Southern Methodist University). He is also the Resident Scholar at Valley Ranch Islamic Center and Co-Chair of Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square. He holds a Bachelors in Accounting, a Bachelors in Islamic Law, a Masters in Islamic Finance, a Masters in Political History, and is currently pursuing a Phd. in Islamic Thought and Civilization from the International Islamic University of Malaysia.
Dawood Yasin is currently the Muslim Life and Service Trips Coordinator at the Tucker Foundation. In his role Dawood provides spiritual and religious support, offers educational seminars, and leads congregational prayers for Muslim students at Dartmouth College and residents of the greater Hanover area. Dawood also works to foster understanding and dialogue among diverse campus groups by building and maintaining interfaith relations. In addition he advises students in the Service and Education Program (SEP) by coordinating six alternative spring break trips and the Cross Cultural Education and Service Program in Siuna, Nicaragua (CCESP-Nicaragua).
During his residence in South Africa Dawood converted to Islam and then spent five years in Damascus studying Arabic, Islam, and spirituality. Upon completion of his studies he relocated to New Haven CT where he served as an Imam. While in New Haven he also worked as a teaching assistant and engaged in research at Yale University. Most recently, Dawood served as Director of Outreach at the Zayed Center for Islamic Culture in the United Arab Emirates, engaging in public speaking within U.A.E. and abroad, emphasizing ethics and tolerance between Muslim and non-Muslim communities.
Dawood teaches Arabic language in the summer at Zaytuna College in Berkeley, California. He was born and raised in Nantucket, Massachusetts, and lives with his wife and children in New Hampshire. He is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Globalization Studies at Dartmouth.