July/August Community Bulletin: Leaders & Achievers

Jaime “Mujahid” Fletcher

By Islamic Horizons Staff

July/August 2022

Centro Islámico Mosque Coming Up

Centro Islámico has started constructing their 10,200-sq.-ft. mosque on a 2.5-acre lot in the Houston neighborhood of Alief.

Once complete, it will include a prayer area, classrooms, event center, a cafe and lounge, as well as a 3,600-sq.-ft. production studio for producing its bilingual English–Spanish media content for distribution. A museum will highlight the contributions of al-Alandus in terms of medicine, mathematics, education and technology.

Outdoors will be a basketball court, a soccer field, a playground, a pavilion and a courtyard. Like the museum, it will be designed with Andalusian characteristics, among them vaulted ceilings and water fountains. Jaime “Mujahid” Fletcher (chief executive officer and founder, IslamInSpanish) told Religion News Service on April 15 that the costs of these improvements will total about $3 million, with $1 million left to raise.

They have plans for another mosque in Dallas.

A 2017 report published in the Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion estimated that the country’s 50,000 to 265,000 Latino Muslims are primarily concentrated in California, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Florida and Illinois. Many are former Catholics, and more mosques are now publishing Spanish literature.

New York governor Kathy Hochul hosted an iftar for Muslims from Buffalo to Brooklyn in the state’s capital. She remarked, “New York’s greatest strength is our diversity, and we are proud to lead with inclusivity and equality for all.” 

She thanked Imam Mansoor Rafiq Umar and Dr. Debbie Almontaser for their contributions to the state and their leadership.

The Washington Township (N.J.) Zoning Board voted 6:1 in April to give its blessing to Minhal Academy’s 3,000-sq.-ft. mosque — after turning down two earlier versions and delaying the process for three years.

Imran Hasan, who helped spearhead the effort, said the Gloucester County township “gave us a very tough time.”

In 2018, he had purchased a long-vacant cluster of three offices and drew up plans to move the mosque; however, building permission was denied.

In January 2020, Minhal Academy filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Camden alleging that the board’s refusal to approve the expansion violated the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). The matter was resolved without any admission of liability by the township or the board.

During its April 27 session, Brampton (Ont., Canada) city council renamed Sailwind Road Masjid Drive, which is located near Jamiat-ul-Ansar mosque.

“Muslim American Zakat Giving 2022,” a report released by the Muslim Philanthropy Initiative at Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI, stated that Muslim Americans gave $1.8 billion in zakat to domestic and international causes during 2021. 

The average Muslim American household donated $2,070 to charity, said Shariq Siddiqui, assistant professor and program director of philanthropic studies.

The largest beneficiaries were international nonprofits (25.3%), governments (21.7%) and domestic nonprofits (18.3%). The study’s findings also show that a substantial amount of zakat (14.7%) is still given informally, whether in person, to relatives or others, and through other remittances (12.7%).

Two-year Qur’anic Arabic learning track

The University of Michigan, with support from the Fawakih Institute, will launch a two-year Qur’anic Arabic learning track during the upcoming Fall ‘22 academic term. 

For the first time since the university’s founding in 1817, nearly 45,000 Michigan students (undergrads and grads alike) will have the chance to unlock the Quranic language by enrolling in either ARABIC 121 (Qur’anic Arabic I; first year) or ARABIC 221 (Qur’anic Arabic II; second year) course on campus. 

For more information and enrollment, visit https://lsa.umich.edu/cg/cg_openclasses.aspx?txtsubject=ARABIC.


Deqa Dhalac, MSW (Univ. of New England), MDP (Univ. of New Hampshire), was honored by her alma mater University of New Hampshire with the Sustainability Award — Graduate of Last Decade.

Early this year she made history as the first elected Black, Muslim mayor in Maine, the City of South Portland, and the first Somali American mayor. She is past program manager for The Center for Grieving Children, former South Portland Schools Community Builder for the Opportunity Alliance, Somali Community Center of Maine, board president of the Maine Immigrant Rights Coalition and Maine Women’s Fund and Family Engagement and Cultural Responsiveness Specialist with the Maine Department of Education.

The Daily Record (Baltimore) named Chaplain Asma Inge-Hanif, CNM (executive director and founder, Muslimat Al Nisaa Shelter/Inge Benevolent Ministries), a 2022 Maryland Top 100 Women.

The Daily Record recognizes and honors women worldwide who are leading the way, mentoring, helping others succeed and creating change. A panel of business professionals and previous Maryland’s Top 100 Women honorees from across the state reviewed and selected this year’s honorees.

“Maryland’s Top 100 Women create change and break barriers in their professional worlds, but also make a difference in their communities,” said Suzanne Fischer-Huettner, publisher of The Daily Record. “We applaud our honorees for their passion, their commitment to excellence and for the work they do to bring communities together. The impact these women make across our state demonstrates why they are truly Maryland’s Top 100 Women. The Daily Record is honored to recognize them.”

On July 1 Dr. Omar Lateef assumed charge as systemwide president and CEO of RUSH, while continuing as president and CEO of RUSH University Medical Center. 

Dr. Omar Lateef

“The Board and I are very confident in Dr. Lateef’s ability to take RUSH to new heights, not only in patient care, but [also] in the way health care is delivered in the future,” said Susan Crown, chairman of the RUSH and Medical Center boards. 

Under Lateef’s leadership at the RUSH University Medical Center, the organization received unprecedented acclaim. RUSH’s early Covid-19 innovations set the standard for care nationally by deployment of early testing, an intentional focus on critically ill patients from communities hardest hit by the pandemic, and clinical advancements of treatment protocols.

In April 2021, Dr. Lateef accepted Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Medal of Honor on behalf of all the Medical Center’s health care heroes, recognizing the hospital’s extraordinary contributions to Chicago during the Covid-19 pandemic.

His tenure with RUSH began with a fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine at RUSH University Medical Center in 2005. Prior to leading the center, he served as its chief medical officer.

Roseline Jean Louis RN, BSN, the first nursing PhD student in Emory University’s history, was inducted into the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society on April 8. 

Roseline Jean Louis

The award, named after Dr. Edward Alexander Bouchet, the first African American doctoral recipient in the U.S. (physics, Yale University, 1876), acknowledges outstanding scholarly achievement and promotes diversity and excellence in doctoral education and the professoriate. 

One of five Emory students to receive this award, this first-generation Haitian immigrant is one of the first in her family to graduate from college and will be the first to obtain a graduate degree. In addition to being an Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society Scholar, Louis is also a Birth Equity Research Fellow at the National Birth Equity Collaborative (NBEC). 

As part of the NBEC fellowship, she leads a data analysis of the Maternal Mortality Review Information Application data set from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Maternal Mortality Prevention Division of Reproductive Health, looking at the impacts of racism on maternal mortality.

Adam Chaabane, who took an oath to the Woodland Park, New Jersey Council on Jan. 4, makes borough history by becoming the council’s first Muslim American. A former Board of Education commissioner, Chaabane serves as a deputy with the Passaic County Sheriff Department.

Shania Muhammad, 14-year-old Oklahoman, graduated college with honors — not from one but two colleges: Langston University and Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC).

“Don’t let your age be the ceiling to your potential, and I really want to push that. You cannot let that be a barrier to your life. It’s like I was in the seventh grade and the whole time I was on the collegiate level. I just didn’t know it,” Shania told News9.

“We have over 150 medals, over 50 trophies. We have over 100 academic awards as well,” her father, Elijah Muhammad added.

Shania attends her parent’s homeschooling program. They were the ones who inspired her to look beyond her middle school curriculum. She started classes at OCCC at 13 and the University of Oklahoma as well.

After a semester at OU, Shania chose to follow in her parents’ footsteps and attend Langston University for the HBCU experience. She plans to continue classes at Langston. She will be pursuing her bachelor’s in family consumer science and a minor in plant soil science.

Her 12-year-old brother plans on starting classes at the OCCC in the fall to pursue a career in cybersecurity.

A set of triplets who are no strangers to making history recently did it again by graduating from Georgia Tech with neuroscience degrees — aged 18.

Adam, Zane and Rommi Kashlan recently achieved their degrees with minors in health and medical sciences with honors in only three years, according to 11Alive on May 16.

Adam, Zane and Rommi Kashlan

The trio is used to setting records. After testing on a higher academic level when they were in the first grade, the triplets were named the first-ever co-valedictorians at West Forsyth High School in Georgia at the age of 16.

They plan to work as researchers at Harvard Medical School in affiliation with Boston Children’s Hospital.

Their parents, Dean and Majid Kashlan, say the brothers have always been close.

Maggie Siddiqi, former program coordinator at the ISNA Office of Interfaith and Community Alliances in Washington D.C., now serves as director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Maggie Siddiqi

In her last position, she was senior director, Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative at the Center for American Progress.

On May 18, Kansas City attorney Humaira Mirza was honored with the Nonprofit Catalyst-Staff Member Award at the Nonprofit Connect Awards ceremony.

Mirza, who advocates for survivors of domestic violence, helped change the legal landscape as a staff member at Newhouse, Kansas City’s first shelter. For the last 12 years, she has been helping survivors navigate the legal system. 

In 2021, a milestone year, she expanded her role as a legal advocate by standing in the gap for victims in and out of the courtroom, led the Newhouse legal program’s evolution by streamlining and then organizing the process of first educating clients then transitioning them from victims to survivors, worked with 20 survivors as a staff member at Newhouse, volunteered as a court-appointed special advocate of Jackson County CASA for four children, acted as executive director of her own nonprofit (Breathe Hope), educated members of her Muslim community and more. 

She is using her nonprofit to fill the holes in the current support system by helping survivors get a driver’s license, housing and employment. 

A top-rated attorney selected to Rising Stars for 2019-21, Mirza is principal of Mirza Law Firm, Overland Park, Kan.

Now in its 38th year, the Nonprofit Connect Awards Celebration honors individuals and organizations for their outstanding commitment to have a positive impact on Kansas City.

Sumaiya Ahmed Sheikh joined the executive office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer as director of appointments.

(L to R) Sumaiya Sheikh with Governor Whitmer.

She works with the senior team to oversee the appointment of qualified people to Michigan state’s 350 boards and commissions, as well as judicial appointments and administrative appointments to the Governor’s cabinet and state departments.

Sabah Sial (University of Utah ‘21), who starts at Oxford in October 2022, became the first person to receive the Rhodes Scholarship from the university in 20 years. One of 32 recipients, she is interested in studying financial crime prevention and intends to go to law school.

This scholarship, created in 1903, was designed to foster a relationship between English-speaking countries and enable students to study at the University of Oxford. The scholarship now serves students worldwide and is intended to bring together people of different viewpoints. 

Ginger Smoak (director, Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarships) said Sial has proven to be “an impressive scholar, leader and humanitarian with amazing vision and motivation to use her knowledge, leadership and desire to help” — all aspects that are important for this scholarship.

This year, a record 22 American women were selected as winners. 

Growing up in Sandy, Utah, Sial dreamed of coming to the U. Ultimately, her decision was settled by the Eccles Scholarship — an eight-semester comprehensive scholarship that brings 29 students interested in different fields of study together to create a change in the Honors community.

“It feels like I’ve kind of come full circle with the Rhodes Scholarship,” she said. 

While speaking about her childhood and being from a not very diverse community, she noted, “As a woman of color who is visibly from a different faith, I would have expected it to be harder than it was,” Sial said. “My experience was being fully immersed in the educational experience and building a community wherever I go, regardless of what someone’s background is.” 

Her parents immigrated from Pakistan in the 1990s. She is the oldest of three siblings. 

Asim Rehman was appointed New York City commissioner and chief administrative law judge of the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) on March 29 by Mayor Eric Adams. 

Asim Rehman

A founding member and former president of the Muslim Bar Association of New York (MuBANY), this former deputy commissioner for legal matters and general counsel at the NYC Department of Correction is the first Muslim American and the first person of South Asian descent to lead the office.

“In order for our city to operate effectively and carry out its core functions, we need fair, expeditious and just administrative trials and hearings,” said Mayor Adams. “Asim Rehman is a proven reformer who will bring his legal expertise and keen understanding of city government to his new role at OATH, and I’m proud to announce his appointment.”

Rehman, who joined City government in 2014 as general counsel for the new Office of the Inspector General in the Department of Investigation for the NYPD, has served as general counsel and first deputy inspector general. 

A Staten Island native, Rehman (BA, Haverford College; the University of Michigan Law School) is an adjunct professor of law at New York Law School, where he teaches “Law, Public Policy & Social Change.”

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