It is with great honor and privilege that I announce my acceptance of the position as Religious Director at the Islamic Center of Inland Empire, in southern California. The warmth and hospitality shown to myself and my family by the Rancho community has been truly inspiring and I eagerly look forward to serving the community in this capacity and all of the great things we can do together, God willing.
For the past fifteen years, I have worked as a professional in the information technology sector. In addition, I have been involved in the creation and implementation of two Muslim chaplaincies, at the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University respectively. Through nearly a decade that Philadelphia has been my home, I have been blessed to make the acquaintance of so many wonderful individuals. It also gave me a chance to serve my community with dignity, at a time when Muslims in America face daunting challenges. It is my intention to bring the breadth of these experiences to the new task at hand at ICIE. My departure from Philadelphia will be bittersweet, a city whose inhabitants, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, have had such a lasting impression upon me. For all of you I am truly grateful.
I wish to thank a few individuals and organizations who’ve made this journey (a) tenable and (b) possible:
- The Quba Masjid community: Imams Anwar and Anas Muhaimin: simply put, you both put me on a path and inspired me through quiet leadership and resolve. I am in your debt.
- The Reverend Charles L. Howard, Ph.D.: as UPenn’s chaplain, you were willing to take a chance and believe in an unknown. I am grateful for that opportunity. I will miss our very candid and “keepin’ it real!” conversations. God bless.
- Adnan Zulfiqar: I could not have asked for a better confidant and supporter. My only regret is how little time we had with each other. Come and visit sunny SoCal, ock!
- Mohsin Ali: your quiet support and character have and continue to be a confidence booster for me. Jazak’Allahu khayran.
- Wasim Rahman: who knew where this would go when you invited me to your wedding! May Allah bless you and your family always.
- Abdul-Kareem al-Amry: I am grateful to God for having met you (in a Starbucks of all places!). Your religious knowledge and willingness to help and engage me to make me a better Muslim and a better leader is a debt I cannot repay! Thank you.
- The collective of the Drexel and UPenn Muslim Student Organizations, for whom I will truly miss! I cut my teeth as a khatib on these two campuses. You are a wonderful group of young Muslims – may Allah bless your paths always.
- Imam Suhaib Webb: if there was a brother from another mother, you’d be it. In addition for being a coach in my corner, you are also a real inspiration for me and I will continue to draw upon your support and example.
- Dr. Sherman Jackson: it is no secret that you have been one of the most influential forces in my adult life. Now is not the time or forum, but only I say thank you and may Allah reward you for your selfless support.
- Dr. Ali Suleiman Ali: in the words of my mentor, Dr. Jackson, “Shaykh Ali is shaykh.” My first Qur’an teacher, I hope I can be half the teacher you’ve been.
- Dr. Mukhtar Curtis: your encouragment has been a source of strength. Jazaka’Allah, shaykh.
- Khidr Naeem: simply put, you are family. You have been a rock in my life and I pray that Allah will continue to bless you and your family. Amin.
- Dr. Muhammad Khalifa: I thank you for your genuine brotherhood. Come visit!
- Rashid Abdur-Raheem: you and your father were the first to teach me how to pray (and I taught you how to drive a stick!). I am eternally grateful.
- Shakeer Bakari: you and I have proven that you can take a brother out of Detroit, but you can’t take the “D” out of a brother! God bless.
- Malik Shaw: another kindred Detroit spirit. I am in your debt for your selfless brotherhood and constant encouragement.
- Dr. Jerry Hionis: sadly, we’ve had little time together but you’ve been a good brother and an even better friend. “Darmok, and Jalad … on the ocean.”
- Moutasem Atiya: you continue to show me what brotherhood, based on the Sunnah of Our Beloved, is all about. Jazak’Allah.
And of course last, but not least, my family: my wife, Margari, who simply put, is the one who has allowed me to do this. She’s the one who has put up with a grumpy, tired, travel worn husband. My Allah reward you for making me a better man. My daughter, Ziyan, who despite not quite being three, is a major inspiration for why I am doing this: the future of Islam in America. To my parents, who’ve given me unconditional love for over forty years. I will always be a momma’s boy! To my brothers, who I know from time to time look at their little brother with a healthy dose of suspicion!, I thank you both for your love and support. And of course all praise belongs to God – Allah in the Arabic language, the Fashioner of the Heavens and the Earth. There is no god but You!, and Muhammad is your slave and Messenger.
I look forward to seeing you all in sunny southern California.