These brief biographical sketches were compiled through mostly online research. We divided the editorial tasks among ourselves and found that our intergenerational team afforded a wide array of complementary skills and perspectives. Though all of us had a hand in the editing and drafting, the group owes a particular debt of gratitude to our youngest colleague, Tahnia Disa, for her expertise in digital tools and design.
In conducting our research, we relied primarily on the subjects’ personal and institutional web pages, refereed encyclopedias like Britannica, and reputable, fact-checked news publications such as regional and national newspapers. We gathered a list of persons known to us, and we recognize that no list of notables can be complete; we regret any omissions. We have strived for accuracy, and any errors of fact are ours.
Engage Muslims and members of other faiths by promoting values and teachings of Islam and other faiths and to advocate/promote inter-faith harmony in a multicultural environment in accordance with the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah.
Erik Larson: Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University
Ishan S Khwaja: Board Member Islamic Center of Long Island
Reverend Eddie Alleyne: Rector Church of Advent, Westbury
Anna Kaplan: New York State Senator from Long Island
Robert(Bob) DeSena: Founder Council for Unity
Bhadra Shah: OB/GYN Physician in New York City
Msgr. Donald Beckman: Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre, Long Island
Father William Brisotti: Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre, Long Island
Anu Bindra: Representing the Sikh faith
Rev. Tom Goodhue: Retired executive director, Long Island Council of Churches
Ennaji Benhammou: Board Member Islamic Center of Long Island
Khalid S Lateef: Founder of Wyandanch Mosque
Seema Rahman: Board Member of Islamic Center of Long Island
Eric Hamza Byas: Past president of Islamic Center of Long Island
Peter Cavallaro: Mayor Village of Westbury
Azhar Bhatt: Former Board Member Islamic Center of Long Island
Arthur Dobrin: Leader Emeritus, Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island
Rev. Mark Lukens: Bethany Congregational Church, East Rockaway, Long Island
Congressman Tom Suozzi
Rabbi Michael White: Temple Sinai, Roslyn, NY
Rev. Dwight Wolter: Pastor Congregational Church of Patchogue
Bob Keeler: Retired Newsday Pulitzer awardee
Farooq Kathwari: CEO Ethan Allen
Benjamin Rifkin: Professor at Hofstra University
Faroque Khan: Chairman
Zainab Bey: Vice Chair
Unni Mooppan: President
Panna Shah: Secretary
Arfa Khan: Treasurer
Rev. Vicky Eastland: Brookville Multi Faith Campus
Laurel Fried: Temple Or Elohim Jericho
Daisy Khan: Founder and Executive Director Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality
For additional information about the Advisory Board members and the Executive Committee members of the Interfaith institute of Long Island, kindly visit: www.interfaithny.com
Muslims have been a part of America since its inception, and yet few opinion leaders and policymakers are familiar with the history of Muslims in the United States. As many as a quarter of all the Africans enslaved in America were Muslims. In the late 1800s, Muslims from Syria and Lebanon settled in Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, and the Dakotas. In the 1950s and 1960s, changes in the US immigration law brought a new wave of Muslims from the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and even Latin America.
Recently, US Rep. Tom Suozzi (NY-CD 3) encouraged me to develop a “snapshot” of American Muslims and their contributions to the United States. This list is a profile of 100 notable Muslim Americans—a very small sample from the three million plus Muslims in America.
We, the four authors of this list, settled on a simple criterion for selecting our 100 notable Muslims: demonstration through deeds, actions, and public recognition of extraordinary achievement. For example, Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil came to the United States from a small town in Turkey. She earned a PhD in astrophysics in 2017 and discovered a new galaxy in our universe that is named after her. Picking Nobel laureates—Ahmed Hasan Zewail and Aziz Sancar—was a “no brainer.” So was the selection of Mohammad Ali and Malik El-Shabazz a.k.a Malcolm X.
The reader will be impressed with the recent gains and accomplishments of Muslim Americans. In 2021 alone, Zahid Quraishi became the first Muslim federal district court judge and Lina Khan became the chair of the Federal Trade Commission. Legislatures in five states swore in their first Muslim members. Three Detroit suburbs elected their first Muslim mayors. The New York Jets tapped Robert Saleh as the first Muslim head coach. At the same time, Muslims became icons in the world of American entertainment. This year, British Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed became the first Muslim nominated for and awarded an Oscar for Best Actor. Iman Vellani, a Canadian Muslim teenager, was cast as the title character in the Walt Disney television miniseries Ms. Marvel.
Two decades after September 11, the rise of many Muslim Americans to positions of power and influence is a development that few in the United States would have predicted, myself included.
It is the experience of coming of age in this post- 9/11 environment, experts say, that drew a new generation of young Muslims to activism. It motivated them to use their voices in political and cultural arenas to debunk misinformation. That they've found a receptive audience beyond the Muslim community suggests to us that many Americans now understand that the anti-Islamic rhetoric they've been served in recent years is based on myths and untrue.
In all, a record 170 Muslim candidates were on ballots in 28 states in 2020, up from 57 in 2018, and 62 of them won. More than one million Muslims voted in 2020, also a record.
We hope that the list of 100 Muslim notables in the United States will provide the reader a glimpse of the contributions of the ethnically diverse Muslim community. We encourage the reader to look up various notables for more detailed information about their outstanding accomplishments.
In closing, I offer my thanks and appreciation for Congressman Tom Suozzi who suggested this initiative, as well as Rosanna Perotti, Sohail Nabi, and Tahnia Disa, without whose participation we would not have been able to complete this much needed task.
Prof. Faroque Ahmad Khan, M.B. (Kashmir). Master American College of Physicians Chair, Interfaith Institute of Long Island E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (M) 551-234-1213 (H) 516-932-7170
Su’ad Abdul Khabeer is an anthropologist and activist. She served as senior project advisor for Public Television’s award-winning documentary New Muslim Cool, based on her acclaimed 2016 book Muslim Cool: Race, Religion and Hip Hop in the United States. Profiled as one of CNN’s 25 influential American Muslims in 2018, she received the Soros Equality Fellowship in 2019.
Dr. Daisy Khan founded Women’s Islamic Initiative for Spirituality & Equality, dedicated to peace building and gender equality. She addresses Islamophobia & extremism in the media, is listed in Time Magazine’s "100 Most Influential” People, and Huf ington Post’s “Top Ten Women Faith leaders." She has received 20 awards including the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights & Edinburgh Peace Award.
Khizr Khan is a Harvard-educated Virginia attorney and constitutional rights advocate who earned national attention when he spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Khan’s son, U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, was killed in 2004 while serving in Iraq. In 2022, Khizr Khan was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for championing democracy, equality, and religious freedom.
Dalia Mogahed is director of research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, where she leads opinion research on American Muslims. Mogahed is former executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies. Mogahed’s 2016 TED talk, “What It’s Like To Be a Muslim in America”, was named one of the top TED talks that year and was viewed four million times.
Rami Nashashibi is the founder and executive director of the Inner- City Muslim Action Network (IMAN), a nonprofit organization that fosters health, wellness, and healing on Chicago’s South Side and Atlanta’s west end. A sociologist and MacArthur Fellow, Nashashibi worked with leading scholars and lectured on globalization, American Muslim identity, and social justice.
Eboo Patel, named one of "America's Best Leaders" by US News & World Report in 2009, is founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based organization that unites young people of different religious beliefs around service and dialogue. A sociology of religion scholar, commentator, and prizewinning author, Patel has served on two White House faith-based advisory councils.
Linda Sarsour is a Palestinian American author, award-winning racial justice and civil rights activist, and community activist. As the former executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, she cofounded the first Muslim online organization platform, MPOWER Change. She built Muslim solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and cochaired the 2017 Women’s March on Washington.
Bill Bazzi won election as mayor of Dearborn Heights, Michigan, in 2021, after having been appointed by the city council. The Lebanese immigrant and Marine Corps veteran is the first Arab American and first Muslim to hold the office in the town, which is about one-third Arab American and has seen a 10 percent increase in population over the past decade.
André Carson has represented Indiana’s 7th District in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2008. He has served as chairman of the Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation Subcommittee and as a member of the Strategic Technologies and Advanced Research Subcommittee on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI).
Deqa Dhalac, the mayor of South Portland, Maine, became the first Somali American mayor in the United States in 2021. She fled the civil war in Somalia some 30 years ago. Portland is 90 percent white and Dhalac moved there 10 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia, where she was resettled as a refugee.
Keith Ellison has served as Minnesota’s attorney general since 2019. From 2007 to 2019, he represented Minnesota’s 5th District in the United States House of Representatives, the first Muslim American to ever serve in the U.S. Congress. He served on the House Financial Services Committee, where he helped oversee the financial services industry, the housing industry, and Wall Street.
Amer Ghalib was sworn in as mayor of Hamtramck, Michigan, in January 2022. Born in Yemen, Ghalib immigrated to the United States as a teenager and worked as a health care professional. A political newcomer, he unseated a longtime incumbent to become the first Arab American and the first Muslim mayor of the two- square-mile enclave within Detroit, which now has an all-Muslim government.
Shama Haider represents District 37 in eastern Bergen County in the New Jersey State Assembly, making her the New Jersey’s first Muslim state legislator. Assemblywoman Haider was part of a pathbreaking slate of candidates in the district, which elected an African American state senator and the first Korean American woman in the assembly. Haider is a former Tenafly councilwoman.
Abdullah Hammoud was elected at age 31 to be the first Muslim mayor of Dearborn, Michigan, in 2021. Prior to serving as mayor, he spent four years as a member of the Michigan House of Representatives. Dearborn has the largest and most diverse Muslim and Arab population per capita of any American city and is home to the largest mosque in the United States.
Shahana Hanif represents New York City’s 39th Council District, making her the first Muslim member of the city council. The daughter of Bangladeshi immigrant parents, she was diagnosed at age 17 with Lupus, and her experiences navigating the healthcare system helped spur her to public service.
Rashad Hussain was nominated by U.S. President Joe Biden as the ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom. He is the first Muslim to head U.S. diplomacy for advancing religious liberties. Previously he served as director for Partnerships and Global Engagement at the National Security Council and as senior counsel at the Department of Justice’s National Security Division.
Saddaf Jaffer was the first Muslim woman to serve as a mayor in the United States (of Montgomery Township, New Jersey). She and Shama Haider, became the first Muslims to serve in the New Jersey State Assembly after they were elected in 2021. Jaffer is a postdoctoral research associate at the Princeton University Institute for International and Regional Studies.
Lina M. Khan, at 32 the youngest Federal Trade Commission Chair ever appointed, was sworn in on June 15, 2021. Formerly associate professor of law at Columbia Law School, she has served as counsel to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law, as legal adviser to FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra, and as legal director at the Open Markets Institute.
Ilhan Omar was elected to represent Minnesota’s 5th District in the United States House of Representatives in 2018, making her the first African refugee to become a member of Congress, the first woman of color to represent Minnesota, and one of the first two Muslim American women elected to Congress. Representative Omar was born in Somalia and fled the country’s civil war with her family when she was eight years old.
Zahid N. Quraishi was confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey in June 2021, making him the first Muslim American Article 3 federal judge in US history. As the son of Pakistani immigrants, he joined the Army after the 9/11 attacks and served two tours in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Rashida Tlaib has represented Michigan’s 13th District, including western Detroit and many western suburbs, in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2019. From 2009 to 2019, she served in the Michigan state legislature, becoming the first woman ever to do so. She was the first Palestinian American woman in Congress and, with Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, one of the first two Muslim women in Congress.
Wajahat Ali is a Pakistani American witty public speaker, New York Times op-ed contributor, playwright, and author of Go Back To Where You Came From: And Other Helpful Recommendations on Becoming American (2022). He co-hosted Al Jazeera America’s daily news show The Stream and is the author of the award- winning play The Domestic Crusaders (2010).
Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, the founder of MuslimGirl.com, curates the largest platform for Muslim women to share their experiences with Islamaphobia and racism. Born in New Jersey to Jordanian and Palestinian parents, she wrote Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age (2016) which shares her journey with Islamaphobia and her continuous advocacy for Islam following 9/11.
Reza Aslan is an Iranian American author of bestselling nonfiction, including Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (2013) and No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam (2005). He has produced several shows such as Believer With Reza Aslan in which Aslan immerses himself in faith-based groups to experience life as a true believer.
Assia Boundaoui is an Algerian American documentary filmmaker and investigative reporter whose work has appeared on WGBH, WBEZ, Al Jazeera, VICE, and CNN. Her directorial debut, The Feeling of Being Watched, explored FBI surveillance in the Muslim American community and aired on PBS. In 2018, Boundaoui earned recognition as one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film.”
Mehdi Hasan is a political journalist, author, and broadcaster of Indian descent. Hasan appeared several times on BBC’s Question Time, was a presenter on Al Jazeera’s English new channel shows, UpFront, Head to Head, and The Café, and host of the Deconstructed podcast by The Intercept. He is currently the host of The Mehdi Hasan Show on MSNBC.
Ayman Mohyeldin is an Egyptian-born journalist who reported on the Middle East through the 2011 Egyptian Revolution and the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict. Mohyeldin was the anchor of Ayman Mohyeldin Reports (formerly MSNBC Live with Ayman Mohyeldin) and correspondent for Al Jazeera and CNN. He currently hosts Ayman on MSNBC and Peacock.
Amna Nawaz is chief correspondent and primary substitute anchor for PBS NewsHour. For more than 20 years, she has worked as an anchor, investigative reporter, and foreign correspondent for the nation’s major television networks, covering everything from the September 11 attacks to moderating the U.S. presidential debate in 2019. Her work has earned a Peabody Award, an Emmy Award, and a Society for Features Journalism Award.
Ali Velshi is anchor of the weekend morning show Velshi on MSNBC. Born in Kenya and raised in Canada, he is the former host of MSNBC Live on MSNBC and Ali Velshi on Target on Al Jazeera America. He previously served as CNN’s chief business correspondent, anchor of CNN’s Your Money, and a co-host of CNN International’s weekday business show World Business Today.
Fareed Zakaria is an Indian American journalist and author. He is the host of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, in which he shares insight on foreign affairs and global policy through one-on-one interviews and roundtable talks. A columnist for The Washington Post and contributing editor for the Atlantic, he served as contributing editor of Time and editor of Newsweek International.
Mahershala Ali is an actor and rapper best known for his breakthrough roles as Richard Tyler in The 4400 and later in his supporting roles in The Hunger Games film series and in House of Cards. Ali made several other appearances in HBO, Hulu, and Netflix series, and the movies Green Book and Moonlight, becoming the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar.
Dave Chappelle is a stand-up comedian and actor, best known for his series Chappelle’s Show (2003-2006). His satirical humor allowed him to perform sporadically in stand-up comedy clubs before returning back to the spotlight with the Netflix special Dave Chappelle’s Equanimity and Broadway’s Dave Chappelle Live on Broadway, winning several Grammy awards.
Aasif Mandvi, also known as Aasif Hakim Mandviwala, is an actor, producer, and comedian of Indian descent. Best known for his roles as Mr. Aziz in Spider-Man 2 and Commander Zhao in The Last Airbender, he was also a correspondent on The Daily Show and HBO’s The Brink, in which he comments on Islamic, Middle-Eastern, and South-Asian conflicts.
Yasmine Al Massri is an actress of Palestinian and Egyptian descent who made an award-winning debut in the Lebanese film Caramel, receiving the Best Actress Award in 2007. She made her debut in American television in 2014 and became known for her role in ABC’s Quantico. As a human rights advocate, she spoke at the United Nations' commemoration of World Humanitarian Day.
Hasan Minhaj is an actor, comedian, writer, and political commentator of Indian descent. Best known as the senior correspondent of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and his Netflix original series The Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj, he continues to educate through political and racial humor in his sold-out one-man shows The Jester and Homecoming King.
Kumail Nanjiani is a Pakistani American actor and comedian. He starred in the comedy television series Franklin & Bash (2011- 2014), Newsreaders (2013-2015) and Silicon Valley (2014-2019). He co-wrote the critically acclaimed 2017 film The Big Sick and recently starred in Marvel’s Eternals (2021), playing a superhero disguised as a Bollywood star.
Dean Obeidallah, the host of SiriusXM radio’s The Dean Obeidallah Show, is a lawyer, journalist, and comedian of Palestinian and Italian descent. Using stand-up comedy to challenge misinterpretation, Obeidallah cofounded the New York Arab- American Comedy Festival and co-produced the award-winning documentary The Muslims are Coming!.
Ramy Youssef is an American stand-up comedian, actor, writer, and director who plays Ramy Hassan on the Hulu comedy series Ramy (2019–present), which earned him Emmy nominations for directing. He is currently working on a Netflix comedy series with his Ramy costar, Mohammed “Mo” Amer. HBO released his standup special, Ramy Youssef: Feelings, in 2019.
Tariq Farid is founder and CEO of Edible Arrangements International Inc., an industry leader in artistically designed fresh fruit arrangements. At age 17 as a Pakistani immigrant, he bought a local flower shop and within two years was operating four highly successful stores. Edible Arrangements has been ranked in Entrepreneur magazine’s top 500 franchises in the world.
Bella Hadid, is a Palestinian American supermodel who has appeared in campaigns for brands such as Bulgari, Fendi, and Dior, and on numerous magazine covers. Together with her fashion model sister, Gigi Hadid, she used her tens of millions of social media followers to raise awareness about mental health, immigration, and the Palestinian people.
Farooq Kathwari is chairman, president, and principal executive officer of Ethan Allen Interiors Inc. He is an advisory member of the New York Stock Exchange, a director and former chairman of the National Retail Federation, and a member of the Board of Overseers of the International Rescue Committee. In 2018, the Kashmiri American was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
Salman “Sal” Khan is founder and executive director of Khan Academy, a collection of online learning tools and video classes for young people that started as a small service in 2008. In Spring 2020, when the COVID pandemic forced schools to close, usage of Khan Academy’s free online tools increased by 300 percent, with more than 30 million students using them.
Shahid “Shad” Khan is the owner of the auto parts manufacturer Flex-N-Gate, which had revenue of $9B in 2020. He owns the National Football League’s Jacksonville Jaguars and an English soccer team, the Fulham Football Club. Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index lists the Pakistani American's net worth at $729B.
Nailah Lymus founded and created her own modeling agency, called UNDERWRAPS, which represents Muslims and women of all faiths who are interested in modeling but uncomfortable wearing risqué clothing. Lymus designs colorful hijabs as part of her own fashion line and frequently comments on current trends in fashion.
Hamdi Ulukaya is founder and CEO of Chobani, which manufactures America’s most popular yogurt brand. Raised on a Kurdish dairy farm, Ulukaya immigrated to the United States to study English in upstate New York. With a loan from the Small Business Administration, he bought an old yogurt plant there. Forbes estimates his net worth as $2.4B.
Omar T. Atiq is a Pakistani American physician, philanthropist, and professor of medicine at the University of Arkansas, and the founding director and president of the Arkansas Cancer Institute. Atiq is the president-elect of the American College of Physicians for 2022-2023. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Atiq canceled and forgave the medical debts of all his patients.
Najah Bazzy is a registered nurse, humanitarian, and interfaith leader who cofounded Muslim Youth Connection and established Zaman International for marginalized women and children to flourish despite extreme poverty. Since 2010, Zamam International has transformed into a world-class organization that has helped more than three million people in more than 20 countries. She was voted CNN Hero for 2019.
Mona Hanna-Attisha is an Iraqi American pediatrician who reported that the water supply in Flint, Michigan, contained dangerous levels of lead. She was awarded the Freedom of Expression Courage Award by PEN America and testified four times before the U.S. Congress. In 2018, she wrote What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City.
Mark S. Humayun is an ophthalmologist and scientist, and professor of ophthalmology and biomedical engineering at the University of Southern California. In 2016, President Obama awarded Dr. Humayun the National Medal of Technology and Innovation for his work on the Argus Series retina implants used to restore sight in the blind.
Marium Husain is an oncologist hospitalist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and president of the Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA). Founded in 1967, IMANA is a leading networking resource for healthcare professionals in North America. IMANA’s medical relief program, IMR, provides assistance in 37 countries.
S. Amjad Hussain, inventor of the pleuroperitoneal shunt and a special endotracheal tube used in surgery, is a Pakistani American trustee with an endowed professorship of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at the University of Toledo. Dr. Hussain has been an op-ed columnist for The Toledo Blade since 1995 and has joined expeditions including the 2000 miles of the Indus river.
Muhammad M. Mohiuddin is a Pakistani American surgeon and professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Dr. Mohiuddin is a pioneering researcher in the field of xenotransplantation, the transplant of organs from animals to humans, working specifically on pigs. He started the xenotransplantation research programs at the University of Maryland.
Mehmet Oz is a Turkish American cardiothoracic surgeon, author, and television personality. Dr. Öz became a regular guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and in 2009, launched a career as a proponent of alternative medicine on The Dr. Oz Show. In 2022, Dr. Öz entered the political arena as a senatorial candidate in Pennsylvania.
Elias Zerhouni is an Algerian American scientist, biomedical engineer, and biologist. From 2002 to 2008, Zerhouni was director of the National Institutes of Health, making medical research more easily accessible to the public by establishing the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research. He has served as a senior fellow for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and as a trustee of Mayo Clinic.
Mahmut Gazi Yaşargil is a Turkish American internationally known as one of the pioneers of microneurosurgery. He was honored as the Neurosurgeon of the Century in 1999 by the Journal of Neurosurgery and developed precise instruments for the exploration of the brain. He is professor emeritus at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Husain Abdullah is a former American football free safety. He and his brother Hamza, also an NFL safety, took the 2012 season off to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. In 2014 Husain received a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after he prostrated himself as if in prayer after making a touchdown for the Kansas City Chiefs. The NFL later apologized for the call.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a renowned former professional basketball player and the all-time leading scorer in the NBA. Selected by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be a U.S. global cultural ambassador in 2012, he is also an actor, filmmaker, commentator, activist, and New York Times best-selling author. In 2021, the NBA named a new social justice award after him.
Muhammad Ali was an American professional boxer and social activist. He was the first fighter to win the world heavyweight championship on three separate occasions, and he defended his title 19 times successfully. In 1967, citing his religious beliefs, he refused to be inducted into the U.S. Army to fight in Vietnam. His conviction was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ryan Harris, a Minnesota native, helped the Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers to win Super Bowl 50 in 2016. In 2017, he announced his retirement after spending ten years in the NFL and seamlessly transitioned from football player to public servant, speaking against the travel ban and hate crimes committed against American Muslims.
Enes Kanter Freedom is a Turkish-born National Basketball Association center who played for the Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, New York Knicks, Portland Trailblazers, and Boston Celtics. He has spoken out publicly against China’s leadership and criticized NBA contacts with China, citing human rights abuses in Tibet and the persecution of China’s Uyghur Muslim minority.
Dalilah Muhammad won a gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles at the 2016 Summer Olympics and a silver medal at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. She is also a four-time All-American at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, a medalist at the 2007 World Youth Championships, and the 2009 Pan American Junior Athletics Championships.
Ibtihaj Muhammad is a saber fencer who retired from the U.S. Olympic fencing team in 2019. In the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, she earned a bronze medal, becoming the first American Muslim woman wearing a hijab to qualify and earn a medal for the United States Olympic team. Named one of Time's 100 Most Influential People, she has had a Barbie created in her likeness.
Hakeem Olajuwon is a Nigerian American who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008 and into the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2016. He led the Houston Rockets to NBA championships in 1994 and 1995. In 1996, he played on the Olympic gold medal- winning U.S. national team and was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.
Robert Saleh became the NFL’s first Muslim coach when he was hired by the New York Jets football team in 2021. A native of Dearborn, Michigan, and the son of Lebanese immigrants, Saleh spent four seasons as the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator, helping lead that team to the Super Bowl in 2020.
Mike Tyson is an American boxer who in 1986, at age 20, became the youngest heavyweight champion in history. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2011 and had a film and Broadway production about made about his life. In a 2020 interview with the Full Send Podcast, he revealed that he had converted to Islam in the 1990s.
Nasir Ahmed is professor emeritus of electrical and computer engineering at University of New Mexico (UNM). He invented the discrete cosine transform (DCT) in the early 1970s, allowing modern society to send images and videos over the internet. The DCT is the basis for most digital media standards (image, video, and audio) and is commonly used in digital signal processing.
Anousheh Ansari is an Iranian American engineer and cofounder and chairwoman of Prodea Systems. In 2006, she became the first female space tourist (through Space Adventures, Ltd.), the first person of Iranian descent, and the first Muslim woman to fly into space. She cofounded Telecom Technologies, Inc. (TTI), acquired by Sonus Networks, Inc., for some $440 million.
Fazlur Rahman Khan was a Bangladeshi American civil engineer and architect considered the "father of tubular designs” for high- rise buildings. He created the structural designs for the Sears Tower, the tallest building in the world from 1974 to 1996, and the 100-story John Hancock Center, both in Chicago. He was also a pioneer in computer-aided design (CAD).
Maryam Mirzakhani was an Iranian American mathematician and professor at Stanford University. In 2005, she was honored in Popular Science's "Brilliant 10" for young minds who have pushed their fields in innovative directions. She was the first Iranian and only woman to win the Fields Medal, the most prestigious award in mathematics. Mirzakhani died of breast cancer at age 40.
Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil is an astrophysicist and National Science Foundation and Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago. Her research led to the discovery of a rare galaxy with a unique double-ringed elliptical structure, now commonly referred to as Burcin's Galaxy. She spoke about her research as a 2018 TED Fellow and a 2020 TED Senior Fellow.
Jackie Ying is a chemical engineer who directs NanoBio Lab Institute of Materials Research and Engineering in Singapore. A former MIT professor, she guides biomedical technologies from the lab bench to spin-off companies. She was elected a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and one of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ “One Hundred Engineers of the Modern Era.”
Aziz Sancar is a Turkish American biochemist. He shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2015 for mechanistic discoveries underlying a process called nucleotide excision repair, by which cells correct errors in DNA that arise as a result of exposure to ultraviolet light or certain mutation-inducing chemicals. Sancar is a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.
Moncef Mohamed Slaoui is a Moroccan-born, Belgian American researcher who served from 2020-2021 as the scientific head of Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. public-private partnership created to accelerate the development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Prior to joining the government, Slaoui headed the vaccines department at GlaxoSmithKline.
Ahmed Hassan Zewail, the “father of femtochemistry,” was an Egyptian American scientist who pioneered the use of ultrafast laser spectroscopy to study chemical bonds, earning the Chemistry Nobel in 1999. A longtime faculty member and administrator at the California Institute of Technology, he served on U.S. President Barack Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
Hind Makki, currently a religious adviser to the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program and board of the Islamic Society of North America’s Mosque Inclusion Taskforce, continues to spark conversations about gender and inclusivity. Makki’s blog, Side Entrance, documents the physical and emotional expectations placed on Muslim women.
Ingrid Mattson, former president of the Islamic Society of North America, is the Community Chair in Islamic Studies at the University of Western Ontario in Canada. Mattson founded the first accredited graduate program for Muslim chaplains in the U.S. Her book, The Story of The Qur'an (2007), became an academic best-seller, focusing on Quran interpretation and ethics.
M. Hasna Maznavi founded The Women’s Mosque of America in 2015 in Los Angeles, the country’s first mosque for only women. Maznavi, who is president of the mosque, is a writer and film director who seeks to revolutionize the way Muslims are represented in mainstream American media.
John Andrew Morrow, the author of The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World (2013) and editor-in- chief of Islam and the People of the Book: Critical Studies on the Covenants of the Prophet (2017), directs the Covenants of the Prophet Foundation and acts as a religious/political advisor to several world leaders.
Warith Deen Mohammed succeeded his father Elijah Muhammad as head of the Nation of Islam. While in prison for refusing the draft, he embraced orthodox Islam and then brought the Nation more in line with Sunni practices and beliefs. In 1978, the organization became the American Muslim Mission, prompting a rift with Louis Farrakhan who re-established the Nation of Islam.
Seyyed Hossein Nasr is a world renowned scholar of Islam and University Professor of Islamic Studies at George Washington University. He has published more than fifty books and hundreds of articles in numerous languages and translations, mostly in the fields of Islamic esotericism, Sufism, philosophy of science, and metaphysics.
El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, or Malcolm X, joined the Nation of Islam while in prison for robbery, subsequently leading the Nation during the period of its greatest growth and influence. Shabazz became a powerful critic of both American racism and the mainstream civil rights movement. He embraced Sunni Islam in 1964 during a pilgrimage to Mecca and was assassinated in 1965.
Zaid Shakir has cofounded Islamic centers in New Jersey, California, and Connecticut. He joined other community leaders in serving areas plagued by drugs and violence by being “involved in the lives of their community,” imitating the early prophets. In 2009, Shakir cofounded Zaytuna College. In 2016, he conducted the funeral services for the boxer Muhammad Ali.
Omar Suleiman, founder and president of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research and adjunct professor of Islamic Studies at Southern Methodist University, is a Muslim scholar, civil rights activist, and writer. Suleiman remains active on social media, speaking on social justice issues and the Muslim faith while participating in sit-ins and protests.
Siraj Wahhaj is the imam of Al-Taqwa mosque in Brooklyn, New York since 1981, and the founder of The Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA) created in 2004. He was the vice-president of the Islamic Society of North America. Wahhaj is known for his anti-drug patrols in an effort to reduce crimes in Bedford- Stuyvesant and his advocacy for Muslim American’s civil rights.
Suhaib Webb, previously imam of Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, combines a love for popular culture with deep Islamic learning. Webb remains active on Snapchat, where he issues “Snap Was” to respond to questions from young Muslims around the world. Webb frequently lectures throughout the country about community involvement.
Hamza Yusuf spent two decades studying with scholars in the Middle East and Africa. In 2009, Yusuf cofounded Zaytuna College, the country’s first accredited Muslim liberal arts college, in Berkeley, California. Through the Deen Intensive and Global Center for Guidance and Renewal, Yusuf urges Muslims to tap into Islamic traditions and modern issues.
Sherman Jackson, also known as Abdul Hakim Jackson, is an Islamic scholar and author. As a distinguished professor at USC Dornsife College, Jackson is the co-founder of the American Learning Institute for Muslims (ALIM) and former president of the Shari’a Scholars Association of North America (SSANA). His writings explore race, religion, and constitutionalism in the West.
Asma Inge-Hanif is a nurse practitioner and chaplain. In 1987, she established Muslimat Al Nisaa, which provides health, education, and social services to minority women and children battling homelessness and domestic violence. In 2019, she received a Maryland Governor’s Service Award, and in 2020, she was named Outstanding Philanthropist by the Maryland Association for Fundraising Professionals.
Arooj Aftab is a Pakistan-born, Brooklyn-based vocalist, composer, and producer. “Mohabbat,” a song on her critically acclaimed third album, Vulture Prince, won the Grammy for Best Global Performance in 2022. Her work fuses ancient Sufi traditions with folk, jazz, and minimalism. She was also nominated for a Grammy in the Best New Artist category in 2022.
Ayad Akhtar is an American playwright, novelist, screenwriter, and actor of Pakistani descent. He is best known for his play Disgraced, which received the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play, and was the most produced play in America in the 2015-2016 season.
Jonathan Davis, famously known as Q-Tip, is a Grammy award- winning rapper, record producer, and DJ, and a founding member of the hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest. He hosts Apple Music’s Abstract Radio, a show where he treats listeners to underground favorites and musical legends. In 2016, Q-Tip was named the artistic director for hip-hop culture at the Kennedy Center.
Mahyad Tousi is a multidisciplinary artist, writer, and producer who is executive producer of the CBS primetime comedy United States of Al. His work includes Hollywood feature films, independent movies, fine art videos, interactive comic books, and conflict zone documentaries. Currently, he is writing and producing 1001, a sci-fi adaptation of One Thousand and One Nights.
Lupe Fiasco, born Wasalu Muhammad Jaco, is a Grammy award- winning rapper, record producer, and entrepreneur. A philanthropist, he recorded a benefit single for the victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. He will teach rap in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Visiting Professor Program for the 2022-23 academic year, after a stint as visiting artist at the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology.
Khaled Hosseini is an Afghan-born American novelist and physician. He has written three bestselling novels, including his 2003 debut, The Kite Runner, adapted both as a film and a play in 2007. Since 2006, he has traveled the world as a goodwill envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, founding the Khaled Hosseini Foundation to help house refugees.
O’Shea Jackson Sr., famously known as Ice Cube, is a rapper, record producer, actor, and filmmaker. Widely regarded as the founding father of gangsta rap, he began his career as a member of the hip-hop group C.I.A. and later joined the gangster rap group N.W.A. After leaving N.W.A. in 1989, he built a successful solo career in music and films.
Khaled Mohammed Khaled, famously known as DJ Khaled, is a Grammy-winning rapper, record producer, radio personality, and record label executive. The son of Palestinian immigrants, he has collaborated with artists including John Legend, Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Wiz Khalifa, Nicki Minaj, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and Cardi B. He has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Alexander Kronemer, cofounder and executive producer of Unity Productions Foundation and Unity Production Films, is a writer and filmmaker. Kronemer created and co-produced the award-winning PBS documentaries Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet, Cities of Light: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain, and Prince Among Slaves. He advocates for Islamic awareness and religious diversity.
Azar Nafisi, an Iranian American, is author of the memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran (2003), which has spent over 117 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list and has been translated into 32 languages. Her latest book, Read Dangerously: The Subversive Power of Literature in Troubled Times (2022), is written in the form of a letter to her father about her reading.
G. Willow Wilson is the lead author of the newest version of Ms. Marvel, a comic series turned TV series about a 16-year-old Muslim Jersey City girl who is really a superhero. Wilson wrote for the world’s best-known superhero comic series Wonder Woman, Superman, and X-Men for Marvel Comics and DC Comics. Her novel Alif the Unseen won the 2013 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel.
Michael Wolfe is a film producer and the author of eleven books of poetry, fiction, and travel writing. In 1990 he made the pilgrimage to Mecca, and subsequently he wrote two books on the experience. He cofounded a nonprofit media organization called Unity Productions Foundation that hopes to increase understanding between Islam and other faiths.
One of the oldest mosques on Long Island is launching an interfaith institute whose mission is to dispel
misconceptions about Islam and promote understanding among different faiths.
The Interfaith Institute of Islamic Center of Long Island will hold its first event Sunday at the mosque in Westbury.
John Andrew Morrow, author of "The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World," will give a keynote address about how American Muslims should respond to ISIS, the military terrorist group that has taken over swaths of Iraq and Syria.
Morrow, a convert to Islam and a professor of foreign languages at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, is expected to address at least 250 religious leaders and others from a variety of faiths.
The Islamic Center -- which has 800 members and is physically the largest mosque on the Island -- has conducted outreach efforts for years. Other mosques and groups on Long Island do similar work as well.
This, however, is the first time a mosque has created a formal institution to do so, said Dr. Faroque Khan, a founder of the mosque who is heading the Interfaith Institute.
One goal is a more organized, forceful effort to explain Islam to the American public and build bridges with other faiths, he said.
The institute "will give us an opportunity to clear up some of the misconceptions and stereotypes about the Muslims," Khan said. "We always get asked, 'What are you guys doing about the terrorism overseas?'"
Khan and other mosque leaders say organizations such as ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, have nothing to do with Islam, which preaches peace.
The mosque's members are providing funding through donations. The institute will operate out of a new $5 million facility at the Westbury mosque that is near completion -- a three-floor, 19,000-square-foot addition that has rooms for religious classes on Sundays, a cafeteria, a multipurpose room that will double as a meeting hall for up to 300 people, and a basketball court.
The organization will start off with one part-time paid staff member. It will work with local schools and hold at least two major conferences a year, Khan said.
The initiative has gained the backing of other faith leaders, including Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Hindus and Sikhs, along with secular institutions, including universities and anti-poverty organizations.
The board of trustees includes the Rev. Calvin Butts, president of SUNY Old Westbury; Bernard Firestone, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Hofstra University; and Roger Tilles, Long Island's representative on the state Board of Regents, which sets education policy for New York schools.
"The goals of the Interfaith Institute are noble ones," Bishop William Murphy of the Diocese of Rockville Centre wrote in a letter for the institute's launch. "Since my arrival on Long Island in 2001, I have been inspired by the willingness of the Muslim community, among others, to work together."
Rabbi Michael White of Temple Sinai in Roslyn, said his synagogue has engaged in interfaith events with the mosque for years. Members of the mosque, for instance, have attended Passover seders at the temple.
"Many false assumptions about Jews and Muslims have evaporated in our many dialogues and learning ses- sions," White said.
By BART JONES email@example.com
Updated October 24, 2015
Bart Jones covers religion at Newsday, where he has worked since 2000, and is a former foreign correspondent for The Associated Press in Venezuela.