Past Speakers

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Rami Nashishibi

Rami Nashashibi is the Executive Director and one of the original founding members of IMAN, the Inner-city Muslim Action Network, located in Chicago. He is currently a Sociology PhD candidate at the University of Chicago and an adjunct professor teaching in the sociology department at St Xavier University. He is a recipient of the Davis Putter Student Activist Grant and lectures frequently on a range of topics relating to Islam, Muslims and community activism.

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Imam Zaid Shakir

Imam Zaid Shakir is an African-American Muslim scholar and intellectual. His formative years were spent in housing projects. These early experiences instilled in him a compassionate and realistic work ethic, as well as an unshakeable desire for social change and economic justice. His purposeful goal to work for the common good of all, led him to earn a BA in International Relations from the American University in Washington, DC in 1983. After a sabbatical year in Cairo, Egypt where he studied the Arabic language, Imam Shakir accepted the position of Professor of Political Science and Middle East Studies at Southern Connecticut State University.

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Keith Ellison

Keith Maurice Ellison is an American lawyer and politician belonging to the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. He broke ground by becoming the first Muslim to be elected to the United States Congress when he won the open seat for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district. He started his law career with the firm of Lindquist & Vennum before becoming the executive director of the Legal Rights Center before later returning to private practice. Besides practicing law, Ellison was active in the community and public service. In his short time in office, Ellison has supported stem cell research and raising the minimum wage.

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Scott Alexander

After graduating from Harvard with an A.B. in the comparative study of religion, Scott went on to Columbia University in New York where he earned the M.A. and Ph.D. in the history of religions, with a concentration in Islamic studies. From 1986 to 1990, Scott taught courses on Islam and the history of religions at Columbia, Fordham, and Princeton Universities, and in 1991 he took a position on the religious studies faculty of Indiana University in Bloomington where he taught as an assistant professor of Islamic studies from 1993 to 2000. He is currently Associate Professor of Islam at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, where he is also director of the school’s Catholic-Muslim Studies Program.

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Rummana Hussain

Rummana Hussain is a reporter, editor and occasional columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times. Here she recently served as an editorial board member, writing on a variety of national and international subjects, including immigration and Pakistan’s tumultuous political landscape. Rummana was recently honored by local journalism groups for her work on breaking stories with her Sun-Times colleagues. She was also chosen as a Jefferson fellowship at Honolulu’s East West Center in 2006. During that fellowship, Rummana traveled to India and Pakistan to study the rising economy in South Asia with several American and foreign journalists.

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Ahlam Jbara

Ahlam Jbara is the Associate Director at the Council for Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, where she was recently appointed.  Previously, Ahlam served as the Outreach and Interpretation Program Director at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR).