Hamza Yusuf is the current president of Zaytuna College, located in Berkeley, California. He is an advisor to Stanford University’s Program in Islamic Studies and the Center for Islamic Studies at Berkeley’s Graduate Theological Union. He also serves as vice-president for the Global Center for Guidance and Renewal, which was founded and is currently presided over by Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah, one of the top jurists and masters of Islamic sciences in the world. For almost a decade, Hamza Yusuf was consecutively ranked as “The Western word’s most influential Islamic scholar” by The 500 Most Influential Muslims.
University Professor, Professor of Religion and International Affairs and of Islamic Studies at Georgetown University, John L. Esposito is Founding Director of the Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in the Walsh School of Foreign Service. Previously, he was Loyola Professor of Middle East Studies, College of the Holy Cross. Past President of the American Academy of Religion and Middle East Studies Association of North America, Esposito has served as consultant to the U.S. Department of State and other agencies, European and Asian governments, corporations, universities, and media worldwide and ambassador for the UN Alliance of Civilizations and was a member of the World Economic Forum’s Council of 100 Leaders and E. C. European Network of Experts on De-Radicalisation.
He has received honorary doctorates from St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto, the University of Sarajevo, University of Florida and Immaculata University as well as the American Academy of Religion’s Martin E. Marty Award for the Public Understanding of Religion, Pakistan’s Quaid-i-Azzam Award for Outstanding Contributions in Islamic Studies, Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service Outstanding Teacher Award and Georgetown’s Career Research Achievement Award. Esposito’s more than 45 books include: The Future of Islam, Islamophobia and the Challenge of Pluralism in the 21st Century, Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think (with Dalia Mogahed), Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam, The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality?, Islam and Politics; Makers of Contemporary Islam and Islam and Democracy (with John O. Voll), What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam, Asian Islam in the 21st Century (John Voll & Osman Bakar), World Religions Today and Religion and Globalization (with D. Fasching & T. Lewis), Geography of Religion: Where God Lives, Where Pilgrims Walk (with S. Hitchcock), Islam: The Straight Path; Islam and Democracy and Makers of Contemporary Islam (with J. Voll); Modernizing Islam (with F. Burgat) Political Islam: Revolution, Radicalism or Reform?, Religion and Global Order (with M. Watson), Islam and Secularism in the Middle East (with A. Tamimi), Iran at the Crossroads (with R.K. Ramazani), Islam, Gender, and Social Change and Muslims on the Americanization Path and Daughters of Abraham (with Y. Haddad), and Women in Muslim Family Law. Esposito’s books and articles have been translated into more than 35 languages. Editor-in-Chief of Oxford Islamic Studies Online and Series Editor of The Oxford Library of Islamic Studies, he served as Editor-in-Chief of The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World (6 vols.); The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World (4 vols.), The Oxford History of Islam, The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, and The Islamic World: Past and Present (3 vols.). Esposito’s interviews and articles with newspapers, magazines, and the media in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and the Middle East: The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, The Guardian, The Times of London, CNN, ABC Nightline, CBS, NBC, and the BBC. A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., he currently resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Dr. Jeanette P. Esposito.
The New York Times describes him as a “leading intellectual light” and Dr. Cornel West writes “he is one of the towering principle voices not only in contemporary Islam, but in American society.” Imam Zaid Shakir, a gifted scholar, author and lecturer, is fast becoming one of the most influential voices for Islam in the West, as well as a compelling force for the improvement of race relations in America. Through his writing, speaking and teaching, he pragmatically directs Muslim thought, literature, and practice to enrich, the societies they are part of. The Imam brings clarity of mind and engaging honesty to even the most controversial issues. Trained in both the academic and religious intellectual traditions, Imam Shakir is uniquely qualified as a commentator on the substantial issues of our time.
Born in Berkeley, California to a family descended from African, Irish and Native American roots, Imam Shakir spent his formative years 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. And, as an American who came of age during the civil rights movement, he brings both sensitivity about African-American and poverty issues and scholarly discipline to his faith-based work.
It was while serving in the Air Force that he accepted Islam in 1977, He remained in the military for four years and received an accommodation medal for his dedicated service. 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. A summa cum laude graduate, Imam Shakir went on to receive his Masters in Political Science from Rutgers University where he was also a student leader.
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. In Connecticut, he also served as interfaith council Chaplain at Yale University and developed the Chaplaincy Sensitivity Training for physicians at Yale New Haven Hospital. Additionally, Imam Shakir continued his work as a spiritual and community leader. His many selfless projects included spearheading a community revival program and grassroots anti-drug effort, before leaving for further study in the Middle East in 1994.
For seven years in Syria and briefly in Morocco, the Imam immersed himself in the intense study of Arabic, Islamic law, Quranic studies, and spirituality with some of the top traditional Islamic scholars of our age. He was the first American to graduate from Syria’s prestigious Abu Noor University with a BA in Islamic Sciences and returned to Connecticut in 2001. In 2003, Imam Shakir served as resident scholar and lecturer at the Zaytuna Institute, in Hayward, California. In 2004, he initiated a pilot seminary program at Zaytuna Institute, which was useful in Zaytuna College’s refinement of its Islamic Studies curriculum and its educational philosophy. For four years, students in the pilot program were engaged in the study of contemporary and classical texts. And, in the fall of 2010, he and his colleagues co-founded Zaytuna College, Berkeley, CA., a four-year Muslim liberal arts college, the first of its kind in the United States. He is also chairman of the board and faculty member. He has continued his spiritual, academic and community work, speaking and writing extensively on religion, socio-political and race issues. Imam Shakir has been invited to lecture at several prominent universities including Stanford, UCLA, Berkeley, Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Rutgers, and Temple University. He is the author of the groundbreaking books Heirs of the Prophets, Scattered Pictures, Treatise for the Seekers of Guidance, Where I’m Coming From, and has written for several notable publications including The New Haven Register, Washington Post, and The San Francisco Chronicle.
Imam Zaid was 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). In the spirit of the great scholars of the past, the Imam embodies the rationality, spirituality and breadth of traditional knowledge, as well as cutting-edge academic intellect. Imam Shakir leaves a lasting impression; his ability to move hearts and minds enlightens all walks of life.
Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah (Wymann-Landgraf) is an American Muslim, born in 1948 to a Protestant family in Columbus, Nebraska. He grew up in Athens, Georgia, where both parents taught at the University of Georgia. His father taught Veterinary Medicine and Organic Chemistry, while his mother’s field was English. In 1964, his parents took positions at the University of Missouri in Columbia, where his grandfather had been a professor emeritus of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Abd-Allah did his undergraduate work at the University of Missouri with dual majors in History and English Literature. He made the Dean’s list all semesters and was nominated to the Phi Beta Kappa Honorary Society. In 1969, he won a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship and entrance to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York to pursue a Ph.D. program in English literature. Shortly after coming to Cornell, Dr. Abd-Allah read The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which inspired him to embrace Islam in early 1970. In 1972, he altered his field of study and transferred to the University of Chicago, where he studied Arabic and Islamic Studies under Dr. Fazlur Rahman. Dr. Abd-Allah received his doctorate with honors in 1978 for a dissertation on the origins of Islamic Law, Malik’s Concept of ‘Amal in the Light of Maliki Legal Theory. From 1977 until 1982, he taught at the Universities of Windsor (Ontario), Temple, and Michigan. In 1982, he left America to teach Arabic in Spain. Two years later, he was appointed to the Department of Islamic Studies at King Abdul-Aziz University in Jeddah, where he taught (in Arabic) Islamic studies and comparative religions until 2000.
Dr. Jamal Badawi is an Egyptian born Muslim Canadian. He is a former professor who taught at a number of schools including the Sobey School of Business, Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he taught in the Departments of Religious Studies and Management. He is a well-known author, activist, preacher and speaker on Islam. Dr. Badawi completed his undergraduate studies in Cairo, Egypt and his Masters and Ph.D. degrees at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Dr. Badawi is the author of many books and articles on Islam. In addition, he researched, designed and presented a 352 segment television series on Islam, which was shown in many local TV stations in Canada, the US and as well as other countries all over the world. Audio and video copies of this series are widely available throughout the world. Dr. Badawi also actively participates in lectures, seminars and interfaith dialogues in North America. He was invited as a guest speaker in various functions throughout the world. Additionally, he is active in several Islamic organizations, including Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). He is the founder/chairman of the Islamic Information Foundation, which is a non-profit foundation seeking to promote a better understanding of Islam and the Muslims. Currently, he is the Vice-Chairman of the Islamic University. Dr. Badawi is the father of 5 and grandfather of 12 children.
Imam Johari Abdul-Malik is the Director of Outreach at the Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center (Falls Church, VA) and former Muslim Chaplain at Howard University (HU) and was the first Muslim officially installed as a chaplain in higher education at HU and is the Head of the National Association of Muslim Chaplains in Higher Education. The imam also, serves as the chair of government relations for the Muslim Alliance in North America. He is the director of community outreach for the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center and President of the Muslim Society of Washington, Inc.
Sheik Yusuf was raised in a strong Christian home, he was educated in Texas, became successful in music business, owning stores, TV shows and used his talents to promote faith in God, while doing some preaching from the Bible. In 1991, Yusuf Estes converted to Islam. Sheikh Yusuf is the founder of Guide US TV, a news channel that has educational lectures and shows about Islam and Muslims. Sheikh Yusuf served as Delegate to United Nations Peace Summit for Religious Leaders, U.S. Federal chaplain from 1994 until 2000.
Dr. Shaykh Abdullah Hakim Quick, PhD, has accomplished a lifetime worth of achievements spanning many continents while enlightening the lives of millions. He was born in the United States of America and accepted Islam in Canada in 1970. He pursued his study of Islam at the Islamic University of Madinah in Saudi Arabia where he graduated and received an Ijaza from the College of Da’wah and Islamic Sciences in 1979, one of the first two students to do so from the West. He later completed a Masters Degree and a Doctorate in African History at the University of Toronto in Canada. His thesis was an analysis of the early life of Sheikh ‘Uthman Dan Fodio, a great West African Scholar, Mujahid, and social activist. Shaykh Abdullah has served as Imam, Da'iyah, teacher, counsellor and media consultant in the USA, Canada, South Africa and the West Indies, and is still going strong! For three years he contributed to the religious page of Canada’s leading newspaper. He has travelled to over 61 countries on lecture, research and educational tours. Yes, 61! He keeps the online world fascinated by his daily posts on his social media channels covering his travels and other incredible sights of geography and history of the modern world. Presently he is a Senior Lecturer with the Islamic Institute of Toronto (I.I.T.) and the Outreach Coordinator with the Canadian Council of Imams.