When Muslim slaves were brought into the United States in the seventeenth century from West African shores one of their stops was Pennsylvania. In the early years of the twentieth century, as African Americans migrated from the South to industrial centers in the North, a number of Muslim immigrants and African Americans found common ground in their shared faith, Islam. They convened near Broad Street. Many decades later Pennsylvania has become home to a sizeable Muslim population. Through waves of immigration and conversion Islam has become part of the religious landscape of the Keystone State. With metropolitan areas in Pennsylvania housing one of the most dense Muslim populations, Islam and Muslims are vital parts of the state’s socio-cultural fabric. These communities provide insightful accounts of urban and local history.
This panel will bring together Muslim American community members who have witnessed the state’s changing landscape. Panelists will share their experiences and recount focal incidents that shaped their congregations and Muslim life in Pennsylvania. A musical performance by Muslim jazz artists will expand the panel’s focus to Pennsylvania’s soundscapes and Muslim influence on music.
Panelist's Bios: Sheikha Maryam Kabeer Faye was born in a liberal Jewish family in Hollywood, Ca. She was an actress at the age of five and was acting in a Theatre Company when she was twelve years old, when she was given a painted scroll of an ancient wanderer, upon which were inscribed the words: “Seek and The Truth Shall Make You Free.” This message galvanized her soul and determined the course of her life. In search of the liberating truth, she was led to live in India and Nepal, and in monasteries in Europe, and then guided to embrace Islam at the hands of an ancient Sufi Master a few minutes away from the tomb of the Prophet Abraham (a.s.) She then was guided to study intensively with Sufi Masters around the world, with Sheikh Bawa Muhaiyadeen (ra) in Sri Lanka and Philadelphia, with Sheikh Abdoulaye Dieye (ra) and Sheikj Aly N’Daw in Senegal and the US, and with Sheikh Harun Faye in Senegal, and the US. She has received the permission to teach in the Muridiyyah and Mustafawiyyah Tariqahs. She has described her deep journey of transformation in a book entitled: “Journey Through Ten Thousand Veils, the Alchemy of Transformation on the Sufi Path.” She lives in Overbrook, near the Bawa Muhaiyadeen Fellowhsip Mosque.
Samia Malik is a naturalized American citizen and a long-time resident of Harrisburg/ Mechanicsburg region. She has been a community activist and a champion of social justice issues across Pennsylvania. She developed and conducted a series of lectures on Islam in several institutions including the Fredricksen Library, Women's interfaith Symposium, Messiah Lifeways, and many other groups. She received the President’s award for her work with the group Community Relations and Criminal Justice where she developed and conducted sensitivity training to all criminal justice groups including the local police force. Samia lead the graduation processional for Harrisburg Area Community College as a torch bearer in 2016 and received the Peacemaker of the Year Award from the World Affairs Council in 2017.
Shaykh Anwar Muhaimin was born in Philadelphia, PA and left the city at the age of 11 with his family to formally study Islam in Saudi Arabia. He completed memorization of the Holy Koran and was bestowed the title of Shaykh from the Islamic University of Medina, Saudi Arabia, Department of Arabic Language, from which he graduated with a degree in Arabic literature in 1989. He holds a Masters of Art degree in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University. He currently serves as President and Executive Director of Quba Institute, a religious & educational non-profit in Philadelphia founded in 1949. Additionally, he is a founding board member of the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia, a co-convener for Religious Leaders Council of Philadelphia, and serves on the Council of Islamic Organizations of PA. He resides with his family in Philadelphia.
Imam Kenneth Nuriddin was born and raised in West Philadelphia. Imam Nurridin attended the Philadelphia Catholic and Public Schools. He is of West Indian descent, the son of a father born in Barbados. He entered the US Army at the age of 17 years old and served in Germany and Vietnam, and was honorably discharged in 1970. After a brief experience with the "Black Power Movement", he entered the Nation of Islam in 1972. He immediately began a lifelong pursuit of the Arabic language and the Quran. He was employed by the City of Philadelphia in the Department of Licenses and Inspection and Records Department. Imam Nurridin became the Arabic teacher for Temple 12-c in 1976 and became the Assistant Minister. During this time, he also served as a volunteer in the County Prisons as a servicing Imam. He was asked to become the Department Head for Arabic and Islamic Studies at Sister Clara Muhammad School in 1978 and subsequently left government employment. He served in that capacity for 15 years and eventually became the Assistant Director of Education. After leaving the Sister Clara Muhammad School in 1994, he helped start the United Muslim Masjid and became the first Resident Imam. Shortly afterwards, he helped formulate a program within the Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania, and worked in that capacity from 1996 to 2004, building bridges with various groups in West Philadelphia. He also served the Muslim Student Association as their Imam in the Office of the Chaplain at the University of Pennsylvania. He continues to serve as a member of the Penn Religious Community Council. Imam Nuriddin has served as the Resident Imam of The Philadelphia Masjid since 2012.