Annual UCCRO Convention: Focus on Legislative Initiatives

IMAN staff and leaders recently participated in United Congress of Community and Religious Organization’s (UCCRO) annual convention at Madero Middle School. At this year’s convention, we focused on learning about and voting on the three issues that UCCRO will be focusing on during the Veto Session in mid-November and early December. These three policy priorities align with IMAN’s longtime commitment to working on issues of criminal justice, education, and youth.

The first piece of legislation, Prisoner Redistricting (HB 92), would require state and local governments to use census figures adjusted to reflect pre-incarceration addresses of Illinois’ state and federal prisoners in creating election districts and redistricting starting in 2020. The second piece, Local School Council Empowerment (HB5328), would strengthen the role of Local School Councils by giving them the necessary tools and governance to transform our most challenging schools. Finally, Fixing School Discipline (SB 3004/HB 4655), would limit the use of out-of-school suspensions, expulsion, and school-based arrests.

IMAN and other UCCRO member organizations will be mobilizing down to Springfield during Veto Session to meet with key legislators and encourage them to support these issues that directly impact our communities. If you are interested in learning more about IMAN’s policy agenda, or in joining us in Springfield, please contact IMAN organizers, Shamar ( or Sara (

Health Clinic: Behavioral Health Program Update

Last week, the IMAN Health Clinic restarted its training relationship with the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration (SSA). After several exchanges and a brief field placement coordinator interview, SSA reactivated the IMAN Health Clinic’s status as a field placement site. The Clinic’s Behavioral Health program previously served as a field placement site for social work students interested in clinical work, as well as organizing and advocacy issues. The Behavioral Health program will take up to two Master’s level social work students for the 2015-2016 academic year and engage them in clinical work and advocacy.

Students in the SSA program will be able to read a description of IMAN’s Behavioral Health program and apply to be an intern in the Health Clinic beginning in January/February 2015. Following a similar process, the Behavioral Health program will also accept up to two graduate student trainees in clinical psychology from Chicago area universities. The Health Clinic is excited to resume training students for behavioral health, as we continue to address the overwhelming need for behavioral and mental health services in our communities.

Amir Sulaiman & The True + Living to Perform at Annual Dinner

Poet, artist and longtime IMAN Artist Leader Amir Sulaiman is returning to Chicago for a debut performance of his latest work, “Heavy Halo,” at IMAN’s 2014 Annual Dinner on Saturday, December 6  at the South Shore Cultural Center.  He will be performing with The True + Living.  “Amir Sulaiman is one of the most accomplished poets and artists performing right now, and it has been rewarding to see him perfect his craft over the years,” said Rami Nashashibi, IMAN’s Executive Director. “We are honored that Amir is joining us at the Annual Dinner this year for an exclusive performance of his latest artistic creation,” added Nashasibi.

Sulaiman is one of the most powerful and relevant voices among Muslim American artists.  You don’t want to miss this debut performance, specially curated and crafted for the larger IMAN family. This will also mark Sulaiman’s return to the Annual Dinner where he delivered a stirring guest performance last year.

Reflections on Health & Wellness: A Garden Update

Over the past several months, IMAN leaders have been hard at work on our very first backyard garden. The garden is located in the back of IMAN’s second Green Reentry home on Fairfield Avenue. Through the leadership of local farmer, Brother Kamal Rashid; IMAN Youth Board Member, Harun McGraw; and many of IMAN’s dedicated youth, the garden has come to flourish and provide families living at the Fairfield home with fresh greens and a peaceful space in the back of their home.

Recently, on the holy Day of Arafat, IMAN invited neighbors along the Fairfield block to familiarize them with the garden, reflect on the tradition and power of the day, and break fast together. Brother Kamal, and IMAN leader and nutritionist, Nefertiti Oji-Njideka, were on hand with cooking tips and information on the nutritional value of the produce grown in the garden–and at the end of the night, neighbors were given the opportunity to implement what they learned and walked away with bags of kale, Swiss chard, and beets straight from the garden. Father Tony Pizzo and Rami Nashashibi then offered reflections on the themes of sacrifice and collective action on a day sacred to both Muslim and Jewish communities observing Yom Kippur. Those attending broke fast in the basement of the Fairfield home, which has become a space for neighbors along the block to share and utilize for community events.

Similar to the goals of the Muslim Run campaign, the backyard garden has been an opportunity for IMAN to continue promoting health and wellness throughout the community by increasing access to healthier options and transforming sites into clean, safe, and shared spaces. This garden was made possible by donations from the Marguerite Casey Foundation and the efforts of Mohsin and Sawleh Waraich. Interested in getting involved with the garden or the Muslim Run campaign? Reach out to Organizers Shamar ( or Sara ( to find out how!