Youth-centered leadership development has long been a pillar of IMAN’s organizing work, and in our surrounding community, young men of color face particular challenges as they navigate the schools and other institutions. Recognizing the need for an accessible, constructive outlet, Organizing Director Shamar Hemphill, along with leadership from community partner Catalyst Maria Charter School, established the Young Men’s Leadership Group in 2015. The initiative has continued to flourish, helping cultivate the next generation of change makers on the Southwest Side.
The central goal of the group is to encourage the young men—who are current Catalyst Maria students—to understand themselves as leaders, both in school and among their peers in the larger community. During their regular after-school meetings, Hemphill leads the group through activities that push them to consider what student leadership looks like and how those skills translate into a positive impact elsewhere. An ethos of accountability runs through all of the group’s work together, as each of the young men are tasked with helping one another remain on an upward academic trajectory.
IMAN strives to serve as a vehicle for community members of all ages to effect positive change. The Young Men’s Leadership Group continues that effort as it helps to connect shared histories and build power for future leaders.
With a post-Ramadan spiritual boost last year, an inspired group of IMAN staff, board members and leaders established a collaborative safe space called “Sisters Circle.” Rooted in a passion to nurture and uplift all participants, Sisters Circle has quickly grown into a strong network of female leaders committed to mutual support.
Muslim Run Campaign Manager Sara Hamdan has been instrumental to the Sisters Circle, and she greatly values the group’s unique intergenerational dynamics. “It’s extremely important to be able to recognize the contributions of the women who preceded us, the younger generation,” said Hamdan. “We can connect movements and align the goals of different generations when we have a space to learn from one another.”
Sisters Circle participants have also built strong relationships through exploring the diverse faith traditions that they bring into the space, using those perspectives to enrich dialogue about common experiences. During a recent meeting, a discussion on power and agency was enhanced by both the Biblical and Qur’anic narratives about Sarah and Hagar.
The gatherings happen each month at IMAN. For more information about Sisters Circle, please contact Sara Hamdan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IMAN Executive Director Rami Nashashibi and Senior Director Harriet Lewis traveled to Qatar earlier this month to take part in the 12th Doha Interfaith Conference. Religious leaders, academics, educators and activists from over 70 countries gathered to engage one another around “Spiritual and Intellectual Security in the Light of Religious Doctrines”. Out of a pool of over 120 nominees, we are especially honored that IMAN was awarded with the 2016 Doha International Award for Interfaith Dialogue. This honor recognizes IMAN’s commitment to promoting peace and bridging gaps between faith communities through holistic, grassroots social justice work.
During the conference, Nashashibi delivered a presentation on activist Jim Wallis’ call for a “collective repentance” from racism, the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and its powerful lessons for justice seekers in today’s world. The IMAN-led Martin Luther King Living Memorial project captures that collaborative spirit, as an intergenerational, multifaith cohort of artists, activists and community leaders work together on its unveiling this August.
Your continued prayers and support enable us to keep changing, serving and inspiring. Thank you to all of our staff, leaders and community partners for their dedication to IMAN’s vision.
President Barack Obama visited the Islamic Center of Baltimore on February 3, his first visit to a mosque in the United States. Before addressing the congregation in Baltimore, and the nation at large, President Obama met privately with a dozen prominent Muslim Americans. Executive Director Rami Nashashibi was at the table, sharing updates and reflections about IMAN and highlighting Muslim Americans’ contributions to the betterment of society.
The following day at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C., the President related another story that Rami had shared with him; a story about courage, faith and conviction. President Obama also mentioned Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s impact on Marquette Park, a legacy which, God wiling, will be enshrined this summer as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Living Memorial.
Check out more from President Obama’s final National Prayer Breakfast below.