MEET THE SPEAKERS


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Tarek El-Messidi

is a Muslim-American speaker, activist, and social entrepreneur. In 2012, he was listed by Georgetown University in the Muslim500 as one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims worldwide. He has pursued Islamic studies in the United States, Morocco, and Jordan. In 2001, Tarek co-founded Fast-a-thon: an event that raises money to feed the hungry when non-Muslims try fasting with their Muslim peers for one day. Fast-a-thons at 300 universities have raised over $2 million total to feed the hungry across America.

In 2010, after earning an MBA and working as a supply chain manager at Procter & Gamble, Tarek founded CelebrateMercy: a non-profit that teaches about the Prophet Muhammad through webinars and social campaigns that “respond to hate with love.” CelebrateMercy now has over 700,000 social media followers and media coverage of their campaigns reached over 100 million people last year alone.

In 2017, Tarek co-organized CelebrateMercy’s campaign that raised $162,000 to repair vandalized Jewish cemeteries. Last October, CelebrateMercy also raised over $200,000 for victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. Both campaigns were extensively covered in national media outlets and tweeted by celebrities such as Ellen Degeneres and J.K. Rowling. Stephen Colbert even opened up his Late Show one night by praising Tarek and the campaign for the Pittsburgh synagogue (video here).

In 2019, Tarek co-managed campaigns that helped 7,000 Americans who suffered from the U.S. Government Shutdown and another that raised nearly $2 million USD for New Zealand’s mosque shooting victims. See a recent CNN interview with Tarek here.


Shaykh Ubaydullah Evans

is a Scholar In-Residence for the Islamic Reading Reading Room Chicago and the Executive Director of the American Learning Institute for Muslims (ALIM). Upon converting to Islam in high school, he began studying foundational books of Islam with local scholars while pursuing a journalism degree from Columbia University. Since then he studied at Chicagoland's Institute of Islamic Education (IIE), in Yemen, and for seven years at Al-Azhar University in Egypt, where he was the Sharia Program's first African American graduate. He teaches regularly with CelebrateMercy, Ta'leef Collective and the Inner-City Muslim Action Network. Shaykh Ubaydullah is married with three children.


Shaykh Hisham Mahmoud 

has studied theology, hadith, legal theory, jurisprudence, ethics, Qur’anic recitation, and Arabic with scholars in Morocco, Mauritania, and Egypt. He co-authored a forthcoming work entitled, “A Portrait of the Prophet,” as a translation of one of the most important commentaries on the personal qualities of the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم. He has lectured internationally on the Islamic sciences and on world religions, and continues to read with scholars and students in the United States. He has taught for more than a decade at Yale, Princeton, and Harvard Universities, then left the Academy to institute his own national initiative, Lanturna, a non-profit, educational institution that intends through its various projects to establish learning collectives across the country to enrich community life and enhance personal lifestyle. Currently, he resides in Pennsylvania with his wife and two children.


Shaykha Ieasha Prime

converted to Islam more than 20 years ago, after being an International Youth Ambassador to Morocco and Senegal. Since that time, she has spent her life as an educator, artist, activist, and entrepreneur committed to the goal of empowering Muslim women to rise above their challenges to maximize their full potential of being female servants of Allah and vicegerents on this earth.

After having participated in several circles of knowledge in the US, Ieasha decided to pursue religious studies abroad. She studied Arabic, Quran at the Fajr Institute and general Islamic studies in other institutes in Cairo, Egypt. After two years in Egypt, she moved to Hadramaut, Yemen and enrolled in Dar al Zahra, an Islamic University for Women. There she studied Aqeedah, Quran, Hadith, Arabic, Jurisprudence (Fiqh), Islamic law, Purification of the Heart and other religious related learning. Her lineage of scholarship from whom she received direct education can be traced directly back to the Prophet Muhammad (Salla Allahu alaihi wa Salaam) from Husseini lineage. Under the tutelage of her professors, she has established several circles of knowledge and continues to teach and lecture across the United States and abroad.


Mouaz Al-Nass

of Syrian descent, was born in Saudi Arabia. He studied Inshad (religious poetry & songs) and Maqamat under foremost reciters in Syria. As expert singers and drummers, he has been involved in many musical performances in the USA, UK, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Mouaz also studied Islamic studies under his father Shaykh Samir al-Nass. Shaykh Samir is a prominent scholar from Damascus who completed medical degrees in Syria and the United States but also mastered many Islamic sciences under prominent scholars in Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. His father is presently a teacher at al-Fatih al-Islami University in Damascus and conducts learning programs regularly in England and North America.