MEET THE SPEAKERS

 

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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. Watch a video by this speaker here:

 
 

Shaykha Tamara Gray

is the founder of Rabata, an organization dedicated to promoting positive cultural change through creative educational experiences. She is an Islamic scholar and holds multiple ijazas in Islamic sacred texts and subject matters. Shaykha Tamara is a doctoral student in the Leadership, Policy and Administration program at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. She holds a master’s degree in Curriculum Theory and Instruction, and worked for twenty-five years in the field of education, before moving into the non-profit world. She is a public speaker and published author. Shaykha Tamara is also part of the ISNA task force for more inclusive and welcoming mosques, on the advisory board of Muslim Women’s Association of Chicago, and the Muslim Anti-Racism Committee. She also sits on the board of Sakana Community Resource, working with faith based financial tools and affordable housing, and on the board of the Collegeville Instititute’s Interreligious Fellows Program, working to develop educational programming for faith leaders around social justice issues. | Watch a video by this speaker

 
 

Shaykh Yasir Fahmy

began his formal training in the traditional Islamic sciences when he attended the Islamic University of Jordan at the age of seventeen. After completing a year of intensive study, he returned home to the United States to complete a Bachelors of Science from Rutgers University. He then returned to the Middle East to attend the prestigious Al-Azhar University. During his seven years of studying in the Middle East, he completed a degree from Al-Azhar University, while simultaneously studying under and attending the classes of numerous scholars in and around Al-Azhar.

His teachers include some of the most preeminent scholars of Egypt, most notably Sheikh Ahmad Taha 'Ali Rayyan and others. Sheikh Yasir also received numerous 'ijazaat (independent certifications) in the subjects of Fiqh, Hadith, Aqeeda, Usul Al-fiqh, Seerah, Tazkiyyah, Mantiq and in Arabic grammar, morphology and rhetoric. He was also one of the first Americans to teach in the renowned Al-Azhar mosque. | Watch a video by this speaker here:

 
 

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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. | Watch a video by this speaker here:

 
 

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. Watch a video by this munshid here:

 
 

ABOUT CELEBRATEMERCY’S FOUNDER

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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: