Rami Nashashibi

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Rami Nashashibi

Template:TOCnestleft Rami Nashashibi is a far-left activist from Amman, Jordan whose interest in Islam manifested while he was at DePaul University. Nashashibi was raised in "a secular Muslim home, where the family spoke English instead of Arabic and never went to mosque or read the Koran." His parents divorced when Rami Nashashibi was nine years old.

His father Ali Maher Nashashibi and grandfather have ties to the Soviet Union. His mother was Nancy Daoud, who grew up in Chicago.

Rami Nashashibi is married to Dr. Sherene Fakhran, a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.[1] They have three children.

Rami Nashashibi co-founded the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN), a group that closely cooperates with the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and receives funding from various left-wing organizations including George Soros' Open Society Institute.

Background

Nashashibi was born in Amman, Jordan. His father was Ali Maher Nashashibi. His mother grew up in Chicago, "the eldest daughter of one of the first Palestinian families on the South Side." She met Ali Maher Nashashibi at university. The couple soon married and moved to Jordan.

"Shortly after Nashashibi's birth, Ali Maher Nashashibi became a Jordanian diplomat and moved the family to Romania. The couple had a second son but divorced when Nashashibi was nine years old. He lived in Spain, Saudi Arabia and Italy with his mother and stepfather during his teenage years, until moving, at 19, to Chicago."[2]

University

At DePaul University, Rami Nashashibi "got to know African-American and Puerto Rican students on campus and began to see Islam in a different way. He saw similarities between the black struggle for civil rights and Palestinians in the Mideast. His mentor, an 'old Black Panther' whose identity he will not reveal, helped him see how activism could be integrated with Islamic beliefs. Soon, his religious devotion took hold."

"It's strange but I guess you could say my path to Islam is similar to a convert," he said.

Rami Nashashibi was profiled at Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA):

"Through his involvement in leftist activities, he met a former Black Panther who took him under his wing and explained and introduced him to life in America. Hanging out with Black activists, some of whom were Muslim, Rami was often asked if he was a Muslim. These encounters forced him to grapple with his Muslim identity. At first he argued against Islam, and then started to read the Quran in order to find ammunition against it. Ultimately the Black activists led him to learn about Islam, and to finally make a choice—either reject Islam or accept it. Unable to find a valid argument against Islam, Rami took the logical step of embracing Islam fully. Because of his path to Islam, Rami felt like a new convert and identified strongly with indigenous Muslims.
"Rami’s Islamic involvement started in the early 1900s [sic] while he was a student in DePaul University. In time, many of the students at DePaul began to itch for a more activist agenda—they wanted to get beyond just halal and haram, beyond (radical) rhetoric, and beyond the confines of the University. As Rami said, it became untenable 'to say la ilaha illa Allah and then withdraw thinking that that was radical. How un-radical is radical rhetoric.' The idea of Inner-City Muslim Action Network emerged as a vehicle for involvement in the nitty-gritty issues of struggle."[3]

"After graduating from Chicago's DePaul University in 1995, Nashashibi went to Birzeit, just outside Ramallah, to work with local youth for a year. He says his visit was illuminating, but he decided to return to the work he'd begun on Chicago's South Side.

Two years prior, Nashashibi had met Abdul-Malik Ryan, a DePaul classmate. Originally an Irish Catholic from suburban Oak Park, Ryan was studying African-American history and had recently converted to Islam. "From the very beginning Rami was very charismatic," says Ryan, now DePaul's Muslim chaplain. Nashashibi asked him to help out at the Arab-American community centre in Chicago Lawn."

They started providing odd jobs for teenagers and daycare for younger children. "From there it was a step to have our own organisation, identified as Muslim," says Ryan, who co-founded Inner-City Muslim Action Network with Nashashibi."

President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

In September 2016, Rami Nashashibi was appointed by President Obama to serve on the President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.[4]

President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships 2012/13: Council Chair: Reverend Jennifer Butler, Bishop Carroll Baltimore, Preeta Bansal, Reverend David Beckmann, Reverend Traci Blackmon, Kara Bobroff, Rachel Held Evans, Rabbi Steve Gutow, Reverend Adam Hamilton, Aziza Hasan, Lanae Erickson Hatalsky, David Jeffrey, Naseem Kourosh, Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, Pastor Michael McBride, Nipun Mehta, Kevin Ryan, Reverend Dr. Gabriel Salguero, Barbara Satin, Dr. Stephen Schneck, Manjit Singh, Alexie Torres-Fleming , Deborah Weinstein, Dr. Rami Nashashibi.

Call for Justice

Call for Justice: Joint Letter on American Muslim Solidarity Against Police Brutality, January 26, 2015;

We are contacting you on behalf of the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC)(1) and Muslims for Ferguson(2) to ask for your solidarity in the struggle and call for justice concerning the tragic and unnecessary police and federal law enforcement killings of Black men, women, and children in the United States.

From the time of our Noble Prophet ﷺ‎, anti-Black and anti-African racism has plagued Muslim societies and communities. The first martyr in the early days of Islam was Sumayyah (RA), who had black skin and was a victim of violence at the hands of the governing authorities of Makkah. Other companions with black skin, such as Ammar bin Yassir (RA) and Bilal (RA), were also victims of ridicule and torture by the same authorities. State violence against marginalized communities is not a new development. History has proven time and again that Muslims are not immune to these forms of oppression.

Indeed, these oppressive behaviors and practices go against the messages that are at the heart of our Holy Qur’an and Prophetic traditions.

Signatories included Rami Nashashibi , Executive Director, IMAN – Chicago, IL.

ISNA speaker

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In 2010 Rami Nashashibi was listed as a speaker for the Islamic Society of North America.

Support for Hamas

In 2009, The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) quoted Rami Nashashibi during a protest against Israel's anti-Hamas operation.

"The Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and about 30 other organizations are calling on public officials to pressure Israel to stop its offensive, which Palestinian health officials have said has killed hundreds. Ten Israeli soldiers and four Israeli civilians have also been killed during the conflict, which has brought calls for a cease-fire from aid groups and the United Nations.

'Free, free Palestine,' thousands of marchers chanted. 'Hey [Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide.'"[5]

Anti-Trump Protest

Rami Nashashibi via dnainfo.com

Rami Nashashibi spoke at an anti-Trump rally in Chicago in July 2016, which was organized by U.S. Rep Jan Schakowsky.

"Leaders of area Muslim, Jewish, women, immigrant, LGBTQ and disability advocate groups gathered Tuesday near the Trump International Hotel & Tower, 401 N. Wabash Ave., in a show of solidarity against Trump. The press conference was headlined by Cook County Commissioner and former mayoral candidate Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, a Mexican immigrant who moved to Chicago five decades ago...The event was organized by the groups and the Democratic National Committee. U.S. Rep Jan Schakowsky (D-9th) sent an e-mail to constituents Monday afternoon urging them to attend the rally."[6]

Susana A. Mendoza also spoke at the rally.[7]

500 Most Influential Muslims in the World

Nashashibi was named one of the “500 Most Influential Muslims in the World” by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center "in concert with Georgetown University’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. He was also invited by the governor of Illinois to serve on the Commission for the Elimination of Poverty."[8]

University Course "Theorising the Global Ghetto"

"In Theorising the Global Ghetto, the course he teaches at the University of Chicago, Nashashibi links urban underclasses in cities around the globe. During a recent class he told his students how, in the 1990s, rap music, hip-hop style and protests against authority became 'the cultural export of the ghetto' and, ultimately, 'vehicles for solidarity and emancipatory practices'.

In his work, he discovered a straight line from urban oppression to protest to the religion of his ancestors. In inner-city communities he learnt more about the African-American narrative, which led to meetings with black nationalists and civil rights activists and finally to Islam.

Coming to Islam later in life

'I wasn't brought up in any way a conscious Muslim. I don't think I even walked into a mosque until I was around 19,' says Nashashibi. 'Then I started meeting brothers who had become Muslim and who then started challenging me about where I was spiritually. The first time I opened the Quran was to debate these people, trying to disprove them ... That was my first real engagement with Islam and I think somewhere along the line I just came to a point where I had to accept a really profound spiritual shift. It was very much a conversion-type process, and like an early convert there were moments when I was hard to be around, I had that zealotry ... I was just blown away, discovering this new world.'

Combining that zealotry with his years spent studying urban culture and working with ex-convicts has earned Nashashibi undeniable street cred. His interest in gang violence, urban social history and the language and motivations of hip-hop is no stylistic pose, but a major part of his life and work."

Business and Professional People for the Public Interest

As of February 2010, Rami Nashashibi served on the Board of Directors of the Chicago based Business and Professional People for the Public Interest.[9]

Praise from President Obama

President Obama praised Rami Nashashibi for publicly praying after the San Bernardino terror attack during the 2016 National Prayer Breakfast.

"Just yesterday, some of you may be aware I visited a mosque in Baltimore to let our Muslim-American brothers and sisters know that they, too, are Americans and welcome here. And there I met a Muslim-American named Rami Nashashibi, who runs a nonprofit working for social change in Chicago. And he forms coalitions with churches and Latino groups and African Americans in this poor neighborhood in Chicago. And he told me how the day after the tragedy in San Bernardino happened, he took his three young children to a playground in the Marquette Park neighborhood, and while they were out, the time came for one of the five daily prayers that are essential to the Muslim tradition. And on any other day, he told me, he would have immediately put his rug out on the grass right there and prayed.
But that day, he paused. He feared any unwelcome attention he might attract to himself and his children. And his seven year-old daughter asked him, “What are you doing, Dad? Isn't it time to pray?” And he thought of all the times he had told her the story of the day that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rabbi Robert Marx, and 700 other people marched to that very same park, enduring hatred and bigotry, dodging rocks and bottles, and hateful words, in order to challenge Chicago housing segregation, and to ask America to live up to our highest ideals.
"And so, at that moment, drawing from the courage of men of different religions, of a different time, Rami refused to teach his children to be afraid. Instead, he taught them to be a part of that legacy of faith and good conscience. “I want them to understand that sometimes faith will be tested,” he told me, “and that we will be asked to show immense courage, like others have before us, to make our city, our country, and our world a better reflection of all our ideals.” And he put down his rug and he prayed."[10], [11]

White House Champion for Change

Rami Nashashibi was a 2011 White House "Champion for Change."[12]

Inner-City Muslim Action Network

"Rami Nashashibi has served as the Executive Director of the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) since its incorporation as a nonprofit in 1997. He has a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Chicago and is a Visiting Professor of Sociology of Religion & Muslim Studies at the Chicago Theological Seminary. He has worked with several leading scholars in the area of globalization, African American studies and urban sociology and has contributed chapters to edited volumes by Manning Marable and Saskia Sassen.
Rami has lectured across the United States, Europe, and Asia on a range of topics related to American Muslim identity, community activism and social justice issues and is a recipient of several prestigious community service and organizing honors. Rami and his work with IMAN have been featured in many national and international media outlets and in 2009, Chicago Public Radio selected him as one of the “Top Ten Chicago Global Visionaries”. In 2014, the Center for American Progress profiled Rami as one of the “14 Faith Leaders to Watch in 2014” and he was named one of the “500 Most Influential Muslims in the World” by The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in concert with Georgetown’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding."[13]

References

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