Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta Newsletter
ISB Atlanta
Promoting Cultural Competency August/September 2008
In This Issue
Iftar for Georgia Leaders
State Department Iftar
A Multifaith Celebration
Fayetteville Iftars
Imagining Arab Womanhood
Dalton Presentation
First Christian Church of Marietta
FBI Multicultural Advisory Committee
Meet Our Partners
Marlene Holland
Marlene Holland

Last month, Zaynab Ansari interviewed Marlene Holland, an educator and longtime ISB partner. In this issue, we introduce you to Marlene as the first part of a series highlighting partners of the ISB.

A native Atlantan, Marlene graduated from Georgia State University with a B.A. in history and an M.Ed. in Secondary Social Studies Education.

Married for over 40 years, Marlene is the mother of two daughters.

She has been an educator for 35 years and was named as co-winner of The Georgia Economics Teacher of the Year in 1998, the Fayette County Atlanta Journal Constitution Honor Teacher, the 2006 School Star Teacher, and recipient of the ISB's first Building Bridges Award in 2002.

Marlene has been at Fayette County's Sandy Creek High School for the last 16 years, where she takes her students on annual visits to area houses of worship. The result of these field trips has been increased student awareness of America's pluralism and diversity.

In her free time, Marlene enjoys hiking with her husband, daughter, and son-in-law. Marlene and her husband's motto is: "Wear out, don't rust out!"

Zaynab: Marlene, it's so nice to talk with you! Tell us how you got your start as a teacher.

Marlene: I didn't plan to be one until the day I was. I thought I would do some type of research. But when I finished my B.A., I didn't find the job I wanted. My husband and I were married young and utterly tired of being broke! So I started teaching and fell in love with it.

Zaynab: I know that you teach some very popular classes. Tell us more.

Marlene: I should mention that 98% of my students enroll in my classes by choice.

Zaynab: So they're electives?

Marlene: Yes, students choose these classes for their uniqueness. Fayette County has actually funded me to teach these classes.

I teach Latin American Studies, Sub-Saharan African Studies, Asian Studies, Geography, U.S. and World Affairs, Comparative Religions, Middle Eastern Studies, and Model United Nations, which is a competitive academic team. Our team has won awards at the University of Chicago, Johns Hopkins University, Georgia State University, Kennesaw State University, and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Zaynab: How did your relationship with the ISB begin?

Marlene: I was trying to find contacts in the Muslim community so my Comparative Religions class could tour a Muslim house of worship. I wasn't sure what kind of reception I'd get since I wanted to bring a bunch of high schoolers to the mosque. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The ISB arranged for my class to visit Masjid al-Farooq in midtown and the people there were very gracious.

When the ISB was established, I invited speakers to visit my classroom. And once the Islamic center in Fayetteville was established, I started bringing my classes there.

Zaynab: Why was it important for your students to visit the Islamic center?

Marlene: My students are taking Geography, International Studies, and Comparative Religions. And I've discovered that you can't talk about any place today without background knowledge.

This was post 9/11 and I thought it was important for my students to be acutely aware of what was going on in their own neighborhood.

I want my students to have a well-rounded educational experience. My Comparative Religions class does not just visit the mosque; they've also visited churches of the Eastern Orthodox, Salvation Army and other Christian denominations, Jewish synagogues, and Hindu temples.

These visits are the highlight of their academic year!

Zaynab: Which ISB speaker do you work most closely with?

Marlene: Huma Faruqi is the most sustained speaker I've had. She says my students are the best prepared students she sees all year!

Zaynab: Any final words of advice for our readers?

Marlene:  It's that meeting of humanity that's at the core of social science education. I have students who have graduated and come back and said, "Thanks to your classes and the experiences we shared, I'm informed; I understand people are people in a way that I never did before."

For me, that's irreplaceable. It's a magical moment of education.

ISB's Building Bridges Awards Dinner with Gallup's Dalia Mogahed
November 8, 2008
Dalia Mogahed
Tickets Available Now!

Allah Made Me Funny-The Movie
Allah Made Me Funny-The Movie
will open October 3rd at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema. For tickets, please visit

Gamma Gamma Chi, America's First Muslim Sorority, Honors the ISB
Gamma Gamma Chi Awards Dinner
Learn More!

Our Calendar

October 4: ISB Members & Supporters Attending Allah Made Me Funny-The Movie

October 9: Temple Emanu-El Yom Kippur Service

October 10-12: Teaching the Middle East: A Workshop for University System of Georgia Faculty

October 11: Gamma Gamma Chi Ummah Image Awards

October 12-14: Emory University's Candler School of Theology's "Re-Envisioning Leadership" Conference

October 16:
Seniors Enriched Living

October 18: American Association of University Women

October 23-24: GA Council for the Social Studies

October 26: Dunwoody United Methodist

October 29: Conyers Presbyterian

November 8: Building Bridges Awards Dinner

November 15: Islamic Resource Group of Minnesota

November 23: Interfaith Thanksgiving
The Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta (ISB) is a non-profit, apolitical educational organization that provides certified Muslim speakers to promote awareness about Islam and Muslims.
  The ISB is a local affiliate of the Islamic Networks Group (ING).
Join Our Mailing List
Dear Friends,

In our combined August-September newsletter, you will read about many exciting developments at the ISB.

September 1st marked the beginning of the month of Ramadan, a time of fasting, prayer, charity, and intense devotion for Muslims all over the world, including right here in metro Atlanta. Please be sure to read about our interfaith iftars, or fast-breaking dinners, which brought diverse Atlantans together on several nights this month.

We would also like to note that the Eid festival, marking the end of the month of Ramadan, will coincide with Rosh Hashanah, an important time of devotion for the Jewish community. We would like to extend our warm wishes for a happy and safe holiday to all of our readers.

Last month, school was back in session and the ISB was pleased to serve as a resource for social-studies and humanities teachers at public and private schools.

We are honored this month to feature an outstanding educator, Mrs. Marlene Holland, a longtime partner of the ISB. Please check out our interview with Mrs. Holland to see the wonderful ways our teachers are bringing the world to Georgia's students.

We thank you for your continued support, encouragement and contributions. As always, please let us know if you have any suggestions on how we can further our efforts.

Thank you,   

Soumaya Khalifa
Executive Director
Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta

Georgia Leaders Attend Iftar Dinner

Decision Makers Iftar 2008
On Wednesday, September 24, the ISB partnered with the Pakistani American Community of Atlanta (PAK Atlanta), Al-Farooq Masjid, Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam, and the Islamic Center of Marietta to host an outreach iftar.

In attendance were Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle's chief of staff, Bart Gobiel, and Mayor Shirley Franklin's chief of staffGreg Pridgeon, as well as Georgia State Senator Curt Thompson, and Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall. Guests also included President of Agnes Scott College, Dr. Elizabeth Kiss; Assistant Vice Provost of the Georgia Institute of Technology, Dr. Carole Moore; officers from various police departments; representatives from the British consulate; and members of the American Jewish community.
The evening's program featured a tour of the newly completed Al-Farooq Masjid, dinner, speeches, and a short presentation about Islam and Ramadan by ISB executive director, Soumaya Khalifa. Also representing the Muslim community were Imam Plemon Al-Amin of Atlanta Masjid, Dr. S. Rashid Naim, Bassem Fakhoury, and ISB board member,  Zaheer Faruqi. Ehab Jaleel was the master of ceremonies.

The ISB is grateful to all who came together to make this evening a success!

Iftar at the Department of State

At the invitation of the State Department, Soumaya Khalifa attended an iftar in the nation's capital on Monday, September 8. In her welcoming remarks, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice noted the importance of Islam as a world faith, saying, "More than one billion people find comfort and hope in Islam, and Ramadan inspires them to renew their faith through sacrifice and prayer, reflection and charity. People of all faiths can appreciate Ramadan's spirit, one of love for family, devotion to community, and gratitude toward God."

The guest list numbered approximately 300 and was a virtual who's who of American Muslim, interfaith, and international leaders in academia, community organizing, art, diplomacy, and media. Among those in attendance were Dr. Yvonne Haddad of Georgetown University; Dr. Syed Hossein Nasr of George Washington University; the Ambassador of Morocco, Aziz Mekouar; Mohamed Zakaria, designer of the Eid stamp; Native Deen, Muslim hip-hop artists;  leaders from the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC); Al Arabiya News Channel; Al-Ahram Weekly; and reporters from Afghani and Malaysian television.

This was the ISB's third invitation to the State Department.

Please look for a transcript of Secretary Rice's remarks and a video of the event in our Links section.

Feeding Hope, A Multifaith Celebration

Atlanta Community Food Bank

On Tuesday September 9, ISB speaker, Jelena Naim, participated in the Atlanta Community Food Bank's fourth annual interfaith worship service for Hunger Action Month. Several diverse groups were part of the program. The event featured children's choirs; a rabbi, priest, and imam in a symbolic lighting of candles of hope; and storytellers from the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish faith traditions. Ms. Naim shared a story from the Prophet Muhammad's biography, or seera, describing how being a caring neighbor, despite differences and diverse viewpoints, can change hearts and outlooks. Several people remarked afterward that they were moved by the story.
The ISB was honored to be a part of this event.
ISB/ICCA Interfaith Iftar 2008

ICCA Welcomes Fayetteville Residents

For two Sundays in a row, September 14 and 21, the ISB and the Islamic Community Center of Atlanta (ICCA) hosted interfaith iftars for the residents of Fayette county. The dinners were one of a number of outreach programs jointly sponsored by the Atlanta Muslim organizations.

Writing for a local newspaper, Sallie Satterthwaite praised the event as a genuine way to promote interfaith friendship at a grassroots level. Ms. Satterthwaite was a recipient of the ISB's Building Bridges Award in 2007.

Please see Ms. Satterthwaite's column under our Helpful Links.

Pictured in the photo are ISB speakers, Huma Faruqi and Amani Felfela Elghoroury, with a guest.
Imagining Arab Womanhood
Women's Studies Panel at Georgia State

On Wednesday, September 17, Soumaya Khalifa joined a panel discussion at Georgia State University. Jointly sponsored by the Women's Studies Department and the Middle East Institute, the panel discussed Dr. Amira Jarmakani's recently published book, Imagining Arab Womanhood: The Cultural Mythology of Veils, Harems, and Belly Dancers in the U.S.
Participating as well were Dr. Angelika Bammer from Emory University and Dr. Laura Bier from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Special Presentation in Dalton

ISB speaker, Mansour Ansari, presented Muslim Contributions to Civilization to an audience in Dalton, GA on Saturday, August 30. The program was sponsored by the Dalton Islamic Center and took place at the Northwest Georgia Trade & Convention Center. Approximately 50 people were in attendance.

Muslim Contributions to Civilization is one of several ISB presentations designed to promote increased awareness about special topics in Islam. Other special presentations include Women in Islam and Islam in America.

Summer Church Presentation

On Thursday, August 7, Soumaya Khalifa presented Getting to Know American Muslims and Islam, an introduction to Islam, to an audience of approximately 30 at the First Christian Church of Marietta. Although the presentation was intended for a women's group, male congregants, including a retired pastor, joined the curious audience.  The program began with a potluck dinner and ended with a request for the ISB to make a return visit.
The ISB is grateful to the women and men of the First Christian Church of Marietta.

ISB Presents to FBI

Soumaya Khalifa presented to members of the FBI's Multicultural Advisory Committee on Tuesday, July 29.  The presentation consisted of a condensed version of Getting to Know American Muslims and Islam along with a special segment for law enforcement personnel.The content was well received and generated many questions from the audience.  The FBI requested the ISB to come back to speak during their annual day of learning when all Atlanta FBI agents will be present.

Helpful Links