ISB Atlanta News

February 2011 

Building Bridges of Understanding
ISB Atlanta



February is Black History Month during which we celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans who played a central role in U.S. History.   


The most notable contribution to American society has been that of the 1960s Civil Rights movement led by such revered leaders as Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King Jr. However, their work would not have been possible if it were not for the foundation laid before them by the likes of Dred Scott and Frederick Douglas who fought for the Emancipation of those enslaved in the 1800s.  


Although some African Americans are descendants of immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America, most African Americans are the direct descendants of captive Africans who were enslaved and brought to these shores in the 1600s.  It is estimated by some scholars that 10-20 percent of the slaves brought over from Africa were Muslims.

In recognition of this important history, the ISB co-sponsored the screening of the award-winning PBS documentary "Prince Among Slaves," which tells the story of an African Muslim prince captured, sold and brought to America as a slave. In addition to the documentary, the audience had the opportunity to listen to an important contemporary African American, Ilyasah Shabazz, activist and daughter of Malcom X and Dr. Betty Shabazz. See story below  


As always, ISB's work is only possible through the generous support and contribution of its members and supporters. You can make a secure online donation through our website or mail a check to ISB Atlanta, P.O. Box 2608, Peachtree City, GA 30269. All donations are tax deductible.


Thank you,

Soumaya Khalifa
Executive Director
ISB Atlanta

Soumaya Khalifa-One Nation
In This Issue
"Prince Among Slaves" Documentary at the Rialto
Dr. Joseph Lumbard, Cross-Cultural Understanding
ISB Pioneered Workshop In Dallas, TX
World Interfaith Harmony Week
ISB Community Presentations
Upcoming Events
"Prince Among Slaves" Documentary at the Rialto
Prince Among Slaves

ISB partnered with the Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University (GSU) and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in bringing to Atlanta the award-winning PBS documentary "Prince Among Slaves."


The documentary was screened at the Rialto Center for the Arts on Sunday, February 20.   


The event was sponsored by Unity Productions Foundation (UPF), which also produced the documentary, and The National Endowment for the Humanities. "Prince Among Slaves" is a historical recount of West African Muslim Prince Abdul Rahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori, who was captured, sold and brought to America as a slave around the turn of the 19th century.


The event began with opening remarks by the Rialto Director Leslie Gordon, ISB Executive Director Soumaya Khalifa, and UPF Outreach Director Daniel Tutt who introduced keynote speaker Ilyasah Shabazz, author, activist and daughter of Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz.

Ilyasah Shabazz
Ehab Jaleel and Ilyasah Shabazz


A panel discussion focusing on empowering the youth through strong identity followed the screening of the documentary. The panel, which was moderated by Broadcast Journalist Angela Robinson, also included Shabazz,Ehab JaleelISB speaker and director of Amana Academy, and Dr. Akinyele Umoja, associate professor of African American studies at GSU.

According to Dr. Mansa Bilal Mark King, assistant professor of sociology at Morehouse College, who attended the event, "If there was a single take home message, it was to seek ways of planting and affirming identities in our children that will guide them towards higher principles and dignity - even in tough times."   


"Prince Among Slaves" is Best Documentary winner at the 2007 American Black Film Festival. For more information on the documentary, please click here.  

Dr. Joseph Lumbard, Cross-Cultural Understanding
LumbardLast month, the ISB invited Dr. Joseph Lumbard to lead discussion on "Understanding the Quran" at an interfaith event cosponsored by the ISB and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) at The Temple in Atlanta. Dr. Lumbard is the founder of the Islamic Research Institute and chair of the Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies Program at Brandeis University. A former adviser on interfaith affairs to King Abdullah II of Jordan, Dr. Lumbard is a strong proponent for cross-cultural understanding and has participated in various interfaith dialogues around the world. 

In this issue, Ghada Elnajjar contacted Dr. Lumbard for an interview. The questions and answers are as follow:


Elnajjar: During your speaking event co-sponsored by the ISB last month, what were your impressions of the interfaith efforts taking place in Atlanta?


Dr. Lumbard: I was very impressed by the interfaith work being done in the Atlanta area, and particularly impressed by the alliance that has developed between the ISB and the ADL. ISB and other groups appear to be doing an excellent job in promoting a better understanding of Islam throughout the greater Atlanta area.


Elnajjar: You are a proponent of cross cultural understanding and have taken part in many interfaith dialogues, tell us the significance of such engagements to find common ground?


Dr. Lumbard: Interfaith dialogue and cross-cultural dialogue are essential for understanding, which is in turn essential for sustainable peace. The dialogue often takes many years before it transcends the pleasantries with which it begins. Nonetheless, that period is essential, almost like courting before a relationship gets serious. Much of the dialogue that occurs in communities such as Atlanta today plants seeds whose fruit may not be known for a generation or more. So we should never look for immediate results. It is also of fundamental importance to recognize the various groups within a community. They need to know one another in order to be there for one another when such a need does arise. It appeared to me that many groups in Atlanta were aware of this and were making sure that lines of communication continue to remain open, while understanding continues to deepen.


Elnajjar: Of the many interfaith efforts you have been involved with, which one resonated with you the most and why?


Dr. Lumbard: Of the various interfaith events in which I have been involved the one that most resonated with me is a speech that King Abdallah of Jordan gave to select group of American Rabbis. The Rabbis came from all parts of the country and represented all denominations. The King gave an excellent speech and the reception was incredibly warm. It could have been the beginning of more extensive international outreach between Muslims and Jews. Unfortunately nothing more came of it.


Elnajjar: You are currently working on a new book project, what is it? How is it different?


Dr. Lumbard: I am currently working on "The Harper Collins Study Quran," the first full-fledged Quran encyclopedia to be produced in Western academia. It has a new translation of the Quran prepared by a team of editors, and 16 new essays on various aspects of the Quran, such as commentary tradition and Islamic Theology, prepared by leading Muslim scholars from around the world. The translation will then be accompanied by a commentary that draws upon every aspect of the Islamic tradition, from the classical Sunni commentaries, as well as those of Shi'is and Sufis, to modern historical discoveries. The commentary will be between 800,000 and 1,000,000 words when complete. We plan to deliver the final manuscript to the publisher this summer. Our hope is that such a project will make the classical tradition much more accessible to Muslims as well as people of other faith traditions who wish to understand the Quran in greater depth.

ISB Pioneered Workshop In Dallas, TX

ISB partnered with the Islamic Network Group (ING) in conducting a dialogue-training workshop near Dallas, Texas.  The workshop, "Meaningful Conversations", was held on Friday, February 25 for the Islamic Association of North Texas located in Richardson, TX .  ISB Atlanta created "Meaningful Conversationsto train speakers on how to engage in meaningful conversation with people of other faith traditions.


In an effort to assist a group form a Dallas-based ISB, ING invited ISB Atlanta to present the Atlanta pioneered workshop and to assist with training new speakers.  ISB Atlanta speaker Amin Tomeh lead the effort in conducting the workshop. The local group undertaking this effort include three mosques - East Plano Islamic Center, the Islamic Center of Irving, and the Islamic Association of North Texas.


According to Tomeh, there were about 120 in attendance, with noticeable ethnic, gender and age diversity. This was the first time that "Meaningful Conversations" was conducted outside the Atlanta area. Due to its positive impact, there was talk of potentially continuing this effort on a national level.


"The 'Meaningful Conversations' workshop needs to be standardized and added to the ING/ISB presentations," said ING's President and Executive Director Maha El-Genaidi.

In addition to the "Meaningful Conversations" workshop, Tomeh also assited El-Genaidi in new speakers training the following day, Saturday, February 26 at the Islamic Center of Irving. Tomeh facilitated the "Theology of Pluralism", "Speakers Tips", and "FAQ's"  to an audience of 100 people who was very keen on learning about the ISB model and presentations.
World Interfaith Harmony Week
interfaith harmony week

In recognition of a United Nations General Assembly resolution, ISB participated in an interfaith-based event during the first week of February.


ISB, along with other invited interfaith organizations, signed a letter affirming the UN General Assembly resolution deeming the first week of February each year to be "World Interfaith Harmony Week."  The letter was signed at a luncheon hosted by Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta (FAMA) on Wednesday February 2. FAMA also hosted a series of other events that week. FAMA is a nonprofit organization that promotes understanding, respect, prayer, interaction and unity among the diverse faiths in the greater Atlanta region.


Interfaith Harmony Week Panel


The luncheon, first of its kind, included a distinguished panel made up of Archbishop Wilton Gregory, Ambassador Andy Young, Rabbi Analia Bortz, Tayyibah Taylor , Brother Shankara,Taiun Michael Elliston and moderated by Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley.    


The resolution, proposed by King Abdallah of Jordan and co-sponsored by 29 other countries, was passed by the UN General Assembly in October 2010.


Once the letter affirming this resolution was signed, it was subsequently sent to the United Nations.

ISB Presentations

ISB speaker Huma Faruqi spoke to a group of Muslim Girl Scouts, preparing to be future ISB speakers, on Friday, February 4.  The Girl Scouts have previously participated in the "Meaningful Conversations Workshop" in the past. Then on Tuesday, February 8, Faruqi delivered a presentation on "Overview of American Muslims" to a religion and mythology class of 30 students at the University of West Georgia.  


Furthermore, Faruqi made a presentation to a group of 8th grade students from Christ our Shepherd Middle School. The 20 students and their teacher visited the Islamic Community Center of Atlanta (ICCA) on Wednesday, February 9. This constituted an annual visit to the ICCA by the middle school.   


On Monday, February 14, Georgia State University (GSU) hosted ISB speakers Mansour Ansari and Asmaa Elhuni for a presentation on "Overview of American Muslims" to a communications class.  


ISB speaker Mansour re-visited the GSU campus on Tuesday, February 15 to participate in a panel hosted by the "Council of Interfaith Concerns" in which discussion focused on the portrayal of Christianity and Islam in the media.


On Friday, February 25, ISB speaker Salma Stoman

made a presentation to a group of 13 women congregates involved in comparative religions study at the St. Luke's Presbyterian Church.    


ISB speaker Abdullah Kapic delivered a presentation at St. James United Methodist Church on Sunday, February 27. The audience of approximately 40 senior members of the church invited Kapic to return for another presentation the following Sunday.

Upcoming Events

Annual Atlanta Community Food Bank's Hunger Walk/Run 



member Amani Elghoroury will once again lead ISB participants in this year's annual Atlanta Community Food Bank's Hunger Walk/Run on Sunday, March 13. This family-oriented event will begin with fun activities for the children at 12:00 p.m. and continue with the Walk/Run starting at 2:00 p.m. For more information, please click here.  


Taste of Limmud Conference


ISB speaker Mohamed Khalifa will participate in a study/discussion comparing how Prophet Abraham was depicted in Jewish and Islamic texts. The discussion is part of "Taste of Limmud Conference" to be hosted by the Emory University Hillel chapter on Sunday, March 27.

About the ISB

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The Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta is a 501(c)(3) 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). 

Your Support Is Needed
Since 2001, the ISB has been at the forefront of interfaith partnership and dialogue between Atlanta Muslims and members of other faith communities. This work is critical. However, we cannot sustain our efforts without your support. Our work depends on the support of community members -- women and men like you, who value the importance of building bridges of understanding and dialogue.

Donations to the ISB are tax deductible and may be mailed to ISB Atlanta, P.O. Box 2608, Peachtree City, GA 30269. Alternatively, supporters may send their contributions through our secure website.
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