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ISB’s One Heart Initiative: Working towards racial harmony within Atlanta’s Muslim community

ISB’s One Heart Initiative: Working towards racial harmony within Atlanta’s Muslim community

Author Soumaya Khalifa by

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A new program from The Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta (ISB) the One Heart Initiative (OHI), is aimed at building stronger bonds between and among the metro area’s diverse Muslim community. From October through December 2020, the first cohort of 23 participants came together to strengthen mutual respect by understanding histories, experiences, and biases with the goal of dismantling racism and amplifying harmony.

The tragic deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Jacob Blake, and too many others sparked OHI. “We couldn’t watch the news without seeing the clear signs that our country suffers deeply from racism, which divides communities and divides hearts,” said Faraz Iqbal, chairman of the OHI steering committee. “The Atlanta Muslim community is not immune. We, too, struggle with understanding each other’s experiences of systemic racism. This division has kept us from coming together as one Muslim community.”

OHI was created to build bridges within the Atlanta Muslim community by providing opportunities to develop meaningful interpersonal relationships. As designed by a steering committee of Qaadirah Adbur-Rahim, Faraz Iqbal, Ehad Jaleel, Akil Secret, and ISB executive director Soumaya Khalifa with Imam Plemon El-Amin as an advisor, OHI is based on the value that Islam places on confronting life’s most difficult questions. “We tackled some of the toughest issues between Muslims of different ethnicities, backgrounds and races,” said Ms. Abdur-Rahim, “That led us to identify areas for improvement and ways we can work toward dismantling racism with a unity of purpose,” she said

“I loved being able to speak openly and feel heard, to hear the concerns of others like me and not like me, and to learn strategies and approaches to bring healing,” said Quran Shakir, a member of the first cohort. “We were blessed to have open and honest conversations on the sad reality of racism. The conversations became a gateway for empathy for many of us, preparing us to make a difference.”

The members of the first OHI cohort are:

  1. Sabeen Abbas13. Intisar Rashid
  2. Khadijah Abdur-Rahman
  3. Khurram Baig
  4. Maher Budier
  5. Hiba Ghalib
  6. Ayesha Haddad
  7. Roseline Jean Louis
  8. Atiba Jones
  9. Mona Megahed
  10. Louis Muhammad
  11. Bashir Mundi
  12. Muzzafar Quraishi
  13. Emad Sabbah
  14. Mansoor Sabree
  15. Nabile Safdar
  16. Shamikh Sahadat
  17. Quran Shakir
  18. Waleed Shamsid-Deen
  19. Sadaf Tatari
  20. Amjad Taufique
  21. Amin Tomeh
  22. Samir Wahid

OHI’s second cohort is being scheduled for 2021. To find out more about OHI, please email

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