The mission of United For Change is, through modern discourse, to create awareness of the broadest and most consuming topics within the Muslim community. We believe UFC will be most successful by creating an atmosphere of reconciliation between the very diverse Muslim cultures and populations, and through engaging Islamic scholars and community leaders, we envision developing models for resolution.
United For Change exists to facilitate the unity of Muslim organizations in North America. Through collective action, we engage monumental tasks larger than the human and material resources of any individual group. Through this effort, we aim to leverage our diversity through cooperation and goodwill and address the obstacles that have proven to be divisive.
Zaid Shakir, Co-Founder & Chairman
Born in Berkeley, California, he accepted Islam in 1977 while serving in the United States Air Force. He obtained a BA with honors in International Relations at American University in Washington D.C. and later earned his MA in Political Science at Rutgers University. While at Rutgers, he led a successful campaign for divestment from South Africa, and co-founded New Brunswick Islamic Center formerly Masjid al-Huda.
After a year of studying Arabic in Cairo, Egypt, he settled in New Haven, Connecticut and continued his community activism, co-founding Masjid Al-Islam, the Tri-State Muslim Education Initiative, and the Connecticut Muslim Coordinating Committee. As Imam of Masjid Al-Islam from 1988 to 1994 he spear-headed a community renewal and grassroots anti-drug effort, and also taught political science and Arabic at Southern Connecticut State University. He served as an interfaith council Chaplain at Yale University and developed the Chaplaincy Sensitivity Training for physicians at Yale New Haven Hospital. He then left for Syria to pursue his studies in the traditional Islamic sciences.
For seven years in Syria, and briefly in Morocco, he immersed himself in an intense study of Arabic, Islamic law, Quranic studies, and spirituality with some of the top Muslim scholars of our age. In 2001, he was the first American to graduate from Syria’s prestigious Abu Noor University. That same year, he began writing and speaking frequently on a host of issues. He translated from Arabic into English Ibn Rajab’s The Heirs of the Prophets, published by Starlatch Press.
In 2005, Zaytuna Institute published Scattered Pictures: Reflections of An American Muslim, an anthology of diverse essays penned by him. In 2008, Imam Zaid authored an award-winning text, Treatise for the Seekers of Guidance, a translation and commentary on Imam Harith al-Muhasibi’s work, Risala al-Mustarshideen. In 2009, he co-founded Zaytuna College, where he now teaches Islamic law and history. NID Publishers 2010 release entitled, Where I’m Coming From: The Year In Review is a collection of his essays concerning ideas and personalities shaping the news.
Trained in both the academic and religious intellectual traditions, Imam Zaid is uniquely qualified as a commentator on the substantial issues of our time. And, he brings clarity of mind and engaging honesty to even the most controversial issues. Imam Shakir has been invited to lecture at several prominent universities including Stanford, UCLA, UC Berkeley, Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Dartmouth, Rutgers, and Temple University. As a compelling force for the improvement of race relations in America, and amongst the most respected global Islamic scholars, The New York Times describes him as a “leading intellectual light”. He has served as an advisor to many organizations and influential leaders. As a gifted author and lecturer, Imam Zaid Shakir recently was ranked as “one of the most influential Scholars” in the West; by The 500 Most Influential Muslims, edited by John Esposito and Ibrahim Kalin, (2009).
Tariq Subhani, Co-Founder & President
Tariq Subhani is an architect by profession and has worked for some of the top architectural firms in the country including Gensler, The Phillips Group and Hillier. He was also a founding member of M.E.C.C.A. (Muslim Education and Convert Center of America) located in New York. He served as the Vice President & Director of Marketing. He also served four years as a board member of the Stroudsburg Islamic Center, the last two years as the President. He was responsible for the construction of the main school building for the center. Mr. Subhani was responsible for the recent online fundraiser for Imam Siraj Wahhaj to raise funds for his cancer treatment. This event was an historic event as it brought together for the first time scholars from many different organizations and background both nationally and internationally. He has been involved with faith-based initiatives for over 15 years at the grassroot level. Email Tariq here: president @ unitedforchange.com.
Ahmad Abuhamda, Vice President, Director of Marketing
Born in Kuwait, Ahmad Abuhamda is of Palestinian descent. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), and works as a senior project manager at BAE Systems. Ahmad has helped plan several events and conferences for Islamic Relief USA, the Islamic Society of North American (ISNA), and the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS), his local mosque where he has been an active member for 7 years. Ahmad received a Bachelors degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Texas at Dallas, and is currently pursing a MBA degree from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, while serving on the Student Advisory Board. Ahmad lives in Northern Virginia (DC Metro) with his wife and two kids.
Mikael Pittam, Board Member
After working in the semiconductor industry in R&D package development and design engineering for several years, Mikael ventured into project management. He is an early adopter of blogging, lifestreaming, Facebook marketing and Twitter. His experience includes working as the program director of the Muslim Community Association of the Bay Area, Operations Manager at Alhambra Productions (Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s productions), Distance Learning Program Manager at Zaytuna Institute and project manager for a leading web development company handling high profile accounts (Linkin Park, AllVoices, RapBasement and others). Mikael served more than 2 terms as a South Valley Islamic Center board member. He was also instrumental in the establishment of Ta’leef Collective where Mikael contributed his talents in social media marketing and program coordination. Mikael continues to push the boundaries of social media helping organizations build their brand. He initiated the establishment of Barakah Life on Facebook and Twitter. Mikael was also a consultant to Illume before the magazine saw print or digital life. One of the first “corporate style” blogs in the Muslim niche was started by Mikael at Alhambra Productions. As the co-founder of the highly acclaimed blog, IslamCrunch, Mikael can still be found writing for Technorati, BlogCritics and Examiner.com. His two main joys are being married to his soulmate and using her creativity as inspiration for his ideas.