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
Imam Zaid Shakir is a co-founder, chairman of the board, and senior faculty member of Zaytuna College located in Berkeley, CA. He is amongst the most respected and influential Islamic scholars in the West. As an American Muslim who came of age during the civil rights struggles, he has brought both sensitivity about race and poverty issues and scholarly discipline to his faith-based work.
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 graduated from Syria’s prestigious Abu Noor University with a BA in Islamic Sciences and returned to Connecticut, serving again as the Imam of Masjid al-Islam, and writing and speaking frequently on a host of issues. That same year, his translation from Arabic into English of The Heirs of the Prophets was published by Starlatch Press.
In 2003, he moved to Hayward, California to serve as a scholar-in-residence and lecturer at Zaytuna Institute, where he taught courses on Arabic, Islamic law, history, and Islamic spirituality. In 2005, Zaytuna Institute published, Scattered Pictures: Reflections of An American Muslim„ an anthology of diverse essays penned by Zaid Shakir. He co-founded the Lighthouse Mosque, Oakland, CA. in 2007. He 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 2008. He is co-founder and chairman of United for Change since 2009. The mission of United for Change is, through modern discourse, to create awareness of the broadest and most consuming topics within the Muslim community. His most recent work is Where I’m Coming From: The Year In Review, a new collection of his essays from 2010.
Imam Zaid has also authored numerous articles on a wide range of topics. He is a frequent speaker at local and national Muslim events and has emerged as one of the nation’s top Islamic scholars and a voice of conscience for American Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Imam Zaid has served as an advisor to many organizations, and influential leaders. Recently, Imam Zaid was ranked as “one of America’s 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
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.
Zeenath Sheikh, General Secretary
Zeenath Sheikh, a Senior Project Manager at Huntington National Bank, has a Master’s degree from Ohio University and is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) with Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Training.
Zeenath has held various leadership roles – President of the Students Council while an undergraduate student (India),General Secretary of the International Student Union and an Muslim Student Association ( MSA) Executive Committe member while a graduate student at Ohio University, and President of the Muslim Employee Resource Group ( ERG) while working at Fannie Mae, Washington, DC.
Zeenath has served as a volunteer for Islamic Relief USA, Islamic Society of North American (ISNA), Meals on Wheels, various Inter-faith groups in Virginia and Ohio, United Nations Association (Columbus, OH Chapter), and she also helped with event planning at Masjid Abu Bakr Al Siddique (Metairie, LA), and Noor Islamic Community Center (Columbus, OH).
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.