Educators Who Made a Difference in Children’s Lives and Islamic Education

Many American Muslims have contributed to the development and improvement of education in our community. Some of these leaders have been taken from us through death, and we wish to remember them and the contribution they made.

“To God we belong; and to God we shall return.”  Arabic transliteration: “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un.”

Karen Keyworth 1957-2017

Co-Founder and Executive Director of ISLA

Karen Keyworth was a pillar of the Muslim educational community in the United States. She was a pioneer in Islamic education for nearly 30 years, founding an Islamic school in East Lansing, MI, and co-founding the Islamic Schools League of America (ISLA). One of the pinnacles of her educational efforts occurred in 2015, when she was awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement in Islamic Education Award by ISNA.

Feeling the lack of options for Islamic schooling in her hometown of East Lansing, MI, Keyworth founded the Greater Lansing Islamic School (1996), which today has 163 K-8 students. In addition to being the founding principal, she taught English as a Second Language and Language Arts (1-3), implemented the writing process (K-8), integrated reading and writing across the curriculum and was responsible for assessment. Her administrative duties included curriculum design and supervision, teacher and staff hiring, serving on the school board, budgeting, fundraising, student recruitment and community and parent/school liaison.

In 1998, she partnered with Judi Amri of Fairfax, VA to found this organization, the Islamic Schools League of America (ISLA), in order to strengthen Islamic schools by facilitating networking amongst North America’s K-12 private Islamic Schools and educators. The ISLA remains the only organization dedicated solely to supporting Islamic education in the U.S. She managed one of the ISLA’s main contributions: the Islamic Educators Communication Network (IECN) email list, which comprises over 450 educators across North America.

Keyworth handled ISLA’s networking, public relations, and fundraising, as well as created policy and identified trends. In addition, she conducted research, and provided interviews and support to those seeking to better understand Islamic education. She authored approximately 80% of the site’s current web content and was the main writer for its webpages. As an ISLA representative, she made presentations at numerous community conferences and worked with educators to establish standards and best practices.

She researched Islamic schools in the US via designing and analyzing data collection and written results for a 2007 publication by Georgetown Universe and the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. Her research was also published in “Educating the Muslims of America” (ed. Yvonne Haddad and Farid Senzai). In addition, she published eight articles for Islamic Horizons, nearly half of which were anchor articles for its annual education issues.

She held a Bachelors (linguistics, 1980) and a Master’s degree (English and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (1982), both from Michigan State University. She spent almost 25 years as an adjunct professor at Jackson Community College and at Lansing Community College. At the latter, she taught ESL courses and developmental writing. During her eight-year ensure, she held the position of Portfolio Coordinator.

She frequently liaised between the community and the media, spoke about Islam at schools and churches and served as the chair for the American Muslim Council’s Lansing chapter.

Karen Keyworth is survived by her husband Fuad M. Al-Kabour; son Mohammed; daughters Sarah, Maryam and Hannah; and grandson, Khalid.

Dr. Jamilah Linda Kolocotronis Jitmoud  1958 – 2013

Author and Educator

After accepting Islam as her ultimate way of life on Ramadan 19, 1400 (July 31, 1980), Dr. Jamilah Linda Kay Kolocotronis Jitmoud dedicated her services to Islamic education and authored Islamic novels that have touched Muslims and non-Muslims all around the world, Al-Hamdulillah.

Dr. Jamilah Linda’s contribution towards Islamic education began in the summer of 1986. She was looking for a school for her oldest son, who was four years old at the time. Ahmad was the type of boy who had a mind like a sponge and absorbed everything quickly. Dr. Jamilah Linda didn’t feel that simply any American preschool would be an option. She asked Allah for guidance to help her find a proper alternative for her son’s education. Read more in this pdf document or here in Horizon Magazine:

Dawud Tauhidi 1949 – 2010

Director of Crescent International Academy in Canton, MI.

The history of Islamic education in America will record Br. Dawud as a brilliant thinker and dedicated Muslim who created the Tarbiyah Project, arguably the most dynamic, innovative movement in Islamic education in centuries.  The Tarbiyah Project has inspired and encouraged many other Muslim educators in the US who are now forging ahead with their own ideas – a movement that will change Islamic education for the better.  Read more …

Nabil Seyam 1961 – 2006

Principal of Wichita Islamic School

This is for the father of our community who died in a car accident. He was coming back from a lecture in Norman Oklahoma. He was fasting at the time of the accident.

(2006) Wichita’s Muslim community is dealing the tragic loss of one of their leaders. … Seyam was leader of the Islamic Society of Wichita. Thousands in the Muslim faith know him and his family. Seyam was also principal of the Annoor School. He helped it grow from its first 30 students to nearly 130 today.  Read more …

Sharifa Alkhateeb 1946 – 2004

Sharifa Alkhateeb, Feminist Within Islam, Dies at 58


Published: November 4, 2004, New York Times

Sharifa Alkhateeb, an advocate for Muslim culture in the United States who helped place courses in Middle Eastern cultures and Arabic in public schools, died on Oct. 21 at her home in Ashburn, Va. She was 58. The cause was pancreatic cancer, said her daughter Nasreen. Ms. Alkhateeb, who was born and raised in Philadelphia, spent much of her life interpreting Islam.  Read more … )

Mohammad El-Moslimany 1924-2003

Mohammad El-Moslimany, 1924 – 2003: Unified Muslim Community

By Cal Blethen and Janet I. Tu

Seattle Times staff reporters

Mohammad El-Moslimany, a pioneer, leader and unifying voice among the area’s Muslims, died Monday of a rare brain disease. He was 79. When Mr. El-Moslimany moved to Seattle in the early 1960s, his was one of a handful of Muslim families in the area. He helped found some of the institutions that are central to the lives of many local Muslims today – including the Islamic Center of Seattle and the Islamic School of Seattle. Read more … )

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