Help two future All-American Imams

Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) narrated that The Prophet (peace be upon him) said "A single scholar of religion is more formidable against shaytaan than a thousand devout persons."

This August, by the Grace of Allah, brothers Bilal and Umar will travel to the first madrasa in the United States to complete the final two years in their Islamic studies. These future All-American Imams need our help.


For the past four years, brothers Bilal Muhammad, 21, and Umar Davis, 20, have studied at Dar ul Eloom, which is housed in the Islamic Center of Fremont (ICF) in Fremont, California.

Reared in California and homeschooled for much of their education, the boy's course of study at ICF since 2009 has included fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), Ilm al-Balagha (Arabic rhetoric and eloquence), Ilm al-hadith (science of Hadith), Qur'anic tafseer (commentary), Qur'anic Tajweed (elocution), and Qur'anic hifz (memorization). All these topics are foundational prerequisites for any student hoping to embark on a study of the textual sciences of Islam.

To complete their studies in Islamic theology and religious law, the brothers wish to complete two years in the Shariah/Alim Program at the first madrasa in the United States, the Institute of Islamic Education, which sits on a sprawling four-acre campus just outside Chicago in Elgin, Illinois. The school follows a classical method of instruction, with an intimate teacher-student setting and an emphasis on textual transmission.


Scholars from the U.S. may be the key to resolving the post-modern identity crisis that afflicts too many Muslim communities in the U.S. Rather than lose our religion in the American melting pot, our faith has blossomed by the ambitions and aspirations of young men like Bilal and Umar. Native-born and educated U.S. scholars, steeped in both traditional Islam and American creative thinking and vernacular, need to be re-imported into our masjids and Islamic Centers across the U.S.

Home-grown religious leaders will also be key to unfreeze many mosque boards, many of which are still first generation immigrants with biases rooted in their cultural origin and often board members are not aware of this. For this reason, they may hire immigrant Imams that cannot present their knowledge within the American context and hence are not able to reach the desired level of success in attracting the youth (pre-teens, teens, college students, and young professionals). 

We also know from Hadith that towards the end of times, knowledge will be lifted from the earth by the deaths of true scholars and the ignorant will lead. It is necessary that we support passionate and devoted youth like Bilal and Umar to uphold the legacy of Islamic scholarship.

Both young men are on the path to become American-made Imams, which in the decades forward will be that ever-important cog to define, claim, and re-claim that elusive Muslim-American identity and narrative as well as retool U.S. masjids from its sometimes traditional silo-like role into a full-fledged community vehicle to help integrate and facilitate its Muslim congregants as pillars of American society and make faith relevant to Muslim youth.

As Muslims have found out, no one can represent the Muslim community in the U.S. better than ourselves. And Bilal and Umar understand this mandate. Each possesses a passion to serve, especially the youth at masjids, which both see as an unmet need that some Imams reared in non-Western countries struggle to comprehend.

"When people come from other countries they don't really know the culture here and the temptations in America, especially for the youth," Umar said. "Personally I think it would be hard for (immigrant Imans) to develop here. That's why I think it's pretty important to have an American-born Imam."

Shaikh Ali talks about his hopes for his sons, Bilal and Umar.

Financial Need

The monthly cost per student at the Institute of Islamic Education is $600.00. That includes tuition, food, and board. The cost to cover schooling for both Bilal and Umar for the two-year program is $28,800.00.

The family is of humble means. This online campaign hopes to cover the boy's two years of study: $600 per student X 2 students = $1,200 per month X 24 months = $28,800.00. During this blessed month of Ramadan, the hope is to cover a substantial portion of this amount.

The boy's father, Sheikh Ali Abdul Hakeem, says his wish for his sons in the final two years of study is "for each to become a universal scholar : and play a part to clear things up for Muslims and let them know Islam is simple."

The Institute of Islamic Education's academic year begins in about a month "“ on September 2.

An Urgent Appeal

Both young men are studious seekers of knowledge. Only after a visit with their father earlier this year and much careful consideration have they decided on the Institute of Islamic Education. The full-time residential school, founded in 1989, is staffed with well-trained and qualified instructors who not only teach, but also mentor America's future Muslim religious leaders.

"We just want to make sure we get the best education possible and in the best place, and we found that this school in Chicago is one of the best here in America," Umar said.

Please read about the demand for US-born Imams in the U.S.


Thank you for taking the time to read this appeal. Know that whether you can donate to their studies or not, these brothers will continue to make du'aa for this Ummah. As humble servants of the community who wish to impart Islamic knowledge, their thoughts are consistently tuned to cultivating ways to help our Islamic communities.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the boy's father, Shaikh Ali, at [phone redacted] or [email redacted]

Please donate -- if this cause has touched your heart and you can afford to make this investment -- and share this campaign with your friends and family. Please also leave a note of encouragement below for Bilal and Umar. May Allah bless you in this life and may the blessings of this life foreshadow the immense blessings awaiting for you in the next. Ameen.

"The believer's shade on the Day of Resurrection will be his sadaqah." - The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) (Ahmad Tarmidi)

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Deeba Haider-Safi 
Fremont, CA
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