At CAIR-Philadelphia, we fully believe that the youth are our future and therefore it is important that we continue to invest our energy into ensuring we build up and empower the future leaders of our communities.
Over the weekend of January 7-8th, 2023, middle and high school students from all over the greater Philadelphia area and Delaware joined CAIR-Philadelphia at the Islamic Cultural Center of Willow Grove (ICCWG) for the 2023 Winter Muslim Youth Leadership Summit. This summit consisted of a weekend full of interactive workshops, creating a platform for current leaders of our communities and allies to engage and skill share with our future leaders. You can see the program schedule here and photo album here.
Saturday morning students were welcomed to ICCWG by Razin Karu. Then, we were able to hear from CAIR Philadelphia’s own board member Dr. Rasheedah Abdul Khabeer who spoke about her leadership journey within public health and even helped students reflect on their future careers.
Following that, students had the chance to engage with Peter Pedemonti from New Sanctuary Movement, in which he led an activity called Chair Power, an interactive training activity used by many organizing and advocacy organizations to reflect on types of power and the effect they can have.
Our group of over 80 young members then heard from a panel of young professionals who reflected on their life in high school and how that led them to currently making huge strides to advocate for change in their perspective fields. The panel included Sumaiyah Bynum (Director of Communications for the County Board Of Elections Commissioner Omar Sabir), Humna Rub (Villanova University Law Student who has worked with a Member of Parliament in Westminster, Britain, and aspires to work in the United Nations after graduation), Tamim Hasani (who has experience serving a school board, directing student-run diversity and inclusion community and equity work, and working under a PA representative in Harrisburg), and Ibrahim Jaaber (Former NBA professional player, who is currently a spoken word artist and activist).
After the panel, lunch, and prayer, students also had the opportunity to listen to a spoken word performance by Ibrahim Jaaber based on his recent Quran-inspired poetry book, “Touch of Gold”.
Later, young leaders were guided by Sister Timmie Mirza in an activity used in Toastmasters, Public Speaking Jeopardy. During this time students were challenged to come up with a two-minute speech based on the category they chose on the spot (and let’s just say almost everyone wanted a chance to practice their skills).
To end the day, students heard from Sister Rachel Baldi, who led a great discussion and activity on conflict resolution!
Sunday started with an activity led by CAIR-Philadelphia staff and interns on school district advocacy. We were able to field positive and negative experiences of our students and chart pathways for advocacy. Later in the afternoon, students were given 1 hour and a mock budget of $5,000 to work in small groups to create an action plan for one change they would like to see in their schools/districts.
On Sunday, young leaders were also able to hear from Chaplain Patricia Anton from University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Muslim Life who led a discussion on mental health and wellbeing. And finally, they concluded the day with a discussion with Brother Iftekhar Hussain on how to navigate answering difficult questions they may be asked as young Muslims.
Alhamdulillah, the Muslim Youth Leadership Summit was a success and we are grateful to the Islamic Cultural Center of Willow Grove for hosting us, the amazing speakers who brought so much insight to our program, to our volunteers (Zeynep, Ashley, and Tymir) who helped hold the weekend together, and most importantly all the student leaders who took time out of their weekend to join us and the parents who trusted us. We are confident that they will, inshAllah, be the future leaders we call back to speak to the youth that come after them! Please support our ongoing programs and power building in our communities.