Our Stories

Click portraits below to follow each individual’s journey.

Gezim Kashtanjeva: An Immigrant’s Child’s Appreciation

"Being Albanian and being born in the U.S. has helped me grow and live side by side with people regardless of religious preference. One can only imagine the gratitude we pay to America for not allowing things to go further and for allowing refugees from our country into the States to seek asylum."

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Hijab Ahmed: Always Shining Bold and Bright 

"To this day, I am extremely proud of myself for being brave enough to face so many people with an action so controversial. So many Muslims and non-Muslims speculated my faith and confronted me to question why I made this decision."

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Fatima Traore: The City that Built Me

"We are all immigrant because we all come from somewhere, that’s what I believe. But over here, it’s freer. You do what you want to do, and what you can do, to make you who you are."

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Teeb Lee: More Than Just a Man and Hmong Man

“In each one of us there is more to us than what society labels us as, and how we should act is up to each of us to redefine.”

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Mansa Aziz: Pick a Fight Worth Fighting

“Just like my ancestors before me, I am choosing a path where I only fight when necessary so I can achieve success.”

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Zubaidah Harun: Striving For Opportunities

"My family is Rohingya, which is from Myanmar, and I was born in Malaysia. I am a first generation student in my family — the first to be getting an education instead of marrying."

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Makinoon Sami: A Move to Rediscovery

"I want to reach a point of my life where I am no longer insecure with being religious as part of my identity. So, when somebody asks me, “What do you identify as?” I want to proudly say, “a Muslim.”

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Zaynab Abdi: Nothing Gets in the Way of Education

“When I came to the United States, I witnessed many people talking about refugees’ issues without knowing what it really feels like to be one. I decided to take action and stand for myself and for many refugees and immigrants who are like me.”

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Bahram Sherwani: A Hyphenated American Identity 

“Thanks to my parents’ sacrifices and the compassion they taught me, freedom is a concept that I will never be able to take for granted.”

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Iqra Shafiq: And Still I Rise

"Yet, at the same time, I thought if I tackle these struggles and come to terms with cultural barriers, I could define who I am. I firmly believed, and continue to believe, my place was not in the kitchen, I was born to touch the lives of millions."

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Salim Taher: Flying for Freedom

“Arriving in the U.S. was a feeling I’ll never forget. I came from a country where our freedoms of walking at night, having an opinion and other basic human rights were taken away — this new openness felt unreal.”

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Aslam Kakar: Becoming a Free Thinker

"I remember, from the beginning I had this dream of coming to the U.S. at some point in my life--it was not very clear, but this was what I wanted to do, and this was my way, and I didn't have anything else."

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Safiyyah Abdul-Qawiyy: Prioritizing the Needs of My Community

"I came to the United States at the age of eleven from Jamaica and settled in Staten Island, New York. Life was very interesting for me being in a new country. I experienced immigrant culture shock for a few years before adapting to life in the U.S."

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Abdikarim Osman: Never Give Up

"In 2005, my life was unbearable. I was in a refugee camp in Kenya, in high school and short of everything. From that day I told myself I’d never give up on life. And here I am today. A father to three children, a husband, and studying to pursue a degree in business management."

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Maryum Saifee: To End FGM, More Survivors Need to Speak Out

"One of the greatest challenges in raising awareness on FGM/C is that many survivors are shamed into silence. If they voice dissent, their communities might socially ostracize them. Within the last few years I have noticed a shift. More and more FGM/C survivors are courageously speaking out."

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Darko Simunivic: An Obligation to Give Back

"My father was from Croatia and my mother was from Serbia, both of which had different religions. The conflict in Bosnia at the time was ethnic conflict: you had folks from Serbia, Croatia and then Bosnia, all on different sides, engaged in a war."

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News Updates


MALA 2nd Annual Gala in Chicago

On behalf of the Board of Directors and the Advisory Council of the Muslim American Leadership Alliance, we would like to express our sincere gratitude and thanks for the community’s support of MALA’s Annual Gala. We are grateful for the generosity and commitment of our Annual Gala guests, volunteers and local businesses for making our annual event a success. Together with your support, we were able to raise over $10,000.

Jan 03, 2018

MALA Celebrates #GivingTuesday with Artist Replete in Chicago

On Tuesday November 28th, The Muslim American Leadership Alliance (MALA) , in partnership with Artist Replete, presented their Giving Tuesday event at Marc Nolan, Chicago, in which Artist Replete kicked off the launch of their new website and curated fine arts pieces by notable up and coming artists.

Dec 04, 2017

Mayor Rahm Emanuel Congratulates MALA in Letter of Proclamation

MALA was recently recognized by Mayor Rahm Emanuel as one of Chicagoland's "most innovative 501(c)3 civic and community organizations." Mayor Emanuel's letter of proclamation expresses pride and confidence in MALA's mission to celebrate diversity, strengthen community, and cultivate new generations of compassionate, informed leaders both in the city of Chicago, and the United States as a whole.

Dec 04, 2017
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