Our Stories

Click portraits below to follow each individual’s journey.

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."

Click here to read the full story   
  • f
  • g
  • pintersticon
  • youtubes
  • twitters
  • inst

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."

Click here to read the full story   
  • f
  • g
  • pintersticon
  • youtubes
  • twitters
  • inst
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."

Click here to read the full story   
  • f
  • g
  • pintersticon
  • youtubes
  • twitters
  • inst
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."

Click here to read the full story   
  • f
  • g
  • pintersticon
  • youtubes
  • twitters
  • inst

Nasir Bin Zakaria: Uniting the Rohingya Culture in Chicago

"My name is Nasir Bin Zakaria, I was born in Burma, Myanmar. 2008-2012 was very dangerous due to the genocide. I moved to Chicago in 2013."

Click here to read the full story   
  • f
  • g
  • pintersticon
  • youtubes
  • twitters
  • inst
Taskeen & Naazish Yar Khan: Forging Lasting Connections, and Giving Thanks for Family

"Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. We might not have everyone from our family able to come tomorrow, but our friends have been our family the last two decades that I've been here and I think I'm so, so, so grateful for that."

Click here to read the full story   
  • f
  • g
  • pintersticon
  • youtubes
  • twitters
  • inst
Malisa Rakanovic: Breaking Social Barriers and Building Community

"My coming to America was actually by chance: I met a guy and then I married him. My husband is an immigrant himself; he survived the war in Bosnia. I think that even within certain nationalities, interracial relationships are not highly regarded."

Click here to read the full story   
  • f
  • g
  • pintersticon
  • youtubes
  • twitters
  • inst
Lina Mohamed: Dreaming Big

"I come from an Ethiopian background;both of my parents are from Ethiopia, so growing up, our identity was shaped as Ethiopian Americans. My dad is Orthodox and my mom is Muslim, so I grew up in an ethnic/religious mix as well."

Click here to read the full story   
  • f
  • g
  • pintersticon
  • youtubes
  • twitters
  • inst

Dina Soliman: The Importance of Communication and Education

"I grew up in Queens with an Egyptian Muslim family. Growing up, they were not that strict on me learning Arabic, nor did they put me in an Arabic school. My mom actually wanted me to grow up fully in the American culture."

Click here to read the full story   
  • f
  • g
  • pintersticon
  • youtubes
  • twitters
  • inst
Asma Mohammed: Pass the Mic

"What most people didn’t know is that I had a ferocity about me that only came out when someone I cared about needed me. I found myself spending many of my days thinking about what I should have said, regretting my silence especially when it affected the people around me."

Click here to read the full story   
  • f
  • g
  • pintersticon
  • youtubes
  • twitters
  • inst
Duaah Hammad: On Finding Home

“Growing up as a brown girl, it’s like there are two different wars going on at the same time. As you grow up you’re told you are too conservative for America, but you’re too liberal for the people back home."

Click here to read the full story   
  • f
  • g
  • pintersticon
  • youtubes
  • twitters
  • inst
Abdinasir Kahin: Finding Comfort in Chicago As A Somali Refugee

"I came to Chicago simply because as you already know Somalia is a failed state. In its civil war, so many people were displaced, a lot of persecution was occurring, and I actually came to America to seek asylum here, as a refugee."

Click here to read the full story   
  • f
  • g
  • pintersticon
  • youtubes
  • twitters
  • inst

Samanta Birto: The Strength to Understand

"But more importantly, and more strongly, I’ve been surrounded by many allies from different ethnic and racial backgrounds who have shown me more love than I have ever experienced before. A kind of love I wasn’t used to."

Click here to read the full story   
  • f
  • g
  • pintersticon
  • youtubes
  • twitters
  • inst
Amina Khan: Finding A Muslim Narrative Behind My Artwork

"Actualizing the proud role of a Muslim-American enabled me to assertively represent my identity towards my dream of becoming an acclaimed journalist and artist."

Click here to read the full story   
  • f
  • g
  • pintersticon
  • youtubes
  • twitters
  • inst
Farah Harb: The Best of Both Worlds

"What has also been difficult is convincing my conservative parents that I was no longer just an Egyptian, or just a Muslim, but I was now also part of this new world. My parents and I are beginning to learn that we are no longer isolated between two worlds, but we are now truly in the best of both worlds."

Click here to read the full story   
  • f
  • g
  • pintersticon
  • youtubes
  • twitters
  • inst
Qasim Rashid: We Need to Re-Establish the Basics of Justice

"We need to remove laws that oppress freedom of conscience, and we need to allow people the right to believe or not believe as they wish--that is a sacred human right that can not be violated."

Click here to read the full story   
  • f
  • g
  • pintersticon
  • youtubes
  • twitters
  • inst

Share Your Story

Submit your personal narrative to the "Muslim
American Journeys” project.

Subscribe to
MALA's e-newsletter

Follow MALA on

facebook - twiiter

News Updates


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

MALA Annual Dinner in Chicago – December 4th 2017

On Monday December 4th, 2017 - MALA is holding its second Annual Gala at Gentleman’s Cooperative to raise money for our scholarship program to empower a new generation of leaders, featuring a live performance by artist Yoni Einhorn.

Nov 20, 2017
twitttersMALA@MALANational