Our Stories

Click portraits below to follow each individual’s journey.

Ellee Bokharachi: A Woman from the Land of ‘Rose and Nightingale’

"The joy of reading about empowered women was an experience that I still remember as if it was yesterday. Soon, I started noticing that it was harder to find books with stories focused on strong women."

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Asad Ali Jafri: My Heart Is In A Good Place

"When I was growing up I really hated my cultural background. I did not want to be Indian- Pakistani. I thought that was the worst thing to be, especially, in Kuwait because there was a lot of racism to people from the subcontinent."

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Colette Ghunim: Fighting Sexual Harassment On A Global Scale

"I was born to a Mexican mother and Palestinian father. So I grew up in a biracial household, which I never really thought about because a lot of my friends were all diverse anyway."

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Mohamed Nazar: To Struggle Is To Live

"You’re more aware of the benefits and the perks that you have living here, I think, than somebody that may not necessarily have had experience or been exposed to different parts of the world."

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Cheyenne Penny: Traveling Towards Self-Discovery

"While I’m essentially South African, I grew up in Dubai, United Arab Emirates – the city of dreams. I aim to build bridges between cultures and nations through a means of raising awareness."

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Ferial Masry: Being The First Saudi Woman To Run For Office

"I have never wavered from the belief that democracy is not about winning or losing, it’s about the process and the journey to serve the community at large. "

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Farah Chalisa: Feeling At Home

"Regardless, there is a blessing in being Muslim American and having two cultures. There is a value in striving and surviving, and to find home in your identity, rather than in a land."

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Khaleel Qandeel: Collective Memories

"I trace my journey from the hillsides and orchards of Palestine, to the urban hustle of Amman, to the land of fifty states and reflect on my identity and what this all means."

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Sara Elkasevic: Gaining New Perspectives

"Because of my background, I have learned to appreciate the little things in life along with the strive to achieve to my full potential."

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Dr. Renee Gray: Journey to Being a Muslim- A Long and Winding Road

"For the next 10 years, I experienced many challenges. I couldn’t understand how such a beautiful religion had created so much dysfunction in my life."

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Dr. Zaher Sahloul: When Syrians Become Americans

"I came to Chicago from the Syrian city of Homs to pursue advanced medical training. Syrians look to the US as the best place to pursue this training. To many Syrians, America symbolizes values we lack at home: freedom, rule of law, and the respect for human rights."

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Noor Wazwaz: Producing for NPR’s Morning Edition

"As an Arab, I know that there is so much more going on in these regions and so I decided I want to tell these stories. And thankfully, I have been able to while at NPR by discovering hidden talents."

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Emad Rahim: To My Resilient City and the People of Syracuse, NY — We Need Empathy

"I think of the adversity that my mother had to overcome as a refugee. Surviving the Killing Fields of Cambodia, her husband — my father, tortured and executed, losing my older brother to starvation and escaping to the refugee camps of Thailand where she found hope in the creation of a new family."

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Samira Qureshi: My Fight

"When we moved to Canada, my dad continued his post-graduate work and raising us four sisters. This is the American Dream that he had, this was the America that I was born in, and this is the America for which we will keep fighting."

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Salah Al-Mejri: From Tunisia to America- My Journey In The NBA

“There are many lessons to be learned from NBA players, but perhaps the most valuable is not only to enjoy what you’re doing, but to celebrate the fact that you have the chance to do it to begin with.”

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Dena Mekawi: Social Change Through Self Expression

"In 2013, I ran for Miss Arab USA. I always loved fashion. I wasn’t able to become a fashion designer, but I am now able to design people’s path and empower them through my platform."

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News Updates


Celebrate and Commemorate Black History Month

In both the spirit and purpose of Black History Month, MALA has taken a step dedicated to promoting a more complete story of the American experience.

Feb 09, 2017

Illinois Humanities – Public Dialogue and Community Engagement Programs

The Muslim American Leadership Alliance (MALA) just finished a wonderful series of 4 public dialogues with funding from Illinois Humanities through its “Illinois Speaks” program.

Feb 01, 2017

MALA Receives Media Training Scholarship from Public Narrative

Public Narrative is a Chicago nonprofit that focuses in helping other nonprofits and community organizations communicate their work to the media. Thanks to funding from the Pillars Fund at the Chicago Community Trust, MALA was offered a position to attend Professional Media Relations Training free of charge.

Jan 30, 2017
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