SoFlo Profiles of Service to Humanity
The South Florida Muslim population is vibrant, diverse, and socially engaged. We hope in this blog to bring you a number of different voices that make up the SoFlo Muslim community. Each month we will be highlighting an individual that has decided to go above and beyond themselves. The common thread of all the individuals profiled is their dedication to serving the community at large, regardless of faith. We also hope to inspire you to different pathways that one can get involved, big or small, in your own unique way.
South Florida Muslim Community Pillar
South Florida Muslim Federation Board Member
What type of community work do you do?
Since I am an educator, most of the community work that I do centers around education. Assisting schools and educators to provide the best quality education for our children from an Islamic perspective, motivates my work. I volunteer in various capacities for Islamic organizations that serve Islamic schools and Muslim teachers. Currently, I work with the Clara Mohammed School Consortium, an organization working to institutionalize Clara Mohammed Schools and to become a clearinghouse for schools in that system. I am also the vice-chairperson of the Islamic League Schools of America (ISLA), an organization that serves Islamic schools, nationally. Locally, we have established a council of Islamic schools, CISSF. This is an effort to bring the South Florida Islamic schools together to collaborate and strengthen their resources and to empower them to educate the children in their charge. I also serve on the board of Florida Islamic Schools Association (FISA). This organization serves as a platform for Islamic schools in the state of Florida to network and collaborate.
In the broader community, I serve on the executive committee of People Acting for Community Together (PACT), a grassroots organization that promotes justice for the people in Miami-Dade County. PACT is an organization comprised of Christian, Jews, and Muslims who believe that promoting justice in our community is an obligation upon Believing people. Presently, we are addressing the issues of gun violence, affordable housing, and community ID. Recently, I was elected to serve on the South Florida Muslim Federation, an organization that serves the South Florida Muslim community. I would describe my community work as collaborative. I believe that Allah wants us to work with each other to improve our conditions and create an environment that our children will grow to learn and love Allah’s creation. My community work is done with organizations that strive to cultivate a healthy environment in which children may grow to become productive servants of the Creator.
What brought you to South Florida?
My husband, Khalid A. Salahuddin, Sr. (RA), may Allah be pleased with him and grant him Paradise. Ameen. Khalid was a man of vision and he saw South Florida as a place that could provide opportunities for our family. And he was correct. We found a welcoming Islamic community where we met and developed friendships with amazing Muslims from within our community and from around the world. We (the Muslims in South Florida during the 1980s and 90s) embraced the message in surah 49:13 where Allah tells us to get to know one another. I will not attempt to name the families for fear of omitting someone, but these individuals and families of various nationalities and backgrounds were an extension of my family. We played together and prayed together and our children played together. When my husband became ill one of the young brothers, Azhar, came to visit him and as he and my children stood around my husband’s bed, they reminisced about the days they camped together during the summer at camp Owaissa Bauer. Simultaneously, they begin singing one of the camp songs, “May God, May God, May God bless you.” Insha Allah, we will return to those times where we made an effort to get to know each other for the pleasure of Allah.
Can you give a piece of advice on how to get active in the community?
To get active in the community, know what concerns you and find or create an opportunity or a group that addresses that concern. I add create because there are areas that need addressing that may go unrecognized and Allah has blessed you with the idea to address this issue. When you see a group working in an area that concerns you join them. You may be that missing link to complete the task. If you see conditions or circumstances that need attention, ask Allah for guidance and be aware of His guidance. If you sincerely want to please Allah in your involvement in the community, Allah will guide you.
Can you give us a personal story that makes South Florida so unique?
Besides the sun and hurricanes, diversity is what makes South Florida unique. When I taught in the public schools’ system and in private school, my classroom represented the united nations. After over thirty years in the classroom, I believe that I have taught students from almost every continent and many parts of the United States. Working in a diverse environment has been a blessing to me. I have learned that by becoming familiar with people that are different from me, I learn more about myself. Not just from their culture but from their perspective, how they see the world. I have also learned to be patient and listen to an opposing point of view. By far, the most important lesson was learning to appreciate diversity and to know that we all fit into the larger piece that makes up this world that Allah created for ALL of us.