Meet the 2011 Council
Annual Community Dinner Community Service Awardees:
Sheikh Jamal Said
Sheikh Jamal Said was born in 1957 in the city of Jericho, Palestine to the parents of thirteen children. His passion for Da'wah and talent working with other Muslim youth landed him a scholarship in the University of Imam Mohammad bin Saud in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia where he was in the company of the scholars of the century. He became a favorite among his teachers and peers for both his charisma and compassion. After completing his education in the early 80's, Sheikh Jamal immigrated to the United States to continue his journey of Da'wah and serving the Muslim community. He taught at Sister Clara Mohammed's school under the leadership of Imam Warith al-Deen Mohammed for two years.
However, Sheikh Jamal is most known for his work in the South Side of Chicago. In 1985, Sheikh Jamal became the Imam and Director of the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, Illinois. For over two decades, Sheikh Jamal has contributed his time and efforts to both educate and empower the Muslim community through offering spiritual guidance, social and counseling services as well as facilitating initiatives in civic engagement and interfaith collaboration. Through his leadership and guidance the Mosque Foundation has become one of the most recognized Islamic organizations in the States and a model in the nation for civic engagement, community empowerment, youth development, activism and community unity. He has created a model for other Mosques to follow by his commitment to preserving Muslim families, raising Muslim youth proud of their identity, stressing on civic engagement and protecting the rights of women and fighting domestic violence.
Under his leadership the Mosque Foundation services over 30,000 individuals a year from the greater Chicagoland area. Sheikh Jamal not only serves the Muslim community in the southwest side of Chicago but Muslims from across the state come to him for a variety of issues and seek guidance from him for support. He is accredited for keeping the Mosque Foundation doors open to all other Islamic projects and organizations by his emphasis on generosity and charity. He is a leader of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, bringing his expertise of institutional building, community building and fundraising to the Council of Islamic Organizations. CIOGC has replicated programs initiated at the Mosque Foundation under Sheikh Jamal's leadership and implemented in other areas of Chicago. He is a vocal advocate for social justice, defending Muslim and non Muslim civil rights locally and nationally and he is an advocate for Muslims all over the world.
He is the co-chairman of The Council of Arab religious leaders of Chicago land (ARC) and a member of the Imams and Scholars committee. As a charismatic speaker and gifted counselor, Sheikh Jamal has impacted the lives of many community members both youth and adults. He has received many awards and invitations to speak at countless conferences.
Sheikh Jamal is married to Aisheh Said and they have three children Albara, Banan, and Sana.
Ahmed Abdul Qadeer
Br. Ahmed Abdul Qadeer has been an active member of the American Muslim community since early 1970s. He served the Mid-Hudson Islamic Association of New York state for seven years before moving to the greater Chicago area in 1977. He has lived in Naperville for a little over 34 years with his wife of forty-three years, Sr. Tasneem Qadeer. They have two children, a son and a daughter, and a grand-child.
His passion for serving the community has been exemplified by his tremendous contribution to various Muslim, as well as non-Muslim, organizations.
Br. Abdul Qadeer's vision of an umbrella organization for Muslim institutions in the Chicago area helped establish the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC). He was the HR Representative of the Islamic Center of Naperville (ICN) for many years since its inception and Secretary of the Council for two years. As one of the founding members of the Council, he has been instrumental in developing policy, procedures and by-laws in addition to expanding membership and successfully initiating the Zakat Chicago program, which has grown over the years. Currently, he is chairman of CIOGC's Membership Committee.
At the national level, Br. Abdul Qadeer has actively participated in many of the initiatives of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). He helped his wife, Sr. Tasneem Qadeer, run the ISNA Matrimonial Referral Service program from 1997 to 2005.
As a founding Board Member and former President of the Islamic Center of Naperville (ICN), Br. Qadeer has contributed to the growth of ICN from a handful of families to a vibrant community of over 3,500 families. He has chaired many committees at ICN including Bylaws, Interfaith, Elections and Membership and continues to provide guidance and support to the Board.
Br. Abdul Qadeer, a passionate advocate of community outreach and interfaith relations, has developed great respect in the larger community with his active participation and leadership in organizations such as DuPage United (as a founding member), and was on its Steering Committee, including a year as co-Vice Chairman, from its inception in 2004 until last year. He is the current secretary of Naperville Interfaith Leaders Association (NILA). For several years, he was a regular contributor to Naperville Sun's interfaith column, The Reflections. In 2007, the Daily Herald featured him as "The Neighbor to Know" because of several of his activities with interfaith groups in DuPage County.
He is well-respected in the entire Muslim community of Chicago with his many years as a board member of the Downtown Islamic Center (DIC), his active support of Inner City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) and a host of masajid and other Muslim organizations.
Aisheh Said has played an outstanding role in the success of the Mosque Foundation as a model Islamic organization locally and nationally, and defining a leadership role for women in the community. Aisheh was born to Palestinian refugees in Jordan where she attended college and became actively engaged in social advocacy. She later immigrated to the States with her husband, Sheikh Jamal where she completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Jane Addams College of Social Work with Honors. She was admitted into several prestigious doctoral programs yet cannot find the time to commit due to her commitment and dedication to the community. Aisheh has served as a frontrunner in creating programs that provide community members with spiritual and social support; leadership development for women and girls and relationship building with various faith communities.
Aisheh offers individual, family, and youth counseling on a variety of issues not only to the Southwest side of Chicago but to the greater Chicagoland community. She is known to the Muslim American community in Illinois as an inspirational leader and advocate for women and the Muslim community at large. In addition to counseling services, Aisheh holds educational and Islamic weekly lectures at the Mosque Foundation, on issues that affect the community at the local and national level. Her weekly caseload and programs she runs at the Mosque resemble that of a hired employee and she is often mistaken for one. She has served on the Mosque Foundation board for more than a decade and vice president for six years. Community members and organizations rely on her vast experience and knowledge to lead, coordinate and oversee a wide range of initiatives within the community. Aisheh has served as a volunteer for several Muslim organizations such as the Islamic Society of North America, Muslim American Society, and American Muslims for Palestine. Muslim and non-Muslim social workers look to her for guidance and support due to her vast expertise in social work and specifically the Muslim and Arab community.
In addition to her leadership at the Mosque Foundation, Aisheh led the planning for three successful CIOGC annual dinners. She has worked diligently to support the Council programs, educate the community about the Council and actively garner support for the Council from the community and outside the community. Aisheh promotes unity within the Muslim American community and works towards meeting the mission and vision of CIOGC.
She was featured in the WTTW documentary 'Ties that Bind', which follows female spiritual leaders for over two years. Aisheh was one of the founding Board members of IMAN and was awarded recently the 'Inspirational Award' from MWA (Muslim Women's Alliance). Aisheh's dedication and proficiency as a community leader has empowered many young Muslim women to find strength in their faith and play leading roles in the lives of their families and communities.
Aisheh is married to Sheikh Jamal Said and has three children Albara, Banan and Sana.
Tasneem Sayeedi Qadeer
Sr. Tasneem Qadeer is an enthusiastic activist with an untiring zeal to serve the Muslim community and beyond. With her husband, Br. Ahmed Abdul Qadeer, she has been actively involved in the American Muslim community since early 1970s. Like her husband, she is also active in the interfaith relationship building; and provides social services work in DuPage County.
She is a teacher by profession, now retired. She worked at the Islamic Center of Naperville's (ICN's) full-time pre-school for fourteen years building it from about 30 students when she joined it to over 75 students at her retirement. After retirement, Sr. Tasneem continues to teach but at a different level. She teaches ESL classes for People's Resource Center – a social services organization in DuPage County. She also organized an ESL program for the Muslim refugees living in nearby Aurora under the auspices of ICN and ICNA, Islamic Circle of North America.
For several years she taught at the Islamic Foundation Weekend School and the yearly Summer School programs. She had previously helped start a weekend Islamic School in New York state and, subsequently, at the Islamic Center of Naperville even before its formation as a formal organization.
She ran the ISNA Matrimonial Referral Service program from 1997 to 2005 with exemplary devotion; setting aside four hours every week on a scheduled basis to answer phone calls from interested parties across US and Canada. With the help of her husband, an IT professional, she set up a database of candidates eligible for marriage and spent hours populating it from forms that the candidates filled.
Over the years, Sr. Tasneem Qadeer has been very active in the community at large. She was room-mother in her children's public schools and a regular volunteer at the Learning Resources Center. She currently serves on Steering Committee of DuPage United as a director-at-large. She was active in its formation in 2004 and has chaired its annual Delegates Forum and other assemblies from time to time. She is also active with an anti-war group called DuPage Against War Now (DAWN) and serves as a Voter Registrar in DuPage County through DAWN. She has led several efforts to register voters in the area.
She has served the Islamic Center of Naperville (ICN) as its board member; and member of several of its committees including Education Committee, Women's Committee and Interfaith Relations Committee. She continues to manage the program for providing lunch on Fridays at ICN's Ogden Masjid as a service to the congregants.
She holds a M. Sc. in chemistry and had started work towards a Ph. D., which she abandoned after marriage to Br. Ahmed Qadeer. They have been married for forty-three years – one of the early immigrant marriages in North America where none of the parties was already a citizen. They moved to the greater Chicago area in 1977 and have lived in Naperville for a little over 34 years. They have two children, a son and a daughter; and a grand-child.