Interview with Laila Muhammad of Zakat Foundation

By Kathy Bolano, Communications Intern

On Thursday, April 2nd, 2015 from 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM, Niagara is excited to host Laila Muhammad of the Zakat Foundation for a Friends in Faith event about the relationship between charity and faith. For the last three years Lalia has been with the Zakat Foundation as the Community Development Coordinator and is currently acting as the Interim Director at the Zakat Foundation’s south side location in Chicago’s south shore. Zakāt translates to “that which purifies” in Arabic, and is a form of alms for the Muslim community. The Zakat Foundation of America is Muslim non-profit based in Chicago who’s mission is to help those who are privileged establish self-reliance and address immediate needs for the poorest of people internationally. Here, her duties include assessing the community and providing program services such as mentoring, tutoring, life coaching, facilitating food and clothing donations, organizing health fairs and developing after school programs to name a few. She is dedicated to making a difference in the world and is working on creating a blueprint of what they do at the Chicago location as a model to duplicate across the United States.

Laila Muhammad is a dynamic woman who has accomplished many things in her life, and expects to accomplish many more in the coming years. About 20 years ago Laila began to shadow her father, the late Iman Warith Deen Mohammed, in his interfaith work. In the last ten years she has been more involved with creating interfaith dialogues with the Focolare movement. In 2010, Laila was the only female Muslim leader to visit Auschwitz and Dachau, concentration camps during World War II, sponsored by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in order to build a partnership in combating anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. In addition to this life changing trip, she has seen Pope Francis speak, created a non-profit that works against domestic violence and founded A Shared Memory, which seeks to document, record and present the untold stories of African American Muslims in the United States.

Even with everything that she has done, Muhammad finds the most meaning when she is able to help an individual person. She is currently working on projects like a health fair that will be held on April 25th and a violence prevention program that encourages the community to “think before they act.” Muhammad also continues to expand the creative camp program in collaboration with Loyola University that uses art therapy and mentoring to combat negative behaviors in today’s youths.

Although her focus is mainly based in the United states, the Zakat Foundation also serves over 46 regions worldwide in over 30 countries through offices in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The Zakat Foundation runs several programs that promote their mission such as:

Emergency Relief where they respond quickly to natural and man-made disasters like delivering food packages, medicine, hygiene packages, and temporary shelter.

Seasonal Programs and Aqeeqah helps facilitate Muslims giving back to those in need during the in the blessed times of the year by helping those who are less fortune.

Development & Sadaqa Jariya programs work at empowering the communities and produce long-term benefits for self-reliance in  poverty stricken communities.

We’re excited to host Laila, and can’t wait to see you at the event! Register here today.

The views and opinions expressed on The Falls are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Niagara Foundation, its staff, other authors, members, partners, or sponsors.