|Born||1986 (age 34–35)|
|Alma mater||International Islamic University Malaysia|
|Known for||Islamic Studies, social justice|
|Occupation||Imam, activist, author|
|Years active||August 3, 2016–present|
|Total views||66 million|
|Associated acts||Muslim Speakers|
Updated: 16 September 2021.
Omar Suleiman (Arabic: عمر سليمان) (born: 1986) is an American Muslim scholar, civil rights leader, writer, and public speaker. He is the Founder and President of Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, and an Adjunct Professor of Islamic Studies at Southern Methodist University. He is currently the Resident Scholar of the Valley Ranch Islamic Center and the Co-Chair Emeritus of Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square, a multi-faith coalition of clergy for peace and justice.
Early life and education
His studies of the Islamic tradition have taken Suleiman across the Muslim world to countries including Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Malaysia. In addition to receiving traditional certifications in the Islamic sciences, he received a Bachelor's in Islamic Law, Masters in Islamic Finance and Political History, and completed doctoral studies in Islamic Thought and Civilization from the International Islamic University of Malaysia.
Upon returning to New Orleans, he served as the Imam of the Jefferson Muslim Association for 6 years, and as director of the “Muslims for Humanity” Hurricane Katrina relief effort in late 2005. It was at this time that he received national recognition for his community service, interfaith, and social justice efforts. He co-founded the East Jefferson Interfaith Clergy Association and was awarded for outstanding civic achievement by the Mayor and City Council of New Orleans in 2010.
In 2016, Suleiman founded the Muslim think-tank, Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research. He is also the founding director of MUHSEN (Muslims Understanding and Helping Special Education Needs) - a non-profit umbrella organization that aims to create more inclusive Muslim communities that better cater to the disabled and their families.
Omar Suleiman also starred in the award-winning Inspiration Series which aimed to impart moral lessons from the life and example of the Prophet Muhammad through a drama mini-series. The series was widely viewed globally, and would go on to win the award for Best Movie at the 2016 International Contribution to Dawah Awards in Dubai.
Suleiman has engaged in social justice organizing and activism on a host of progressive causes. He stated that Donald Trump's presidency "fatigues" American citizens. He also "considers [himself] a student of Malcolm X" and believes that "his most important contribution to the revolution is his idea that the greatest casualty of the subjugation of African Americans was the loss of black consciousness.” He has expressed that "America is a work in progress, and the most patriotic Americans are those that demand it live up to its promise." He also believes that "Muslim theology can be a source of liberation."
In July 2016, he marched with demonstrators in Dallas against the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. These demonstrations would eventually be punctuated by a deadly shooting in which five police officers were killed in retaliation for police shootings of African Americans. Suleiman recalls "an eternity of gunshots" ringing out just as the march came to a close. In the wake of the shooting, Imam Omar Suleiman was invited to lead the invocation at a memorial service for the slain officers attended by President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden, as well as President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush.
Suleiman led airport demonstrations in Dallas in reaction to the Trump travel ban, which has since come to be known as the “Muslim ban" due to its restricting immigration from 7 predominantly Muslim-majority nations, as well as Trump's call for a temporary ban on Muslim entry into the United States following the 2015 San Bernardino attack, and again after the Orlando nightclub shooting.
In 2017, Omar Suleiman was arrested on Capitol Hill protesting outside of the office of then-House Speaker Congressman Paul Ryan. He had been participating in sit-in demonstration calling for comprehensive immigration reform. He later led a group of clergy to the U.S.–Mexico border to protest in solidarity with and meet migrants affected by Trump's family separation policy.
Threat from ISIS
In March 2017, ISIS called for his assassination, among a number of other prominent Western Muslim faith leaders, in a propaganda film titled "Kill The Apostate Imams." The call was in response to a video Suleiman produced with Pastor Andrew Stoker of First United Methodist Church Dallas titled "An Imam, a Pastor and a Dream,” in which he calls for unity between Christians and Muslims in the United States and around the world. Suleiman responded to the threat stating, "I believe that their venom needs to be condemned. They’ve hijacked my religion."
Imam Omar Suleiman has been noted for his work in the fields of community service, interfaith dialogue, and social justice, and was awarded for outstanding civic achievement by the Mayor and City Council of New Orleans in 2010.
Suleiman was also the subject of a BBC documentary in 2016 highlighting the experience of Muslims in Texas facing rising Islamophobia, and a 2017 PBS documentary showcasing his work with Syrian refugees.
In addition to being recognized by CNN as one of 25 Muslim American change-makers, Suleiman was also included in The Muslim 500 - an annual ranking of the world's most influential Muslims compiled by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Amman, Jordan.
In observation of Frederick Douglass' bicentennial, the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University and Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives recognized Omar Suleiman among 200 honorees whose work was deemed to best embody the legacy of the abolitionist’s commitment to social change.
- Prayers of the Pious, 2019.
- Allah Loves..., 2020.
- Repentance: Breaking Habits of Sin, 2020.
- 40 on Justice: The Prophetic Voice on Social Reform, 2021.
- Angels in Your Presence, 2021.
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- "Prayers and protests as Dallas faithful react to Trump's immigration orders". Dallas News. 2017-01-29. Retrieved 2020-07-30.
- Imam Omar Suleiman: He got arrested on Capitol Hill - CNN Video, retrieved 2020-07-30
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- Paul, Jeff (13 March 2017). "ISIS Calls For North Texas Imam's Assassination". CBS DFW. Retrieved 16 March 2017.
- Ellin, Theo (2017-02-07). "The Man Trying to Turn Mosques Into Places of Sanctuary | Rising Stars". OZY. Retrieved 2017-03-02.
- Macon, Alex (February 2017). "Omar Suleiman is the Religious Leader Dallas Needs Right Now". D Magazine. Retrieved 2017-03-02.
- "United States Of Hate: Muslims Under Attack". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2020-07-30.
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- "Pdf" (PDF). Congress.gov. Retrieved 27 December 2019.
- Burke, Daniel; Stix, Madeleine; CNN. "25 Influential American Muslims". www.cnn.com. Retrieved 2020-07-30.
- "Omar Suleiman". The Muslim 500. Retrieved 2020-07-30.
- Petrella, Christopher (2018-07-25). "'A radical form of white supremacy deserves nothing less than a radical response'". the Guardian. Retrieved 2020-07-30.
- Suleiman, Omar (27 February 2017). "My Islam: Not Dogmatic Secularism Nor Religious Fanaticism". Muslim Matters.