EDUCATE – INSPIRE – EMPOWER
PRECIOUS RASHEEDA MUHAMMAD–author, award-winning speaker, poetess, publisher, and Harvard-trained researcher–is nationally known for her ability to educate, inspire, and empower live audiences and readers of diverse racial, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds about the growth and development of Islam in America and the full diversity of the American Muslim experience.
THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT PRECIOUS
The preeminent Publishers Weekly, “widely recognized as the [publication] industry’s publication of record,” describes Precious Rasheeda Muhammad’s chapter, “To Be Young, Gifted, Black, American, Muslim, And Woman,” in the book Living Islam Out Loud: American Muslim Women Speak, as one of the “best” and “most absorbing essays” … in an anthology that “opens the door for other writers to explore the important and understudied topic of Muslim American women.”
Precious’ articles, essays, and spoken word have appeared in the award-winning book Taking Back Islam: American Muslims Reclaim Their Faith (Rodale Press), the African American National Biography (Oxford University Press), Living Islam Out Loud: American Muslim Women Speak (Beacon Press), the Encyclopedia of Islam in the United States (Greenwood Press), Azizah magazine, Upscale magazine, the Muslim Journal, on Beliefnet.Com, Minnesota Public Radio, National Public Radio, CNN.Com (See slide four), The Virginian Pilot, and the channel formerly know as the WB, to name just a few. Additionally, some of her writings have been used in courses at diverse universities such as Harvard, Emory, the University of Southern California, the University of Michigan, and Spelman.
From vibrant audiences at the Smithsonian, the Chicago Historical Society, and the Harvard Club of New York to the classrooms of Harvard, Yale and Wellesley to the museums, historical societies, and seminaries of places such as Portland, Dallas, and Detroit to locations in between and beyond–including Cambridge University in the UK–Precious skillfully educates her audience. At times, she has shared the stage with internationally respected religious leaders, nationally acclaimed scholars, and respected heads of leading organizations within the American Muslim community such as Imam Zaid Shakir, Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah, the late Imam W.D. Mohammed, and Dr. Ingrid Mattson.
BUILDING COMMUNITY THROUGH HISTORY
Frustrated with the paucity of scholarship on Islam in America, Precious founded and spearheaded the Islam in America conferences at Harvard from 2000 to 2001 to educate the Harvard community and general public about the growth and development of Islam in America and to promote tolerance, fellowship and understanding. The “first-rate” conference gained international recognition and motivated many scholars, practitioners and religious leaders to organize similar events. For more than three years after Precious’ graduation, students at Harvard worked together with various departments, organizations, faculty, and staff at Harvard to carry on the conference thus a further example of Precious’ ability to educate, inspire and empower.
Additionally, while completing her graduate studies at Harvard Divinity School, Precious, who friends and family affectionately call “the history detective,” founded an educational publishing company (Journal of Islam in America Press) dedicated to publishing a broad range of titles on the growth and development of Islam in America. During that same time, she also discovered, edited, and introduced The Autobiography of Nicholas Said: A Native of Bornou, Eastern Soudan, Central Africa, a narrative about the Muslim ex-slave, learned African, and distinguished Civil War Veteran named Nicholas Said.
For her consistent ability to promote tolerance, fellowship, and understanding with regard to Islam in America and the Muslim American experience, the WB television station in Boston, MA did a feature on Precious’ life and awarded her a 2002 Unsung Hero Award on air.
From July to October 2005, the Smithsonian in Washington, DC featured her work on the learned African and distinguished Civil War veteran Nicholas Said as a part of an exhibit titled “Forgotten Roots: African American Muslims in Early America” that launched the “first phase” of a “multi-year initiative to document family and community life among African American Muslims.”
Precious had a significant role in planning the historic 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions held in Melbourne, Australia—the largest interfaith gathering in the world. There were over 6000 attendees with over 500 programs across seven days. In 2010, Coe College awarded her an honorary doctorate for her continuous efforts to build community across seemingly intractable religious and cultural divides. In that same year, she became an alumna of the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute (AMCLI).
In 2011, Precious gifted the U.S. Department of State with a unique historical timeline of Islam in America, which was publicly recognized by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Farah Pandith, the Department of State Special Representative to Muslim Communities.
Precious has held diverse positions in public service from a congressional intern on Capitol Hill to a hospital chaplain at Brigham and Women’s Hospital; studied and lived in Morocco and France; and has traveled to Egypt, Jordan, and Jerusalem. Precious earned a BA in Religion with honors from The University of Iowa and a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School. She has also studied Arabic at Middlebury College’s renowned summer language institute.
Some of Precious’s recent work includes a paper entitled “Muslims and the Making of America,” published by the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and distributed to hundreds of policymakers and change-makers in Washington,DC, including members of Congress and White House officials. She also recently launched a blog on Patheos.Com titled the “Muslim History Detective” and is currently working a number of community-building history projects to educate diverse audiences.
She lives with her husband and two daughters in Hampton Roads and is taking the time to live in and engage the “real” world before pursuing a doctorate. Until then, she will have to continue to tell people that invite her to speak to stop calling her “Dr. Muhammad,” which can be quite embarrassing at times, especially when it is announced as such right before she reaches the podium.
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