Advisory Committee


We are pleased to introduce our committee members:



• Founder and current President of Zaytuna College, the first Muslim liberal arts college in the United States, located in Berkeley, California
• Advisor to Stanford University’s Program in Islamic Studies
• Advisor to the Center for Islamic Studies at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley
• Vice-president for the Global Center for Guidance and Renewal
• “The Western world’s most influential Islamic scholar” by The 500 Most Influential Muslims, edited by John Esposito and Ibrahim Kalin, (2009).


Professor Abu Sway was appointed as the first holder of the Integral Chair for the Study of Imam Ghazali’s Work at Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa and at Al-Quds University in 2012. He has been Professor of Philosophy and Islamic Studies at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem, Palestine since 1996. He taught at the International Islamic University in Malaysia (1993-96) and was a visiting Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence at the Wilkes Honors College at Florida Atlantic University, as well as a visiting professor of Islamic Studies at Bard College, NY.


• Bachelor of Arts, University of Waterloo
• Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations, University of Chicago
• Professor and Chair of Islamic Studies, University of Western Ontario
• Specialty in Christian-Muslim relations and bridging cultures
• Former President of ISNA (Islamic Society of North America)
• 2009-2010 member of Interfaith Taskforce of Whitehouse Office of Faith Based & Neighborhood Partnerships
• Will advise on how to reach and effectively present the GCP (Ghazali Children’s Project) to Muslims of every ethnic background in America


Yusuf Islam is the celebrated British Muslim educator and activist, still known by millions of people for his music and words as Cat Stevens.

One of the world’s most famous converts to Islam, he embraced Islam in 1977 and went on to become an energetic supporter of Islamic education in the United Kingdom, where he established Islamic Schools, founded Muslim Aid as well as pioneered the English Islamic Nasheed & Spoken Word genre. He recently returned to engaging mainstream audiences through musical recordings and performances due to the increasing negativity towards Islam.



• Cultural Anthropologist
• Former Senior Advisor to USAID (US Agency of International Development)
• Current scholar/consultant for the Carter Center, Atlanta
• Founder of the Al-Fatih Academy in Reston, VA, and Islamic school devoted to an integrated approach nurturing spiritual & learning connections


• Fullbright Scholar of Advanced Arabic
• Bachelor of Arts, Notre Dame
• Master of Arts and Ph.D., University of Toronto
• Associate Professor of Islamic Studies, University of Waterloo, Canada
• Designed curriculum for Master of Divinity in Islamic Studies for American Islamic College, Chicago

Donald E. Lassere

Donald E. Lassere joined the Muhammad Ali Center in 2012. In his role as President and CEO, he is responsible for fostering the Center’s mission and expanding its educational programs, partnerships, and other outreach initiatives. Among his accomplishments, Lassere has facilitated a rebranding process and implemented a strategic plan that has focuses on three primary programmatic areas: Education, Global Citizenship and Gender Equality. Lassere was instrumental in the creation of the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards, a premiere event that honors the greatness of people around the world.


Dr. Qamar-ul Huda teaches courses on Islam, conflict resolution, religious studies, and global affairs at Georgetown University. His research focuses on the intersection of religion, public policy, intellectual history, ethics and comparative religious peacemaking. Dr. Huda was listed in the Muslim 500: The World’s Most Influential Muslims in 2016 published by the Royal Strategic Islamic Centre in Amman, Jordan. He is the author of The Crescent and Dove: Peace and Conflict Resolution in Islam and Striving for Divine Union: Spiritual Exercises of the Suhrawardi Sufis. Qamar-ul Huda earned his doctorate from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in Islamic intellectual history, his Bachelor of Arts from Colgate University, New York, and earned several certificates in advanced topics in religion, kalam, and philosophy of law in Islamic seminaries and universities abroad. Currently, Dr. Qamar-ul Huda is a Senior Policy Advisor for U.S. Secretary John Kerry’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.


Dr. Douglass received her Ph.D. in world history at George Mason University and has an M.A. in Arab Studies from Georgetown University and a B.A. in History from the University of Rochester. Dr. Douglass has developed the education outreach program for the Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University in 2007. She served as Senior Researcher for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, and managed several grant projects for the Ali Vurak Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies at George Mason University. She has contributed to curriculum projects such as World History for Us All. Douglass’ major publications include World Eras: Rise and Spread of Islam, 622-1500 (Thompson/Gale, 2002), the children’s book Ramadan (Carolrhoda Books, 2002), and the national study Teaching About Religion in National and State Social Studies Standards(Freedom Forum First Amendment Center and Council on Islamic Education, 2000).


• Bachelor of Science, Rutgers (President of Islamic Society)
• Master of Arts in Arabic Language & Literature, University of Cairo
• Ph.D. candidate in in Arab & Islamic Studies, University of Exeter, UK



• Bachelor of Arts in Religion and Middle Eastern Studies, The George Washington University
• Master of Arts, Master of Philosophy, Ph.D. at Yale University
• Professor of Arabic Intellectual Heritage and Culture at The American University of Sharjah College, United Arab Emirates



• Bachelor of Arts, University of Chicago
• Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages, Harvard University
• Author and Professor of Islamic Studies at Boston College
• Has taught Islamic & Religious Studies at Universities of Exeter, Princeton, and Oberlin, and at the Sorbonne



• Bachelor of Arts from the School of Oriental & African Studies, London
• Ph.D. Islamic Studies, Cambridge University
• Research associate, Wolfson College, Cambridge University
• Affiliated Research & Lecturer Faculty of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, Cambridge University



• Bachelor of Arts, University of California
• Master of Arts in Middle Eastern Studies, University of Texas
• Advanced Editing & Advanced Studies of Arabic Language, University of Chicago
• Editor specializing in works of Islamic Studies and Arabic translations



• Scholar of Islamic Philosophy & al-Ghazali
• Webmaster of
• Editor of Journal of Islamic Philosophy
• Specialist in English and Arabic typesetting

Portrait of Fr. David Burrell, C.S.C.


• Bachelor of Arts, Notre Dame
• Ph.D., Yale, and post-graduate work at Gregorian University
• Author and Professor Emeritus of Philosophy & Theology at Notre Dame
• Translator of two books of Ghazali from Arabic to English
• Now serving in Bangladesh


• Bachelor of Arts, Sussex and Essex Universities
• Ph.D. in Comparative Religion, University of Kent
• Author specializing in Islamic Studies & World Spirituality
• Author of Common Ground between Islam & Buddhism, published by Fons Vitae
• Founding editor of Islamic World Report


• Current Executive Director of CISNA (Council of Islamic Schools in North America)
• Member of ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) Education Forum Program Committee
• Past Principal of American Youth Academy
• Presenter of a workshop called Accreditation as a Means to Staying Focused on Mission, at the Chicago Education Forum March 2016


Muhammad Adamos heads the Management board of the charity Small Kindness and the Yusuf Islam Foundation, both of which were established by his father, Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens). As the key advisor to Yusuf Islam in his Music Management, Muhammad oversees his career that celebrates 50 years in music and he is active in using the Arts as a means of communicating and building bridges amongst different communities.



Ithar Abusheikha works in the field of Social Work, and when she isn’t in the front line, she spends her time painting and sketching. She has led numerous creative projects and has also illustrated books for children in the context of child welfare. Through art, she wants to connect people to their natural and spiritual heritage. Ithar believes deeply that knowing where we come from and honoring our stories is directly tied to a firm moral footing.

Ateka headshot

Ateka Ali

Ateka Ali is the co-founder of Averroes High School, and has served on the Averroes Board of Directors since the school’s inception. Her passion rests in empowering and teaching a social entrepreneurship course based on Stanford’s “D School” titled “Project Innovation.” Prior to founding Averroes High School, Ateka received a Fulbright scholarship in 2005 in “metacognition” in second-language acquisition in Amman, Jordan. Ateka also received a BS in International Studies from DePaul University, an MA in Secondary Social Sciences, and an M.Ed in Bilingual Bi-cultural studies. Ateka has nearly a decade of teaching experience and has gained a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of educational theories and practices. Ateka resides in the Bay Area with her husband and two children.

Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool

Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool is a former Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Georgetown University’s Edmund A Walsh School for Foreign Service. He worked in the Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, advancing an alternative paradigm to the inertia of Orthodoxies in the face of Extremisms. He is the founder of the World for All Foundation that endeavors to create a world of coexistence that is safe for difference. Ambassador Rasool is actively rethinking the intellectual tools for co-operative relations between faiths, cultures and communities at a global level, and establishing dignity, inclusion and equity for those marginalized and excluded.









Shabana Pervez

After reading Theology and Religious Education and graduating from the University of Cambridge, Shabana worked as a Business Development Manager in the Netherlands. She has since worked as a Lead Practitioner with a focus on more able students and subject specialisms in Religion, Philosophy, and History. Shabana is now working as Assistant Head Teacher in a girls’ secondary and sixth form, with the responsibility of strategically leading staff to teach students with special educational needs and physical disabilities, including hearing, visual impairment, and students with English as a second language. Shabana is passionate about teaching and learning, as reflected in her many ‘outstanding’ lesson observations, Ofsted inspections, and examination results. She has taught young people and adults and delivered CPD both at home, in schools, at national conferences, and abroad, including India, Bosnia, and Germany.