Major: Islamic Leadership
School: Bayan Claremont
Sponsor: Bayan Claremont
Abdul Raoof Nasir is a first year student in the Master’s Degree program in Islamic Leadership at Bayan Claremont. Abdul Raoof is a student of Imam Warithuddin Mohammed the late Islamic leader who transformed the original Nation of Islam (NOI) after the passing of the NOI founder the Honorable Elijah Mohammed. After earning a BA in Social Science from the University of California, Berkeley, Abdul Raoof has been a lifelong student and worker in the Quran centered local and national programs initiated by and through that transformation. He studied two years at the Markus Islami Afriki (The African Islamic Center) located in Khartoum, The Sudan. For the last three decades, Abdul Raoof has chosen as a special focus work with inmates in the United States Prison System. For ten years he worked as a religious volunteer offering Islamic counseling in the Alameda County Juvenile Hall facility and the Los Cerros and Wilmont Sweeney youth camp before being employed as a Muslim Chaplain for 20 years for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) at two high security and medium security state prisons.
The United States has the largest prison system in the world with more of its citizens imprisoned than any other country in the world. Within this huge prison system, Islam is the fastest growing religion with now 10’s of thousands of men and women who profess the Islamic Faith over 90% who converted to Islam while incarcerated. The State California has the largest and most overcrowded prison system in the U.S. and because of its exorbitant cost to maintain and the courts finding that the overcrowding constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment”, many individuals who have served their time or who have been deemed least likely to reoffend are being released back into society including many Muslim converts who have never practiced Islam outside of prison. Needless to say the transition from prison to public life is a challenging task.
Abdul Raoof works with scores of ex-inmates with counseling and referral services in an effort to facilitate a successful transition. Our Islamic communities have been tardy to respond to these developing trends and consequently this segment of the growing Islamic community is severely underserved. Many faith based communities have well developed post release services including transitional housing, job training, mental health and spiritual counseling among the important services.
After completing the Master’s Degree program, G-d Willing, Abdul Raoof intends to be a more skillful and effective advocate for the creation of these vitally needed services for these new members of our Islamic Ummah. The Islamic Scholarship Fund (ISF) has been a major facilitator toward these goals.