Preparing Muslim Leaders to serve Islam and the American Muslim Community

The Islamic Seminary of America aspires to be a lighthouse of knowledge and faith devoted to equipping American-based leaders and serving as an authoritative voice for a balanced Islam. We are committed to raise the general level of Islamic understanding within the American Muslim community and throughout American society.

TISA is an Islamic Seminary Foundation (ISF) Institution. ISF is a 501 (c)(3) Tax Exempt Organization.

Educating and nurturing those who aspire to be:
  • Scholars
  • Imams
  • Chaplains
  • Relief Workers
  • Youth Leaders
  • Masjid Leaders
  • Activists
  • Muslims knowledgeable in Islam
Who we are. What we do


Our mission is to be the world’s preeminent community of scholars where generations of religious scholars and ethical leaders pursue the highest levels of knowledge, research and training, rooted in the Quran and Sunnah and integrating the rich traditions of classical Islamic knowledge with Western academic scholarship.
What we aspire to be


Our vision is a world constantly bettered by religious scholarship and ethical leadership. The Islamic Seminary of America, an Islamic Seminary Foundation institution, aspires to be a lighthouse of knowledge and faith devoted to equipping American-based leaders and serving as an authoritative voice for a balanced Islam.

In March 2016, three critical needs of the Muslim American community were discussed in a regular meeting of several Muslim leaders in the state of CT held in coordination with the Muslim Coalition of CT. The needs were:

Capacity- building for the education, training and development of “home-grown Muslim leadership within the USA.

Competency standards for people currently serving as Islamic leaders in a variety of capacities in entities within and outside the Muslim American Community.
Credentialing through processes that represent authentic Islamic principles and best practices for US human services delivery.


From an Idea to Fruition

A chaplaincy sub-committee was formed out of this meeting that ultimately established the Muslim Endorsement council of CT (MECC) in March 2011 through a series of statewide consultations that included leaders of several Muslim organizations and Islamic centers. In March of 2011, MECC also organized the first annual Shura and In-service Training for imams, chaplains and other service providers to the Muslims community at Yale University.

It was in this Shura meeting of over a hundred Muslim leaders and service providers that the seeds of what became Islamic Seminary Foundation (ISF) were planted.

ISF was incorporated as a CT non-profit on September 9, 2011, with the goal of “supporting the founding of an Islamic Seminary in North America” through “raising awareness of the need for an Islamic Seminary.”

Since its inception, ISF has organized and co-sponsored numerous courses and workshops as a way of raising awareness for the need for graduate level education for Muslim American leadership.

In 2011, ISF become the land organizer of the last 7 annual Shura and In-service Training held annually at Yale University (most recently at Yale Divinity School). Plenary speakers for this conference have included:

  • Chaplain Kamal Abu-Shamsieh
  • Chaplain Tahara Akmal
  • Prof. Zainab Alwani
  • Prof. Ihsan Bagby
  • Prof. Sherman Jackson
  • Prof. Ingrid Mattson
  • Chaplain Sohaib Sultan
  • Imam Suhaib Webb

From 2013 until 2016, ISF collaborated with MECC in developing competency standards for MECC’s endorsees. They are:

  1. Quranic Literacy
  2. Prophetic Theory and Praxis
  3. Cross-Cultural Capability
  4. Facilitation Skills
  5. Professional Theory and Practice

In August 2016, several members of Board of ISF traveled to Dallas TX to witness the dynamic launch of the Islamic Seminary of America under the leadership of Sh Khalil Abdur-Rashid (now serving as Harvard University’s first full-time Muslim Chaplain) with Imam Omar Suleiman as the other primary instructor. With a small budget, In its first year of operation, the seminary taught over 400 adults, 200 youth, led an umrah trip and provided a variety of family and youth oriented activities in the DFW area. 

In Dallas, TX on April 3, 2017, ISF signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the original Islamic Seminary of America board that transferred the name, all assets and the ultimate authority for operating the seminary over to ISF.

In March 2018, ISF launched the open access, online (housed at Indiana U) peer-reviewed Journal of Islamic Faith and Practice (available in print edition form Amazon.com) The founding editorial board of the journal is :

  • Dr. Zainah Alwani, Howard University – Editor-in-chief
  • Dr. Ihsan Bagby, University of Kentucky
  • Chaplain Omer Bajwa, Yale University
  • Dr. Jonathan Brown, Georgetown University
  • Dr. James Jones, Manhattanville College
  • Dr. Nancy Khalil, Harvard University
  • Dr. Sulayman Nyang, Harvard University
  • Dr. Shariq Siddiqui, Indiana University
  • Chaplain Sohaib Sultan, Princeton University
  • Chaplain Nisa Muhammad, Howard University

On February 1, 2018, ISF named Dr. Ihsan Bagby, a veteran educator, researcher and community activist as its new TISA president. Dr. Bagby has already begun his journey to lead TISA into the future as a world – class educational institution.

Quranic Literacy

Prophetic Theory and Praxis

Cross-Cultural Capability

Facilitation Skills

Professional Theory and Practice


Iqbal Unus


Iqbal Unus

Retired Director of The Fairfax Institute at International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), Dr. Unus has served as President of MSA in 1975 and as Secretary General of ISNA in the 1980s. He presently serves on ISNA Board of Directors and is Director-at-Large at United Nations Association of the National Capital Area. He has received life-time service awards from CAIR and ISNA. Dr. Unus holds a PhD from Emory University.

James Jones

Executive Vice President

James Jones

Professor of World Religions and Chair of the Dept of World Religions and the African Studies Program at Manhattanville College (Purchase, NY). Dr. Jones’s research focuses on the intersectionality of between Islamophobia and racism. DMin from Hartford Seminary and a MA in Religion from Yale Divinity School. He is President of the Malik Human Services, a marriage counselor for more than two decades, and a member of the Association of Professional Chaplains. He sits on the National Board of Directors of CAIR. Dr. Jones is also a certified Youth Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Trainer. MHFA’s goal is to train people to be able to identify, understand and respond to people with mental health or substance abuse issues.

Shazeeda Khan


Shazeeda Khan

Chaplain Shazeeda Khan has an economics degree from New York University. She began her career as a commodities accountant at a Wall Street firm. She is currently a volunteer chaplain at the United States Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, CT since 2005 where she serves Muslim women. She also serves as the Director of Islamic Education and teacher for the Baitul Mukarram Masjid of Greater Danbury. There she develops the Islamic Studies curriculum for the youth ages 5 to 18 and supervises a team of teachers. She also develops halaqa programs for the women. Since 2000, Chaplain Khan has served on the board of the Association of Religious Communities (ARC), an interfaith community service organization. She is currently President and one of the founding board members of the Muslim Endorsement Council of Connecticut (MECC, Inc.).

Farooq Selod


Farooq Selod

Board member of ISNA Founders Committee. Board member of Islamic Association of Tarrant County (Fort Worth). Founder and Chair of PIOUS, a dawah organization. Orthopedic Surgeon in Fort Worth.

Bonita McGee

Chair of the ISF Advisory Board

Bonita McGee

Former board member of the Islamic Social Services Association-USA (ISSA-USA). She also is a former board member and co-founder of the Muslim Family Services of Ohio. Ms. McGee is the Tobacco Control Program Director with the District of Columbia Department of Health working in policy, systems and environmental change to address the harmful effects of tobacco and nicotine use and exposure. Ms. McGee is a Certified Public Manager. She has a MA in Islamic Studies from the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences where she studied under Dr. Taha al-Alwani. She also has a BA in Business Administration from Ohio State. Ms. McGee is one of the founding members of the Islamic Seminary Foundation.

Athar Haq

President, ACC

Athar Haq

Dr. Haq is the president and founder of the first Muslim non-profit organization called A Continuous Charity (ACC) which gives non-interest based loans for higher education.

Dr. Haq is originally from Los Angeles, CA.  He spend his first 23 years in Southern California receiveing a BA in Psychology from UCSD.  He then moved to Des Moines, IA to obtain his Doctorate of Osteopathy in 2011.  He then traveled Detroit, MI for his residency in Internal Medicine at Wayne State University.  Dr. Haq brings to UTSW a strong background in general medical specifically for the underserved.  He came to UTSW for the strong camaraderie amongst fellow physicians.   Dr. Haq desires to serve the underserved community not only from the medical side but also education. He was three beautiful children and spends his free time with them.

Yasir Qadhi

TISA’s Dean of Academic Affairs

Yasir Qadhi

Yasir Qadhi is the Resident Scholar of the East Plano Islamic Center. He is also the Dean of The Islamic Seminary of America. He is one of the few people who has combined a traditional Eastern Islamic seminary education with a Western academic training of the study of Islam. Yasir graduated with a B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Houston, after which he was accepted as a student at the Islamic University of Madinah. After completing a diploma in Arabic, he graduated with a B.A. from the College of Hadith and Islamic Sciences, and then completed a M.A. in Islamic Theology from the College of Dawah. He then returned to America, and completed a PhD in Religious Studies from Yale University. He has authored several books, published academic articles, and appeared on numerous satellite and TV stations around the globe. His online videos are of the most popular and highly-watched Islamic videos in English.

Abdul Alim Khandekar

Former Chair, ISNA Founders Committee

Abdul Alim Khandekar

Former, long-time Chair of ISNA Founders Committee. Former President of Muslim Society of Memphis. Thoracic and Cardiac Surgeon who serves multiple hospitals in Memphis.

Abed Ayoub

President/CEO, UMR

Abed Ayoub

President and CEO of United Muslim Relief. PhD International Development. In 2010, he was appointed by the US Agency for International Development to serve on its Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid. He also is serving a second term on the US State Department’s Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group.

Azhar Azeez

Vice President, Islamic Relief USA

Azhar Azeez

Azhar Azeez was born in Hyderabad, India. He has a bachelors degree in Finance from the prestigious Osmania University and a Master’s degree in business administration (MBA) and is currently pursuing his PhD in Islamic studies.

For 12 years he worked for major US corporations such as General Electric, American General Life and Capital One. He currently serves as the senior Vice President of Islamic Relief USA which is one of the largest Muslim charity of USA. He was elected as the vice president of Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) which is the oldest Muslim organization of US & Canada in 2010 and 2012 and then was elected as its President for two terms in 2014 and in 2016

He is also the past President of the North Texas Islamic council which represents 40 plus Muslim/Islamic organizations in Dallas/Fort worth area. He is the founder and the past President of Islamic Association of Carrollton, Texas one of the large mosques in the suburbs of Dallas, TX.

In his role as the President of ISNA, he has advised two former US Presidents, President Jimmy Carter & President Barack Obama. He is nationally known public and a motivational speaker who travels regularly around US for various local, regional and national Islamic organizations and has addressed gatherings in more than 450 communities across US & Canada.

He has made several media appearances and interviewed by many local and national TV stations, newspapers & magazines. He also speaks regularly on local & national radio/ TV programs.  He is married and has two kids and currently resides in Dallas, TX.

Tahara Akmal

Supervisor, Clinical Pastoral Education; MA, Claremont

Tahara Akmal

Chaplain Tahara Akmal joined Moravian Theological Seminary in the Spring Semester of 2017 to teach in the Chaplaincy program.  She serves as the Director of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) and ACPE Certified Educator at Reading Hospital in Reading, PA., and brings with her years of training and experience in chaplaincy.

But first—prior to her career in chaplaincy and education, Tahara worked for the Islāmic Information Service (IIS) in Altadena, California, as an Anchor and Segment Producer for IIS’ nationally broadcast television program, American Muslim Hour. She also hosted a southern California radio program, Islāmic Perspectives, and freelance writing for the Chicago, Illinois based Muslim Journal newspaper. Out of the many opportunities to engage the American Muslim community, interview clergy from various religions, and visit diverse houses of worship arose Tahara’s interest in interfaith ministry.

Through her education and training, Tahara has focused particularly on end-of-life issues. Her graduate studies internship project centered on the end-of-life care practices and rituals in Judaism, Catholicism, Islam, and Buddhism. She also conducted a research project entitled Islamic Law and Medical Ethics: Organ Transplant, Defining Death, and Life Sustaining Devices. In her second-year specialized CPE residency at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, Tahara’s specialized ministry was with family members of patients who suffered a traumatic brain or cardiac injury. She provided spiritual and emotional care as these families decided sensitive end-of-life care options, mainly organ donation for their loved one.

Tahara remained at Johns Hopkins Hospital to become a chaplain educator (ACPE Supervisor). As part of the certification process, she developed theories for teaching interfaith ministry rooted in Islāmic theology, humanistic psychology, pastoral care and counseling theories, and adult education theories. In May 2015, Tahara made history as the first Muslim woman since ACPE’s inception in 1967 to be certified as an Associate Supervisor. She was certified as a Full ACPE Supervisor in March 2016. In October 2016, Tahara received the Muslim American Chaplain’s Association Lifetime Achievement Award, an award given annually to an individual that demonstrates excellence in service to humanity.

Tahara is the mother of two sons and a daughter. When she has chance, Tahara likes to take road trips, exploring new areas and perhaps finding a few old treasures.