Muslims in Cleveland

"'ašhadu 'al-la ilaha illa-llahu wa 'ašhadu 'anna muhammadan rasulu-llah", or "I testify that there is none worthy of worship except God and I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of God."

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According to Wikipedia, "A Muslim is an adherent of the religion of Islam. Literally, the word means "one who submits (to God)".

All Muslims observe Sunnah, but differences in the definition of what is and what is not Sunnah has led to the emergence of sectarian movements. The well-organised and cohesive community of Muslims who accept the Sunnah as defined within one of the traditional Maliki, Hanafi, Shafi or Hanbali madhabs are the classical Sunni Muslims. Those who fall outside of this fold are the Shia Muslims, though often thinking themselves to be Sunni Muslims.

Muslims believe that there is only one God, translated in Arabic as Allah. Muslims also believe that Islam existed long before Muhammad though it was not called Islam until the revelation of Surah al-Maeda. Muslims believe that this religion had evolved with time from the time of Adam until the time of Muhammad and was completed with the revelation of verse 3 of Surah al-Maeda:

This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.

The Qur'an describes many Biblical prophets and messengers as Muslim: Adam, Noah, Moses and Jesus and his apostles. The Qur'an states that these men were Muslims because they submitted to God, preached his message and upheld his values.


Religion in the Africa & Byzantium Exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art

The new exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Africa & Byzantium, considers the complex artistic relationships between northern and eastern African Christian kingdoms and the Byzantine Empire from the fourth century CE and beyond. The first international loan exhibition to treat this subject, the show includes more than 160 works of secular and sacred art from across geographies and faiths, including large-scale frescoes, mosaics, and luxury goods such as metalwork, jewelry, panel paintings, architectural elements, textiles, and illuminated manuscripts.

Folio from a Qur'an, early 800s. Unknown calligrapher. Aghlabid dynasty, Kairouan (Kairouan, Tunisia). Ink on parchment and decorated vellum; 31 x 22.6 cm. Musée National d'Art Islamique de Raqqada, Kairouan, P 208. Photo: Nizar Hamza

Folio from a Qur'an, early 800s.
Aghlabid dynasty, Kairouan (Kairouan, Tunisia)

You will see pieces representing Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths. One of our favorite parts of the exhibition is a Cleveland religious connection. The CMA's presentation is bolstered by loans from two local religious communities, reflecting years of community collaboration that powerfully demonstrates the contemporary relevance of the exhibition's topic today.

"Our work with local religious communities has been very meaningful," said Curator Windmuller-Luna. "We are grateful for their willingness to tell their stories and loan their precious artworks to us. To share these Greater Clevelanders' vivid perspectives, we have placed Community Voice labels throughout the exhibition, offering a firsthand glimpse of artworks' personal significance. We have also included Community Voice videos in this exhibition, a first for the CMA."

I liked seeing people I recognize and know, like our friend Imam Ramez Islambouli, as Community Voices.

Another nice touch is the display of "Contemporary Faith and Heritage Communities in Greater Cleveland."

Contemporary Faith and Heritage Communities in Greater Cleveland

Contemporary Faith and Heritage Communities in Greater Cleveland

Uqbah Mosque Foundation

Uqbah Mosque Foundation

Cap with striped inscribed silk, 1300s. Egypt or Syria,

Cap with striped inscribed silk,
1300s. Egypt or Syria, Mamluk period
probably Sultanate of Nasir al-Din Muhammad

See photos and videos of Africa and Byzantium


New CAIR-Ohio,Cleveland Chapter Executive Director

A Message from CAIR-Cleveland Board President Dr. Ahmad Banna.

Dr. Ahmad Banna
As-Salaamu Alaykum. May God's Peace and Blessings Be Upon You.

I am writing on behalf of the CAIR-Ohio, Cleveland Chapter Board to update you on the next generation of staff leadership that will be stepping forward to lead CAIR in the Cleveland and Northern Ohio region. As you may know, we have been working closely with our current Executive Director, Sr. Julia Shearson, on our succession plans to ensure that we have a smooth transition as we go forward.

After an extensive executive director search process, the Board decided that promoting leadership from within our ranks was the best way to preserve institutional memory and ensure continuity of efforts.

As such, we are pleased to announce officially that Sr. Faten Odeh has accepted the Board's request to serve as our incoming Interim Executive Director. Her candidacy was advanced via an independent review process by our Executive Director Search Committee who determined that she possesses the passion, commitment, and skills to lead our office forward as part of the CAIR-Ohio team.

In light of the transition, Sr. Faten has stepped down from her role on the CAIR-Ohio, Cleveland chapter Board where she had served since 2019 and more recently as the Chair of the Board Effectiveness Committee. Sr. Faten will be working alongside Sr. Julia for a short period to help ensure a smooth hand-off of the reins.

Sr. Faten has plans to focus on further program development, capacity building, and educational outreach with a special focus on youth development. Her skills as an educator will serve her well in this role. Sr. Faten has degrees in communications and political science as well as an advanced degree in the field of education. In addition, she has a certification in fundraising management (CFRM) from the Center for Muslim Philanthropy at Indiana University. This certification will serve her well as she works on the capacity building and fund development aspect of the executive director role.

As President of the Cleveland chapter Board, I ask that you continue to support our organization through this transition. We are grateful to Sr. Julia for all her service to the community. We are excited and hopeful regarding the next stages of our organizational growth.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to Sr. Faten or members of our Board. In the meantime, please read Sr. Faten's message below.

May Allah (swt) reward you for your continuing support and prayers.
Ahmad Banna, MD FACC
CAIR-Ohio, Cleveland Chapter President

A Message from Incoming Interim Executive Director Faten Husni Odeh.

Faten Husni Odeh
As-Salaamu Alaikum. May God's Peace and Blessings Be Upon You.

As we have known for some time, our beloved Sr. Julia Shearson will be stepping down from her role as the Executive Director of CAIR-Ohio, Cleveland, at the start of the new year. She has served our chapter and our community with dedication and care since the founding of the Cleveland office in 2003. I have been blessed to work with her first as a volunteer and then as a board member and chair of the Board Effectiveness Committee. She has taught me invaluable lessons and skills that I hope to apply in my new role as the incoming interim executive director.

I am grateful to the CAIR-Ohio, Cleveland Board for entrusting me with this honor and for granting me the opportunity to give back to the community I love. My top priority will always be to serve with honesty and integrity.

CAIR's vision and mission resonate deeply with me. I hope to apply my 22 years of experience in community work to take our efforts to the next level in fulfilling CAIR's mission. Some of the goals I hope to achieve include increasing our staff, building on the existing services and establishing new programs that reach out to our youth, strengthen ties with our interfaith allies and enhance community engagement, inshaAllah.

In the coming months, inshaAllah, as part of our strategic planning process, I hope to reach out to you to gather input, advice, support and participation. This is important because what you share will help drive our work. As we venture on this new journey together, I ask for your support and guidance. This is new territory, and I will continue to nurture and grow the seeds Sr. Julia has planted. With much patience and kindness, she has shared her wisdom and taught me many skills that I will cherish forever.

Although I cannot promise perfection, I can promise that Islam will always be my guiding light, inshaAllah. Having the privilege of being a board member and working closely with Sr. Julia, I am aware of the hard work and responsibility this position holds. In this role I will be fulfilling my civic duty as an American and meeting my life's obligations as a Muslim. This work is an amana from Allah, and to do this job with excellence is an act of worship.

I ask you to make duaa for me and allow for grace as I embark on this new journey.

Faten Husni Odeh
CAIR-Ohio, Cleveland Board Member, 2019-2022
Chair of the Board Effectiveness Committee Incoming Interim Executive Director


Muslim and Iranian American Olympic Medalist Matt Ghafarri

1996 Olympic Wrestling Silver Medalist Matt Ghafarriis Muslim and is of Iranian heritage. He became a US citizen and competed for the US.

He spoke at the Rotary Club of Cleveland on May 6, 2021 and was asked if he endured any prejudice after 9-11 because of his Muslim and Iranian heritage. He said it began before then. He got hassles during the Iranian Hostage crisis which went from November 4, 1979, to January 20, 1981.

Matt told a funny story about a coach changing his name and other ways he dealt with the prejudice from that event as well as 9-11.

See Matt Gahfarri's entire presentation to the Cleveland Rotary


Booth at Glenville Festival August 8, 2015

Muslim sign

We love Jesus because we are Muslims


Asian Heritage Day Celebration

Cleveland City Hall Rotunda
May 28, 2014
The City of Cleveland Community Relations Board, led by Asian Liaison Chia-Min Chen, hosted an Asian Heritage Day Celebration on May 28, 2014 in the Cleveland City Hall Rotunda.

Over 60 Asian community groups and organizations participated. Chia-Min Chen called them up to the stage one at a time and each gave an elevator speech explaining their organization.

This included the Muslim Association of Cleveland East

The mission of Muslim Association of Cleveland East (MACE) is to serve the religious and spiritual needs of the Muslims living in eastern suburbs of Cleveland. They plan to use the MACE Community Center for the purposes of: Mosque Place of worship for Muslims, Sunday school for children and a place where we come together to share ideas to help build a stronger community and social interaction.

Muslim Association of Cleveland East

Muslim Association of Cleveland East

Learn more about each organization including photos and videos of the group leaders at the Asian Organizations in Cleveland pages.


Shukr – How Muslims celebrate giving thanks

Murat Gurer, Executive Director of Turkish American Society of Ohio-Cleveland (TASO), told how Muslims celebrate giving thanks. The Arabic term is Shukr and it is mentioned several times in the Koran. TASO hosts a monthly Turkish Coffee Night in Cleveland Ohio to meet and share cultures.

This next video is Interfaith Thanksgiving - Shukr - A Turkish Muslim perspective.

The third video is a Thanksgiving Prayer for all from Turkish Muslim

Welcome to Shelbyville

Abby Abiose, a Muslim immigrant from Nigeria, told what stood out for her in viewing the film Welcome to Shelbyville. She thought it was a mistake the way the Somalis were settled and that led to suspicions. She also wondered why people asked why they were coming to America.

Abby told some of her own story of being the only black family in a neighborhood. The film was shown at a Welcoming America reception at MetroHealth Hospital in Cleveland.

Islam Display at Culture Shock 2013

Tri-C West April 18, 2013

Mahmoud Muhieddinc from the Islamic Center of Cleveland represented Islam at the 2013 Culture Shock event which was put on by Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) West and the Parma City School District.

Mahmoud Muhieddinc from the Islamic Center

Mahmoud Muhieddinc from the Islamic Center

See more from Culture Shock 2013

Interfaith Fellowship Day 2013
Myths and Mysteries in our Religions
February 4, 2013

Church Women United in Greater Cleveland is a group of women who gather together to promote the positive similarities of our faiths and accentuate the underlying oneness of the various religious groups and affiliations. This year's theme was "The Myths And Mysteries In Our Religions" and featured speakers from the following faiths: Catholic, Jewish, Lutheran, Muslim and Sikh.

Imam Musa Sugapong, Teacher at the Darul-qasim School & Islamic Center of Cleveland, spoke about the opening chapter of the Koran and how Allah is a merciful God, dispelling the myth of a God of wrath.

Imam Musa Sugapong and Surayya Ahmed

Imam Musa Sugapong and Surayya Ahmed

Sr. Julia Shearson speaks about Peace

Julia Shearson of the Council of American Islamic Relations

Julia Shearson of the Council of American Islamic Relations

The Kaaba, located in Mecca (Saudi More Arabia) is the center of Islam. It is where Muslims from all over the world travel to and gather there to pray in unity.

The Kaaba, located in Mecca (Saudi Arabia) is the center of Islam. It is where Muslims from all over the world travel to and gather there to pray in unity.

News and Upcoming Events for Muslims in Cleveland

Submit your Cleveland Muslim news and events.

Out & About - Photos and Event Recaps

World map of Muslim population

World map of Muslim population

Submit your Cleveland Muslim photos and event recaps.

Organizations and Resources for Muslim in Cleveland

Salaam Cleveland Muslim Women's Association

Salaam Cleveland was established in 2002 with the mission of promoting interfaith harmony through small acts of Charity. We have currently grown to over 50 volunteers who are optimistic and dedicated women of American, Canadian, Indian, Iranian, Pakistani and Syrian Descent. We achieved 501 (c) (3) non-profit status in 2009.

Salaam Cleveland takes it's name from the Arabic word for peace (Salaam) and encourages harmony between different faiths and ethnicities. We believe simple acts of kindness can make people more loving, compassionate and tolerant.

Learn more about Salaam Cleveland

Submit your Cleveland Muslim organizations and resources.

Business, Education and Employment Information

Submit your Cleveland Muslim jobs, classes and other opportunities.

Cleveland Muslim Feedback and Memories

Submit your Cleveland Muslim feedback and memories.

Muslim History and Culture

Submit your Cleveland Muslim cultural items.

Profiles of Muslims in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio

If you know of a Cleveland Muslim who should be profiled,
please let us know.
ClevelandPeople.Com - Muslim Ambassadors

If you are interested in being considered to be an official Ambassador to the Cleveland Muslim community, please contact us.

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