By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The Council of Islamic Relations (CAIR) Oklahoma Chapter held its 10th Anniversary Awards Banquet on Saturday, April 2, at the Embassy Suites Convention Center, in Norman. The event was themed “Advancing Together.”
Established in 2006, CAIR-OK is a chapter of America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization.
The gala event featured keynote speaker Imam Suhaib Webb. Iman Webb is an American Muslim Scholar with strong Oklahoma ties who is currently residing in Washington DC.
He was named as one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims by The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre, which is an international Islamic non-governmental, independent institute headquartered in Amman, Jordan.
Suhaib has over sixteen years of experience serving various communities in North America and is currently managing an Institute for training American Imams in the Washington DC area.
After his conversion to Islam, Webb left a career in the music industry to pursue his passion in education. Webb graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with a Bachelor’s degree in Education and from Azhar University College of Shariah (Islamic Law & Jurisprudence).
Webb previously served as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater OKC and Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center.
“Imam Webb has been one of the most influential voices for the American Muslim community in the last decade,” said Adam Soltani, Executive Director of CAIR-OK. “His words have inspired our community as we continue to take on challenges related to Islamophobia, discrimination, and civil rights violations.”
Other local and international featured speakers included Hussam Ayloush, Executive Director of the Los Angeles chapter of CAIR; Muneer Awad, Palestinian-American political activist, attorney and former Executive Director of both the Oklahoma and New York chapters of CAIR; and Razi Hashmi, former CAIR Oklahoma Executive Director.
Zahra Billoo, Director of CAIR San Francisco Bay Area, was the program’s emcee. An attorney, Billoo came to CAIR in 2009 with a background in employment and labor rights advocacy.
Former director of Mercy Youth Center in Oklahoma City, Abdur-Rahman Taleb opened the event by singing the National Anthem.
The evening also featured comedian, actor, writer, and producer Azhar Usman from Chicago. CNN called him “America’s Funniest Muslim,” and Georgetown University identified him as “one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World.”
As the co-founder of the international comedy showcase “Allah Made Me Funny–The Official Muslim Comedy Tour,” he has toured over 20 countries, on five continents. Usman’s comedy has been reviewed by over 100 major media outlets including The New York Times, The Economist, BBC, NPR, TIME Magazine, Al-Jazeera, USA Today, and Fox News.
Usman has opened over 40 times for standup icon Dave Chappelle who said, “Azhar Usman is untouchable.”
CAIR-OK’s mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
For more information, visit www.cairoklahoma.com.