Khalilah Sabra

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Khalilah Sabra (/ˈhɑːlilə/; born Christina Couzan 18 December 1967) is an American Muslim advocate and author best known for her work with refugees in the Middle East and literary contributions to the Joe L. Kincheloe and Shirley R. Steinberg series Transgression: Cultural Studies and Education.

Early life[edit]

Sabra grew up in Westwood, a district in western Los Angeles, California. She attended Saint Bernadette Catholic School, a private Roman Catholic elementary school in New Haven, Connecticut. She later attended Hamilton High School, a public high school in Los Angeles. Sabra studied criminal justice at California State University earning a graduate degree. Postgraduate work in Paralegal Studies was completed at UCLA.

Conversion to Islam[edit]

With the teaching of mentors Sheikh Ahmed Naufal, director of the Islamic University of Jordan, and Palestinian scholar Abdallah Azzam, Sabra converted to Islam. In the late 1980s she was recruited into the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikwan Al-Muslimeen), the only American female in the organization at that time. She worked for two years at the Institute of Islamic Studies as an instructor of English as a foreign or second language. She then lived and worked in refugee camps in Afghanistan and in Palestinian refugee camps in Southern Lebanon. She has since advocated for the rights of women living under oppressive regimes and against cultural transgressions prevalent in Third World societies.


Sabra is the author of An Unordinary Death: The Life of a Palestinian, a work on critical pedagogy, a teaching approach designed to help students achieve critical consciousness by asking them to question and challenge the beliefs and practices that dominate their society. Sabra designs and implements programs to educate non-Muslims about a moderate version of Islam that denounces violence and extremism. In 2007 she became North Carolina Director of Civil Rights for the Muslim American Society.

Her advocacy activities include supporting international human rights, national civil rights, the promotion of democratic immigration protocols, the advancement of Muslim rights and the rights of other marginalized citizens. Sabra has appeared in the media insisting that the American courts and public adhere to due process during trials of alleged terrorists, insisting that defendants "must be proven guilty in a court of law." She says that government-initiated torture is a crime, whether it is committed by the Central Intelligence Agency or any government entity in the United States or elsewhere. An anti-war advocate, Sabra believes that the United States exceeded its authority by its presence in Iraq, which, along with its support for Israel, creates hatred for the American government throughout the Middle East.

She has lived throughout parts of the Middle East and Europe, and is married to a Lebanese national.