Zaid Shakir at " Brick by Brick" fundraiser to build first Muslim Liberal Arts College located in Berkeley, CA. 2012
|Born||Ricky D. Mitchell
May 24, 1956
Berkeley, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Islamic Scholar, Professor, Author|
|New Islamic Directions.com|
Zaid Salim Shakir is an American Islamic scholar and writer who is a co-founder (with Hamza Yusuf and Hatem Bazian), and faculty member, of Zaytuna College in Berkeley, California, United States, where he teaches courses on Arabic, law, history, and Islamic spirituality.
Early life 
Born in Berkeley, California and with his formative years in Connecticut, he accepted Islam in 1977 while serving in the United States Air Force and shortly after changed his name to Zaid Salim Shakir. A summa cum laude graduate, he obtained a BA in International Relations at American University in Washington, D.C. and later earned his MA in Political Science at Rutgers University. While at Rutgers, he led a successful campaign for disinvestment from South Africa, and co-founded a local Islamic center, Masjid al-Huda. After a year of studying Arabic in Cairo, Egypt, he settled in New Haven, Connecticut and continued his community activism, co-founding Masjid al-Islam, the Tri-State Muslim Education Initiative, and the Connecticut Muslim Coordinating Committee. As Imam of Masjid al-Islam from 1988 to 1994 he spearheaded a community renewal and grassroots anti-drug effort. He also taught political science and Arabic at Southern Connecticut State University. He served as an interfaith council Chaplain at Yale University and developed the Chaplaincy Sensitivity Training for physicians at Yale New Haven Hospital. Zaid Shakir participates as a speaker at Islamic Society of North America annual conferences.
Years Abroad 
Zaid Shakir then left for Syria to pursue his studies in the traditional Islamic Sciences. For seven years in Syria, and briefly in Morocco, he immersed himself in an intense study of Arabic, Islamic law, Quranic studies, and spirituality. In 2001, he was the first American graduate from Syria's Abu Nour University and returned to Connecticut, serving again as the Imam of Masjid al-Islam, and writing and speaking frequently on a host of issues.
Recent work in the United States 
In 2003, as a scholar-in-residence at Zaytuna Institute located in California, Zaid Shakir began to teach Arabic, Law, and Islamic Spirituality. And, in 2008, he co-founded the Berkeley, California based Zaytuna College dedicated to the revival of Islamic Sciences and the preservation of traditional teaching methods.
He has traveled around the world lecturing about Islam and contemporary issues. He has translated several classical texts from Arabic. He has been a special guest and interviewed twice on Bill Moyers on January 18, 2002 and June 22, 2007, a prime time TV station network PBS. In 2007, Zaid Shakir participated in a lively conversation entitled, Can We Talk About God? Devotion and Extremism in the Modern Age with the foremost conservative thinker in Britain, writer and philosopher Roger Scruton. These two thinkers with some common ground and some sharply differing perspectives, the discussion was moderated by award-winning journalist, documentary-maker, Sandy Tolan of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Also in 2007, Shakir was a contributing scholar in the award-winning, PBS-broadcast documentary Prince Among Slaves, produced by Unity Productions Foundation.
He is the first Islamic Scholar to spearhead a nationwide initiative "Bite The Bug" a project of the ONE Campaign, along with many partners who are passionately concerned about matters plaguing Muslims regardless of culture, geography, language or race. This mission is to raise national awareness and demonstrate that the American Muslim community is compassionate, empathetic and action-oriented about basic maladies within the world.
He is married and has one adopted son.
Zaid Shakir was a participant at the 9th annual 2010 seminar with The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams who chaired the Building Bridges Christian-Muslim Seminar on Tradition and Modernity, which brought together leading Muslim and Christian scholars from around the world to explore issues at the heart of the two traditions. Shakir has also been featured on the Washingtonpost.com and Newsweek blog, On Faith. He is a frequent speaker at local and national Muslim events and has emerged as one of the nation’s top Islamic Scholars and a voice of conscience for American Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Zaid Shakir stated in a 2009 interview with USA Today, "as a faith community our needs aren't any different than the needs of any other faith community. As Muslims, we need to develop institutions to allow us to perpetuate our values."
Zaid Shakir has expressed a hope that the people of the United States convert to Islam, "Every Muslim who is honest would say, I would like to see America become a Muslim country. I think it would help people, and if I didn't believe that, I wouldn't be a Muslim. Because Islam helped me as a person, and it's helped a lot of people in my community."
According to CNN blog This Just In, an article entitled "Today's Intriguing People" states, The New York Times has reported that Zaid Shakir is one of nine influential Muslim scholars who has appeared in a YouTube video denouncing militant Islam."
A September 8, 2010 NPR.org report, titled "Listen to The Story: New College Teaches Young American Muslims", revealed that Zaid Shakir informed the inaugural class that they are "pioneers, charting the future course of American Islam – which is not for the faint of heart. Literally, the whole world is looking at you. The whole world is listening to you. You will be put under a microscope by a lot of people, and you will have to perform."
In The Chronicle of Higher Education March 18, 2012 article entitled "American Islam", Zaid Shakir states "We have to raise our voices, we have to present our example, and we have to institutionalize our example. We have to develop institutions that reflect our diversity. We have to develop institutions that bring all of this potential power ... of these people, coming with all of their collective experience, all of their collective spiritual and emotional energy, all of their collective histories ... and say, this is how we can live in this country."
Views on Fort Hood shooting 
While Shakir has been cited as an example of Islamic moderation, his critics have questioned his moderate credentials. In his book America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It, Mark Steyn challenges the characterization of Shakir as a moderate Muslim, citing Shakir's expressed hope for the conversion of America to Islam and adoption of Islamic law in America.
On November 13, 2009 Zaid Shakir issued a lengthy statement regarding the Fort Hood shooting with this introduction:
I begin by expressing my deepest condolences to the families of all of the dead and wounded. There is no legitimate reason for their deaths, just as I firmly believe there is no legitimate reason for the deaths of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghani civilians who have perished as a result of those two conflicts. Even though I disagree with the continued prosecution of those wars, and even though I believe that the US war machine is the single greatest threat to world peace, I must commend the top military brass at Fort Hood, and President Obama for encouraging restraint and for refusing to attribute the crime allegedly perpetrated by Major Nidal Malik Hasan to Islam. We pray that God bless us to see peace and sanity prevail during these tense times.
This statement was praised by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) but criticized by Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, President of the American-Islamic Forum for Democracy and a former lieutenant commander in the United States Navy. Jasser said that "as an American Muslim," he was offended by these comments which he believes reflect Shakir's "disdain for our military." However, Ingrid Mattson, the President of the Islamic Society of North America supported Zaid Shakir's response to the Fort Hood tragedy as "solidly grounded in the Islamic legal, ethical and intellectual tradition."
A 200 page report entitled, “The 500 Most Influential Muslims” edited by noted professors John Esposito and Ibrahim Kalin was published November 20, 2009 by The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre (Jordan) and the Prince Alwaleed Bin-Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (Georgetown University) describes Shakir as “an influential Islamic scholar". The New York Times describes him as "a leading intellectual light" whilst adding that he has "a history of anti-American rhetoric" that has mellowed over the years. Tikkun Daily states that he is "one of the most thoughtful and dynamic teachers about the true nature of Islam in America today". In The Chronicle of Higher Learning, "embodying an American story if ever there was one—including proverbial bootstraps, military service, political activism, and deep religious commitment—Zaid Shakir's message of social justice in the face of poverty and racism he has known first hand makes him endlessly and, it often seems, effortlessly relevant. He is as approachable a man as I've ever met."
- Where I'm Coming From: A Year In Review, 2010
- Agenda To Change Our Condition, (Co-authored with Hamza Yusuf), 2007
- Scattered Pictures: A Reflection of An American Muslim, 2005
Books translated with additions 
Books which include his foreword or note 
- Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet, (editorial review), 2010
- Ascent to Felicity, (editorial review), 2010
- The War within Our Hearts: Struggles of the Muslim Youth, (wrote introduction), 2010
- Living With Blindness: Lessons from the Life of Imran Sabir, (wrote introduction), 2009
- Submission Faith and Beauty, The Religion of Islam (Co-edited with Hamza Yusef), 2008
- A Gathering of Voices on Caring For Creation, (contrib. article)The Zaytuna Ruku Tree, 2008
- Dear Self: A Year In The Life of A Welfare Mother, (wrote foreword), 2006
- The Empire and The Crescent, (contributed article Jehad as Perpetual War), 2004
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Zaid Shakir|
- Zaytuna.org – Imam Zaid Shakir co-founder and faculty member of College
- New Islamic Directions – Official Website
- Lectures of Imam Zaid Shakir
Articles and Interviews 
See also 
- "Media List – Imam Zaid Shakir Professor, Writer, and Scholar". newislamicdirections.com. Retrieved October 22, 2011.
- "salatomatic". Retrieved October 22, 2011.
- "Speakers – Short Biographies – Zaid Shakir". Islamic Society of North America. Retrieved October 22, 2011.
- "Imam Zaid Shakir, biograpghy". Retrieved October 22, 2011.
- Imam Zaid Shakir (2003). "American Muslims and a Meaningful Human Rights Discourse in the Aftermath of September 11, 2001". CrossCurrents 52 (4).
- "Books and Translations by Imam Zaid Shakir". New Islamic Directions. Retrieved October 22, 2011.
- "Can We Talk About God? Imam Zaid Shakir & Dr. Roger Scruton (Pt1)". Zaytuna College. September 26, 2010. Retrieved September 26, 2010.
- "Can We Talk About God? Imam Zaid Shakir & Dr. Roger Scruton (Pt2)". Zaytuna College. September 28, 2010. Retrieved September 26, 2010.
- Frazier Moore (February 3, 2008). "A lifetime of slavery, a legacy of freedom". The Seattle Times. Associated Press. Retrieved October 23, 2011.
- "Faculty Zaytuna College: Imam Zaid Shakir". Retrieved October 23, 2011.
- "The Archbishop of Canterbury's Building Bridges Seminar 2010 Building Bridges Seminar, Washington, D.C.". Retrieved October 23, 2011.
- Rachel Zoll (May 18, 2009). "Muslim plan for U.S. college moves ahead". USA Today (Google cache). Associated Press. Archived from the original on Oct 13, 2011. Retrieved October 23, 2011. "In 1996, Yusuf founded Zaytuna Institute, now based in Berkeley, Calif., which is dedicated to classical Muslim scholarship. Zaytuna means "olive tree" in Arabic."
- "U.S. Muslim Clerics Seek a Modern Middle Ground" On page 4 of an article by Laurie Goodstein in The New York Times June 18, 2006
- Sidney Harman (August 3, 2010). "Tuesday's intriguing people". CNN. Retrieved October 23, 2011.
- Barbara Bradley Hagerty (September 8, 2010). "New College Teaches Young American Muslims". NPR. Retrieved October 23, 2011.
- Scott Korb (March 18, 2012). "American Islam". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved March 19, 2012.
- "Brief biography of Imam Zaid Shakir". Bill Moyer's Journal. PBS. June 27, 2008. Retrieved October 23, 2011.
- Steyn, Mark (2006). America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It. p. 78.
- Imam Zaid Shakir (13 November 2009). "Responding to the Fort Hood Tragedy". SeekersGuidance. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
- M. Zuhdi Jasser (February 8, 2010). "Failing at force protection: The misguided Pentagon report on the Ft. Hood massacre". The Daily Caller.
- Ingrid Mattson. "Imam Zaid's reponse (sic) to Fort Hood". Islamic Society of North America. Retrieved April 28, 2010.
- The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre. John Esposito, Ibrahim Kalin,, Ed Marques, Usra Ghazi, ed. The 500 Most Influential Muslims (1st ed.). Washington, D.C.: The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre, The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University. p. 102. ISBN 978-9957-428-37-2. "shakir, Imam Zaid Shakir is an influential Islamic scholar currently affiliated with the Zaytuna Institute. He founded Masjid al Islam in Connecticut, founded the Tri-State Muslim Education Initiative and the Connecticut Muslim Coordinating Committee."
- Adil James (November 17, 2009). "Muslim 500 – A Listing of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World". The Muslim Observer. Retrieved October 23, 2011. "The 18 prominent American Muslims in the Scholars section of the book also include Yusuf Estes, Sulayman Nyang, Muzammil Siddiqui, Sherman Jackson, Zaid Shakir, and Nuh Keller".
- Goodstein, Laurie (June 18, 2006). "U.S. Muslim Clerics Seek a Modern Middle Ground". The New York Times. Retrieved October 23, 2011.
- Dave Belden (June 25, 2009). "Imam Zaid Shakir on the Tikkun Phone Forum". United Nations. Retrieved October 23, 2011.