Sharifa Alkhateeb

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Sharifa Alkhateeb
Sharifa Alkhateeb
Born(1946-06-06)June 6, 1946
DiedOctober 21, 2004(2004-10-21) (aged 58)
OccupationTeacher and writer
Spouse(s)Mejdi Alkhateeb

Sharifa Alkhateeb (1946 – 2004) was an American writer, researcher and teacher on cultural communication and community building for Islam and Muslims in the United States. She was involved in feminist causes, domestic violence prevention, as well as interfaith and educational organizations. She founded the first nationwide organization for Muslim women in the US and was the first woman to receive the Community Service Award from the Islamic Society of North America.


Sharifa Alkhateeb was born on June 6, 1946 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her father was Yemeni and her mother was from the Czech Republic. After finishing high school, Alkhateeb continued her education, receiving her B.A. in English Literature from the University of Pennsylvania.[1] During her time at the University of Pennsylvania, she joined the feminist movement of the 1960s, never feeling that there was a conflict between her religious convictions and feminism. After completion of her undergraduate degree, she earned her Master's in Comparative Religion from Norwich University, in Northfield, Vermont and in 1977 edited a translation of the Quran published by Marmaduke Pickthall.[2]

Between 1978 and 1987, Alkhateeb and her husband, Mejdi Alkhateeb, lived in Saudi Arabia, where she worked as a journalist for the Saudi Gazette and taught[3] at both a Saudi university and in private schools. In 1988, the couple returned to the United States, locating in northern Virginia, and Alkhateeb worked as a diversity consultant with the Fairfax County Public Schools in Fairfax, Virginia,[2] producing a television program called "Middle Eastern Parenting",[1] which aired from 1993 to 1997.[3] In the early 1990s, she became managing editor of the American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences (AJISS)[1] and she co-wrote the Arab World Notebook, a social studies text used throughout the public school system in the United States.[2] From 1989 until her death, Alkhateeb served as president of the Muslim Education Council, a regional organization focused on teaching administrators about Islamic culture.[4]

In 1992, she founded the North American Council for Muslim Women (NACMW) and served as its first president. NACMW was the first national organization of American Muslim women. She followed up with the establishment of a consultative database for organizations addressing the needs of Muslim women and created the first crisis hotline for them.[5] In 1995, Alkhateeb served as Chair of the Muslim Caucus at the Fourth World Conference on Women convened by the United Nations in Beijing, China.[1] In 1998, she established the Peaceful Families Project[5] in conjunction with the Department of Justice, to analyze violence in the Muslim community.[2] The resulting survey, was the first nationwide inquiry on domestic violence within the community.[4]

After the attacks of 9/11, Alkhateeb coordinated efforts of an "interfaith consortium of synagogues, churches and mosques to facilitate dialogues and understanding".[3] She became the Middle Eastern/Muslim Team Leader for the Community Resilience Project, which was funded by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as a crisis counseling center in Northern Virginia after the attacks.[1][4] In September, 2004, she received the Community Service Award from the Islamic Society of North America, becoming the first woman to ever receive the honor. One month later, on October 21, 2004 she died due to cancer of the pancreas, at her home in Ashburn, Virginia.[2]

Since her death, several efforts continue to honor her legacy. Among these are the Peaceful Families Project,[6] the Sharifa Alkhateeb Community Service Award given annually by the MAS Freedom Foundation, and the Sharifa Alkhateeb Memorial Scholarship of Fairfax County Public Schools.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e Bayot, Jennifer (November 4, 2004). "Sharifa Alkhateeb, Feminist Within Islam, Dies at 58". New York City, New York: The New York Times. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e Schudel, Matt (October 27, 2004). "Sharifa Alkhateeb Dies; U.S. Muslim Scholar". Washington, DC: The Washington Post. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Hanley, Delinda C. (December 2004). "Dr. Sharifa Alkhateeb". Washington, DC: Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. p. 51. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  4. ^ a b c "Sharifa Alkhateeb Memorial Scholarship". Fairfax, Virginia: College Access Fairfax. 2004. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  5. ^ a b Barazangi, Nimat Hafez (2004). "The Legacy of a Remarkable Muslim Woman: Sharifa Alkhateeb". Ithaca, New York: Cornell University. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  6. ^ "Peaceful Families Project". 2013-11-21. Retrieved 2014-08-19.
  7. ^ "College Access Fairfax - Scholarships". Archived from the original on August 20, 2008.

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