In 1989, an educational symposium, organized and hosted by the Islamic Society of North America, gathered Muslim educators, community members, and representatives from many Islamic institutions throughout North America. Discussions resulted in the appointment of a seven member ad hoc committee to serve as the architects of a mechanism for cooperation and communication among full-time Islamic schools throughout the continent. This committee included representatives from various US geographical regions and Canada. By November of 1991, as a result of the committee’s efforts, the first full-time Islamic School general assembly meeting was held in Detroit, Michigan. Approximately 45 full-time Islamic schools were represented, a constitution was ratified, and CISNA was formed.
CISNA is governed by a group of highly educated, experienced, and qualified Board of Directors who believe in Islamic school education. Those volunteers who serve were elected by CISNA member schools as outlined in CISNA bylaws.
CISNA currently serves over 200 Islamic schools from the US and Canada at its conferences. CISNA includes over 60 members of whom 30 have earned CISNA accreditation.
Mr. Safaa Zarzour, Esq., M.Ed
Safaa Zarzour is the president of the Council of Islamic Schools in North America (CISNA). Mr. Zarzour holds a Juris Doctor Degree from DePaul University’s School of Law, a Master’s in Education from the University of Illinois in Chicago, and a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Mathematics from Arkansas State University. Professionally, he is the Superintendent of Universal Schools located in Illinois and Indiana.
He is the principal attorney of the law firm Zarzour Law LLC. Previously, he served as principal of one of the largest Islamic schools in the nation for over a decade, was Secretary General of ISNA, General Council and Chief Operations Officer of Zakat Foundation of America, Chief Executive Officer of IQRA International Foundation, and served as an adjunct law professor at Loyola Law School.
Mr. Zarzour has also been volunteering actively within his community. He is the Chairman of the Council of Islamic Schools of North America (CISNA), a member of Majlis Al-Shura of ISNA, a member of the Board of Directors of the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving, Vice Chairman of the Mosque Foundation and President of the Syrian Forum USA. He was also the founder and chairman of CAIR-Chicago for over 10 years. Recently, Mr. Zarzour was elected to the board of Oak Lawn High School District 229 in Illinois In all his personal and volunteer work, Mr. Zarzour, has always focused on supporting various Muslim communities throughout the country by strengthening vital community institutions that include families, mosques, schools, and organizations that are involved in civic and social services. However, cultivating Islamic schools remain his passion because it is schools that produce capable graduates that lead all other institutions.
Leila Shafara is the Vice President of the Council of Islamic Schools in North America (CISNA). Earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Florida Atlantic University where she also serves as an adjunct professor in the Department of Curriculum, Culture, and Educational Inquiry. Ms. Shatara served in leadership positions in public and Islamic schools for 14 years. As principal, she led her school to its initial accreditation by SACS-FCIS and helped the school establish a high school program. She taught elementary, middle and high school for ten years in public school and holds 5 certifications and endorsements through the FLDOE. She has worked as an educational consultant since 2012, focusing on principal and teacher training. She currently serves as the Council of Islamic Schools of South Florida –Vice Chair, is a member of the Education Forum Planning Committee, and holds board positions in several educational institutions.
Sahar Hussain is the treasurer of the Council of Islamic Schools in North America (CISNA). Sahar Hussain has served in the NYC Department of Education for nearly ten years. Within that time frame she took on several roles including: ENL Department Chairperson, Literacy Coach, Instructional Specialist, Teacher Team Leader, Professional Development Consultant, Technology & Literacy Lead, and Literacy Educator. Her latest roles are with Hamza Academy in NY, as she serves as Director of Curriculum and Staff Development, in addition to holding a seat as School Board member.
She is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Edlevate | Educational Consulting, which aims at improving school culture, pedagogy, and achievement through knowledge, growth, and expertise.
Her passion is with Educational Technology, as she attends and partakes in national conferences and summits to improve her own professional learning in current and relevant global digital practices.
Sahar offers professional development workshops in a wide range of educational topics for all stakeholders. She also presents for Seminars and National & International Education Conferences.
She has acquired NY State licenses in School District Leader, School Building Leader, and English Language Arts & English as a Second Language K-12 Teaching Certifications. She holds a double masters of Science in Educational Leadership and Teaching English to Students of Other Languages- and a Bachelors in Political Science with a minor in Labor Studies and Sociology. Her near future plans are to pursue a Doctorate of Education in Digital Learning.
Mr. Habeeb Quadri, M.Ed
Habeeb Quadri is a board member of the Council of Islamic Schools in North America (CISNA). He is an Educator for over 20 years, Author, and Youth Activist. He is an Elementary School Principal and part time staff at Harvard Graduate School of Education professional development programs. Habeeb recently has been Habeeb recently has been appointed to a four-year term at the Harvard Graduate School of Education Principal Advisory Board. He has co-authored five books and published two others. Habeeb is board chair of MYNA (Muslim Youth of North America).
Mr. Omar Chatila
Omar Chatila has served as the Principal of Al-Furqan Academy since August 2014. During his tenure, the school has experienced record growth in enrollment and organizational advancement. After receiving his Bachelors Degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Maryland College Park, Omar went on to complete his Masters Degree in Management from Wake Forest University. Omar is a strong believer in the importance of collaboration and is passionate about personal and organizational growth and continuous development. He has served on FCIS and FKC accrediting teams and values the experience of connecting with educators from other schools. He currently serves on the FKC Board of Directors. He is passionate about advancing the cause of Islamic Education and is honored and excited to have the opportunity to serve on the Council of Islamic Schools in North America Board!
Dr. Patricia Zahirah Salahuddin, Ed.D
Dr. Patricia Salahuddin is a board member of the Council of Islamic Schools in North America (CISNA). An educator for 30 years, Patricia has taught middle and high school students in public and Islamic schools. During her teaching career, she held the positions of team leader, department chairperson and class and club sponsor. In 2000 she became a National Board Certified teacher and in 2011 she earned a doctorate of education from Florida International University (FIU); the focus of her research was character education in a Muslim school’s curriculum. Her dissertation has been published in book form. She is a founding member of Muslim Teachers Association (MTA), an organization designed to facilitate networking and professional development for teachers serving Muslim schools. Patricia was instrumental in organizing the Council of Islamic Schools in South Florida (CISSF) in the Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. In support of professional development for teachers, she serves on the Education Forum Planning Committee that plans the Muslim education conference held each year in Chicago. Patricia is the chairperson for Clara Mohammed School Board in Miami, Florida. Additional board service includes: Board member for the Council of Islamic Schools of North America, (CISNA) and Board member for Islamic Schools League of America, (ISLA). Presently, Patricia is also serving as an Adjunct Lecturer for Florida International University.
Shaykh Dr. Abdalla Idris Ali
Shaykh Abdalla Idris Ali is a founder and senior adviser of the Council of Islamic Schools in North American (CISNA). Shaykh Abdalla Idris Ali is a well-known North American Muslim public speaker, Imam, and community leader. Shaykh Abdalla’s academic background combines both International Relations from the University of Toronto as well his Islamic knowledge in the areas of tafseer, shariah, and counselling. As a community leader, he served as the ISNA President for 5 years and as the ISNA Canada Islamic School principal for over a decade, where he was integral in implementing Islamic and Arab studies syllabuses for elementary and junior high students. He is currently a board member on the Board of Trustees for the Islamic Teaching Center and North American Islamic Trust.
Shaykh Abdalla is currently the Executive Director of ISNA Canada, where he holds weekly tafseer classes, and contributes monthly to ISNA Lanterns – ISNA Canada’s online publication. He lives with his family in Oakville, Ontario
Ms. Sufia Azmat
Sufia Azmat is the Executive Director of the Council of Islamic Schools in North American (CISNA). She is a certified teacher with over 20 years of experience in education. Ms. Azmat has taught at multiple grade levels with primary focus on English and literature. Her administrative experiences include serving as an English Department Chair, a Middle School Division Head, a Principal and most recently as the Head of School at a K-12 Islamic schools. Ms. Azmat has served on accreditation teams for schools (Islamic as well as Non-Islamic) throughout the country. She is a member of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Education Forum Programming Committee. She is an educational consultant whose workshops include Bullying Prevention, Counseling, Critical Thinking, Effective Communication, and Positive School Climate. Ms. Azmat is on the Advisory Board of Fons Vitae Ghazali Children’s Project and on the Board of Trustees of E3 (Excellent Education for Everyone), a research and policy not-for-profit with the mission of improving K-12 education. She is a student at Bayan Claremont Islamic Graduate School in the Islamic Education and Leadership program.
Dr. Ghada Al-sadoon
Dr. Al-Sadoon received her B.S in Math from Yarmouk University, M.S. in Technical Communication from Metropolitan State University, and Doctor of Education degree in K-12 Administration (Ed.D) from Bethel University. She also has a Superintendent and Principal license. She has Qur’an Ijaza Certificate from the Islamic University of Minnesota. She has also authored a complete Arabic curriculum (pre-school- 6th grade) – Lughatuna Fakhrunaلغتنا فخرنا.
Dr. Al-Sadoon has been associated with Al-Amal school for over 15 years in various capacities. She worked as a teacher, department coordinator, and vice principal. Recently, she is the school’s principal. She established Arabic Academy in 2006, and she is still managing it for more than 12 years. Dr. Al-Sadoon is a member of CISNA board of directors. She also serves on the Bethel University Education Advisory Board.
Dr. Al-Sadoon enjoys parasailing, swimming, walking, boating, tennis, traveling, web designing and interior designing. According to Strengths Finder Personal Assessment Test, her top five strengths are Achiever, Learner, Futuristic, Relator, and Discipline.