Our Story

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.


Our Vision

To be a leading and unifying organization striving for the advancement of Islamic schools and Islamic education respectively.

Our Mission

CISNA is an association of Islamic schools and educational organizations working to improve Islamic schools through accreditation, consultation, and professional development; advocating for Islamic education; and fostering professional relationships with educational institutions and agencies relevant to Islamic education.


Our Goals

  1. Promote Islamic schools and Islamic education on a global level
  2. Provide accreditation services
  3. Provide professional development at a global level
  4. Foster professional relationships among Islamic schools and other organizations
  5. Provide consulting services relevant to Islamic education

CISNA Board of Directors 

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 300 Islamic schools from the US and Canada at its conferences.  CISNA includes over 60 members of whom 35 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 and the Vice President of ISNA. 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 Counsel 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 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 Shatara


Leila Shatara is the Vice President of the Council of Islamic Schools in North America (CISNA). She 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.

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 Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Maryland College Park, Omar went on to complete his Master’s 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 America (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 as the Head of School at K-12 Islamic schools. Ms. Azmat has served on accreditation teams for schools (Islamic as well as non-Islamic) throughout the country. She serves on the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Education Forum Program Committee and 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. Ms. Azmat has been invited to speak at the International Congress on Islamic Education in Istanbul and participated on an education panel at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Canada.

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.