Our Graduates – Making a Difference

2019 Graduates

Sidra Qazi

M.A. – Islamic Studies & Leadership

Ph.D. Student – Graduate Theological Union
Public Speaker / Islamic Studies Teacher / Arabic Instructor

Hamzah Abdul-Malik

M.A. – Islamic Studies & Leadership

Imam, Midtown Mosque
Memphis, Tennessee

Khurram Ahmed

M.Div. – Islamic Chaplaincy

Muslim Staff Chaplain – OhioHealth

Tarik Ata

M.A. – Islamic Studies & Leadership

Imam – Orange County Islamic Foundation
Mission Viejo, CA

Edrees Bridges

M.Div. – Islamic Chaplaincy

Officer – United States Capitol Police, Washington DC
Assistant Imam and Board Member, Ali Khan Islamic Center in Suitland, MD

Fouad Elgohari

M.A. – Islamic Studies & Leadership

Director of Outreach/Multimedia & Student Services
Islamic Studies Teacher / Public Speaker

Trenton Keipour

M.Div. – Islamic Chaplaincy

Staff Sergeant – 13th Air Support Squadron, U.S. Air Force

2018 Graduates

Todd Gallinger

M.A. – Islamic Studies & Leadership

Todd is the founder and principal attorney of Gallinger Law, which he founded in 2005. He specializes in family and business immigration law, and provides pro-bono representation for asylees and victims of human trafficking. From 2012-2015, he served as the Director of Chapter Development at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). He managed development and advised on operations for CAIR’s 29 local affiliates, and was the primary trainer within the organization of over 200 staff and board members. For his degree in Islamic Studies and Leadership, he wrote a thesis titled Reevaluation of the Legal Rights of Orphans and Foundlings Under Islamic Law in the Context of Anglo-European Legal Tradition, dealing with models of adoption and the care of orphans. He resides in Santa Ana, CA.

Emna Maksud

M.A. – Islamic Studies & Leadership
& Certificate in Islamic Chaplaincy

Following her graduation from Bayan, Emna relocated to Chicago with her husband, who is enrolled in law school there. Her coursework at Bayan included the requirements for the Islamic Studies and Leadership degree, and her electives enabled her to earn a Certificate in Islamic Chaplaincy. Her thesis is titled Regulating Polygyny in Muslim Marriages: Reaffirming “Four Wives” As Responsibility, Not Right. She plans to seek out a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) internship in a hospital to gain field experience in chaplaincy, and she aspires to become a university chaplain to support the spiritual needs of Muslim undergraduate students.

Logan Siler

M.A. – Islamic Studies & Leadership

Logan came to Bayan with an activist background in homeless advocacy and substance-abuse recovery. During his program, he was hired by the New Horizon School Pasadena, where he continues to serve as an Islamic Studies teacher, on the basis of his studies at Bayan. For the degree in Islamic Studies and Leadership, his thesis is titled Islam and the Soul in the Age of Physicalism, in which he evaluates neuroscience claims in relation to the concepts of rational soul put forth by Ibn Sina and other Islamic philosophers. Logan will continue his academic career as a Ph.D. student in Comparative Theology and Philosophy at the Claremont School of Theology, Bayan’s host institution. He resides in Pasadena, CA.

2017 Graduates

Halil Aydin

M.A. – Islamic Studies & Leadership

Halil works as an Imam and Regional Coordinator for the non-profit Tolerance Foundation, which was established in 1995 in Montreal, Canada. He facilitates workshops on interfaith relations and cultural education, and helps manage The Tolerance Caravan traveling exhibit for high schools and colleges on themes of intercultural exchange, understanding and respect. For the degree in Islamic Studies and Leadership, his thesis is titled The Need for Hermeneutic Techniques in Understanding Extremist Thoughts Motivated by Verses of Qur’an, in which he argues for a holistic and contextual reading of the Qur’an, relying on scholarship of reformist Turkish interpreters. He resides in Fountain Valley, CA.

Seyed Mahdi Qazwini

M.A. – Islamic Studies & Leadership

Seyed Mahdi was born into the distinguished Qazwini family known for their dedication and leadership in serving Islam and the Muslim community. He completed his undergraduate program in Islamic Sciences at the world-renowned Shi‘i Islamic Seminary in Qum, Iran, prior to completing graduate study at Bayan in Islamic Studies and Leadership. His thesis, In Defense of Iconography: John of Damascus and Shi’i Islamic Thought, argues that the anti-iconic view in traditional Islam, rooted in hadith materials, emerged in parallel with Christian iconoclasm, and that limited use of iconography continued in Shi’ism. He lectures frequently throughout North America and internationally. He is also working on a Bayan Graduate Certificate in Islamic Chaplaincy to better serve the spiritual and counseling needs in Muslim communities. He resides in Claremont, CA.

2016 Graduates

Abdul Raoof Nasir

M.A. – Islamic Studies & Leadership

Abdul Raoof is a leader in community of the late Imam W.D. Muhammad, and a long-serving chaplain in the Oakland, CA area. He worked for ten years as a religious volunteer offering Islamic counseling in the Alameda County Juvenile Hall facility and the Los Cerros and Wilmont Sweeney youth camp, before being employed as a Muslim Chaplain for 20 years for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) at two high security and medium security state prisons. His thesis for the degree in Islamic Studies and Leadership is titled The Thirteenth Amendment: Prejudice, Profits and Politics, in which he details how today’s prison-industrial complex is an institutional extension of the discrimination and subjugation evident in Jim Crow period and the preceding era of slavery, despite legislative gains.

2015 Graduates

César Domínguez

M.A. – Islamic Studies & Leadership

César serves as an imam and leader within the Hispanic community in Southern California, in connection with the Los Angeles Latino Muslim Association (LALMA), teaching classes in Spanish and giving Friday khutbahs in English and Spanish at different mosques. After graduating from Bayan with his Islamic Studies and Leadership degree, he received a special scholarship to study classical Arabic at al-Azhar University in Cairo for one year. His summative project is titled Prayer: The Common Voice of Islam, Christianity and Judaism, in which he created a one-person stage play highlighting thematic similarities in the prayer rituals and expressions of the Abrahamic faiths. He has joined Bayan’s staff as Director of Administration and Student Services. He is involved with local interfaith organizations such as the Christian-Muslim Consultative Group, pairing mosques and churches in joint study groups. He resides in Walnut, CA.

Abdurrahim Ozcan

M.A. – Islamic Studies & Leadership

Abdurrahim is an imam in the Turkish American community of Southern California, having acquired traditional training in the Islamic sciences in Turkey prior to emigrating to the US, where he pursued the MA degree in Islamic Studies and Leadership at Bayan to gain an academic perspective and cultivate leadership abilities. His thesis is titled Islamic Models for Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution in the Life of Prophet Muhammad. He is currently a Ph.D. student in Comparative Theology and Philosophy at the Claremont School of Theology, Bayan’s host institution. He resides in Fountain Valley, CA.  

2014 Graduates

Hafsa Arain

M.A. – Islamic Studies & Leadership

Hafsa is currently a Ph.D. student in Sociocultural Anthropology at Boston University, where she is researching activist movements in Pakistan. Prior to attending Bayan, she worked at the Interfaith Youth Core in Chicago, founded by Dr. Eboo Patel to develop campus-based student interfaith exchanges. After graduating from Bayan, she worked as a chaplain and student services staff at the University of La Verne, and then joined Bayan as Coordinator of Administration and Student Services before departing for doctoral studies. Her thesis for the Islamic Studies and Leadership degree is titled Defining Liberation: Globalization and Its Effects on Pakistani Women, and focused on the growth of American corporations in Pakistani and how that affected young Pakistani women’s views on marriage, religion, and consumerism.

Valentina Khan

M.A. – Islamic Studies & Leadership

Valentina earned a law degree prior to enrolling in Bayan’s Islamic Studies and Leadership program. Her thesis is titled Islam’s Growth and Renewal: How Islam Needs to Reclaim Its Socio-political Origins, in which she stresses Islam’s emphasis on critical thinking, consultation and human agency as part of the Divine mandate, in order to engage contemporary problems with authentic solutions. Upon graduating, she founded a non-profit called I Am Jerusalem with a Jewish and a Christian woman, bringing the religious communities together around the arts, fitness, and civic engagement, and social justice work. She resides in Tustin, CA.

Seyed Hadi Qazwini

M.A. – Islamic Studies & Leadership

Seyed Hadi was born into the distinguished Qazwini family known for their dedication and leadership in serving Islam and the Muslim community. He completed his undergraduate program in Islamic Sciences at the world-renowned Shi‘i Islamic Seminary in Qum, Iran, prior to completing graduate study at Bayan in Islamic Studies and Leadership. His thesis, An Islamic Perspective on Religious Exclusivism, Inclusivism, and Pluralism, addresses the Qur’anic approach to these concepts in distinction to common (mis)understandings. Hadi has the distinction of being the first (and only) student admitted in the first year of a new Ph.D. program in Global Islam at the University of Southern California, headed by world-renowned professor Dr. Sherman Jackson. He also serves as Associate Imam at the Islamic Education Center of Orange County (IECOC) in Costa Mesa, CA.

Jihad Saafir

M.A. – Islamic Studies & Leadership

Jihad is the resident imam of Masjid Ibaadillah in South Central Los Angeles. He also works as a chaplain at the California Institute for Women (CIW), and teaches weekend classes in Tajweed, Classical Arabic and Fiqh. He is the President of the IslahLA community restoration and economic empowerment initiative, which operates IslahLA Academy, a full-time K-8 Islamic school. His thesis for the Islamic Studies and Leadership degree is titled Polygyny in the Black American Muslim Community, in which he details the challenges of marriage counseling and balancing spousal interests in the Black Muslim community. Currently, he is a Ph.D. student in Education and Formation at the Claremont School of Theology, Bayan’s host institution. He resides in Pasadena, CA.

2013 Graduates

Mahmoud Harmoush

M.A. – Islamic Studies & Leadership

Mahmoud has served for nearly two decades as an imam at several Southern California mosques, and is currently leading the community of the Islamic Center of Yorba Linda.  He has also taught Arabic language courses at Crafton Hills College, which he helped initiate there. He is active in the Syrian American Council. His thesis for the Islamic Studies and Leadership degree is titled In Search of Syria’s Tomorrow.

Reza Nekunamesh

M.A. – Islamic Studies & Leadership

Reza is the Executive Director of the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno (ICCF), serving as an administrator and imam. He is active in numerous Central California interfaith and civic organizations, such as the Mayor’s Faith Based Cabinet, the Human Rights Coalition, the Police Chief’s Advisory Council, and the Clergy Caucus. His thesis for the Islamic Studies and Leadership degree is titled A Model for Islamic Leadership.