Alkhateeb, ‘Feminist Within Islam’,
Dies at 58
an advocate for Muslim culture in the United States
who helped place courses in Middle Eastern cultures
and Arabic in public schools, died on Oct. 21
at her home in Ashburn, Va. She was 58.
The cause was pancreatic cancer, said
her daughter Nasreen.
Ms. Alkhateeb, who was born and raised in Philadelphia,
spent much of her life interpreting Islam. Even
as she adhered to Muslim traditions like covering
her hair, she encouraged Muslim women to be active
in their larger communities.
“She was dedicated to understanding Islam
for herself as opposed to Islam coming to us with
all the cultural wrappings,’’ said
her sister Nafeesa Ahmad. In 1992, she founded
the North American Council for Muslim Women, an
education and advocacy group, and was president
of the Muslim Education Council, which instructed
public-school teachers on Middle Eastern cultures,
Islam and Muslim society.
In 2000, she created the Peaceful Families Project,
which studies and raises awareness of domestic
violence in Muslim communities and is financed
by the Department of Justice.
At the United Nations Fourth World Conference
on Women, held in Beijing in 1995, she was chairwoman
of the Muslim caucus.
Ms. Alkhateeb wrote and lectured extensively to
challenge stereotypes of Muslims, and particularly
of Muslim women. She was a co-author of “The
Arab World Notebook,” a secondary school
textbook; for eight years she waged a campaign,
which was successful, to make Arabic part of the
language offerings in several high schools in
Northern Virginia. Publishers of social studies
textbooks would seek her comments, and she was
an adviser to North American Muslim student groups…..
After the Sept. 11 attacks, she became a team
leader of the Community Resilience Project, a
counseling center in Northern Virginia supported
by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
In addition to her daughter Nasreen Alkhateeb,
of Brooklyn, and her sister Nafeesa Ahmad, of
Oakland, Calif., Ms. Alkhateeb is survived by
her husband, Mejdi; a brother, Muhammad Ahmad,
of Horsham, Pa; her sisters Shahara Ahmad-Llewellyn
of Manhattan and Sayyida Ahmad Jordan of Los Angeles;
her daughters Layla Alkhateeb of Arlington, Va.,
and Maha Buthayna Alkhateeb of Potomac Falls,
Va.; and a grandson. (Courtesy The New York Times)