Few people get a chance to shape the values and culture of an entire community. Even fewer rise to the challenge when that opportunity presents itself. And fewer still take on that challenge and end up making a difference. Marghoob Ahmed Quraishi, who passed away yesterday in Palo Alto, California at the age of 73, was such a person. Quraishi spent much of the last 45 years building institutions that will forever impact the values and culture of Muslims in America – even though there was barely any Muslims in the US when he arrived in 1960 as a graduate student at Stanford University. While the few Muslims who were in America at the time were focusing on immediate needs such as building mosques and establishing their families, Quraishi was already looking decades ahead. His first major project was the week-long Muslim Youth Camp, now in its 43rd year, which focuses on shaping Muslim community values that are in harmony with an American cultural and political identity. The second major project he co-founded with his wife Renae, the annual Muslim Student Network summer internship program in Washington, DC, has trained over 150 young Muslims over the last 12 years for careers in public and government service. Many years before the troubles of today, Marghoob Quraishi knew that the best way to insure a place for Muslims in America was to put our most talented people to work in the service of the greater American community. His legacy will live on in the many families across the United States whose productive American Muslim identities were shaped by four decades of MYC camps, and by the dozens of American Muslim graduates of the MSN program whose service in public policy, non-profit, and US governmental institutions demonstrate a collective intent to make America a better place for all its citizens.
Shahed Amanullah is editor-in-chief of altmuslim.com.