On Saturday May 3, 2014, Shaykh Dr. Abdullah Latif Ali (Ed.D. 2005, GTF) returned to Allah (Great and Sublime is He). His passing signifies the loss of a great African American Muslim leader. Shaykh Ali was a visionary and had a tremendous intellect. He managed a full career and retired as a civil engineer with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. Additionally, in the early 1980’s he co-founded, with his wife Umm Nur, the Admiral Family Circle Islamic Community (Admiral Family) in New York City.
Admiral Family is still noted and respected as a pioneer for its work in interfaith activities. It was the first Muslim organization to have office space in the InterChurch Center (God Box) on Riverside Drive. The building is in the heart of the religious and academic center of New York City. As a result of Admiral Family’s religious human rights work, in 2001 the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECSOC) awarded it “Special” consultative status as a non-governmental organization (NGO). Admiral Family sponsored a delegation to the World Conference on Racism 2001 in South Africa.
For ten years, under the aegis of Admiral Family’s special status, each summer a group of university students participated in the deliberations of the UN Sub-Committee on Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland. We coordinated this effort with the City University of New York and our Malik Shabazz Human Rights Institute founded in 1999.
For many years Shaykh functioned as the General Secretary of the Majlis Ash-Shurah of Metropolitan New York. During his tenure he advanced the cause of Muslims in meeting with Mayors and New York City officials. One of the highlights of his tenure and hard work was the official recognition by the City of Muslim holidays, i.e. Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha.
In the cause of professional development of Imams, Shaykh Ali co-founded the Imams Council of New York in February 2000. After the World Trade Center tragedy in 2001, Shaykh and Admiral Family members served as Red Cross Disaster Chaplains at the site for the rescue and recovery phases of the project. Additionally, we offered pastoral care strategies and lectures to Imams and various mosques throughout the Metropolitan Area. We continue to forward this work. Today, Admiral Family members have completed more Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) training than any other Muslim community in New York City.
Shaykh’s greatest professional joy was his earned Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree which he received from the Graduate Theological Foundation (GTF). He had particular regard and affection for then President Dr. John Morgan and treasured his relationship with him. Shaykh inspired several of us to follow in his footsteps. Shaykh will always remain in my heart as a friend and mentor. My prayer is that, inshallah, we will continue to honor his life as a gift from Allah (Great and sublime is He) to us all.
Imam Muhammad Hatim, Ph.D., D.Min., CADC,
Imam Warith Deen Muhammad Professor of African American Muslim Studies (GTF),
Admiral Family Circle Islamic Community (Admiral Family)