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Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un. To God we belong and to Him we will return. May He rest in peace and be admitted to the highest place in paradise.
ING extends its deep condolences to the family, the American Muslim community, and the greater community on the passing this Saturday of Dr. Maher Hathout (1936-2015), renowned community leader, scholar, activist, and thinker. While a physician by profession, he dedicated his life to forging understanding and tolerance and building institutions for the benefit of generations to come. Among his many contributions and projects was his leadership at the Islamic Center of Southern California, one of the nation’s most forward-thinking mosques, for over three decades, where he served first as its chairman and then as main spokesperson. He also founded the Muslim Public Affairs Council, an advocacy group based in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., which he has continued to guide and mentor. He helped to found one of the earliest full-time Islamic schools in the area, New Horizon School. His lasting legacy for the community at large was his pioneering efforts towards interfaith understanding, dialogue, and engagement, as well as his lifelong dedication to educate fellow Americans about Islam and Muslims. His vision of an authentic American Islamic identity guided his actions and activism throughout his life.
ING’s founder Maha Elgenaidi praises him as “My first Islamic teacher among many who taught me that we cannot have influence in this country unless we are known and respected, and we can only gain both through service to the community.”
She also remembers him for his special qualities, among them his lighthearted interaction with young people whose ideas, enthusiasm, and company he greatly enjoyed. But what made him exceptional in her eyes was his humility: “He impacted me in a variety of ways, but one of the most unique qualities was his great humility. He was always generous with his time, and never expected people to treat him differently than anyone else; if you walked in a room you would never know that he was someone special by his humble attitude and demeanor, a rare quality among leaders today.”
Dr. Hathout is one of the many American Muslim pioneers of the 20th century who laid the foundation of American Islam for generations to come. Like those who have passed before him, the efforts of early American Muslim leaders planted seeds that will continue to grow and flourish long after they are gone. May God bless and reward all of them. Ameen.