Imam Abdul Shahid Muhammad, a Fresno interfaith leader and retired Muslim chaplain remembered for his warm personality and activism aimed at helping the most vulnerable, died unexpectedly on Monday due to undetermined health reasons.
He loved humanity and wanted the best for humanity.
Muslim chaplain Raqeeb Abduljabbar
Mr. Muhammad worked as a Muslim chaplain for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for more than 20 years, provided Islamic religious services for Muslim patients at Coalinga State Hospital, was president and founder of the Muslim American Chaplains Association, and previously served as vice president of the Associated Chaplains in California State Service. Family members said much of his work in prisons as an imam was focused on reaching out to troubled youth.
Fakhrid-deen Muhammad recalled his father as a “social butterfly” who strove to share the “beauty of Islam – the core tenets for him is probably belief in one God and submission and tolerance for all and social justice.”
Friend and fellow Muslim chaplain Raqeeb Abduljabbar added that Mr. Muhammad’s work as a Muslim chaplain extended beyond sharing his faith, and that he also shared advice “in general as far as life is concerned – helping people know themselves and be responsible for themselves.”
He always met me with smiles and encouragement, and I was often touched by his genuine show of kindness and optimism.
Sukaina Hussain, Faith in Fresno organizer
In his retirement, Mr. Muhammad took a more active role in Fresno’s interfaith community, working with groups including Faith in Fresno, the Central Valley Islamic Council, the Bishops’ Advocacy Committee for the Homeless through the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno and the District Attorney’s Hate Crimes Community Task Force.
“Imam Abdul Shahid made it a personal mission to be present as much as he could,” said Sukaina Hussain, an organizer with Faith in Fresno. “He repeatedly shared his commitment to the importance of building relationships and supporting those who worked to serve marginalized communities.”
He was passionate about building relationships, and he was passionate about moving forward.
Reza Nekumanesh, director of the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno
Reza Nekumanesh, director of the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno, recalled Mr. Muhammad’s encouraging spirit and optimism with fondness.
“He was always smiling,” Nekumanesh said, “always dressed to the T, always excited and looking forward and thinking forward to the next thing and not getting involved in the stress or politics of the community. … He definitely was happy, was positive and was excited about life.”
Iman Abdul Shahid Muhammad
Born: Nov. 13, 1951, in South Carolina
Died: March 6, 2017, in Fresno
Occupation: Retired Muslim chaplain and interfaith volunteer
Survivors: Wife Nadia Muhammad; mother Flossie Mae York; daughters Jasinda Muhammad and Tauheedah Muhammad; sons Alim Muhammad, Fakhrid-deen Muhammad and Sadrud-din Muhammad; numerous grandchildren; one great-granddaughter
Services: noon Thursday at the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno, 2111 E. Nees Ave., Fresno. Women are asked to cover their heads and wear modest clothing. A graveside service for family and friends will be held following the service at 2 p.m. at Madera Islamic Center Cemetery, 16634 Road 26, Madera.