Oral History Interview with Taqwa Hasan on March 6, 2021

Oral History Interview with Taqwa Hasan on March 6, 2021



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Hasan, Taqwa


Cook, Ayesha; Perkins, Dr. Alisa (Research Director)


Oral history interview with Taqwa Hasan conducted by Ayesha Cook on March 6, 2020. Interview written by Dr. Alisa Perkins (Research Director) and Ayesha Cook. Taqwa Hasan was born on November 29, 1980 in Inkster, Michigan, to parents born in New York and Ann Arbor, Michigan. Both of Hasan's parents are important leaders in the Muslim community. Hasan's mother, Nafeesa Mahdi, served for many years as a principal at Al-Ikhlas Training Academy, and her father, Rafiq Mahdi, contributed to many local initiatives. Hasan moved to Detroit with her family while attending high school at Al-Ikhlas Training Academy. She grew up attending various mosques including one in Inkster mosque Historic Masjid Wali Muhammad. In the interview, Hasan reflects upon Al-Ikhlas Training Academy's role in her development, detailing her appreciation for the family environment it provided, along with the opportunity to study the Arabic language, pursue Islamic studies, and be surrounded by a moral community. After graduating high school, Hasan studied fashion merchandising at Wayne State University. This helped her start her own handcrafted accessories business called the Black Box Collection. Carrying on her parents' legacy of community-building, Hasan founded and leads the Raja Group, which provides Muslim girls and young women a space for learning, mentorship, and discussion. In partnership with her sisters, Hasan also founded the Social Loft, a unique women's co-working space located in Hamtramck, Michigan. Additionally, Hasan and her family created the Nisar Award to honor individuals who have had a significant impact on the community. In the interview, Hasan discusses the importance of community-building in her own life and her family's life, and especially the need to promote Muslim women's sisterhood and cooperation across the generations.

Date of Interview


Location of Interview

Detroit, MI (Muslim Center Mosque and Community Center)


African-American history, African-American Muslims, Imam Nadir Ahmad, Al-Ikhlas Mosque, Al-Ikhlas Training Academy, Al-Ikhlas Training Academy Alumni Association, Ann Arbor, Arab, American Muslims, Bangladeshi-American Muslims, Black Box Collection, Black-owned business, Career Day, Cass Mosque, Community building, Community leadership, COVID-19 pandemic, Dar Al-Rahma, Detroit, Dr. Cheryl El-Amin, Entrepreneurship, Fashion merchandising, Fundraising for education, Georgia, Halaqa, Hamtramck, Handcrafted accessories, Hilal Books & Imports, Historic Masjid Wali Muhammad, Inkster, Intergenerational education, Islam, Islam in America, Islamic bookstore, Islamic parochial school, Islamic studies, Islamic summer camp, Islamic youth groups, Jewelry making, Junior League of Muslim Women, League of Muslim Women, Rafiq Mahdi, Nafeesa Mahdi, Michigan, Mom pod, Mosque, Muskogee, Muslim Americans, Muslim Center Mosque and Community Center, Muslim Girl Scouts, Muslim women’s community spaces, Neighborhood cleanup, New York, Nisar Award, Oklahoma, Online education, Raja Group, Ramadan, Sister Clara Muhammad Schools, Sisterhood, Social Loft, University Islamic Center of Detroit, Virginia, Volunteerism, Waycross, Wayne State University, Women entrepreneurs, Women's co-working space


African American Studies | Africana Studies | American Studies | Arts and Humanities | Civic and Community Engagement | Digital Humanities | Inequality and Stratification | Islamic Studies | Nonprofit Administration and Management | Politics and Social Change | Race and Ethnicity | Religion | Urban Studies and Planning


Interview conducted by Ayesha Cook at the Muslim Center Mosque and Community Center. Interview written by Dr. Alisa Perkins (Research Director) and Ayesha Cook. Interview recorded under the direction of Supervising Producer Malikah Shabazz and Supporting Supervisor Abdul-Zahir Sadid. Videography by Samayyah Cook. Video Edited by: Rebecca Kyser. Transcribed by: Inez Mendez and Dr. Alisa Perkins. Transcription edited by: Dr. Alisa Perkins. Metadata prepared by: Melissa Paduk. Metadata edited by: Dr. Alisa Perkins and Sophia Wimberley.



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Dream of Detroit Interviews were made possible by funding from the Pillars Grant and Whiting Foundation. Content is for educational purposes only and non-reproducible; interviews are not to be duplicated, but may be linked through ScholarWorks with appropriate attribution. Please direct any questions about copyright to scholarworks@wmich.edu.


Pillars Fund and Whiting Foundation


Dream of Detroit

Length of Video


Oral History Interview with Taqwa Hasan on March 6, 2021