Oral History Interview with Mahasin Mahdi on August 18, 2020


Oral History Interview with Mahasin Mahdi on August 18, 2020



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Mahdi, Mahasin


Hasan, Zaynah; Perkins, Dr. Alisa (Research Director)


Oral history interview with Mahasin Mahdi conducted by Zaynah Hasan on August 18, 2020. Interview written by Dr. Alisa Perkins (Research Director) and Zaynah Hasan. Mahasin Mahdi was born in Ypsilanti, Michigan into a Muslim family. Mahdi moved to Detroit during her childhood, which allowed her to attend the Clara Muhammad School and Al-Ikhlas Training Academy. Growing up, she attended various mosques with her family, including Al-Ikhlas Mosque, Historic Masjid Wali Muhammad, and the Muslim Center Mosque and Community Center. Mahdi and her siblings enjoyed participating in Camp Al-Hilal, an Islamic summer camp, which kept them involved with the Muslim and African American communities. After graduating from Al-Ikhlas Training Academy, Mahdi earned a degree in nursing from Wayne State University. Around 2018, Mahdi assisted her husband, Shaykh AbdulKarim Yayha, in founding Dar Al-Rahma, with the mission of providing a center of service and learning for Detroit’s Muslim community. Dar Al-Rahma engages in neighborhood revitalization and provides sustenance for the community through their food pantry program and by offering hot iftar meals during Ramadan. Mahdi and her husband traveled to Tarim, Yemen to study and worship with a community led by the renowned teacher Habib Umar bin Hafiz. In the interview, Mahdi provides details about the everyday lives of international students who gather in Tarim and about some of the classes offered at Dar Al-Mustafa and Dar Al-Zahra. She also discusses her positive impressions of Yemeni culture. Mahdi explains how Dar Al-Rahma serves as a way to connect Detroit Muslims with the ideas, teachings, and practices associated with Tarim.

Date of Interview


Location of Interview

Detroit MI (Dar Al-Rahma)


Abayyah, Adab, African-American history, African-American Muslims, Imam Nadir Ahmad, Jabril Abdul-Nur Ahmad, Al-Ikhlas Mosque, Al-Ikhlas Training Academy, Arabic language education, Burda, Camp Al-Hilal, Chanting, Community building, Conversion to Islam, COVID-19 pandemic, Curbside iftar, Dar Al-Mustafa, Dar Al-Rahma, Dar Al-Zahra, Dearborn, Detroit, Dhikr, Dowra, Dowra YouTube channel, Educational alternatives for low-income communities, Eid Al-Adha, Fajr gathering, Food boxes, Food distribution, Food donations, Food program, Gender-separated classrooms, Global Islamic education, Hadhramaut, Habib Umar bin Hafiz, Halaqa, Hijab, Historic Masjid Wali Muhammad, Huda School & Montessori, Iftar, Iftar sponsorship, Inkster, Institutional building, Intergenerational education, Islam, Islam in America, Islamic Association of Greater Detroit, Islamic dress, Islamic gender norms, Islamic head scarves, Islamic manners, Islamic parochial school, Islamic studies, Islamic summer camp, Islamic summer program, Nafeesa Mahdi, Masjid Al-Haqq, Mawlid, Michigan, Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, Muslim Americans, Muslim Center Mosque and Community Center, Muslims, Nation of Islam, Neighborhood revitalization, Nursing education, Pioneers, Praising the Prophet, Ramadan, Reversion to Islam, Riada, School uniforms, Sister Clara Muhammad School, Soup kitchen, Sunni Islam, Tarim, Urban-suburban relations, Volunteerism, Wayne State University, Women's religious gathering, Shaykh AbdulKarim Yayha, Yemen, Yemeni-American Muslims, Youth sports competition, Ypsilanti


African American Studies | Africana Studies | American Studies | 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 Zaynah Hasan at Dar-al Rahma. Interview written by Dr. Alisa Perkins (Research Director) and Zaynah Hasan. Interview recorded under the direction of Razi Jafri. Videography by Ayesha Cook and Samayyah Cook, facilitated by Razi Jafri. Video Edited by: Mandy Weiss. Transcribed by: Sara Faraj and Dr. Alisa Perkins. Transcription edited by: Dr. Alisa Perkins. Metadata prepared by: Melissa Paduk. Metadata edited by: Dr. Alisa Perkins and Sophia Wimberley.



Document Type


Rights Statement

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

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Oral History Interview with Mahasin Mahdi on August 18, 2020