Oral History Interview with Sabreen Sharrief on October 13, 2020

Oral History Interview with Sabreen Sharrief on October 13, 2020



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Sharrief, Sabreen


Yousif-Ahmad, Zainab; Perkins, Dr. Alisa (Research Director)


Oral history interview with Sabreen Sharrief conducted by Zainab Yousif-Ahmad on October 13, 2020. Interview written by Dr. Alisa Perkins (Research Director) and Zainab Yousif-Ahmad. Sabreen Sharrief was born in 1948 in the metro Detroit city of Inkster, Michigan, into a family that originally hailed from Jackson, Mississippi. Sharrief’s great-grandfather was an early educator for enslaved African-American children, teaching at an institution that would later become Jackson’s Tougaloo College. In 1947, Sharrief’s father established Big Four Black and White Cabs Co in Inkster, which is currently in its fourth generation of family ownership. After graduating from Inkster High School, Sharrief began attending nursing school. Sharrief reverted from Christianity to Islam in 1972 and began attending Temple No. 1. Several years later, she transitioned to Sunni Islam under the leadership of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed. In 2010, Sharrief retired from a fifty-year-long career in nursing and moved back to her familial home in Mississippi. There, she serves on the governing board of her mosque, and, for more than ten years, has volunteered with the mosque’s prison outreach, ministering to female inmates in Mississippi. Additionally, Sharrief volunteers at the International Museum of Muslim Cultures in Jackson, Mississippi. In the interview, Sharrief fondly remembers growing up in Inkster, reflecting on the city’s close-knit African-American community and Black-owned businesses. She elaborates on how she encourages the incarcerated women she works with to gain strength and self-esteem through religious study and self-love. Further, Sharrief discusses her work as a tour guide for the International Museum of Muslim cultures, which allows her to offer public education about historically under-represented societies.

Date of Interview


Location of Interview

Detroit, MI (Interview conducted over Zoom)


African-American community, African-American history, African-American Muslims, Imam Nadir Ahmad, Muhammad Ali, Allen's Supermarket, Ann Arbor, Arabic language education, Atlanta, Auto mechanic, Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Baptist Christianity, Bean cream ice cream, Big Four Black & White Cab Co, Black Panther Party, Black-owned business, Boblo Island Amusement Park, Cab company, California, Canada, Cardboard City, Central Michigan University, Chicago, Cobo Hall, Community building, Community development, Conscientious objector, Conversion to Islam, COVID-19 pandemic, Dawah, Detroit, Detroit Princess Riverboat, Dispatching, Early African-American educators, Education, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, Factories, Factory work, Family business, Family reunion, Farming, Minister Louis Farrakhan, Fasting, Fasting in prison, Fish restaurant, Georgia, Habitat for Humanity, Hajj, Halal, Hamtramck, Historic Masjid Wali Muhammad (HMWM), Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Housing construction, Houston, Incarcerated women, Inkster, Inkster High School, Inkster mosque, Interfaith museum, Intergenerational relations, International Museum of Muslim Cultures, Interracial Muslim community, Islam, Islam in America, Islam in prison, Islamic education abroad, Islamic parochial school, Jackson, Kinship, Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Linwood Street, Philbert Little, Los Angeles, Malcolm X, Master mechanic, Memphis, Memphis prisons, Michigan, Midwifery, Military honors, Mississippi, Mississippi State Penitentiary, Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, Mosque, Mosque governing board, Motherhood, ‘Muhammad Speaks', Clara Muhammad, The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Muslims, Muslim Americans, Muslim Center Mosque and Community Center, Muslim chaplain, Muslim Girls Training (MGT), ‘Muslim Journal', Muslim summer camp, Muslim women's community, Muslim-owned business, Myles Cemetery, Nation of Islam (NOI), Neighborhood relations, New Medinah Islamic Community, Nurse, Nursing school, Ohio, Abdul Aziz Omar, Orthodox Christianity, Parchman Farm, Philbert X, Prison chaplain, Prison ministry, Prophet Muhammad, Qur'an, Qur'an classes, Ramadan, Representing Islam, Retirement, Reversion to Islam, Sharecropping, Shaw College, Sister Clara Muhammad Schools, Summerall, TCF Center, Teacher, Tennessee, Texas, The Great Migration, Tougaloo College, Trans-Atlantic slave trade, Union street, United States Army, United States Senate, University of Islam, University of Southern California (USC), Venice Beach, Veterans, Veterans Affairs (VA), Veterans Affairs Hospital (VA Hospital), Washington D.C., Wayne County Community College, Women's roles in Islam


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


Interview conducted online over Zoom by Zainab Yousif-Ahmad. Written by Dr. Alisa Perkins (Research Director) and Zainab Yousif-Ahmad. Facilitated by Dr. Alisa Perkins. Video Edited by: Alexis Collis. Transcribed by: Meghana Srinivasa. Transcription edited by: Dr. Alisa Perkins. Metadata by: Hannah Cole. 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

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Oral History Interview with Sabreen Sharrief on October 13, 2020