Posted March 13, 2024

Quaiser D. Abdullah named Philadelphia’s first director of Muslim engagement

Mayor Cherelle Parker made the historic appointment of the Klein faculty member.

Photography By: 
Ryan S. Brandenberg
Temple faculty member Quaiser D. Abdullah interacts with Bishop Wilfred H. Speakes Sr. during a news conference held at City Hall. Abdullah will work closely with Speakes in his role as the city's director of Muslim engagement.

In a historic action, Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker appointed Temple University faculty member Quaiser D. Abdullah, CLA ’03, EDU ’07, ’17, as the city’s first-ever director of Muslim engagement during a news conference earlier this month at City Hall. 

Abdullah, a distinguished educator at the Klein College of Media and Communication and a respected imam in Philadelphia’s Muslim community, will assume the role and continue in his existing positions at the university. He is a faculty member in the Department of Communication and Social Influence and director of the master of science in communication management program. His unique perspective and deep ties to the religious community across the region position him well to bridge gaps and foster meaningful dialogue between city officials and Philadelphia’s diverse Muslim population. Parker called the appointment a significant step towards greater inclusion and representation within the city’s leadership. 

“Dr. Abdullah’s appointment reflects our commitment to inclusivity and community-driven governance. His expertise and dedication will play a crucial role in ensuring that the voices and concerns of Philadelphia’s Muslim residents are heard and valued,” Mayor Parker said in a statement.

Throughout his career, Abdullah has been a tireless advocate for understanding and cooperation, particularly during times of heightened tension, such as the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. His efforts have earned prestigious awards, including the Faculty Senate’s Outstanding Faculty Service Award at Temple University.

“What a wonderful time for our city and Temple University, with the appointment of Quaiser as director of Muslim engagement,” said Rabbi Eli Freedman of Congregation Rodeph Shalom. “I could not think of anyone better. He has been such a voice for dialogue in our city, and I have had the honor of working closely with him at Interfaith Philadelphia.” 

Abdullah, who has lived in West Philadelphia for the last 24 years, is the board chair for Interfaith Philadelphia, co-president of the Association for Conflict Resolution, and former co-chair of the Mayor’s Commission on Faith-Based and Interfaith Affairs in Philadelphia. He is also one of the imams at Masjid Quba in West Philadelphia.

Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, Abdullah has been associated with Temple University since 2000. His educational pursuits make him genuinely Temple Made. He earned three degrees at the university: his bachelor of arts in political science, religion, and Asian studies, his master’s degree in adult and educational development, and his Ph.D. in educational psychology. He also taught at a private elementary school while studying and worked overnight shifts during this time.

The professor began working at Temple in 2004 in the IT department while teaching classes part time. He began teaching full time at the College of Education and Human Development in 2016 and transitioned to Klein College in 2019. He is currently an assistant professor specializing in conflict resolution.

Abdullah said he was honored to represent the city’s more than 250,000 Muslims at over 70 places of worship in Philadelphia. Still, he felt his appointment would allow him to be inclusive of everyone.

“As Muslims, we are entrusted with the stewardship of the Earth and tasked with embodying God’s mercy,” Abdullah said. “Our duty extends beyond our religious community; it encompasses all humanity. I am committed to serving all religious communities not merely out of civic obligation but as a sacred mandate. While I may not fulfill every need, my intention is rooted in a justice-based approach, seeking to spread compassion and care wherever possible.”

At the news conference on March 7, Parker said Abdullah’s appointment signifies a positive step towards building a city government that reflects Philadelphia’s rich diversity. Parker said Abdullah would work closely with Bishop Wilfred H. Speakes Sr., named director of the Mayor’s Commission on Faith-based and Interfaith Affairs on the same day.