Muslema Purmul was born in Raleigh, North Carolina and raised in San Diego, California. Her parents are originally from Afghanistan and they came to the US in the early 80s. She graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a double major in Religious Studies and Middle Eastern Studies. During those years she served at varying capacities in MSA UCSD as well as MSA West. After graduating she left to study in Egypt where she spent the better part of the next 7 years. She completed the bachelor’s program in Sharia from al-Azhar University in Cairo and also completed almost two years of graduate work at the American University in Cairo in Islamic Studies. She also attended the International Union of Muslim Scholars “Future Scholars Program” while she was studying in Cairo.
Afterwards she transitioned into the blessing of motherhood. Recently she served as the Young Muslims Program Director at the Islamic Center of Irvine where she provided support, religious education, and leadership for programming related to youth and young professionals. She has taught classes and spoken nationally and internationally about issues related to Islamic law and ethics in a variety of different settings including conferences, retreats, universities, libraries, and mosques. Currently she serves the Muslim students at UCI and USC as a chaplain with Institute of Knowledge and is the Co-Founder and Scholar-in-Residence at Safa Center for Research and Education.
Jamaal Diwan was born and raised in Southern California. His mother is from Newfoundland, Canada and his father from Karachi, Pakistan. He grew up in a household that strongly emphasized good manners, sports, and education. Most of his childhood was filled with playing basketball, studying, and spending time with friends. He did not grow up as a Muslim and it was not until he was a sophomore at UCSD that he accepted Islam at the age of 19. His journey was a combination of multiple influences including Underground Hip-Hop, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, reading the Quran, and meeting Muslims on campus. Slightly before his last year at UCSD he married his wife, Muslema Purmul. He graduated from UCSD with a BA in Third World Studies and a minor in Psychology. After finishing they both went to Egypt where they studied off and on for the better part of the next 7 years. At the end of that journey he finished the equivalent of a law degree in Sharia from al-Azhar University in Cairo and nearly completed an MA in Islamic Studies from the American University in Cairo.
He thereafter served as Religious Director for the Muslim American Society Greater Los Angeles Chapter for six months before transitioning to the Islamic Center of Irvine where he served as the Resident Scholar for two and a half years. During that time his work was highlighted by a number of local media outlets and he published a small booklet called “A Brief Introduction to Islam.” He can be found on Twitter and Facebook.
He serves the Muslim students at UCI and USC as a chaplain with Institute of Knowledge and is the Director of the IOK Chaplaincy Initiative.
Safa Center for Research and Education is a project of Muslema Purmul and Jamaal Diwan. It will provide online and on-site educational content related to the issues of Islam and Muslims in America.
Mount Safa was where the Prophet (pbuh) chose to go public with the message of Islam. It was a place that in pre-Islamic Arabia was the culturally known medium by which important news was shared. The Prophet (pbuh) utilized and embraced the cultural medium of his people to deliver his message. Likewise, Safa Center hopes to utilize the different mediums of our cultural context to deliver the Prophetic message.
Before and after this call, the Prophet (saw) taught Islam in a place close to Mount Safa. It was in the house of al-Arqam, possibly the first Third Space in the prophet’s life, that the first Muslims were given focused tarbiyah in the faith. Similarly, Safa Center is a means by which people can learn about their faith and gain a level of spiritual growth.
The area of Safa was also the place where Ibrahim (pbuh) and his family showed the utmost trust and reliance upon God when Ibrahim (pbuh) followed the command of God and left his family in that uncultivated region. His wife Hajar then ran between Safa and Marwa in her search for sustenance for her and her son, Ismail. The result of her efforts was a great gift which we benefit from up to today, the Well of Zamzam. We hope that Safa Center will be a spiritual and intellectual well that its visitors can drink from to nourish their faith and lives.