Transformational Leadership Student Visits with Governor

Written by Hannah Crivello
March 23, 2015
Earlier this month, Governor Jay Inslee held a press conference addressing concerns for recent hate crimes against Muslim and Hindu community members in Washington State. Just hours prior to the media coverage, our school?s very own Master of Arts in Transformational Leadership student, Qasim Hatem, visited with the governor to discuss these issues and concerns, as well as the effects of Islamophobia locally.

Read more on the story, here. Additional coverage from the Governor's office, here?& The Seattle Times, here.

The school?s Transformational Leadership program, alongside its commitment to interfaith collaboration, has provided both welcome and opportunity for many students that do not identify as religious, as well as members of the Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu and Muslim communities.

Qasim was drawn to Seattle University and the Master of Arts in Transformational Leadership, out of his deep passion to learn and grow in what he refers to as ?a quality program with ecumenical classes at an inclusive, diverse and ?safe-place? school.? Qasim says his goal is to "transform into a holistic leader by understanding the tradition of Islam in the modern context, so that I can better serve both Muslim and non-Muslim communities."

Qasim serves as a Shaykh in the Muslim community, and holds the positions of both Executive Director and Resident Scholar at the Mihraab Foundation based in Seattle. He is also the Muslim Chaplain for Harborview and University of Washington Medical Centers, as well as at one of Washington state?s prisons.

Qasim was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where his forefathers had built one of the very first mosques in North America. His family moved to Washington State in 1993, where he later earned a full-ride scholarship to play football for the University of Washington. Originally recruited as a linebacker, he went on to earn a starting position in 2001 at nose tackle on the top-ranked and Rose Bowl-winning Huskies. Appearing in Sports Illustrated and being scouted by NFL teams, Shaykh Qasim seemed destined to fulfill the ?All-American Dream.?

However, shortly after a spectacular finish in the Rose Bowl, Shaykh Qasim incurred a life-threatening injury. Though he would not be able to play football that fall, he had the opportunity to return and play in the next two seasons to complete his collegiate football career. The injury brought up questions for Qasim, about his life and purpose. As a result, he ended up choosing a different path entirely?a path leading him deeper into the heart of his Islamic faith tradition.

A year after graduating with his Bachelor?s degree in Psychology in 2003, Shaykh Qasim traveled to Yemen to study in Tarim. He enrolled in the Badr Language Institute and then moved to the Dar al-Mustafa seminary, to study the traditional Islamic disciplines under some of the most renowned, current Muslim scholars. Qasim then completed his rigorous studies in 2011, with primary ijazaat (licenses to teach) in: Shafi?i fiqh (jurisprudence), ?aqeedah (Islamic creed), nahu (Arabic grammar), tajweed (Quranic recitation in hafs), and da?wa (methodology of inviting to Islam).

Qasim was recently featured in a National Catholic Reporter article on the pioneering interfaith work some schools of theology are creating, including Seattle University?s School of Theology and Ministry. He was featured along with another Muslim Transformational Leadership student, Abdullah Polovina, and school faculty members Dr. Michael Kinnamon and Dr. Michael Reid Trice . Read more here.