Mission

The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“Be merciful to those on earth, so the One above the heavens will be merciful to you”.
RAHMA addresses HIV, female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) prevention, sexual health, and gender-based violence (GBV) through education, advocacy, and empowerment. We envision a world where marginalized and vulnerable populations feel safe within their communities regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, HIV status, faith, or lived experiences.
Al-Rahman
Daniel

Rahma is the Arabic word for mercy. It is important to have mercy and compassion when navigating such diverse and taboo topics within affected communities.

During Ramadan, while serving food for iftar, people refused to take food from me because they feared they would contract HIV by touching a plate my hands had touched.” — Anonymous Muslim living with HIV

Meaning of Rahma

Timeline of Accomplishments

2012
RAHMA was founded.
2014
RAHMA became a 501c3 nonprofit organization.
2015
We joined the effort to end FGM/C in the United States.
2016
Our founder was invited to White House and met President Barack Obama.
2017
We founded National Faith HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
2019
We released a FGM/C toolkit with The George Washington University to empower FGM/C survivors and provide resources for Health Care Proivders.
2020
National Faith HIV/AIDS Awareness Day became federally recognized.

Founder’s Story

I founded RAHMA with the intent of addressing HIV and AIDS in the American Muslim community. When I was in college, I worked as a student nurse at a local hospital. There I met a Muslim man living with AIDS. When he first arrived on our floor, he wasn’t in great spirits and many times lashed out at the nurses. I said to myself, I do not want to be assigned to him and be on the receiving end. One day I came into work and of course I was. I walked into his room, introduced myself and said I was here to help. He looked at me and I felt like he was staring into my soul. We connected and as I cared for him our the following weeks, he shared with me how he felt ostracized from his own community, the Muslim community, and not welcome due to his status. This broke my heart and I realized growing up, we never talked about Sexual Health in my community, never mind HIV or AIDS. He inspired me to begin my journey on addressing HIV stigma. Soon thereafter I learned my 19 year old friend was living with HIV. I decided to organize the first AIDS Awareness Week on my college campus and I haven’t look back since!
RAHMA has since involved to address HIV stigma in all faith communities and other public health concerns as well such as Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) prevention, sexual health and gender based violence. Join us and help us to continue making an impact in this world, one step at a time.

Board of Directors

Dr. Ulysses Burley
Chicago IL and Houston, TX

Dr. Ulysses Burley

Nechelle Terrell
Washington DC Metropolitan Area

Nechelle Terrel

Ghada Khan
California

Dr. Ghada Khan

Dr. Sohail Rana
Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area

Dr. Sohail Rana

Daniel J. Downer
Miami, Florida

Daniel Downer

Sultana Ocasio
New York

Sultana Ocasio

Nazaahah Amin
Baltimore, MD

Nazaahah Amin

Bryan Jones
Cleveland, OH

Bryan Jones

Sa’id Abdur Rahman
New York

Sa’id Abdur Rahman

Angelica Lindsey
The Village Auntie™ , Phoenix Arizona

Angelica Lindsey

Dr. Ulysses Burley

Chicago IL and Houston, TX

Dr. Ulysses Burley

Dr. Ulysses W. Burley III is the founder of UBtheCURE, LLC – a consulting company on the intersection of Faith, Health, and Human Rights with expertise in HIV/AIDS. Ulysses has served as a member of the Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches as well as the United States Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) under the Obama Administration. He has been recognized by the National Minority Quality Forum as a top 40 under 40 Minority Health Leader for his work in faith and HIV in communities of color. Currently, Ulysses is a Faith Community Engagement Ambassador for the Covid-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN), to connect with faith communities to share evidence-based information regarding COVID-19 and vaccines and antibodies being developed for its prevention. Ulysses holds memberships on a number of Boards, the most recent of which is the Advocate Health Care Board of Directors. He is an internationally recognized speaker and award winning writer on topics including faith, HIV/AIDS policy, COVID-19, LGBTQIA, gender and racial justice, food security, and peace in Palestine and Israel. His professional mantra is to “treat people and not just disease.”

Nechelle Terrell

Washington DC Metropolitan Area

Nechelle Terrel

Nechelle Terrell has worked in the field of HIV/AIDS Prevention, Education and Outreach since 2002. Since that time, she has coordinated numerous HIV awareness days in Alexandria and throughout Northern Virginia. Since 2012, she had has led coordinating efforts for the City of Alexandria’s National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Symposium and continues partnerships with local places and worship and community organizations for the city’s Annual World AIDS Day Interfaith Service. Nechelle has coordinated workshops, presentations and HIV testing events for numerous Alexandria City Government Agencies, Boards and Commissions; Alexandria City Public Schools; NAACP Alexandria Branch; local churches and Black Greek organizations; the Northern VA HIV Prevention and Education Committee and has led the planning efforts for the Annual “Hoops in Virginia” Basketball Tournament and Summit for the Northern Virginia Clergy Council for the Prevention of HIV/AIDS (NVCCPHA) since it began in 2015. Nechelle served as Chair of the Northern Virginia HIV Consortium from 2014 to 2016, and has served as Chair of the Northern Virginia Prevention and Education Committee for over 13 years and now serves as a Northern Virginia representative for the Virginia Community HIV Planning Group.

Ghada Khan

California

Dr. Ghada Khan

Ghada Khan, MPH, DrPH is an established health program specialist whose career, advocacy, and research has centered on global and domestic issues concerning the health of women and children. Dr. Khan is the former director of the US End FGM/C Network, a coalition which aims to end FGM/C by connecting, supporting, elevating and advocating on behalf of and with diverse U.S. stakeholders engaged in prevention, education, and care. Prior to this role, she served as project director for the community centered FGM/C prevention project at The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. Within these roles and within her personal capacity, Dr. Khan is dedicated to raising awareness on FGM/C and protecting women and girls from this harmful practice. In recognition for her work on FGM/C,  Dr. Khan has received the Global Woman Award from the Global Women’s PEACE Foundation, the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Award from the Global Women’s Institute as well as The Nashman Prize for Community Engaged Participatory Research.

Dr. Sohail Rana

Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area

Dr. Sohail Rana

Dr. Sohail Rana is a Professor of pediatrics at Howard University College of Medicine. Dr. Rana received his medical education at King Edwards Medical College in Lahore, Pakistan and trained in pediatrics and hematology at Jewish Hospital of Brooklyn in New York City and University of Rochester in Rochester, New York. He joined the faculty at Howard University in 1980 and is currently a Professor of Pediatrics and Director of Pediatric Hematology and HIV services. He has been providing care to children and young adults with sickle cell disease and HIV for more than three decades. He has conducted more than 60 studies to improve the treatment and quality of life of people living with sickle cell disease and HIV. He is a well published author and has received several awards for research, teaching and service to the community. He has been listed among the “Best Doctors in America” several times. He runs a busy practice at Howard and he oversees numerous research studies. Dr. Rana feels indebted to his patients, their families, and his family for teaching him about empathy and humanity. He is the conference director for the annual International Conference on Stigma and he is passionate about human rights for people with stigmatized illnesses. His goal is to establish a Center for Social Justice in Health to fight stigma attached to illnesses such mental disorders, HIV, pain, and disabilities.

Daniel J. Downer

Miami, Florida

Daniel Downer

Daniel J. Downer is an award-winning community advocate and organizer with a long history of advocating for Black and Brown LGBTQ+ people and social movements in central Florida. Through his work with various community initiatives and organizations, he has led community conversations on and facilitated community education campaigns specifically addressing health equity, HIV, and LGBTQ+ issues.

Daniel currently serves as the Executive Director of The Bros in Convo Initiative, a community organization in Orlando educating and empowering young Black gay, bisexual, queer, and same gender loving men. Daniel has guided the organization to become one of central Florida’s leading organizations while providing energy, leadership, and vision in the fulfillment of the mission of the organization,which is to provide comprehensive health education, STI prevention linkage, and peer support to Black gay, bisexual, queer, and same gender loving men in Central Florida communities that are affected or impacted by health disparities. In acknowledgment of his commitment to health and social equity, Daniel was honored by GLAAD as a 2018 Rising Star Award honoree. In 2019, he received the Red Door Foundation Leadership Achievement Award. In 2020, he received the Demetrick Brown Humanitarian Award by Metro Inclusive Health and he was named Watermark’s Most Remarkable Person in central Florida.

Sultana Ocasio

New York

Sultana Ocasio

Sultana Ocasio is Director of Food Bank For NYC’s Community Kitchen and Food Pantry in West Harlem. Sultana expanded the Community Meal service to be more inclusive to families with children and food insecure teens. She piloted the Food Is Love culinary training program and expanded pantry hours to accommodate working families. Before joining Food Bank, she was the Executive Director of the Muslim Women’s Institute for Research and Development in the Bronx. Her work at MWIRD included food security, nutrition, and health. MWIRD created a faith-based HIV toolkit and resource guide and hosted the first National Faith HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in NYC. 

Nazaahah Amin

Baltimore, MD

Nazaahah Amin

Nazaahah Amin, MS, C-IAYT, eRYT is a certified yoga therapist and founder of Ama Wellness. Her therapeutic practice specializes in alleviating anxiety, depression, race-based stress, and intergenerational trauma in Black Women.

Nazaahah received an M.S. in Yoga Therapy from Maryland University of Integrative Health where she currently serves as a clinical supervisor and adjunct faculty. She facilitates private and group workshops at psychiatric rehabilitation centers, Baltimore City Public Schools, and at her studio in West Baltimore.

Nazaahah is also a long-time entrepreneur and owner of Ama Scents, an aromatherapy company, and is co-director of Bmore Empowered, a mindful entrepreneurship non-profit for Black and Brown girls. She is a proud Baltimore native, visual artist, chai tea lover, and mama to her teenage son.

Bryan Jones

Cleveland, OH

Bryan Jones

Sa’id Abdur Rahman

New York

Sa’id Abdur Rahman

Sa’id has spent 15 years serving marginalized disenfranchised populations, specifically those with HIV/AIDS and Substance Abuse.  He received a Bachelors in Human Services and Master’s in Social and Public Policy and at present is a Site Director for a Supportive Housing Program for people with disabilities to include HIV/AIDS.  Sa’id has served on the New York City HIV Prevention Planning group and several HIV Care networks in Manhattan as well as Brooklyn NY.  Sa’id is a Native New Yorker who in his spare time is into fitness, basketball and personal development.  “To whom much is given, much is required “ is the quote Sa’id lives by.

Angelica Lindsey

The Village Auntie™ , Phoenix Arizona

Angelica Lindsey

Angelica Lindsey is a certified sexual health educator, researcher, author, curator of woman-centered spiritual intensives, and a recognized authority in intimacy cultivation in Islamic marriage and emotional well-being. She leads a global following of women spanning 86 countries who love her practical, heart-centered advice on love, intimacy, and relationships. Angelica offers workshops and resources on spirituality, maximizing divine feminine attributes, love, intimacy, relationships, traditional approaches to sexuality, and feminine gender identity within the framework of traditional West and East African societies.

Advisory Board

Imam Farouk El-Khaki

Imam Farouk El-Khaki

Imam Farouk El-Khaki

Imam Farouk El-Khaki

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Staff

Emmanuel Odubote
Finance Manager, Finance

Emmanuel Odubote

Alaa Sharaf
FGM/C Prevention Program

Alaa Sharaf

Khadijah Abdullah
Executive Director

Khadijah Abdullah

Maniza Habib
MYSAS Program

Maniza Habib

Emmanuel Odubote

Finance Manager, Finance

Emmanuel Odubote

Emmanauel Odubote, fondly known as Taiwo has spent over nine years in non-profit financial and accounting management.

Working mostly in secondary education, Taiwo has held the role of business administrator for both charter schools and approved private schools for students with disabilities. He has led both operation and systematic changes to better improve the financial and accounting management of the children’s service line. Taiwo will continue to do this work as the Finance Manager at RAHMA. He graduated from the College of New Jersey with his B.S in finance and obtained his master’s degree at Devry University. Taiwo lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and 2 sons.

Alaa Sharaf

FGM/C Prevention Program

Alaa Sharaf

Alaa Sharaf was born and raised in Rockville, Maryland. She is a rising sophomore studying public health through the Montgomery Scholars Program at Montgomery College. Alaa has been heavily involved in women’s health activism and hopes to pursue a professional career in the field after attending medical school. Alaa is passionate about social justice, particularly focusing on the fight against gender-based violence and sexual assault. Alaa’s work at RAHMA helps bring awareness to the health risks and concerns of FGM/C in the metropolitan faith communities.

Khadijah Abdullah

Executive Director

Khadijah Abdullah

I founded RAHMA with the intent of addressing HIV and AIDS in the American Muslim community. When I was in college, I worked as a student nurse at a local hospital. There I met a Muslim man living with AIDS. When he first arrived on our floor, he wasn’t in great spirits and many times lashed out at the nurses. I said to myself, I do not want to be assigned to him and be on the receiving end. One day I came into work and of course I was. I walked into his room, introduced myself and said I was here to help. He looked at me and I felt like he was staring into my soul. We connected and as I cared for him our the following weeks, he shared with me how he felt ostracized from his own community, the Muslim community, and not welcome due to his status. This broke my heart and I realized growing up, we never talked about Sexual Health in my community, never mind HIV or AIDS. He inspired me to begin my journey on addressing HIV stigma. Soon thereafter I learned my 19 year old friend was living with HIV. I decided to organize the first AIDS Awareness Week on my college campus and I haven’t look back since!

RAHMA has since involved to address HIV stigma in all faith communities and other public health concerns as well such as Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) prevention, sexual health and gender based violence. Join us and help us to continue making an impact in this world, one step at a time.

Maniza Habib

MYSAS Program

Maniza Habib

Maniza is the MYSAS program lead at RAHMA. She lives with her two sisters and parents in Burtonsville, Maryland. Maniza is currently a fourth-year undergraduate student at the University of Maryland, College Park, studying public health science and Spanish. She also works as an administrative intern for the Office of Vaccines Research and Review at the Food and Drug Administration. Maniza spends her free time volunteering with organizations which engage with the community on health and education issues. With her time with RAHMA, she is excited to be learning more about addressing stigmatized health problems within faith communities. In the future, she hopes to become a global advocate for women’s health.