Our Team

Overview And History

The Universal Muslim Association of America (UMAA) is an non-governmental organization (or "NGO") that works on social, political, religious, and humanitarian issues. UMAA is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization as well. UMAA has obtained ECOSOC non-profit status with the United Nations and regularly participates in related initiatives.

Mission Statement

UMAA  aims to provide a platform for American Shia Muslims to advance political, social, economic and religious goals important to their community. By providing a American Shia Muslims a forum to foster intra-faith unity, to participate in civic and political responsibilities, to dispel misgivings about Islam and Muslims, to help fellow Americans better understand Islam through the Qu'ran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and his Ahl al-Bayt (AS).


UMAA provides a forum to address socioeconomic and political issues that may not be addressed in centers of worship such as: - Fostering inter and intrafaith unity - Dispeling misgivings about Islam and Muslims through civic engagement - Helping other American understand Islam through the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) and his Ahl al-Bayt. UMAA was formally established in September, 2002 as a joint effort between scholars, community organizers and community leaders. Since then, UMAA has grown to support the America Shia community through a variety of Community Development, Advocacy and Media efforts.

Community Development

The Annual Convention: The first annual UMAA convention was held in Washington, DC in May of 2003. This was the first national-level program of its kind for the Shia-Muslim community and was attended by approximately 3,000 individuals. Subsequent annual conventions have been held in various cities around the continent. These conventions allow for Muslims of all walks of life to discuss amongst each other and hear speakers present on a variety of subjects.

Religious Advancement: UMAAmedia aims to provide quality religious content in the English language through a variety of mediums. Through partnering with Scholars, Editors and Designers, UMAAmedia has published five books over the past two years that offer introductory and advanced discourse in Islam. In 2015, UMAAmedia released a groundbreaking three-part video series titled The Hidden Quran. Offered in DVD, iTunes and online streaming format, this video provides viewers with a 35-minute introductory lecture on each Surah of the Quran.

UMAA also aims give American Shias access to advanced levels of Islamic education by offering short, intensive courses on a variety of subjects presented by senior Islamic Seminary students and scholars.

Inter and Intra-faith dialogue: UMAA seeks to build coalitions and partnerships with adherents of other faiths and sects. UMAA’s interfaith efforts have included Ramadan joint iftar services, joint prayer services and joint press releases. In February, 2015 UMAA hosted a session wherein a hundred American Muslims and American Buddhists gathered in Washington to hear the Dalai Lama speak about the concept of service with Sheikh Fadhil al-Sahlani and other Muslim and religious leaders

Professional Advancement

Aside from the annual convention, UMAA aims to promote community development through a variety of initiatives focused on socio-economic advancement. UMAAnetworking is focused on pooling resources, experience and connections in order to advance the community professionally in a cohesive, collaborative manner

Advocacy UMAAadvocacy is the only Shia-Muslim advocacy organization active on Capitol Hill. The goals of UMAAadvocacy are two-fold: to advocate on behalf of the Shia community in dealings with Federal, State and local-level governments and to promote political participation and activism amongst the American Shia-Muslim community. The main tool through which both objectives are fulfilled are through regular publications on events or regions that impact the global Shia community

The external facing arm of the Advocacy organization is responsible for building relationships with governmental agencies, congressional offices and think tanks in Washington, DC. Whereas the internal facing arm of the organization is responsible for community mobilization efforts such as getout-the-vote drives and young activism training.

Who We Are

President - Dr. Syed E. Abidi

Dr. Syed E. Abidi, PhD has over 25 years of experience in pharmaceutical formulation development, and servers as the CEO of Pharmaceutics International, Inc. in Hunt Valley, MD. Dr. Abidi has a long standing history of community service and is in his second term as President of UMAA.

Senior Vice President - Dr. Asad Sadiq

Dr. Asad Sadiq, DDS, is a practicing dentist in New Jersey and holds memberships in the American Dental Association and The Academy of General Dentistry and Southern Dental Society. Dr. Sadiq, trained in implant technology at NYU, has 20 years of dental experience. 

Vice President - Dr. Kashif Haider

Dr. Kashif Haider, MD is a medical doctor in Kentucky, serving a wide variety of patients.

Special Representative - Dr. Sayed Ammar Nakshawani

Dr. Sayed Ammar Nakshawani, PhD is a professor and the Imam Ali Chair of Shia studies at Hartford Seminary, as well as a British Iraqi Islamic historian, lecturer, and author. He is listed as one of The 500 Most Influential Muslims. Since 2014, Nakshawani has served as the Special Representative for the Universal Muslim Association of America (UMAA). In this role, he promotes an understanding of the customs and beliefs of Shia Ithna Asheri Muslims. As Special Representative, he engages in interfaith dialogue with leaders of a variety of faith communities, and advocates on behalf of Shia Islam to a variety of elected officials, think tanks, and policy institutes.

Secretary - Dr. Parvez Shah

Dr. Parvez Shah, MD is an urologist in Laurel, Maryland and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including Doctors Community Hospital and Laurel Regional Hospital. He received his medical degree from Dow Medical College and has been in practice for 53 years. Dr. Shah is a founding member of UMAA.

Treasurer - Zaffar Jaffri

Mr. Zaffar Jaffri is an eminent community activist and leader based in Brooklyn, NY.

Program Director - Dr. Azmat Husain

Dr. Azmat Husain, MD is the Director of the Emergency Room Department at Howard University Hospital in Washington DC. Dr. Azmat Husain is an emergency medicine doctor in Baltimore, Maryland and is also affiliated with St. Agnes Hospital. He received his medical degree from University of Maryland School of Medicine and has been in practice for 5 years.

Advocacy Director - Rahat Husain

Mr. Rahat Husain, JD is a practicing attorney, with focuses on corporate, non-profit,  and patent law. Mr. Husain also serves as a columnist with the Washington Times.


Organize conventions, seminars, and workshops to help achieve the goals of UMAA


Cooperate and coordinate with other organizations pursuing similar political and other goals


Publish magazines, websites, newsletters, brochures, and other written materials


Encourage civic participation in domestic and international issues relevant to all Muslims

  • Dr. Syed E Abidi

  • Dr. Asad Sadiq

  • Dr. Kashif Haider

  • Dr. Parvez Shah

  • Dr. Sayed Ammar Nakshawani

  • Rahat Husain

  • Dr. Azmat Husain

  • Rida Bukhari-Rizvi

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