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Seyed Ali Ghazvini

Imam Seyed Ali Ghazvini The Spritual Leader of ICCF [email protected]

Since May 2004, Seyed Ali Ghazvini has been the imam, spiritual leader, of the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno (ICCF). In his capacity as imam, he leads services, prayers and Qur’anic study sessions. Seyed Ali has spent his ministerial years growing and fostering relationships and building bridges and under his leadership ICCF has become a beacon of learning, civic engagement, inter and intra faith activities and partnerships and community service.
Imam Ghazvini has lived and studied in many countries. His early years of education were in Iraq and Kuwait, he received his Associate’s Degree in London, a seminary education and certificate in Iran, and his Master’s of Business Administration here in the United States. He is educated and fluent in Arabic, Farsi and English.
Through the years of his ministry in the Central Valley, Imam Ghazvini has worked to develop productive and supportive relationships with many local agencies such as The Poverello House, Marjaree Mason Center, The Community Food Bank, Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries, California State University, Fresno, Clovis and Fresno Unified School Districts and local law enforcement agencies.
Being a strong advocate of interfaith dialogue and understanding, Imam Ghazvini and a team of multi-faith leaders spearhead vibrant and meaningful interfaith work in the Central Valley. He was the Co-Chair of the Interfaith Alliance of Central California for four years (2012-2016) and has partnered with multiple interfaith and social justice organizations in town. He has organized dozens of interfaith events and attended many national and international interfaith conferences.
Imam Ghazvini is an outspoken opponent of extremism, violence and terrorism and is involved in constant media engagement against terror attacks and atrocities committed by Al Qaeda, ISIS, Al Shabab, the Taliban and other terrorist groups. He lead extensive efforts to raise awareness about the dangers of ISIS, specifically toward civilians and historic sites before its rise, having organized a series of “ISIS Vs Islam” seminars in the Central Valley at churches, schools and colleges during the years 2015-2016.
Additionally, Imam Ghazvini works constantly to bring about a peaceful and undistorted image of Islam and Muslims in an effort to combat Islamophobia, prejudice and bigotry. In this vein, the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno is at the forefront of cultural literacy efforts in schools and universities, religious organizations, law enforcement agencies, mental health professionals and first responders.
In many ways and for many religions, interfaith is much easier and palatable than intrafaith work and unity. Imam Ghazini has spent the last 14 years working tirelessly to bring about greater unity and understanding between different sects in Islam. His work is led by a sincere belief that only through unity and the eradication of hatred between Shi’a and Sunni Muslims can the Muslim community on a whole rise to greatness. This work is highly informed by the pain and helplessness Seyed Ali has experienced in his mother country, Iraq. In 2015, he worked with other Muslim leaders to establish the first truly intra-faith partnership organization in the Central California: The Central Valley Islamic Council (CVIC) which now consists of 10 Muslim organizations and 47 Muslim leaders all under the umbrella of unity and civic engagement. Additionally, ICCF is a proud example of a non-denominational center, governed by an Board consisting of Shi’a and Sunni leaders, and not just open-but welcome to all sects and schools of thought.
Iraq, the place of birth of Imam Ghazvini, faces many challenges and he was unwilling to set idly and not help. In 2004, he founded and is the founding President of the Development and Relief Foundation (DRF), a charity dedicated to helping women, children and the underserved in Iraq. DRF provides quality education to hundreds of Iraqi students (95% of them being orphans) through its schools, helps thousands of widows through their widow training programs, and has built the first operating state-of-the-art, 148 bed hospital in Karbala, just 70 miles south of the capital, Baghdad. DRF also distributes tons of food packages and other in-kind help to thousands of refugees every year. More can be found at www.drfcharity.org.
Seyed Ali’s work to offer services abroad to those in need is not limited to Iraq. Since 2008, He has proudly served on the Board of the Alliance for Medical Outreach and Relief (AMOR), an organization that works strategically with other partners to build healthier communities in areas of concentrated poverty. This organization has built hospitals and clinics abroad, including places like Afghanistan, and is currently working on building a site for the highly underserved area of Mendota, Ca. More can be found at www.amorelief.org.
Education
• Certificate of Master’s Degree in Islamic Theology, Seminary of Qum, Iran (1994)
• MBA, University of La Verne, California (2003)

Areas of Research:
Islamic Studies with focus on early history, ethics, Muslims and non-Muslims relation

Hajj Reza Nekumanesh, Executive Director of ICCF  [email protected]

Hajj Reza has been serving the Muslim community in Fresno for more than 25 years. He is a strong advocate for social, racial, economic and environmental justice and inter and intra faith understanding and cooperation. In 2018, Reza was honored the “Way of Peace” award from the Fresno Center for Non-Violence for his work to bring about greater justice for all communities in Fresno.  In 2019, he was recognized as one of Fresno’s “Unmasked Heroes” for his work to fight for the underserved, marginalized, and unheard masses of the population.  In 2017, his work was highlighted in a national campaign, which is still on display in Washington D.C., called “Facing America” that highlighted the work of those struggling to bring about justice and honor for all immigrant communities.

A strong advocate of social justice, he has worked at the local, state and national levels in fighting for immigration reform, housing justice issues, sanctuary law, reducing police violence, bail reform and many other issues. 

In working to promote the faith of Islam, the work of the interfaith community, and to highlight the struggles of the marginalized, Reza’s work and interviews have been featured in over 100 print and television stories, podcasts and documentaries.  Among dozens of others are The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Miami Herald, Iqama Magazine, Islamic Horizons, and the powerful podcast “Prophetic Resistance.”

Education:

  • M.A. Islamic Leadership, Bayan College of Claremont-Lincoln University (Inaugural Class) (2013)
  • B.A. Philosophy & Religious Studies, California State University, Fresno (2002)
  • Certificate in Public Theology and Social Justice at the American Baptist Seminary of the West/Graduate Theological Union

Affiliations:

  • Board Member, Faith in the Valley FIC
  • Chair, Clergy Caucus
  • Vice President, Shi’a Muslim Council of Southern Ca.  SMC
  • Founding Board Member & Secretary, Central Valley Islamic Council
  • Board Member, Mayor’s Faith Based Cabinet
  • Board Member, Human Rights Coalition of the Central Valley HRC
  • Member of the Interfaith Scholar Weekend
  • Member, Police Chief’s Advisory Council
  • Past Member, Homeless Summit of the Bishop Steinbock Committee
  • Past Member, Hate Crimes Task Force
  • Co-Founder, S.A.J.A.D. (Social Action Justice and Da’wah)
  • Served as member of the Executive Search Committee for PICO National

Major Areas of Research:

His major areas of research are Shi’a Law and Jurisprudence, Theology, Islamic History, the teachings and evolving ideologies of Hajj Malik Shabazz (Malcolm X), the American-Muslim identity and experience and inter and intra-faith cooperation.