Rafia Syeed comes from the beautiful valley of Kashmir from up in the Himalayas. She taught at the University of Kashmir before she came to the US in the mid 1970’s. She studied at Indiana University at Bloomington where she pursued her work in education and comparative literature.
Rafia Syeed has been involved in Muslim community building for the past four decades. She served as Chairperson of the National Women’s Committee of Islamic Society of North America in the early 1980’s. She was a catalyst in the emerging movement of community development through the establishment of a number of programs and activities for Muslim women and families across the nation.
Mrs. Syeed and her family lived in DC area during 1984-94, where she founded and chaired the Muslim Inter-Community Network in the Greater Washington DC area. This organization established the first shelter for Muslim women and families in DC. The Inter-Community Network was the first Muslim multi-ethnic and nonsectarian organization that mobilized Muslim activists and professionals from various fields of social services. It has continued to serve the community for more than a decade through referrals, direct intervention, training programs, and outreach. Additionally, this organization was the first to recognize the issue of domestic violence within the Muslim community and take action to reduce the impact of violence in the family setting. Mrs. Syeed continues to be a consultant on domestic violence issues and cultural competency relating to the Muslim community throughout the nation.
Mrs. Rafia Syeed is the founding Chairperson of Bridging the Gap, Connecting the Faithful, an Indiana based organization that has been effectively involved in promoting interfaith understanding between followers of different faiths. The organization was established prior to the tragic events of 9-11, but its activities were widely appreciated in the post 9-11 environment. This group has organized seminars, conferences, dialogues in churches, synagogues, mosques and in educational and corporate institutions. With a board representing the true diversity of religions teaming with her for this cause, all different faiths have appreciated the impact of Bridging the Gap. She herself is a regular speaker on inter-religious dialogues at educational and religious institutions.
Mrs. Rafia Syeed is the mother of six, three sons and three daughters, who have inherited her commitment to activism in America. She has ten highly talented grand children from California to Washington DC.