Meet Omar Abdul Karim, Executive Director

My name is Imam Omar Abdul Karim, and I believe in empowering human life through the pursuit of faith and good works. I am the Executive Director of the nonprofit Ephraim Bahar Cultural Center (EBCC), and the journey to that achievement has been rewarding.

Between 1979 and 1982, I attended Loop Junior College, which is based in Chicago and after that, I attended Western Illinois University, majoring in computer science. I started my own successful painting company between 1987 and 1991, but after five years, I gave up my business and pursued employment with Argonne National Laboratory.

However, it wasn’t until 1992 that I was inspired to pursue my real desire and purpose, which was to become a Muslim community activist servicing the spiritual needs of the Muslim community and the social needs of the community I reside in.

During that time, I was introduced to Masjid Al Mu’minun, where I developed in Islamic studies under the guidance of the esteemed Imam Sultan Salahuddin. I became a supporter as well as a student of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, a Muslim community leader.

After becoming an active member of Masjid Al Mu’minun, I started to volunteer. Over time, I became a student teacher of Islamic studies and the Da’wah Coordinator, where I was tasked as a community organizer to help establish our first social justice parade called the “walk for moral excellence” in 1993.

Additionally, I also worked at the Cook County jails, serving as a prison Imam, where I worked to inspire men to see life differently. There, I learned more about the human condition than in all my years combined.

Within a few years, I became president of the board at Masjid Al Mu’minun, and a little time after that, I was made assistant to Imam Sultan A Salahuddin for more than two decades. I also created an Islamic television program called “A New Mind," which aired on Access Television to promote Imam Warith Deen Mohammed’s message on Islamic issues and address social issues from an Islamic perspective.

In 2013, I was elected director of The Ephraim Bahar Cultural Center (EBCC), which became the new name and location of Masjid Al Mu’minun. I am responsible for raising funds for the organization and program’s developments.

Today, I am proud to say our latest program that the organization has is an investment education program which was created to help educate people in financial literacy and how to build wealth through investing in the stock market. Besides working as the director of EBCC, I also do collaborative work with other nonprofit organizations including:

  • S.W.O.P. (Southwest Organizing Project)
  • C.I.O.G.C (Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago)
  • The Chicago and Shura Council
  • Masjid Al-Taqwa
  • The Midwest
  • National Imams Council
  • IMAN (Inner City Muslim Action Network)
  • The Marquette Community Homeowner Association

As a practicing Muslim and a dedicated professional, my future aim is to create programs through the EBCC that can motivate and inspire future generations. This includes the establishment of not only classes for Islamic Studies but a holistic curriculum that also covers science, technology, leadership development, and business development, all of which can come together for the betterment of the community at large.