Herndon, Virginia, USA 20172 [email protected]

About EPC

Development of skills in a positive environment through Essay, Speech, Extemporaneous Speech, Information Campaign, Multimedia & Poster competitions.  

Since 2002, The Mafiq Foundation has been organizing the annual Essay Panel Competition for elementary, middle, and high school students. Every year, an overall Islamic theme is selected for each age group. Typically, over 100 participants each year write essays within a word limit and orally present it in front of multiple judges and audience. 

Mafiq has also introduced poster and multimedia competitions within this category to encourage the use of modern technology in the Muslim youth. These activities have inspired intellectual abilities within the youth that is evident in their writing, speaking, and multimedia presentations. 

Collections of top ranked essays written by Grades 1 to 12 students are published regularly in a series of books titled Young Muslim Voices (YMV) in multiple volumes. YMV is a compilation of selected essays submitted at our annual EPC. YMV captures a unique snapshot of our youths’ thought process on topics of Islamic Interest and the historical collection in YMV could play a vital role in defining the roadmap for future generations.

Administration Team:

<Name, designation, contact, bio, pic>


2024 EPC Organizing Committee

Organizing Committee Chair: Danya Chowdhury

Virtual Event Director –

In-Person Event Director – Doha Nassar

Information Campaign Chair – Amirah Ahmad

Extemporaneous Speech Chair- Arsalan Siddiqui

Principal Advisor: Dr. Zahra Ahmed

Judging affairs Chair: Danya Chowdhury

Category Leads: 

Levels 1 + 2: Doha Nassar

Levels 3 + 4: Ayman Fatima

Levels 5 + 6: Amirah Ahmad 

A Brief Intro on Our Past and Present Respected Judges

Abdul Mukheeth (Past Category Lead) is a scientist and has judged EPC in the past.

Abu Syed Mahfuz is an author and published 5 books, including forthcoming book on Software Quality, Information Security and Audit, to be published by International Publisher Taylor & Francis Group. Information Technology Professional, Hewlett Packard Enterprise. He has Masters in Software Management, University of Detroit Mercy, Michigan and another Masters in Shariah Law from International Islamic University Malaysia. He is the editor and Publisher of Bangla Amar Newspaper for 10 years. 

Afaaf Amir Ahmad is a former EPC participant and a graduate in Islamic Jurisprudence from the International Islamic University of Malaysia. 

Ameenah Cowels is currently an English teacher at Al-Huda School, College Park, MD. She has been teaching at Al-Huda for the past three years. She is married; she has four daughters and one cat. Ameenah received her BA from Rowan University in English and Secondary Education. Prior to getting her degree, Ameenah spent 20 years in the United States Air Force as a Public Health Technician and she provided public health, communicable disease and food handling education. During her tour in England, Ameenah and her family reverted to Islam. 

Amirah Ahmad (EPC 2022 Category Lead) is a former EPC participant and hopes to encourage Muslim youth to develop the skills to become community leaders, thinkers, and reformers. She is a Master of Public Policy student at the University of Maryland and received a B.A. in Islamic Jurisprudence from the International Islamic University of Malaysia. 

Amreen Ahmed has recently relocated to Maryland. For me, this is an opportunity to get involved in my new community, and I hope to be able to contribute in the future, insha Allah. As a young Muslim, I see events like these as an opportunity to engage our youth, help their spiritual growth and keep them involved in the community. 

Anum Shami (EPC 2018 Category Lead) resides in MD. She is a mom of 3 (9 year old, 8 year old and 5 year old). Anum is a clinical pharmacist at University of Maryland, Medical Center. She is also the founder of Muslim Scouts of Maryland. The group aims to give back to the community through service activities and creates a safe and creative place for the young kids. 

Arsalan Siddiqui (EPC 2022 Emcee) is an undergraduate student at the University of Maryland in College Park where he is majoring in bioengineering. He is passionate about local and state advocacy and civic engagement and serves as the Chair of the Greenbelt Youth Advisory Council and is in the MAGLEV Task Force. Siddiqui is also the Vice President of Undergraduate Student Affairs at the University System of Maryland Student Council. In his free time, Siddiqui enjoys playing flag football and tennis as well as reading non-fiction books. 

Arif Kabir (EPC 2018 Category Lead) is a Product Manager at Deloitte Digital and is pursuing his Master’s in Human Computer Interaction at the University of Maryland. He has completed his Hifzh and studies Islamic sciences at AlMaghrib Institute with his family. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Muslim Youth Musings, an online literary magazine for youth. He has a passion for spreading literature and therefore would love to spread the work of EPC. 

Asim Ghafoor has over two decades of experience in advising public policymakers and clients on a variety of legal, political, and trade issues. He is a frequent speaker at seminars, conferences, and in the media on topics of law enforcement, international affairs, finance and politics. He has spoken at Harvard, the University of Virginia School of Law, and Chicago’s Kent College of Law. Previously, Mr. Ghafoor worked in the Texas House of Representatives, giving him great insight into the legislative and law-making process. From 1997 – 2000, 

Asim Ghafoor served as Legislative Assistant to Congressman Ciro D. Rodriguez (D-TX) and advised the Congressman on a variety of issues, including international affairs, banking, civil rights, transportation, armed services and veterans’ affairs. Mr. Ghafoor earned his JD from the University of Texas School of Law. He is married and has three children. 

Doha Nassar (2022 Category Lead) is a longtime EPC participant and supporter. She formerly competed in EPC during her elementary-high school years and returned as a judge post college. Currently, she teaches 2nd grade in Montgomery County. Aside from teaching the core subjects, she works to develop her students’ leadership and social skills so that they are prepared to be the advocates and leaders of tomorrow. 

Gibran Ali is a Software Engineer by profession. I graduated from the University of Maryland College Park in December ’12, majoring in Computer Science. I am also the program coordinator at the Youth Group at the Prince George’s Muslim Association. I believe that the EPC is a very powerful platform through which the youth can express themselves and learn the skills required to become leaders in the community. I will be judging the media competition at the EPC and will try my best to be as fair and reasonable as possible. 

Habibah Brown Taalibdin is an educator for the past 25 + years. I am honored to be able to serve the foundation in any capacity. Hasannah Ali (EPC 2018 Category Lead) is currently teaching 1st grade at Al-Huda School. I have my degree in Psychology and I’m pursuing a higher degree in Educational Psychology at UMBC. Having attended Al-Huda and a local homeschooling program, I participated in EPC several times and have even been a part of their panel discussion. 

Hasan Ahmed is a scientist and attorney by training. The ability to construct a compelling narrative is critical to communicating ideas. EPC is designed to challenge our youth to harness their language skills, critical thinking, and creativity and produce a work which inspires. The next generation of Muslims must inspire the world with their ideas so that the truth about Islam is known to all. I am honored to participate in this noble effort to prepare our youth for the monumental challenges they will face as they engage the world. 

Hena Zuberi is the Editor in Chief of Muslimmatters.org, an award winning web magazine. A community organizer for years, she resides in the Washington DC metro, with her husband and four children, where she is the staff reporter for the Muslim Link newspaper. Hena transitioned from television into print and social journalism after working as a TV news reporter and producer for CNBC Asia and World Television News (now Associated Press TV). Most recently, Hena’s work has been published in the Tree of Life – a resource book by CHAI Parenting Initiative, a nonprofit dedicated to mental health and wellness in the South Asian community. She was featured on American Public Media’s radio show, The Story, and has spoken at the Society of Professional Journalists Conference. Hena served as the Youth Director at the Unity Center in Southern California for ten years. She uses her experience with youth to conduct Growing Up with God workshops in communities around the country. 

Imam Ali Siddiqui teaches Islam, comparative religion, History of Islam and Muslims of Americas, contemporary issues to Muslims and non-Muslims at the institutions of higher learning as a Visiting Faculty including Sonoma State, Santa Rosa Community College, School of Religion (Claremont Graduate University), California Baptist University, Disciple of Christ Seminary, School of Theology (now Lincoln University), and La Verne University, and Open University Denver. He has been on many successful speaking tours to Belgium, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Iran, Pakistan, Spain, Switzerland, and across the USA. Ceremonies including Baccalaureate Lecture, University of LaVerne, La Verne, CA. 

Jawaad Khan is a writer and filmmaker out of South Florida, and currently serves as a Literary Editor for the online literary magazine Muslim Youth Musings. 

Kamran Anwar is a biological scientist working in the biotechnology industry. After obtaining his PhD from SUNY Downstate Medical Center, he and his family moved to Maryland for post-doctoral fellowship at the NIH. They currently reside in the DC suburbs of Maryland and are very excited to be a part of EPC.

Kashif M Munir (Past Chair and Category Lead) is Assistant Professor in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He currently sits on the boards of the Financial Independence Group of America, Al-Madina Foundation, and Dar al Islam. He also volunteers for WhyIslam/DC Chapter and reviews books for Fons Vitae publishing. He has been actively involved in various capacities with the EPC and Muslim Youth debate platforms for several years. He currently lives in Howard County with his wife and children. 

Kimberly Baqqi is a Biology graduate of Morgan State University and attended Drexel Medical College for post-graduate studies. She is actively involved within the community, including leading a Girl Scout Troop for Muslim girls for the past three years. Her main focus, however, is on homeschooling her three beautiful children and she is most passionate about children and education. She participated three years in a row as a judge for MIST and thoroughly enjoyed the process. She is grateful for the opportunity to positively influence, encourage, and empower our youth, both for MIST and inshaAllah for EPC in any way she can. 

Kulsoom Khan is a former public high-school & middle-school Social Studies teacher in both Baltimore County and DuPage County (Illinois). She is an advocate for the written word! Writing is a personal journey in which an individual thinks deeply, organizes, and expresses ideas in a thoughtful and powerful manner. Writing is not an easy task! She appreciates when young adults put forth extra thought and effort to produce a quality piece of work for forums like the EPC. As an American Muslim, she sees rhetoric as a powerful tool in helping promote understanding & respect amongst all walks of life in our country and abroad. The yearly EPC is a wonderful opportunity to practice and perfect the art of writing and speaking!

Mahfuz Rahman (EPC 2019 Event Chair) has been coaching/mentoring local youths in essay writing, reviewing and providing feedback on essays. He believes that EPC is a great platform that can significantly contribute to the development of writing skills for our youth. He has previously judged essays in EPC competitions and looks forward to seeing our youths succeed at the highest level in EPC! 

Maryam Ahmad (EPC 2019 Category Lead) had participated in MYDT as a participant for 5 years and worked with them closely. She has been a judge at the MYDT and judges coordinator. She is a Junior at Zaytuna College, a Liberal Arts College. 

Maryam Ishaq is a recent graduate from the University of Maryland with a bachelors in Biochemistry. She is currently in the process of applying for graduate school in pursuit of working in the healthcare field. 

Meryam is a student at UMUC majoring in English. She had never judged in a competition before, so it would be a new experience for her, one that she hopes to enjoy. 

Misba Samiya is a student at University of Maryland College Park. She has judged multimedia/poster sessions in the past. 

Musfika Hossain (EPC 2019 Category Lead) is currently an English teacher at Al-Huda School, College Park, MD. She earned her Master’s in Education in Secondary English from the University of Maryland. She has been involved in the Dar-us-Salaam community as a volunteer and teacher of Quranic studies for many years. 

Nadia Hasan, MBA (social entrepreneur, business planning strategist, government relations professional, non-profit and human resource management, public speaker, youth trainer and educator, media contributor, social justice advocate, daughter of US Marine, and a California girl from Orange County) Nadia is the founder and director of Young Leaders Institute, a youth leadership platform and network connector that empowers youth toward social entrepreneurship 

Nazea Khan is a senior at the University of Maryland, College Park. She was born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland. 

Nishath Fatima is a college student. I have offered my time to judge to help EPC grow and to encourage more and more people to enjoy EPC and learn more about Islam. 

Nishwath Samiya is currently a student at University of Maryland, College Park. She has been a part of EPC since middle school and believes it is an excellent platform for Muslim youth. 

Rehenuma Asmi is an Assistant Professor at Allegheny College in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies. She is also affiliated faculty with the Education and International Studies Programs. The EPC essay competition allows me to give back to the Muslim community and to learn about the issues of interest to Muslim youth today. Having youth engage with their faith in critical and analytical ways allows them to investigate and be aware of the richness of the Islamic tradition as well as its implications for modern day society. 

Ruqayyah Khan (EPC 2018 Category Lead) is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree at George Washington University. 

Shadia Nahar is a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology student at UMBC. She participated in various Mafiq competitions like EPC and MYDT and was recently judged for their annual debate competition. She is also a published author with works that primarily focus on the stigma surrounding American Muslims, and hopes that young Muslims are influenced by these various programs as she was when she was younger.

 Safiyyah Fatima has been working with youth in the education sector since she was 12. Tutoring, and conducting online reading outreach programs for local non-profit organizations is her specialty. She is also passionate about writing; publishing a WWII veteran’s memoir at 19 years old. 

Safiyyah Ghori is a recent graduate from the University of Maryland with a degree in English and Psychology. She has participated in past EPC competitions as a competitor, and she is very excited to contribute as a judge. 

Saira Sufi (Chair, Judges Panel and Middle School Category Lead) has over 10 years of professional experience in the event management field. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Kansas and has her Event Management Certificate from George Washington University and is currently pursuing her Certified Meeting Planner designation. Shehas an extensive background in political, nonprofit and government event coordination. Prior to joining Booz Allen Hamilton, Ms. Sufi worked for the Presidential Inauguration Committee as well as the Obama Presidential Campaign. Before joining the campaign, Ms. Sufi worked as the Director of Events for the Center for Social Leadership, focusing on improving the operations of non-profit organizations. Saira offered her time to judge EPC submissions because she feels it is important for Muslim youth to grow spiritually through educational forums. She hopes this will be a learning experience for all involved, particularly in regards to how the Muslim Ummah can be strengthened. 

Sakinah Ishaq is a Public Health graduate from the University of Maryland and she is currently working at a doctors office as a healthcare administrator. She is currently in the pursuit of furthering her education through graduate school. 

Prof. M. Saleet Jafri is currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at George Mason University. He has published over 40 peer reviewed journal articles. He holds affiliate appointments at the Center for Biomedical Engineering and Technology at the University of Maryland Baltimore. He received his BS in mathematics from Duke University, a MS in mathematics from the Courant Institute of Mathematical Science at New York University, and a PhD in Biomathematical Sciences from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine/City University of New York. 

Sarah Arafat is a senior at Notre Dame of Maryland University majoring in biology to pursue a career in dentistry. She participated in EPC as a contestant for nine consecutive years and plans to stay involved with EPC for years to come inshaAllah. In addition to being a full- time student, she is the president of her university’s Muslim Student Association and Biology Honor Society and also serves as a private Qur’an tutor for children in the Baltimore area. She values diversity, cultural competency, the concept of global citizenship and believes we can all contribute to improving society today. 

Shadia Nahar first participated in MYDT in 2013 as a middle schooler and continued all the way to high school. Since graduating, she has helped judge in practice debates and in the MYDT 2020 virtual debate for middle and high schoolers. Currently, she is studying Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at University of Maryland, Baltimore County and is a published author. 

Soha Hassan. Currently a second year Master of Public Health student with a concentration in global health design monitoring and evaluation. She is also currently working as a healthcare consultant at Booz Allen supporting a cdc project. 

Sumaiyah Khan works as a Literary Editor for Muslim Youth Musings. I wanted to get involved with judging EPC because I used to participate in this competition when I was younger, and I have a lot of good memories associated with it. My friends and I gained a lot from our time with EPC, and I think it’s important and beneficial for students to practice exploring their thoughts and challenging themselves through writing. EPC provides a good and welcome opportunity for them to practice their skills and improve themselves. 

Susan Jenkins (Past Category Lead) works as a Social Science analyst with the US Department of Health and Human Services and has a PhD in Psychology from the University of Michigan. She has served as an EPC judge for almost 10 years and also serves our youth as a Girls Scout leader with Troop 223 through the Islamic Society of Baltimore. 

Tasmeea Noor started her career as an architect, and then switched to Information Technology in the mid-1990s. As time permits, she utilizes her technology background for Allah’s work. During her student life in Bangladesh, she was an occasional writer for local newspapers. She enjoys active engagement that leads to spiritual growth. She lives in Maryland and is the mother of two daughters. 

Tayaabah Qazi is an educator and a mother of two teenagers, Alhamdullilah. After graduating from UCLA in Neuroscience, she joined the teaching profession and acquired a Teaching Certification in Chemistry and a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership. In addition to teaching, she has also played an integral role as a Vice Principal at a Islamic School for three years and as an Educational Program Developer for a year. Currently, she is engaged in homeschooling and providing educational support to homeschooling families by various means, in the Baltimore County Area. 

Wasif Sikder is a computer engineering student at UMD College Park and was asked to help out with judging. Would love to help! 

Yasir Diab is a patent examiner for the USPTO. I am an avid reader and I am honored to be a part of an initiative that encourages our youth to fine-tune their writing skills and expand their horizons by maintaining a consistent and persistent curious nature. This is my second time judging EPC essays and I hope to be available for any service that is required of me.

Yumna Rahman is currently a third-year Computer Science student at the University of Virginia with a concentration in Creative Writing and Women, Gender, and Sexuality. She has been a participant in EPC since she was twelve and was happy to continue contributing to EPC as a judge last year. Additionally, MAFIQ and EPC hold a very dear place in her heart as she has fond memories of participating in the competition ever since the third grade. She always enjoys reading the thoughts of growing writers and speakers, so she looks forward to this opportunity. 

Zahra Ahmed (EPC Organizing Committee Chair and ) is a Family Practitioner practicing at DUS Family Medical Practice in Greenbelt, MD. I became a member of the EPC Committee in 2005 after my eldest daughter participated in the essay competition for the first time. I instantly appreciated such a forum for our youth to be able to express themselves through writing and speech on various topics addressing who they are as Muslims living in America. Our future as Muslims in the West is becoming more and more uncertain. Therefore, I would like to see a panel such as this get to a national level where the voices of our youth can be heard all across the nation, insha Allah. 

Zahra Aligabi (EPC 2019 Category Lead) is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree at University of Maryland. 

Zaakira Ahmed (EPC 2021 Category Lead) is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree at University of Maryland. 

Zaafira Elham (EPC 2022 Category Lead) received her undergraduate degree in Bioengineering from University of Maryland at CP and she has been a regular contributor in many of the DMV area youth programs and events.