55 years ago the late Marghoob Quraishi and his wife, Renae “Iffat” Quraishi, founded Muslim Youth Camp in Northern California to help American Muslim children gain a sense of community and learn more about their faith. Today the next generation of Quraishi’s run the camp – the couple’s daughters.
The camp is immersed in American camp tradition — hiking, swimming, sports, s’mores — while also offering prayer and Islamic classes. “My father, he saw Islam as a force for good, equality, social justice and pursuing knowledge,” says daughter Amira Quraishi, who is also the Muslim chaplain at Wellesley College.
In 1960, there weren’t many mosques or Muslim clubs in North America so Mr. Quraishi founded an Islamic group at his college and eventually started Muslim Youth Camp with his wife. “[My father] saw that these were new Muslims in a new country and they needed to try to figure out how they were going to be Muslim in America,” says Amira. “The way my dad described it is that he just started walking and then after 20 years looked back and noticed people were coming with him. He just thought it was good for people to be together, and be able to pray together and have fun together.”
The camp has seen many future Muslim American leaders including Jihad Turk, who founded and heads Bayan Claremont Islamic Graduate School (the country’s first Islamic graduate seminary), and Shahed Amanullah, who was a senior adviser for technology at the U.S. State Department (and named one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre). This year Mr. Turk’s children will be continuing the tradition and are attending the camp.