Who is Ta’leef Collective?


Ta’leef Collective provides the space, content and companionship necessary for a healthy understanding, embrace and realization of Islam.

Recently I was speaking with my close friend and Ta'leef founder Usama Canon about the work we do at Ta'leef Collective. Those who've read my story on how I converted know that Usama is the reason I became Muslim and I am also the reason that he became Muslim... we are like brothers (me being the older, wiser, stronger, handsomer, humbler brother of course) and although our journeys have taken us down different paths... we've always shared similar goals and have unconditionally supported one another in our respective fields.

We realize that many people haven't actually visited the Ta'Leef Collective facilities and thus might not really have a complete grasp as to who we are and/or what we do. As co-founders of the organization our offices are right down the hall from each other. Shaykh Yahya Rhodus has his office nestled right in between the two of us (to keep us from strangling each other) and we all meet on a daily basis.   The three of us converted around the same time in 1996 (we knew each other before our conversion) and started our journey in Islam together. We were full-time students of Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and then studied with Mauritanian scholar and sage Shaykh Khatri before leaving the states to further our studies.  Shaykh Yahya and I travelled together to Mauritania, Syria and Yemen while Usama's studies took him to Morocco, Egypt and the blessed city of Madinah. Usama returned from his studies first and really set the foundation for all of our future work by running Zaytuna Outreach (under direct tutelage of Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and Imam Zaid Shakir) which then became Zawiya which were building blocks for the creation of Ta'leef Collective. Ta'leef is the result of nearly 10 years of work that Usama Canon put in under the direction of his teachers.

Ta'leef is truly a "collective", not just in terms of the diversity of our friends and family that come through every week, but also in terms of who works here. In conjunction with the work I do at Ta'leef I also have the Mustafa Davis Inc media studio in the building with my production team tirelessly working on any number of projects.  Usama runs the innovative company Oudimentary with his business partner and Ta'leef projects coordinator Micah Anderson and their brilliant store is located right at the entrance of the facility.

The large main hall (300 person capacity) is decorated with Islamic calligraphy, and is where we perform prayer, hold our classes, Dhikr/Nasheed gatherings, events, etc.  You'll find books on Islam, spirituality, Hadith, Diwan, Litanies, Quran's in English and Spanish on the bookshelves, etc. Most of the time this is our quiet, reflective, meditative space. However we've also had master classes with world renowned calligrapher Hajji Noor Deen, seminars by Dr Umar Faruq Abdullah, workshops with Dr. Sherman Jackson, lectures by Al Habib Umar bin Hafiz, talks by Imam Zaid Shakir (who is also chairman of the Ta'leef Collective board), dhikr with Shareef Moulay al Hassan, film screenings, and many teachers, artists, and beautiful people have blessed the space with their presence and light.

Right outside the door of the main hall you enter into the warehouse and find a huge wall covered entirely in graffiti from the amazing artist EL SEED from Montreal, Canada. Here you may find Professional skateboarder Jordan Richter practicing tricks on his skateboard, HBO Def Poet Amir Sulaiman shooting a music video, Eugene Ditona and Adisa Banjoko teaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Khadija O'connel decorating for an event, children wrestling each other on the carpet, or just  people hanging out.

The conference room may be filled with a team of volunteers discussing the next event or a business meeting with any one of the different businesses that occupy the space.  It could be a meeting discussing the Speaking Arabic class and how the students are doing or brainstorming session about the next art exhibition we're planning.  What I'm getting at, is there is diversity in just about everything we do at Ta'leef Collective but still the greatest diversity is in our friends and family that attend our weekly events.

It is a space where all are welcome, Muslim and non-Muslim.  A place to get legal advice from Marwa El Zankaly, business advice from Syed Mubeen Saifullah or financial advice from Sayed Zeeshan Qasim (Ta'leef Board members). A place where you can meet like minded people, share stories, get answers to questions from our scholars like Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, Usama Canon, Murabit Benevidez, Shaykh Abdullah Ali or any number of visiting teachers.  A place where folks come just to talk. A place to just get away from the insane pace of the world and just slow down and reflect.  A place to be creative. A  place to study. A place to learn. A place to see friends and family or benefit from our workshops, classes and events. Its a "collective" of minds, body and spirit. A place where we all strive together (at our own pace) to be better mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, students, teachers, leaders, followers, sons, daughters, friends, etc.  (And if you were to ask any of the volunteers what Ta'leef is, they may have a different answer based on their own experience. Regardless of how they view it through their own lens, they remain dedicated to the same cause. Thats the true meaning of a collective.

If you've been to Ta'leef for a class, workshop, event, or just to stop by and hang out, we'd love to hear about your experience.  If you haven't had a chance to visit the facilities yet, we'd love to hear what you'd like to know about the Collective and what types of things we can do to help bring the family experience to you.  We are working diligently on a number of media projects that I think you'll be excited about (I might be slightly biased because I'm doing them).  The latest TA'LEEF FILES film is in post production (editing) and should be completed very soon.  We will have an official screening at the facility with a panel discussion with the film subject Jordan Richter, Usama Canon and myself.  (I'll be posting the film trailer in the coming days). (POST SCRIPT: This was about the film, Wayward Son - The Jordan Richter Story, that we screened at Ta'leef a couple months ago.  The film will be out for the public soon).

If you have questions about Ta'leef Collective or would just like to stop by and say hello and have a cup of organic french press coffee or Moroccan green tea, contact us and let us know when you'd like to come by (to make sure that we are around since a lot of our work takes us offsite)... we'd love to meet with you.


Peace & Prayers



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Brian & Mary Holiman

Brian & Mary Holiman

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