301. MH Exclusive: Shannaan Dawda


An Atlanta Native, Shannan Dawda is the CEO, Financial Coach and Founder of True Financial, a company dedicated to helping educate and train individuals how to build productive and positive financial habits.

MH: Can you tell us a little about your background and what got you into financial coaching?

SD: I was born in Atlanta, GA and grew up in Lithonia, GA, which is a city about 25 minutes East of Atlanta. My parents are originally from Accra, Ghana. Their story is phenomenal how they came to America with one suit case each and have made it this far, Masha’Allah. As a kid math was my favorite subject. I also liked the idea of business and all the aspects associated with it especially after seeing my Father be a successful business man. When I was child I witnessed a bankruptcy or two and promised to never put me or my family through that. I guess it stuck with me because when I attended Georgia Southern University I obtained a Finance Degree then decided to stay and complete an Accounting Degree as well to obtain a solid foundation of financial world. After graduating college in 2009 I went into the workforce as any individual would but it wasn’t until I went through my own financial empowerment process myself of cleaning up my finances did I realize that there was something here that I could share with people as I looked around at all the financial turmoil going on in our country. Alhumdulilah in 2013 I passed the CPA exam and the dream became a reality in matter of no time. It was as if it was my destiny for me to help people gain control of their finances because things just started falling into place quicker than I expected. Alhumdulilah today we have True Financial.

MH: Why is personal finance so important?

Personal Finance is so important because it is the one area people spend the least amount of time on but everything we do revolves around it. Well managed personal finance is the one thing that can give you true freedom allowing you to do things you never done before and capitalize on opportunities that you would have never been ready for. It makes life much easier and a lot less stressful. Studies have shown the individuals and couples who are in control of their finances tend to have much better relationships with people and better marriages. So it is very important that we understand how to win financially by equipping ourselves with financial information and philosophy that is guaranteed to win.

MH: Many people don’t know the basics of personal finance and get caught up in credit card debt, loans, and other financial burdens that end up in accruing enormous amounts of debt. What advice would you give for individuals seeking to educate themselves about the basics of personal finance?

I would recommend that they begin to seek help but not just any help but the kind of help where someone will educate them while guiding them down the right path to attain their goals. The area of personal finance can appear very complex due to all the products and messages being portrayed to the people. At True Financial that we not only coach our clients but educate them to make well informed decisions.

MH: Many Muslims struggle with the issue of interest and loans when purchasing homes, cars, and other products. What advice would you give Muslim college students to learn more about interest, interest rates, and loans?

Honestly I do not believe in debt so I would advise that they stay away from it and pay cash for all purchases. Debt cripples individuals and families by taking portions of their most powerful wealth building tool, their income, which could have been invested to build great wealth. If one has no debt than interest is not even an issue. However, I know home buying is very expensive in America so it’s the only instance that I consider debt to be okay. Even then I recommend a 15 year mortgage and paying of the house as soon as possible, ideally in less than 8-10 years.  I would recommend that they do a lot research on the Sharia’h compliant options that exist for Muslims. There are quite a few halal options these days when seeking to purchase a home than in the past.
MH: With the rising rates of college tuition many students are unsure how to fund their undergraduate education and graduate school education. What advice would you give to Muslim college students on ways to fund their undergraduate and graduate education?  

Ideally in this instance we encourage parents to start saving for their child’s college educations as soon as the child was born by putting away an calculated amount every month to reach desired college fund amount. Unfortunately this is not the case for most so I recommend three things. 1) Apply for in-state schools possibly even attending a community college for the first two years. It’s a lot cheaper and saves you thousands. 2) Apply to a lot of scholarships, I’m talking hundreds. There was a woman who applied to 1000 scholarships and only received 10 but she went to college fully paid for by those 10 scholarships. 3) Work while they are in college. Studies show that students who work while in college are more likely to graduate on time and perform better in the workforce than those who do not because they learn time management. Plus it puts extra money in their pockets

MH: What tips would you give to Muslim college students on how to save money during their undergraduate education?  

I would recommend that they eat self-cooked meals (cheaper and better for you), compare on campus to off-campus living cost, If they live off campus share a parking pass with someone who has classes on alternate days, work while in college, and buy used books online.
MH: What tips would you give Muslim college students who have college loans and debt to pay off to ensure they pay off their loans and debts in an efficient and timely manner?

I would recommend when they graduate and secure a job to stay accustom to the broke college student life and get on a detailed budget. Live on the bare minimums and attack that student loan debt with any income they have remaining after necessary living expenses. As hard as it is for many to move back home I highly recommend living at home with the parents though this process. It’s the only way to effectively eliminate you student loan debt quickly other than an employer paying the balance off or the joining the military.
MH: Are there ways Muslim college students can learn how to invest their money and make money while studying in college?

I don’t encourage students to get caught up trying to invest while in school. I want them to stay focused and to keep that money around to ensure they have enough money to finish school. The fact that they are looking to invest shows they are, I hope, debt free, and in a much better position financially than the average student. Now there are exceptions when a student has a come into a large amount of money, but they can contact me personally to discuss those instances.

MH: What resources are available to teach Muslim college students about the basics of personal finance, loans, investments and budgeting money?

At the end of the day it’s all about research, seeking a Financial Coach and being willing to think outside the box financial. 9 times out of 10 if you are handling your money differently than most people in around you then you are more than likely going to succeed because “Normal in America is broke.” Seek good financial coaches who are looking to teach you about finance. Stay away for those who are in it to sell you products because they are not worried about your wellbeing even if they say they are. They are just trying to make a sale.

MH: Where can people learn more about your work?

People can learn more about my work at http://www.truefinancialcoaches .com

300. Naushad Virji (CEO, ShariaPortfolio)


Naushad Virji was born in Italy in 1971 and has lived in Florida since 1975.  Naushad earned a degree in business administration from the University of Florida and then went on to successfully complete his series 65 NASD examination to become a registered investment advisor representative.  Based in our Orlando area office, Naushad is the CEO of Virji Investments, Inc.

With an interest in activism and community service, Naushad is a board member of Mercy-USA, a Michigan based non-profit dedicated to alleviating human suffering and supporting individuals and their communities to become more self-sufficient.  Naushad is also on the board of Advance Law, a Washington, DC based legal consulting firm that works with some of the largest companies in the world to help them retain quality law firms that have been carefully vetted to provide superior value.

Living in Longwood, Florida, Naushad is happily married with three children.  His personal interests include golf, tennis and spending leisure time with his family.

Website: http://www.shariaportfolio.com/


283. Ehab Sadeek (Bagel Shop Owner, Boston)



Ehab Sadeek, an Egyptian Muslim American decided to give 100-percent of the profits from his retail bagel business to the One Fund Boston, will keep it up until the last victim of the Boston Marathon bombing (that occurred April 15, 2013) is out of the hospital.


276. Wafa Al-Rimi (CEO, Creative Generation)

Wafa Al-Rimi is a 16 year old Yemeni student who created her own business which creates solar-powered appliances. Her products are sold to hotels and government offices.



274. NuqtaARTS (Mobile Arts Organization)

NuqtaARTS provides mobile art classes to people of all ages. It is based in the Washington DC metropolitan area and is available to travel to your local community center. NuqtaARTS offers four courses covering water marbling, muqarnas, geometric design and latch hooking. All of these methods have been employed throughout history by various societies to convey beauty and meaning in their artistic creations.

​In Arabic calligraphy the nuqta (pronounced like Barnes and Noble’s “nook”-ta) or dot is the smallest unit of measure. It is the building block upon which whole scripts were developed. NuqtaARTS hopes to provide the building blocks for its students’ artistic creations.

To learn more about their work “like” them on Facebook or follow them on twitter @NuqtaARTS. You can also follow them on Instagram @NuqtaARTS.



269. Basel Almisshal (Founder and Creative Director,StudioBasel for Creative Solutions)

Basel Almisshal has a wide range of experience in the fields of urban development, post- war reconstruction & conflict resolution and project management gained through research, field work and teaching in the UK, the Middle East and former Yugoslavia. Basel’s entrepreneurial background makes him an expert in combining branding and marketing with creative design for outstanding results.

Basel Almisshal is also a practicing architect with expertise in conceptual design and management of residential, hospitality and commercial design projects. In his architecture, Almisshal exhibits a harmonious balance of intricately detailed forms, spaces, and elements, and reveals a true connection to the relevant physical environments that house the building projects. Almisshal strives to create spaces that have a strong sense of identity while maintaining artistic beauty, environmental friendliness and economic stability.

Basel has a BSc in Architecture from IUG in Palestine and has completed his Masters & PhD research at the University of York in the United Kingdom and intensive training in project managment, photography production & CG softwares.

Basel is also the Founder and organizer of the “Capture the Spirit of Ramadan” International Photography Competition™, (www.capturethespiritoframadan.org) a unique and unprecedented 30-day visual celebration that aims to educate and enlighten thousands of viewers around the world about the holy month of Ramadan. Basel wanted to create a platform for talented photographers to share their creativity with the world while delivering a cross-cultural and inter-faith message that captures the spirit of Ramadan through their own lenses.

In its first year, the IRPC attracted over 25,000 photographers and photography enthusiasts worldwide with over 1000 unique photo entries from forty countries.A book has been published as a tribute to this achievement and to the photographers that took part in this initiative. It is a one of a kind addition to photography book titles and the first and only photography publication solely dedicated to “Ramadan” around the world. Each photo is a visual statement of its own and when put together tell a wonderful story about Ramadan around the world.





And more as found in the NEWS section of the www.capturethespiritoframadan.org website.


258. Frank Shabazz (C.E.O., Shabazz Fruit Cola Company)

Frank Shabazz was born and raised in Houston, TX and he moved to Newark, NJ in the late 40’s. He completed some courses at Rutgers University and he worked for General Motors for a few years then he got into the soda business. He worked for Vigor Beverages and then A & J Jamaican Ginger Beer Company. This is the place Shabazz learned how to make soda as taught to him by his mentor Alfred James. All around the same time Shabazz became the 6th person to join the N.O.I. in Newark, NJ.

Through the many teachings of Elijah Muhammad Shabazz was taught about the name “Shabazz” and to “do for self” and with Allah’s guidance Shabazz started his own brand, Shabazz Fruit Cola company. As the N.O.I. grew in numbers and popularity, my father’s business grew at the same rate. Shabazz became an international hero being one of the first African Americans to produce his own beverage company in America. He became an inspiration to all people that you can actually “do for self” and have the “American Dream”.

In 1974 Elijah Muhammad died and his son Wallace Muhammad took over the N.O.I. . Wallace destroyed the N.O.I. and began to teach African Americans true Islam dealing with the Qur’an and the Sunnah of Muhammad (SAW) and after some time Allah (SWT) guided Shabazz to accept Islam as his way of life. Shabazz has been an outstanding member of the Muslim Community in Newark, NJ supporting, helping, and contributing to the Ummah.



252. Sulaiman Al Rajhi (Philanthropist, Saudi Arabia)

Saudi Arabia’s rags-to-riches billionaire Sulaiman Al-Rajhi is also a world-renowned philanthropist. He is the founder of Al-Rajhi Bank, the largest Islamic bank in the world, and one of the largest companies in Saudi Arabia. As of 2011, his wealth was estimated by Forbes to be $7.7 billion, making him the 120th richest person in the world. His flagship SAAR Foundation is a leading charity organization in the Kingdom. The Al-Rajhi family is considered as one of the Kingdom’s wealthiest non-royals and among the world’s leading philanthropists.




243. Dr. Hayat Sindi (Science Entrepreneur, Saudi Arabia)

Dr. Hayat Sindi is a Saudi medical researcher who was born in Makka, Saudi Arabia. She has invented a machine combining the effects of light and ultra-sound for use in biotechnology. Her major project is being carried out in partnership with the universities of Exeter and Cambridge.





239. Dr. Emad Rahim (Professor, Walden University)

Dr. Rahim is a professor at Walden University in Minneapolis, MN, teaching in the Doctorate of Business Administration degree program.  “He is a dynamic manager with a talent for assessing business challenges and leading a plan to resolution.” Dr. Rahim has a strong commitment to the community and to the development of new managers through university teaching and mentoring.  He teaches management from a framework of respect for diversity, gender equality and ethics.

Dr. Rahim is attributed with developing several innovative outreach programs which lead underserved students to become involved in management degree programs.  A Certified Manager since 2008, Dr. Rahim most recently volunteered to mentor a fellow CM in Ethiopia.  He holds a doctorate of management in organizational behavior and graduate degrees in project management and business management.

In addition, Dr. Rahim was the recipient of the 2010 Entrepreneurship Teaching Excellence Award from the Experiential Classroom XI program.

He is also a survivor of the Cambodian Killing Fields and his story is told in the documentary “Against All Odds.”