• Naisha Chowdhury and Yasmeen Mannan

Founders' Series: Excellence in Education with Islam

Imagine a scene. The year is 1994. Brazil just won the World Cup, The Lion King was just released, and the Muslim population in Memphis is blossoming. Life is good in the small Tennessee city.


In a small building on 1065 Stratford Road, a group of men have gathered together to discuss their ideas and hopes for the future of the Muslim community in Memphis. Dr. Mohammad Ayub Ayubi, Dr. Ibrahim F. Benter, Dr. Mubarack Muthalif, Dr. Mounir Shazly, and Dr. Muhammad K. Zaman have come together to talk about the possibility of a full time Islamic school in Memphis.


Little did they know, this meeting would forever change the legacy of Islam in Memphis.


Flash forward almost three years later. The Pleasant View School building had completed construction. Just three years earlier, the name “Pleasant View School” meant nothing to anyone. But now, it was a budding institution to raise, nurture, and advance the present and future of the Muslim youth of Memphis.


With the construction completed, the founders faced a new challenge: finding a suitable staff population. “That process was very challenging as the city of Memphis did not have the teaching resources we needed,” explained Dr. Zaman, one of the founders. “Most of the established people and younger generations were in technology fields and were physicians, professors, as well as business people.” Yet, the founders were determined to overcome this barrier and expanded their search for staff members to outside Memphis in order to find the best core administrative and teaching faculty.


Meanwhile, it was of the utmost importance that the founders continued their advertising efforts to attract families with young children to the school. While the primary pool of students already attended the Masjid Al-Salam Sunday school and eventually transferred to Pleasant View School, the founders worked tirelessly day and night to pull in more students. Without modern technology to assist the founders in their advertising efforts, “the masjid was the most, or really only, source of communicating to the community,” Zaman explained. “We would stand up after Khutba and speak loudly with emphasis on allowing children to be in Islamic school... That was very well received.” Plus, the directory of Muslims in Memphis that was established prior to the envisionment of the school project was extremely helpful in providing information such as the number of Muslim families; names, ages, and genders of individual family members; and their zip codes.


Weeks, months, and years passed by, and the Pleasant View School community continued to grow and flourish. Now, there was a strong teaching base, a secure student population, and continued gracious support from the community. Dr. Zaman said, “The original structure was the nucleus for community participation and support when young parents saw their children coming and learning Islamic morals, manners, and were able to recite verses from the Quran, memorize all the adhkar associated with daily activities. The support continued to grow and the support base continued to widen.” Pleasant View School was the haven and family away from home parents in Memphis had always been looking for. Parents watched their young children become confident and educated Muslims. But they were concerned about what they would do when their children would grow up. Pleasant View School was only open through elementary school and eventually middle school. There was no high school for the longest time.


Flash forward over two decades later. PVS students are well-known in Memphis. The school was recently named as one of the top five best private schools in the greater Memphis area. PVS high school students are among the first in the city to be part of leadership organizations, win prestigious awards and honors, and represent the city of Memphis and the state of Tennessee both nationally and internationally. Since the first graduating class in 2016, PVS graduates have been accepted into and attended many distinguished universities. They have embodied and spread the values of Islam all across the country. PVS students make change and set trends. As the institution grows and flourishes, it will continue to raise and nurture the coming generations of scholars with a strong Islamic identity, leadership, and academic excellence who make a positive contribution to the global community.


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