Dr. Maher Hathout was a leading spokesperson for the American Muslim community and a retired physician best known for his tireless commitment to public service. He was an international figure who was highly regarded as a positive voice of Islam offering a unique and valuable perspective on national and international issues involving Muslims.
Among the numerous offices he held, Dr. Hathout was MPAC’s Senior Advisor. He was also a Charter Member of the Pacific Council on International Policy, the western partner of the Council on Foreign Relations, and sat on the Board of Directors of the Interfaith Alliance. Dr. Hathout had been invited to Capitol Hill and the State Department several times to address a variety of topics such as “Islam and U.S. Policy,” “Islamic Democracy,” “Emerging Trends in Islamic Movements,” and “the Future of the Middle East.” He traveled to Australia, Egypt, Kuwait, Malaysia, Pakistan, and South Africa to lecture on Islam and Muslims.
Dr. Hathout wrote extensively on Islam, human rights, democracy, Middle East politics, and Bosnia. His articles and interviews have appeared in such prominent newspapers as The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Christian Science Monitor. He appeared frequently on national television and radio talk shows.
Born in Cairo, Egypt in 1936, Hathout eventually moved to Buffalo, New York, and then to Los Angeles. He immersed himself in volunteering at the Islamic Center of Southern California (ICSC) as Chairman and Spokesperson. One of the most progressive mosques in the country – the ICSC had a woman on its board of directors in 1952 – the Islamic Center became a vehicle for a vision of Islam in America that is rooted in what Hathout called the definition of home: “Home is not where my grandparents are buried, but where my grandchildren will be raised.”
Hathout stressed throughout his life that being a faithful Muslim was entirely compatible with being a proud American, and that Islam is a religion of coexistence, reason and moderation.
He was also among the pioneers of interfaith engagement within the American Muslim community, helping found the Religious Coalition Against War in the Middle East with Rev. George Regas and Rabbi Leonard Beerman in 1991. Hathout was a charter member of the Pacific Council on International Policy, the western partner of the Council on Foreign Relations, and served on the Board of Directors of the Interfaith Alliance and Claremont Lincoln University.
Over the years, Hathout was invited repeatedly to Capitol Hill and the State Department to address a variety of topics, such as “Islam and U.S. Policy,” “Islamic Democracy,” “Emerging Trends in Islamic Movements,” and “The Future of the Middle East.” He was also the first Muslim invited to give the invocation prayer at the Democratic National Convention in 2000.
Hathout was the recipient of many awards, including the George Regas Courageous Peacemaker Award, the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California’s Lifetime Service Award, the South Coast Interfaith Council Award for his lifelong commitment to interfaith work and the Los Angeles County John Allen Buggs Award for excellence in human relations. He died of cancer in Duarte, California on January 3, 2015.