Rashid Ahmad has already left a lasting mark on Sacramento.

The American Muslim from Pakistan was a co-founder of the Council of American-Islamic Relations’ Sacramento Valley office, which opened in 2002.

He graduated with two master’s degrees – one in science and one in engineering – from UC Davis in the early 1970s and spent many of the following years working in key positions for state of California water departments.

Ahmad served on the board of Shifa Community Clinic of Sacramento since its inception in the 1990s until 2010. The clinic offers accessible health care to the community and is now run through a partnership between the clinic, the UC Davis School of Medicine and the Muslim Mosque Association (MMA). Ahmad is a past president of the MMA.

He was also on the board of directors of the Capital Unity Council of Sacramento, an organization formed in 1999 in response to a series of hate crimes in the region.

And that’s just a piece of his impressive résumé.

A Well-Deserved Honor

On June 18, 2018, Ahmad was recognized for his significant contributions to the Sacramento-area community when he was awarded the prestigious Key to Sacramento. The honor is remarkable in its own right, but even more so as he is one of the few – if not the only – American Muslims to receive the distinction in our city.

Photo by Ras Siddiqui

Ahmad said the honor, awarded by Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, came as a shock.

“This whole event was to honor our charitable service organizations,” Ahmad said. “They are the heroes.”

Ahmad was helping in the background during the ceremony to recognize local service groups.

“‘I have a surprise,'”  Ahmad recalls the mayor saying. “‘You thought you were going to get out of it without anything?'”

Steinberg then presented him with the key.

Ahmad received another surprise when he read the card that came with his award, which said:

“Please hold this key as a reminder that our doors are always open to our Muslim Community.”

The message filled his heart with joy and hope.

The Future

How does one build upon such a legacy?

By continuing to enrich the lives of his fellow Sacramentans – and those worldwide.

He hopes to put much of his effort into growing his group Resources for Education and Community Health (REACH).

Through REACH, Ahmad hopes to help more children receive a fulfilling education and reach college, including funding scholarships, SAT and other school-related training, and financial and college counseling.

The program would help level the playing field for those in poverty, according to Ahmad.

And the program would help those in our community, along with those across the globe.

Ahmad used his native Pakistan as an example of the need for such a program.

“There’s a Pakistan education crisis,” Ahmad said. “Many kids forgo school due to poverty and being forced to work.”

Both here and abroad, people “drift toward crime out of desperation,” Ahmad said.

REACH could help “save them by giving them education, (which leads to) hard work, desire and ambition – not hopelessness,” he said.

He has already helped sponsor several students’ education.

Ultimately, sponsoring one person can help lift a family out of poverty and dependency, Ahmad said.

“The whole family was transformed,” he said. “The family becomes a donor for causes instead of needing money.

“I dream that one day I can have 1,000 children go through this program.”

Looking back on his achievements, we have no doubt that he’ll achieve this goal – and anything else he sets his mind to.

CONTACT: CAIR-SV Communications Manager Kalin Kipling-Mojaddedi, 916-441-6269, kkipling@cair.com