IMAM ASKIA MUHAMMAD AQUIL
Askia Muhammad Aquil is a native of St. Petersburg where he attended public schools, St. Petersburg Junior College, and 130-year-old historic Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. He has been a political activist, social reformer, religious leader and community builder since the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, a life-altering event that occurred while he was still in college at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Among other enduring achievements, his efforts in 1969-70 led to the formation of the first Black Studies Program at a Florida college or university.
Imam Aquil began serious study of the Islamic faith in 1968 and began attending Temple # 47 of the Nation of Islam in 1969 in Tampa. He made his shahadatain in 1971 and became a student minister/Imam in 1977 under the leadership of Imam Karim Muhammad Abdullah (formerly Minister Kenneth X.) He has led mosques and Islamic centers in Tampa and St. Petersburg. He served for several years as the Southern Region Convener for mosques and Islamic centers in five states associated with the ministry of Imam W. Deen Mohammed. He served in other roles including Prison Services Coordinator and Public Information Officer for the local masjid. In 1980, he organized a food-buying coop that had over 40 families enrolled at its peak.
Imam Aquil’s interfaith activities span 40 years, highlighted by his service as Secretary for the Hillsborough Association of Religious Leaders (HARL), service on the Board of Directors of Congregations United for Community Action (CUCA) in St. Petersburg and service on the Board of Directors of the National Conference for Community and Justice (now Community Tampa Bay). He is a former member of the St. Petersburg Interfaith Association, the Pinellas County Urban League, the St. Petersburg chapter of the NAACP and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.
In March 2015, Imam Aquil was selected to serve as Chair of the Founding Board of Directors of the Collective Empowerment Group of the Tampa Bay Area (CEGTBA), the newest chapter of the historic national Collective Empowerment Group movement founded over 20 years ago by a group of African American pastors based in Maryland. The purpose of the CEG movement is to educate and mobilizepredominantly African American congregations, professionals, business owners and entrepreneurs, and nonprofit organizations to build, buy and bank collectively to meet our own needs and fulfill our own hopes and dreams.
He is Chaplain of the St. Petersburg branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (commonly known as ASALH). He is President of nonprofit Dog Tag Heroes, Inc. and runs and its Bay Area Regional Veterans Network (BARVN). He is former President of the Muslim American Criminal Justice Association, Inc. (MACJA) which he co-founded.
Imam Aquil presently works as a consultant on the Isaiah Project Team that is redeveloping a 10,000 SF historic building in St. Petersburg and repurposing it to provide 20 permanent transitional housing beds with wraparound services for females released from the Florida correctional system. He served on the Board of Directors of a nonprofit real estate development group that created a 48,000 SF retail shopping center anchored by SweetBay Supermarket and was home to a variety of other retailers.
For 11 years Askia served as the President and CEO of St. Petersburg Neighborhood Housing Services, Incorporated (SPNHS). This nonprofit community housing development organization co-administered the multi-million dollar homeownership component of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority’s Jordan Park HOPE VI redevelopment project. More than 125 single-family affordable houses (new construction and acquisition/rehab) were developed, over 500 families became first-time homeowners and thousands of individuals were counseled about budgeting, financial management, the home buying process and foreclosure prevention through his leadership. On his administration, SPNHS conducted a research and development project involving the design and construction of a prototype sustainable, energy-efficient, natural disaster-resistant house built out of recycled steel shipping containers. The project was documented by syndicated housing guru Bob Vila. Askia discussed the project on a Brian Williams’ NBC Nightly News feature story.
Askia negotiated the operating agreement for SPNHS with Nationsbank/Bank of America Community Development Division that led to the formation of a limited liability company. This LLC acquired and redeveloped 40 vacant lots and dilapidated houses located within St. Petersburg’s Bartlett Park neighborhood.
Imam Aquil worked for the St. Petersburg Housing Authority for 11 years. He served in various positions including Housing Manager, Special Projects Coordinator, Director of Human Services, and Deputy Executive Director. He had previously worked as a Housing Manager for the Tampa Housing Authority.
Imam Aquil worked in various positions for a joint venture (Utley-James/DFS Construction Company) and a construction management firm (Titan Southeast Construction, a subsidiary of East Paramus, NJ-based Titan Group) on a $90 million expansion of the City of Tampa’s Wastewater Treatment Plant at Hooker’s Point. Those positions included Associate Project Engineer, Assistant Office Manager and Safety Program Coordinator.
Imam Aquil is married and is the father of two sons and five daughters including 16-year-old triplet young women.
P. O. Box 16243
St. Petersburg FL33733-6243