By Sheila Ferguson
This tribute is for one of Hough’s own, Mrs. Tahirah Mujahid, a coworker and colleague for over 20 years at both the Cleveland Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Programs (UMADAOP) and the Catholic Charities Corporation. Throughout her life, Tahirah served as a social worker and foot soldier in the war against community decline and poverty. To her credit, she has been a part of the positive uplift created by the late Councilwoman Fannie Lewis’ community services team, and Cleveland UMADAOP’s various family services, prevention, and recovery initiatives.

Mujahid passed on
Mujahid passed on June 19th of this year and was celebrated with Janazah, a Muslim funeral prayer, on June 23, 2023 at the Cummings and Davis Funeral Home. She is remembered as a loving daughter, sister, faithful wife, mother, grandmother, friend to many, and third-generation member of Masjid Bilal. As a local personality, who can forget her lively presence, exuberant laugh, and colorful wardrobe of bright hijabs and flowing kaftans? Her glamour was accentuated by her self-confidence and her flair for knowing just how to enter a room and then work it. Still, her inspiration and love of people and the community live on. Tahirah’s triumphant contributions and walk through this life bear mentioning.

The Early Years
Over the years she has been a certified instructor in the Center for Inclusive Child Care’s (CICC) effective Black parenting , and group leader in UMADAOP’s AKOMA Women’s Program. More recently, she served as UMADAOP’s Lead Community Instructor for the Multiple Approach Response Strategy Project, known as MARS. Through MARS she trained scores of professionals and families to prevent opioid deaths.

This graduate of the South High Class of ’71 raised three successful daughters Shahidah, Nathifa, and Chaya. As a working adult, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Social Work from Capital University in 2004. Wherever Tahirah went, she was sounding the alarm on hidden community dangers, touching hearts, and telling personal stories of challenge and triumph, addiction and recovery, and a life of sober living. She did it to give others an “imagination and a vision” that recovery, healing, and growth are possible for us all only if we are willing to work at it. Angela Quinn, community social work manager of CMHA’s Community-Based Services Program, spoke with TCO about Tahirah’s life and contributions.

Quinn and Mujahid began their careers in child welfare and family preservation with the formation of the Department of Children and Family Services Program’s Family to Family Program in the late 1990s. Quinn recalls that from the start Mrs. Tahirah Mujahid was a fearless trailblazer and role model. Quinn also notes that after years of working in the field, ”Tahirah wasn’t just a colleague, she was a friend. We worked with the families in the Central and Hough communities,” she said. “So as women, we shared a strong faith and passion for advocating for people. And because of it, we shared resources, information, and ideas for betterment. Over the years we have been there for each other, especially in the tough times. Thankfully she said I got to repay the favor and be there for her daughters during her health challenges.”

A Growing Career of Service
Quinn says that Tahirah was a down-home take-no-prisoners “Big Mamma” type of social worker. She encouraged everyone’s growth by giving them a realistic assessment of their situation, insight into what was not working in their lives, and some helpful hints on the steps to victory. As frank as she was, she always spoke “the truth in love.”

In the worlds of child welfare and substance abuse recovery, she was a sure-footed guide to helping parents regain custody of their children placed in foster care and achieving recovery. Those successes came from Tahirah’s ability to candidly explain how a person’s negative behaviors and communication style impact their working relationships with family, case workers and supervisors, school principals, and judges. She was also a broker and bridge-builder who created solid working relationships inside the Department of Children and Family Services and with the residents of the Hough community. She also had a thorough knowledge of the Ohio Revised Code laws and the policies and procedures of the Annie E. Casey Family to Family Program. In recovery, she also knew every home group leader and sponsor across northeast Ohio who could help those mounting the Twelve Steps.

In serving the community, Tahirah demanded that all of her clients do the hard work of making “honest life changes.” It was her view that such honest life changes help us grow. So in her view, it is the magical key that unlocks doors to success.

Wisdom Learned and Shared
Since we are all on a journey, here is Tahirah’s recipe for “Making Honest Life Changes.”

STEP 1: Look at yourself in the mirror and give thanks to Allah or your Creator that you are here and have enough breath in your body to begin making some honest life changes.

STEP 2: Humble yourself by being thankful for the good stuff and good people in your life. Then ask the Creator for the strength to make all the necessary changes needed to live a happy and successful life. I am talking about changing everything from drugs, drinking, lying, quarrelsomeness, stinginess, poverty, thievery, a poor self-image, fear, aloneness, or the inability to speak up or stand up for yourself or anything else holding you back. She’d say, we all need to own what needs to be improved and take charge of ourselves by working the plan until it is second nature.

STEP 3: She’d also say that the solutions may include: entering therapy or treatment, joining an AA or NA recovery program, or joining an assertiveness training program, domestic violence class, mediation, exercise, Tai Chi, or spiritual practice group. Maybe this is the time to get a GED, choose a career, or earn a degree, certificate, or license. Taking on an honest life change can spirit you into a whole new way of living and make you a better person!

Thanks and blessings, Tahirah, for your wisdom.