Imam Zaid Shakir was born in Berkeley, California in 1956, the second of seven children. Most of his formative years were spent in public housing projects where he was able to experience a rich childhood. Upon completion of high school, he completed one year of college. However, his higher education was temporally halted due to a tragic death in his immediate family. He subsequently entered the US Air Force in 1976, where he resumed his university education, and accepted Islam in 1977. Upon completing his military service, he enrolled at American University, Washington, DC, where he obtained a BA in International Relations with honors in 1983. In 1986 he obtained an MA in Political Science from Rutgers University. After spending a year in Cairo, he became a lecturer in Political Science at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, Connecticut, a position he held until 1994 when he bade farewell to academia and left for Syria to study Arabic and Islamic Sciences.
Imam Zaid also studied the traditional sciences of Islam in Morocco. He served as the Imam of Masjid al-Islam in New Haven, Connecticut from 1988 until 1994. He has lectured extensively on Islam, Middle East Politics, and issues related to African Americas. He has written for numerous Islamic publications, and has appeared on national television for Lou Gosset, Jr.'s "The Story of a People."
Information and photograph from Deen Intensive (correct as of April 2003).