In Memoriam: ibrahim abdul-matin
January 5, 1977 – June 21, 2023
Dear NYCP community,
He sat on the boards of the International Living Future Institute, Sapelo Square, Green City Force, and the New York Advisory Board of the Trust for Public Land. He was a Senior Fellow with Interfaith America, in addition to New Yorkers for Clean Power. ibrahim was the author of Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet and earned his Master of Public Administration at Baruch College’s Marxe School of Public and International Affairs, where he also taught. In 2018, ibrahim founded Green Squash Consulting, a management consulting firm based in New York working with people, organizations, companies, coalitions, and governments committed to equity, justice, and protecting the planet.
I met ibrahim 13 years ago when he was working for the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability on outreach and engagement for PlaNYC (the City’s groundbreaking sustainability blueprint), and when I was at Earth Day New York. We hit it off over our shared love of sustainability, social justice, Brooklyn, and dancing, and could always make each other laugh. We lost touch after a while and reconnected a few years ago when we were both working on the Transportation and Climate Initiative. We were delighted to reconnect and eventually, ibrahim joined the NYCP team as a Senior Clean Power Fellow. He brought his special blend of humor, warmth, and insightfulness to the teach-ins we co-hosted, and I looked forward to doing many more events and initiatives together. When we last spoke, a few weeks ago, he shared that much as he loved living in California, he was excited to return to New York at the end of June and to ramp up our collaboration and his advocacy in general.
When extraordinary people like ibrahim die so young, the loss is staggering. Not only is it devastating to the many people who love them, but when we think about the loss to the larger world, we must reconcile with the fact that they still had so much to contribute. ibrahim should have had many more years to enjoy, organizations to partner with, causes to fight for, books to write, and people to inspire. I could have seen him becoming a fantastic talk show host. More importantly, he should have seen his children grow up.
The last time we spoke, we talked about many things- the movement, our children, society, and so much more. He told me a story about his childhood when he was growing up in Sidney, a town in the Southern Tier region of New York. He recounted how in almost every soccer game he played (I think it was soccer), a kid from the opposing team would call him the N-word on the field. He said that it motivated him to play harder and better and score more goals, and sometimes he told the adults and had the name-calling kids removed from the game.
Growing up as a Black Muslim in a rural area of Upstate New York in the 1980s couldn’t have been easy, but instead of allowing experiences like that to make him bitter, ibrahim overcame adversity and was stronger and wiser for it. He had compassion for the people around him, despite their ignorance, and ultimately brought warmth and joy to his interactions with others. I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t read his book yet, but I intend to now, and encourage others to as well. ibrahim had a lot to teach, and we can still learn from him, and help his legacy live on. He was planning to organize an interfaith event with NYCP focused on building decarbonization, and I don’t know how we will now, but I would like to continue that work in his honor. Please let us know if you’re interested in working on that together.
Our hearts and deepest condolences go to ibrahim’s family, friends, and the diverse communities he contributed to. I pray that he is at peace. For those of us who are still fortunate enough to be alive, may we do what we can for the short time we have on Earth to help make things better and be good to each other and to ourselves.
Please consider supporting ibrahim’s legacy with a contribution to the Center for NuLeadership on Human Justice and Healing. ibrahim started his career as an organizer with NuLeadership’s campaigns to close jails and prisons. He connected environmental justice to racial justice through this work. He loved NuLeadership for being unapologetically Brooklyn and unconditionally supporting everyone.
*Recently, he preferred to write his name in lowercase – ibrahim abdul-matin.