You may see Brother Jihad Muhammad around campus wearing an African kufi cap, a skull hat or a brim similar to that of fictional character Indiana Jones. Brother Jihad Muhammad is no fictional character. He is UIC’s own larger than life forensic cultural heritage scientist with a specialization in facial reconstruction. He is also an official US government coin designer. Extremely talented only begins to describe this renaissance brother.
Brother Muhammad has degrees in mortuary science and fine arts. He holds an M.A. in African Studies from Northeastern College and was the first African American to earn a Master of Science degree in Biomedical Visualization at UIC’s College of Applied Health Sciences in 1972. He has served in the College of Medicine’s department of Anatomy as a medical forensic illustrator and as a specialist in anatomical reconstruction. He was coordinator of the Anatomy Museum for the college until 1991.
In 1992, Brother Muhammad founded the African Scientific Research Institute (ASRI). This organization conducts world-class research dedicated to tracing the historical footsteps of early African ancestors, both free and enslaved, which lived in America during 1628-1888. ASRI offers unique archaeological field schools for primarily African American youth each summer. The “schools” assist in the forensic investigation of African/African American remains. ASRI has unearthed the remains of slave artifacts in Pembroke, Illinois and Park, Louisiana. In St. Louis, Missouri, ASRI found the skeletal remains of ASRI-1(female) and ASRI-2 (male) which date back to 1740. Brother Muhammad’s team was able to reconstruct the faces of these slaves. The skull and reconstructed face of the male ASRI-2 is pictured above along with Brother Muhammad.
In 1999, Brother Muhammad and ASRI began the search for Jean Baptiste de Sable (the spelling on historical documents). It is Brother Muhammad’s hope to find the remains and reconstruct the face of this great historical figure. In the meantime, ASRI is working on a project that will do a forensic and archaeological study on a house used as an underground railroad station built in 1836 by abolitionist Gideon Young. You can learn more about ASRI at http://www.uic.edu/orgs/asri.
Brother Muhammad’s passion for art has found him not only working in the world of forensic art, but he has been commissioned through ASRI to design a coin to honor President Barack Obama. Brother Muhammad has completed coins honoring the Buffalo Soldier and Martin Delany.
Brother Muhammad and his work have been featured in the Chicago Sun Times, Chicago Tribune, Ebony, Defender, and on WBBM channel 2 news. He has been on the cover of N’Digo and UIC Alumni magazines. Brother Muhammad, making history one face at a time.