Three Questions for American Muslims: Hussein Rashid

The Muslim Portal at Patheos  is hosting the “Three Questions” project for the month of September in conjunction with the tenth anniversary of the terrorist acts of 9/11.  We are asking American Muslims from across the nation three simple but important questions. Click here to learn more about the project.

Hussein Rashid, an adjunct professor at Hofstra University and a writer, media personality, and consultant, offers his answers to the three questions:

1. What is the most pressing issue or concern for you as a Muslim in America today, 10 years after the tragedy of 9/11?

The most pressing issue for Muslims in America exists independent of 9/11, but was highlighted by those tragic events. We are not very good at defining ourselves. As a community, we have had a tendency to look outside ourselves for legitimacy, whether it’s to countries of origin for new immigrants, or worse, to the Saudis as arbiters of what a true Islam is. We would, like many other Americans, trust CNN to define Islam for us, and we would follow blindly what Shaykh Wolf Blitzer would say a true Muslim does. We have ignored our traditions and heritages, so that we could not speak with an authentic voice on 9/11. Thanks to people who have been in the country for more than a generation, we are reviving that Islamic spirit and making an American Muslim identity. 

2. In what ways – inwardly /or outwardly – did 9/11 change you or affect you?

Inwardly, I had to decide where I stood in relation to my faith. My personal struggles had to be resolved, so I knew where I stood and where I would stand. I chose God, the Prophet, and the Imams. Outwardly, I became a Muslim spokesperson. It’s not a role I want, or desire in the future. But so many of our “official” bodies do not speak for me or my communities, that I feel obligated to continue.

3. What do you think non-Muslim Americans most need to know about Muslims?

I think the number one thing that we all need to remember is that we are human. Talk to each other, don’t rely on a book or TV to tell you what you need to know about a person; ask that person.

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