Three Questions for American Muslims: Omid Safi

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.

Omid Safi, professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 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?

That we have spent so much time telling people what Islam is NOT (“not about terrorism”, “not about extremism”, “not about oppressing women”) that we have lost of the moral mandate to articulate what Islam is about, can be about, and by God’s grace will be about (a means of uniting humanity, transforming hearts, and uplifting us to God’s presence).

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

It has made me realize the profound ugliness and immense beauty that all of traditions–religious and civic–contain.

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

That we too are fully human, not that we need to be humanized. We too are human, the same mixture of good and bad, ugliness and beauty, that all the rest of humanity are. The line between good and bad does not go between nations and religions, but inside each and every single one of us.

About Dilshad Ali
  • Riz

    1.  An urgent need to build a Muslim seminary featuring a modern, questioning curriculum, based on reason, for imams in the U.S.  We need to free ourselves of imam’s who have migrated to U.S. with retrogressive ideas about faith and society imbibed in their homelands. Enough of the beards, jubba and the ridiculous headgear!
    2. No noticeable change.
    3. Frankly I don’t care what non-Muslims think.  It’s the Muslims I am concerned about. How about some frank discussions on beliefs which have no basis in the Quran but are sacred to many Muslims.


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