Three Questions for American Muslims: Hussein Rashid

Three Questions for American Muslims: Hussein Rashid September 11, 2011

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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