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Hello. My name is Raef, 27 from Germantown MD - but I usually just say the DC area. I am a public high school teacher in Montgomery county. I teach C++, Java, and other tech-related courses at Northwest high school. I am also a singer/songwriter and am part of the Poetic Vision Tour ( I am the vocalist and bass player for the band Great Seneca. I used to work for a security software company in VA.

My story is pretty simple - being Muslim just means that I am in sync with the rest of creation, and I do what I do to help others and please my creator. I apply this simple concept of Islam to my career and my life.

I decided to switch careers from a software eng. to a high school teacher because I wanted to help others in a more direct way (and because it was pretty boring sitting in front of a computer for 8 hours a day). The prophet Muhammad mentioned that anyone who paves a path for knowldge, Allah paves a path for him to paradise.

I was also concerned about negative views that people may have about my beautiful faith. When fellow teachers, students, and parents see me, a practicing Muslim, who is working tirelessly to help make a difference in the lives of 120+ students every day, they have a tangible counter-example of the so-called Muslims that make the evening news.

In my music, the lyrics I write and sing are all influenced by the values that Islam brings to people of all faiths. I sing about being grateful, being productive, and taking advantage of health before illness, wealth before poverty, and youth before old-age : all which are lessons taught by the Quran and practices of prophet Muhammad.
The Poetic Vision Tour is a traveling musical concert that is made up of artists and music that is spiritually compliant with Islam. During our concerts, we invite the audience to discuss and study the lyrics handed out to them. Muslims and people of other faiths have attended and enjoyed our music.

Born and raised here, I am fortunate to have close friends of numerous faiths. The years following 9-11 changed the way people view me and my faith. The constant mentioning of terrorism and Islam in the same sentence still worries me. Growing up, I was never taught to hate, or even put down others - the beautiful thing about Islam is that it is accepting of ALL people. Just walk into one of our Islamic centers - people of all walks of life come together and pray to 1 God. Islam makes so much sense to me because it's very natural - there's no middle-'man' between me and my creator. I don't need anyone or any special place to connect, ask, or pray to God.

I pray that God will give me the energy, and life to continue to do good and help others.

Raef Haggag
Germantown , MD