The people below are a few of the hundreds of voices we heard in response to a query we extended to Muslims a few months ago. We asked them to reflect on their lived experience of Islam, of what it means — in a daily, particular way — to be part of what is often referred to in the abstract as "the Muslim world."
We released some of their stories two weeks ago for our program called "Revealing Ramadan." For this week's adventure, we've pulled together rich and varied insights into the nature and meaning of Muslim identity — in nine very different American lives.
There are some recurring themes: how September 11, 2001 imprinted them personally, and the complicated experience of immigration and being a practicing Muslim in the United States today. Each of these Muslims' experiences embodies the breadth of humanity of this faith — sharing the ordinary, as well as sophisticated aspects of Islam that are often obscured by headlines or platitudes. And, they offer glimpses inside the varied human reality of what is often referred to politically, in the singular, as "the Muslim world."
"As a Muslim American writer of Pakistani descent, I've tried to encapsulate the tensions and divides that exist within the community but are rarely aired…"
Port Charlotte, Florida
"…being a Muslim in America makes me a better Muslim. A more hopeful one."
"Living in Seattle makes it easier to be Muslim, I think."
"I walk a line daily between who Muslims are and what they are perceived to be."
"…I see man as pursued by the four horsemen of destruction: arrogance, ignorance, greed, and envy."
"I honestly believe that Islam has made me a more patient, less angry man."
St. Albans, New York
"Being Muslim and a lesbian has not been a challenge for me…"
"I found that a better description for this dichotomy as 'static Islam' versus "dynamic Islam.'"
Franklin Park, New Jersey
"We are the fruit of the American melting pot, where the divisive cultures of our parents' homelands are foreign to us."