This week we are reflecting on the anniversary of 9/11 with Dalia Mogahed who shares how she became inspired to shift from consumer marketing for the private sector to use her skills to rebrand Islam with global research. Then we widen the lens with Dr. Sylvia Chan-Malik who reflects on the seismic shifts that have taken place within the Muslim community — one that forced the most religiously diverse faith community in America to turn inward and talk to one another. She describes how this period is now led by a new generation of culture makers in different sectors as well as women of color — offering a sharp contrast to an early history of Islam in America that centered figures like Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhamad, heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali and human rights and Black liberation activist Malcolm X.
“I Just Got Angry and Had to Do Something”
Not long after the Federal Communications Commission repealed the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 — radio programming began to change. They became dominated by one point of view and that concerned Maureen Fiedler, an activist nun who was not afraid of creating change. We begin this week’s episode by revisiting the origin story of Interfaith Voices. Although it officially launched in February of 2002, the first pilot episode took place one week after the 9/11 attacks. Maureen hosted a 3-hour live call-in at WAMU, the Washington, DC affiliate of NPR. After that day, she explains how she felt called to build a program to combat the rising anti-Muslim bias and misinformation.
“What a billion Muslims really think is a book based on empirical data. Not opinions”
On September 10, 2001, Dalia Mogahed was planning to move the following day from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh with her young family. The next morning she watched the news with horror and fear. The hijab-wearing, Egyptian American mom delayed her eventual move. In this non-narrated personal reflection, Mogahed describes her trajectory into public life, answering a new calling. She set out to use her skills in consumer research to gather data and educate fellow Americans about what Muslims actually think. From publishing a book to appearing on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Trevor Noah to her Ted talk online that generated more than 4.5 million views, Mohged shares what she’s learned and why she’s not done.
“What changed…the engagement in activism, organizing and artistic expressions”
Distinguished American Studies scholar Dr. Sylvia Chan-Malik widens the lens and puts Dalia Mogahed’s work and leadership into context. Reflecting on the 9/11 anniversary, Chan-Malik shares how the last twenty-one years have led to greater introspection and reflection about identity, race, gender, and ethnicity among U.S. Muslim communities. And greater public engagement in contrast to the years prior. She points out that the disproportionate attention and discourse about Muslims given their size defies the logic applied to other belief traditions and, in her opinion, offers evidence of the long history of anti-Muslim stereotypes and bias in America’s racial history.