Last week, Post reporter Eli Saslow told the story of Abdirizak Bihi, a Minnesota man and Muslim activist on a mission to protect young Somali Americans from the lure of Islamist extremists. The story was the second in our our ongoing Washington Post series on Muslims in America.
This week, we highlight three readers who discuss whether or not it is difficult to be Muslim in this country. Be sure to check out the original questions we asked and the first two rounds (part one and two) of reader responses. On Faith continues to invite Muslim readers to weigh in (see the bottom of this post).
Sarah Rafique is a 22-year-old writer from Austin, Texas, said it gets “tiring” to constantly be asked to defend her faith.
“I live my life through my faith privately. I used to engage in open discussions about matters regarding my personal faith and the faith of others, but now I try to avoid it because I know in my heart that I'm living to be a good person with good morals. If others want to question the true intent of what it means to be Muslim, that's their right. As long as it doesn't interfere with my freedom within a country in which I was born and raised, so be it."
Mansura Minhas, 38, a writer from Miami, said she disagrees with the idea that now is a particularly challenging time to be Muslim in this country.
“I wear the hijab, thus I'm easily identifiable as a Muslim, and get quizzed a lot about my faith. I seize this as an opportunity to explain the real essence of Islam and highlight how the radicals distort it for their selfish motives. As our friends, neighbors, coworkers and other people in our local community witness us lead very normal American lives (which are not very different from theirs), they get the message that Muslims are ordinary people like the rest.”
Salim Chishti, 60, is an imam in New Lebanon, N.Y., said he speaks about Islamic radicalization mostly with Muslims who are immigrants.
“We have very different viewpoints on this subject and many times I find myself frustrated at the narrowness of views that people have developed before they come here. I do worry about Muslims being duped by people they consider knowledgeable but who really are just promoting their own political agenda.”
On Faith invites Muslim readers to answer the questions about Islam and America below: