The Washington Post has a fantastic profile and interview of my friend Shahed Amanullah, founder of altmuslim.com and my partner in running the anual Brass Crescent Awards for the Islamic Blogsphere. I particularly liked these two answers:
Eight years after 9/11, what is the single biggest challenge facing American Muslims?
I don’t think it is external so much as it is internal. According to surveys by the Pew Research Center and Gallup, we are relatively well adjusted, have a relatively good quality of life and are a reasonably content group of people. The biggest challenge facing us is more internal — asking the deeper question. Okay, now that we know that we are Muslim Americans or American Muslims, whatever you want to call us, what does that mean?
Has life in the American Muslim community changed with the election of Barack Obama?
Yes, but not in obvious ways. What it represents for Muslim Americans is that, despite the fact that he is not Muslim, we live in a country where someone who has that kind of name and a Muslim heritage wasn’t denied the highest office in the land. It gave people hope. ‘Wow, I live in a country that suffered a horrific attack and just a few short years after that, found itself willing to elect someone with a name that kids used to pick on me for when I was growing up.’
Shahed is a brilliant visionary and it’s about time he started getting some recognition for the backend toil he does in terms of providing technology infrastructure for the muslim-American community. I share his optimism about the role of muslim-Americans in public service; unfortunately given the example of Mazen Asbahi and Rashid Khalidi I think there’s a glass ceiling of sorts protecting Obama from any messy political risk in associating with us too closely. That suggests that we have a lot of work to do ahead along the lines Shahed discusses in the full interview.
aside; what the heck is up with that photo of Shahed they used? sigh.