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Why I Joined Quilliam – By Muhammad Fraser-Rahim, Executive Director (North America), Quilliam International

By Adam Deen

I grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, a coastal town on the East Coast of the United States, consistently ranked as one of the world’s best tourist destinations with picturesque beaches and old colonial style homes which give memory to America’s complicated past; a city affectionately called the “holy city” for its diverse religious communities. As a third-generation African American Muslim, I learned this from a young age as I balanced between attending secular public schools and private Islamic education as part of the oldest Islamic school network in the U.S., Clara Mohammed Schools, in which my teachers were a true representation of the diversity of the American experience.

I first learned and memorized the Qur’an as a young child, not from teachers from the rich Islamic centers of learning throughout the Middle East and Africa, but initially through teachers who were indigenous Americans who dedicated their life and time to mastery of the Arabic language and the Qur’an and who were hardworking ordinary Americans who were engineers, taxi drivers, and small business owners to name a few. Though biryani, baklava, and shawarma have a deep resonance within many Arab and Muslim communities throughout the world, it was red rice, vegetarian collard greens, baked fish, bean soup, and bean pie that were part of my early upbringing. Being a descendant of enslaved Africans, I was fully immersed in the rich cultural and linguistic tradition of the sea islands of South Carolina and Georgia known as Gullah/Geechee. My experience was authentically Southern and American.

As a college student, I decided early on that studying abroad, first in France and then throughout West Africa in Senegal, Mali, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and the Gambia where I studied Islamic and West African history, gave me the foundational start for my interest in geo-political global matters. …read more

From:: Quilliam Foundation

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