The catalyst was the vegetarian omelet…
Sunday mornings are always busy at the “Cowboy Cafe”, a popular diner in the town of Minden in Northern Nevada where the company I work for has its headquarters.
The counter is the best bet if you want to get a quick breakfast, as there is always a queue for a table, and I had nearly finished my vegetarian omelet when my colleague Salim Jaffer joined me and ordered one for himself.
It prompted me to ask about the difficulty involved in being a Muslim in the USA, a conversation that began about the general availability of Halal food (it ain’t by the way…), and led to a much deeper discussion about Islam in the United States and the inevitable misconceptions and prejudices that have occurred since the horrors of 9/11.
The average American has very little exposure to the rest of the world and the finer points of its many and varied cultures, so it is easy to foresee a situation where the good people of the USA (and the vast majority are exceptionally good people) could form a judgement that all Muslims are potential terrorists…
I was curious to hear Salim’s thoughts about this as I was aware that he is a very committed Muslim, but he is also clearly very secular in his outlook and a good “American”.
You could say I was impressed with his response as he detailed how he had taken a leading role in explaining Islam through his engagement with PICO, the Pakistan Information and Cultural Organization that represents Pakistanis in Arizona.
In 2008 Salim completed the certification process from ISBA (Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona) to be come a “Speaker”, which allows him to speak at schools, colleges and universities, US Government Departments, the FBI and the police.
Salim’s admirable philosophy to to engage and explain the rich history and core beliefs of Islam to as many people and organizations as he can, in the basic belief that the Muslim religion is greatly misunderstood.
It consumes a huge amount of his spare time, but he gives that time willingly and it was really quite something to learn about that commitment.
A great example of secular Islam!