Muslims Taking Stock of their Faith Amid Sept. 11 Anniversary

September 11, 2008

Author: Antonio Olivo

Source: The Chicago Tribune,0,291983.story

Like many of his faith, Yousif Marei has been feeling particularly emotional about being a Muslim these days.

For one thing, the holy month of Ramadan is in full swing. It's a time when Muslims worldwide take stock of their spiritual selves, fasting from sunrise to sunset as they meditate on the period when the first verses of the Quran are believed to have been revealed.

Then there is Thursday's dreaded anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The day is sure to be marked by replayed news footage of hijacked airplanes—painful reminders of attacks by Islamic extremists in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania that killed nearly 3,000 people and forever changed what it means to be Muslim in the U.S.

That negative image of Islam—reflected in the Internet rumors casting doubt on the Christian faith of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama as well as his denials of being a Muslim—bores into the psyche of many Muslim immigrants, said Marei, 53, a Palestinian who moved to Chicago in 1979.

Spurred by Ramadan and the Sept. 11 anniversary, community leaders are encouraging Muslim-Americans to assert their patriotic and civic identities by registering to vote, taking part in neighborhood block meetings and becoming active in their schools and other local institutions. Mosques, meanwhile, have been inviting non-Muslims to participate in evening iftar meals to foster understanding about Ramadan.