Were you surprised by anything you learned through reporting this series?
What shocked me was just how much the communities I visited seem to be flourishing at a really difficult time for Muslim Americans. Despite the anti-Muslim rhetoric, people are out there telling their own stories. They’re getting into politics and fashion and music and storytelling. I also was surprised by the incredible diversity of practice and culture that exists here. I’ve covered the Muslim world for over a decade, and I don’t think I’ve seen such diversity within Islam outside of the Muslim pilgrimage, Hajj, in Mecca.
What do you hope readers and listeners will take from reading or listening to “Muslims in America”?
I hope people listen to these as stories about Americans they might not know otherwise. One of the things I’ve been struck by since coming back to the U.S. is how we live in a country with such rich diversity of culture, religion and race but so often people feel stuck in a stereotype of their own community. After the presidential election, which was seen as so polarizing, I think a lot of people felt they didn’t know their fellow citizens.
I want these stories to be about knowing and understanding people not through the lens of what you think they might be, but who they actually are.