March 24, 2011
Interview with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf
I had the unique opportunity to sit down, one on one, with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. Please enjoy our conversation:
I attended the Imam’s public presentation later that evening and found him to be equally engaging in a large crowd. He spoke about his attempt to follow in the footsteps of great leaders who have tried to be champions of conflict resolution, especially during a time when most information in the media is ill informed.
He posed the question: How will Americans engage in a world where 20-25% of the global population is Muslim? The US has a huge footprint in the Muslim world including geopolitical, economic and policy interests.
Imam Feisal spoke candidly of the “arc of being accepted in this country,” and referenced that before Muslims, Jews and Christians had to go through a similar struggle of being accepted in the US. He spoke of the anxiety that people feel about the “unknown,” and how it comes hand and hand with intentional misinformation.
Imam Feisal moved to the US in 1965, when he was 17 years old. During his lecture, he eloquently described that the exploration of his spirituality was rooted in the US because in this country, spirituality is a matter of choice. (Abroad, your clothing or country identified you as a Muslim – here you had to decide to be.) He spoke of a stunning moment in his young life – at the age of 12 or 13 – where the boundaries of “self” dissolved for a very long moment – where he felt one with the universe. He smiled as he talked about the recollection, at that moment, that God was there, an absolute being of love, knowledge and wisdom, a moment of feeling deep love and compassion. This inspired him to read and study more in an attempt to piece it all together. It was particularly moving to witness his memory of this time – and if felt like I was listening in on a deeply personal conversation.
Imam Feisal firmly stated, “It is not about labels – Muslim, Jew, etc – it is about a relationship with our creator.”
Read more here