Noor Wazwaz, an NPR journalist and filmmaker, decided to use the ongoing media discourse around Islam as an opportunity to educate her fellow Americans. So Wazwaz produced a short video, which she published on Facebook on Jan. 19, that showed Muslims talking about what it's like to practice Islam in today's world.
"This is our time to shine and to really show what Islam is all about," Wazwaz told The Huffington Post.
Chief among her aims was to show that Muslims "are not hopeless" in spite of the prejudice many of them feel.
"We’re positive, optimistic and are looking forward to continue to serve our country," Wazwaz said.
Wazwaz recruited subjects for the video during an Islamic convention hosted by The Muslim American Society and Islamic Circle of North America in Chicago in December. Among them were writers, students, imams and artists, including three well-known Islamic musicians.
"Our religion means peace," rising British pop star Harris J said in the video. "Islam comes from the word peace in Arabic. So a religion that means peace obviously wants to portray peace."
Many of the video's subjects also spoke of their fears about possible attacks against themselves or others in the Muslim community in the growing anti-Muslim climate.
"Who among us is, God forbid, going to be attacked by an ignorant bigot?" one man asked in the video. "Those fears are there, but hope prevails."
For Wazwaz, optimism rests, in part, on the hope that her video will reach Muslims and non-Muslims alike. It already appears to have struck a chord. In the days since she posted it on Facebook, the video has been shared more than 2,000 times.
Wazwaz said she hopes the video will demonstrate to Muslims that they are not alone, especially if they're feeling afraid.
Her message to non-Muslims?
"Get to know your Muslim neighbors, friends and colleagues," Wazwaz said. "We are everywhere and if you have any questions or just want to learn more about our religion, we are here."
Watch Wazwaz's powerful video above.
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