Imam says 9/11 led to interfaith dialogue

Sep 2, 2011

Reflections of a Muslim leader in Portland:

"As-Salamu Alaykum. That's 'Peace be unto you.' I'm Imam Mikal Shabazz, the director of the Oregon Islamic Chaplains Organization.

"I remember waking up and going through my normal routine, checking the news. And I saw it being replayed, one of the planes striking one of the towers. And it was unbelievable. It was surreal. I really didn't know if I was watching something dramatic that was being put on, or if this was reality. It was one of those catastrophic events that would make it impossible to go back to where you were after that fact.

"I remember shortly after finding out who was being cast as the perpetrators and the impact that that was having on the Muslim society. It wasn't long before we started realizing that there was a tremendous amount of possibility for a negative backlash.

"People were afraid. People were afraid.

"Fortunately, many of the faith community members began to reach out and basically say we need to know about your faith. We need to know more.

"And so out of that came a lot of good relationships as well as organizations that exist to this day where people bonded together in a faith community and said we want to work to eliminate these propensities that may come from one side or the other where there's a misunderstanding based on faith. Even in the darkest of circumstances, there's some light in it."