Global Learning, Middle School, Upper School

Founder of “Meet a Muslim” Comes to Northwest

Moina Shaiq, the founder of the "Meet a Muslim" talks, visited 8th and 9th grade Humanities students on Friday, Jan. 19 and Monday, Jan. 22. "Meet a Muslim" is a grassroots effort to build connections and unity within the United States by simply having a conversation.

"We need to be role models for each other," says Moina. "We do not merely tolerate each other in this country. We are compassionate, and I hope these conversations help remind people of that."

Moina began the "Meet a Muslim" initiative after the San Bernardino shootings in Dec. 2015. She said the shootings heightened her concerns about the increase in anti-Muslim sentiment, hate crimes, and the stereotypes of Muslims that are based on violent extremists. Moina took out an ad in her local newspaper, inviting people to coffee and conversation. Nearly 100 people showed up for the conversation, and Moina decided to expand her movement nationwide.

Her visit to the 8th grade coincided with the students reading I Am Malala, a memoir by Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban after fighting for women's education rights.

Moina gave the students a brief introduction and a quick overview on the five pillars of Islam. Moina immigrated from Pakistan in 1978, and now lives in Fremont, California, with her husband. After the ten-minute introduction, she opened the floor to questions with one goal: to answer every question.

One student inquired about her pilgrimage to Mecca, and another asked how Moina manages to continue her work, even when she receives violent threats against her and her family. Moina wrapped up her conversation by telling the students what they can do to help.

"I am just one voice, and there are many of you in this room," Moina told the students. "If you help me project my voice, this conversation will make an even larger impact."