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ON FRIDAYS AFTER NOON, many Muslims assemble in a mosque to pray together, and those who do — who spend their prayer supplicating before Allah — are rewarded, Abdur-Rashid said. As he gave this explanation, another coworker announced a plane had just hit the World Trade Center in New York. That exact moment, which complicated what it meant to be Muslim in America, was emblematic of where life would take Abdur-Rashid.
This past June, Harvard University hired Abdur-Rashid as the school’s first full-time Muslim chaplain. As President Donald Trump was taking office in January, before Abdur-Rashid was hired, Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust said hiring a full-time Muslim chaplain would recognize “the special concerns of the Muslims among us at this moment in our national life.”
Abdur-Rashid hopes to awaken the consciousness of Cambridge, Mass., “so when members of the Harvard community look at Muslims they see people who are part of their own historical identity,” he said.
To serve students some people fear simply because of their religion, Abdur-Rashid will draw on his past — as a Muslim, African-American, social worker, imam and son.