This Mom Is Showing People That Muslims Are Just Like Everyone Else
That’s how the mother of two found herself nervously giving a PowerPoint presentation to about 100 officers in a police academy auditorium. "The first session was brutal. I really wasn’t prepared to speak in front of a huge audience of type A personalities," says Faruqi. She kept at it, though, working with different groups of cops for three weeks out of the month, even creating a game called Spot the Muslim. "I wanted them to understand that you can’t—and shouldn’t—assume things about people from their appearance," she says. Faruqi also clarified details about Arabic, including the fact that the word jihad means "struggle," not "holy war," as many Americans believe. "A jihad is anything that’s difficult but done for the sake of pleasing God," says Faruqi. "Its true meaning is such a positive thing."
Faruqi has since led training sessions for jail staff, high schoolers, teachers, colleges, and other police departments. While she’s proud of her progress, some moments are deeply unsettling; she has cried in her car after being peppered with questions like "Why don’t you go back to your own country if you don’t want to assimilate?" But she persists. "What I’m doing right now," she says, "is my jihad."