Where Are the Moderate Muslims? Look Here

Moderate Muslims act on the values of their faith to serve their communities.

Sept. 30, 2010— -- Eboo Patel is founder and President of Interfaith Youth Core, a non-profit organization building interfaith cooperation around the world. Eboo is author of the recently re-released, "Acts of Faith." Follow him on Twitter @EbooPatel.

There's no great secret answer to the question posed so often: "Where are the moderate Muslims?"

The truth is, moderate Muslims are everywhere. They are your doctor, your son's teacher, your daughter's coach. One is the man who designed the Sears Tower, Fazlur Rahman Khan. Another is one of America's greatest sports icons, Muhammad Ali.

The moderate Muslims I know are inspiring because they act on the central values of their faith -- loving god and loving your neighbor.

There are a lot more you don't know yet. Here are three who I have worked with through my organization, Interfaith Youth Core.

Moustafa is a recent University of Michigan graduate, who just began his first year at Yale medical school. Moustafa started United 2 Heal as a student club at Michigan, that brought together religiously diverse students to act on their shared impulse to save lives. Together, they have sorted literally truckloads of surplus medical supplies to send to developing nations in Africa. Today, United 2 Heal has evolved into a non-profit organization that continues to do this work.

Randa, a young Muslim woman, spent the last year working in Washington, D.C., alongside a Jewish colleague to mobilize students to raise awareness and money for malaria eradication in Africa. Randa and Avi hosted dozens of events with hundreds of participants and recruited a team of 35 young people to sustain the work they started. Randa has spent time in Syria volunteering with the United Nations Development Program, presented a workshop entitled "The Millennium Development Goals and Multi-Faith Action" at the 5th World Youth Congress in Istanbul, Turkey, and has represented America on a speaking tour for the U.S. State Department in Kuwait and Jordan.

Ansaf is a recent graduate of Stanford University. Last year when a hateful group traveled to Stanford's campus for an anti-Semitic, anti-gay protest, Ansaf and his Hindu friend Anand mobilized over a thousand members of the campus community to come out at 8 a.m. on a Friday morning to stand up for their Jewish friends and the value of religious pluralism. In a letter to the campus, they wrote about why they felt called to do this: "As a Hindu and Muslim, we feel it goes to the heart of our respective traditions to stand in solidarity with others who are attacked on the basis of their identity. In other words, if we did not stand alongside Jews, gays and lesbians, or any other group who may be maligned this Friday, we would not be the Hindus and Muslims we strive to be."

Moderate Muslims are inspiring in the same way that moderate Christians, Jews and others are - not despite their faith but because of it; because of how they act on the values of their faith to serve their communities.

So I hope the next time somebody asks you about moderate Muslims, you think about your civic professional and social circles, because there's a good chance there's a Muslim in one of them.

Think about the woman who checks your heart rate at the doctor's office, or the cab driver taking you to your hotel from the airport. Think about his or her family and his or her dreams. If you haven't met one personally, think about Moustafa, or Randa, or Ansaf.