Hussein Rashid answers 5 questions from the We Are Human campaign

This month, we chose Hussein Rashid as our featured PACH member. Hussein Rashid is founder of islamicate, L3C, a consultancy focusing on religious literacy and cultural competency. He works with a variety of NGOs, foundations, non-profits, and governmental agencies for content expertise on religion broadly, with a specialization on Islam. Learn more about Hussein and read his responses to PACH’s We Are Human questions below.

How does your work foster a common humanity?

My work is really focused on education. I believe firmly in the humanities, in a good liberal arts education. I take that into a wide variety of environments, and try to meet people with what they need, through a perspective that are stories to be told. When we tell the stories well, and when we commit to listening to other people’s stories, we see each other’s humanity. This understanding has always been the key to the humanities. The stories don’t have to be written or spoken; they can be sung, painted, sculpted, danced, or expressed through any other medium. I want to create those spaces where we can create and learn, both about ourselves and others. I’m a firm believer that knowing ourselves and knowing other people are linked; you cannot do one without the other.

What is one of your favorite childhood memories and why?

I have so many good childhood memories, but right now, the one that surfaces is from when I’m about 8 or 9 years old. I’m out with my aunt and uncle, and they’ve bought me a toy from the film The Empire Strikes Back. I’m excited to open it and play with it, but it’s late at night and they are taking me home to my parents, where I’ll have to go to sleep. We get to my apartment building, and my parents aren’t home yet, and we don’t have the keys to get into my apartment. This was the era before cell phones, so we decide to wait in the building lobby. After about 10 minutes, my aunt says I can open my toy and play with it. I don’t remember how long we waited, or why my parents were late, but it felt like I had an eternity to play with my new toy. I was ready to go to sleep by the time I got into my apartment.

What is one of the best things that has ever happened to you and why?

No matter how I answer this, I’m going to get in trouble with someone. Maybe I’ll go with being blessed with the opportunity for an education that not only forced me to think, but also taught me to think. All my education has involved a lot of trust in my ability to do for myself, a strong community of teachers, a powerful group of friends, and the opportunities to explore.

Whom do you trust the most and why?

So trust in God; truly thou standest upon the manifest truth. 27:79

Unto God belongs the Unseen in the heavens and on the earth, and unto Him are all matters returned. So worship Him, and trust in Him. And thy Lord is not heedless of that which you do. 11:123

Trust in the eternal, and that trust will always be there.

What do you fear the most in life and why?

I’ve got a bit of arachnophobia, but I don’t think that’s my greatest fear. I think my greatest fear is letting people down. We make commitments based on mutual connection and responsibility, and we when fail at those commitments, we fray the human connection behind them. It’s not just my reputation, but the social fabric in which I’m a part that is negatively affected.

What do you most desire in life and why?

World peace, because we don’t have it, and it should be what we all truly want. Perhaps more immediately, a little more compassion and empathy in the world. With that, we can understand the exploitive and oppressive systems we have built that dehumanize other people, and which ultimately end up destroying our own humanity. If we cannot know ourselves without knowing other people, then depriving others of their humanity and dignity can only deprive us of our own humanity and dignity. Also, carbon neutral, renewable energy, because of the dying of the coral reefs (and the rest of creation).