When former Barnard adjunct professor Hussein Rashid, CC ’96, first came to Columbia, he navigated his way through his undergraduate years as a first-generation low-income student with some difficulty. Twenty years later, when he returned as an adjunct professor of religion, he also took on an informal advising role in order to pass on his knowledge to students at Barnard.
“I’d talk to students about being a student of color when I was in school versus what it’s like now, what it’s like being a Muslim on campus, what it’s like being first generation and being on a lot of financial aid and still being conscious of class, as they themselves try to navigate that space,” Rashid said.
Rashid is just one of Barnard’s many adjunct faculty members who have been making an active effort to facilitate conversations surrounding diversity, inclusivity, and equity in the classroom.
HUSSEIN RASHID: Why did you decide to write a book about Muslim girls and their education? And why Muslim South Asia? SHENILA
KHOJA-MOOLJI: I had been researching and writing about the convergence on the figure of the girl in international development policy and practice for some time. I noticed that many development campaigns portray girls in the Global South as not only threatened by poverty, disease, and terrorism, but also as holding the potential to resolve these problems.
Islamophobic fearmongering about Muslims in the United States ignores the ways they have influenced the country from its inception. Dr. Hussein Rashid, a professor of religion at Barnard College, chronicles this history from 1492 to today in an animated short from The New York Times yesterday (December 17)
"A lot of people might assume Muslim immigration started in 1965 when the U.S. had a period of immigration reform, others will date it back to the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, yet others to the 9/11 attacks, but usually no one looks farther back than the 1960s and certainly not beyond the 20th century for this history at the popular level," said Hussein Rashid, who teaches at Columbia University.
I am a longtime fan of the Imaginary Worlds podcast, and was ecstatic was I was asked to participate in roundtable on the role of faith in imaginary worlds.
I was joined by friend of many years, the Velveteen Rabbi, Rachel Barenblat, who did a wonderful write-up of her experience here.
The episode description is:
Science fiction has not always been compatible with religion -- in fact many futuristic settings imagine no religion at all. But sci-fi and fantasy have long fascinated people of different faiths because the genres wrestle with the big questions of life.
You can listen to episode embedded below, or on the podcast page here.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the government’s ban, albeit a narrower version of its predecessors, further vilifying Muslims and legitimizing their discrimination.
Hussein Rashid, professor of religion at Columbia University, says that the ruling wasn’t surprising in that it has often ruled “in favor of discrimination.”
However, the highest court’s decision highlights that particularly since the 1978 Iranian Revolution and the 9/11 attacks, “Muslims have been “racialized”: bound together and stereotyped, instilling an idea of Muslims as a foreign threat and brown-skinned,” that includes anyone from South Asia or the Arab world, wrote Rashid after the ruling.
Whether viewed in terms of contemporary politics or American history, the Supreme Court’s ruling on President Trump’s travel ban against several Muslim-majority countries is not surprising. The court has safeguards designed to make it apolitical, but it is never immune to its immediate surroundings on Capitol Hill. Historically, as long as the people support its decisions, the court has ruled in favor of discrimination.
And when it comes to admitting people to these shores and welcoming them to the American nation, the court almost never acts for the rights promised in the U.S. Constitution without first denying them.
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.