How might Islam help to heal or reform these evils?
This interview was prepared by Peter J. O’Leary and featured in the January/February 2015 issue of The Firing Line magazine
Peter J. O’Leary is executive director of Freedom House, a New York–based think tank that helps moderate and liberal Muslims in their fight against extremism. Follow him on Twitter @PJOMeaker.
Abu Yusef: “I’m a native of the West Indies. My family has been in the West Indies since Portuguese colonialism. I came to the U.S. when I was two years old so I can’t speak or understand any English, and it took me several generations to find Arabic with the help of French, Spanish, and Portuguese. The only way for me to learn Arabic is through my family, so we have to communicate with each other when we don’t have English in English.”
Abu Yusef is twenty-four. He was born and raised in San Diego, California. He now lives in Austin, Texas. Abu Yusef’s father, Mohammad Yusef, is a physician in Austin. His mother is a doctor who speaks a bit of Arabic. They are both educated and have been working in the health care field for decades, though they say they aren’t particularly familiar with the Arabic language. Muhammad Yusef, who calls Abu Yusef an interpreter and says he is the son of a doctor, is a resident of San Diego and is a doctor. Mohammad Yusef works as a clinical coordinator at the University of California, San Diego as well as at a local hospital. He does not talk to Abu Yusef, nor does anyone else in the family, and Abu Yusef is happy for the opportunity to go public.
Mohammad Yusef, a member of the House of Justice, has been involved in Muslim community affairs since 1984. He also heads the Muslim American Society of San Diego—a chapter of which Abu Yusef is also a member—and is a director for Muslim Americans Advancing Justice, an organization that facilitates interfaith dialogues. Mohammad Yusef has been in America since 1997. He worked as a law clerk for a U.S. district judge and as a prosecutor in the San Diego County district attorney’s office. Mohammed is also a member of the local Muslim Brotherhood Islamic political organization and a Muslim chaplain at an Islamic college. He was born in Yemen, and he was raised by
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