We work at the grassroots level throughout the Muslim World to counter violent extremism before it takes hold, to promote tolerance and understanding, and to foster better relations with the United States.
Nothing can really capture the magic of being on the AUW rooftop during the evening call to prayer. From up above everything, the sun hangs heavy, about to drop from the incredible weight it’s collected throughout the day. A gentle breeze builds that feels like mercy after stifling humidity. And it carries to you the voices of twenty muezzins (the man who recites the call to prayer), floating out of twenty different speakers, attached to twenty different minarets. There is one mosque close to the university whose voice is strongest in my ear. The call itself is more like a song, one that sounds like ten years of anguish finally being released from deep within someone. The meuzzin’s voice has been trained, prepared, and practiced solely for this purpose, years spent in preparation for a sacred duty. With every pause of the muezzin’s call, I can hear the wails of the others, crying up from their own respective mosques, surrounding me completely. It’s a chorus of deep toned eulogies, each one emanating from its own source to join the others, building a canopy of eerie sound above me. As I rest my chin on the rungs of the rooftop railing, the wind touching my cheeks, I stare out at the decrepit high rise buildings, the smoke emanating from chimneys, the women setting out bright rainbows of laundry on their roofs, all underscored by the bells of rickshaws and horns of trucks, and it feels so surreal that I’m here.