Yahoo! is asking Americans how September 11 changed them. Below is an account from a reader.
I was 15 years old when the attacks on the Twin Towers occurred, and in the 10 years since, I've grown in many ways. As a Muslim American, September 11 angered me for so many reasons, not the least of which was that some people were claiming to use our holy book to justify their actions, and had dug a hole for us Muslims that was going to be quite a struggle to get out of.
September 11 changed me in that it made me passionate about letting the world know about the true Islam rather than the skewed version made infamous by terrorists and Muslim governments that followed culture more than religion. It made me realize that I needed to be part of the change in people's perceptions, through my interactions with my fellow Americans. September 11, 2001 also decided my career path for me. It's why I went into journalism.
[Your story: How has September 11 changed you?]
On that infamous day, I was a senior in Al-Noor School in Brooklyn, sitting in my first period classroom. Someone ran in and told us about the first plane crashing into the World Trade Center. We made our way to the big windows in the 7th grade classroom, where students, teachers, and the principal were gathered. From there we could see the World Trade Center on fire. I felt so many things that day: shock, fear, and sadness for the lives that were lost. I also felt confusion; how could people calling themselves Muslims do such a thing?
When we returned after a few days off, we found that the media was suddenly very interested in us. Everyone wondered what our school was teaching us, and how young Muslims in America felt about the attacks. A writer from The New York Times came and sat in on our Islamic Studies class. A group of my classmates and I were interviewed by a local news network. Camera crews roamed the hallways and journalists did profiles on our school. In the midst of all this, I decided I wanted to be like these journalists, and get to tell the world in my own words what Islam was all about. I wanted to get out there and show the world that Muslims were normal, everyday people and that the religion of Islam is truly a beautiful one.
September 11 put Islam on Americans' radar in perhaps a bigger way than it ever was before. That day changed many Muslims, myself included, in that we now felt (and continue to feel) the responsibility to fix Islam's reputation in the world. I would hope that, 10 years later, many of the misconceptions about Islam have been cleared. That's not the case just yet, but in the meantime I love trying to show the truth about Islam, and love the fact that I'm learning so much about my religion as I do.