Professor Educates About Islam in America



Hussein Rashid is an adjunct professor teaching a theology course called “Muslims in America” this semester. (Courtesy of Hussein Rashid; Photo by Ali Ansary)


Hussein Rashid is an adjunct professor teaching a theology course called “Muslims in America” this semester. (Courtesy of Hussein Rashid; Photo by Ali Ansary)

Adjunct Professor Hussein Rashid is known for his lectures about Islam and the life of a Muslim in America. Rashid received his bachelor’s degree from Columbia University. This fall, Rashid returns to his roots as a new addition to the faculty at Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) educating the studentabout Islam and the roles of Muslim–Americans in the United States. The Observer had the opportunity to talk to Rashid about some of his accomplishments as well as some of the goals he is looking forward to achieving during his time at FCLC.

The Observer: What did you think of Fordham before you began teaching here?

Hussein Rashid: I grew up in New York City so I knew of Fordham. Fordham has a great reputation and I knew it was a Jesuit school so I wasn’t quite sure how teaching Islam at a Jesuit school would work. Fortunately I have had the privilege of working with a few of the faculty members before coming to Fordham such as Katherine Kueny, associate professor of theology at FCLC and Father Patrick Ryan who works at the Rose Hill Campus. I had interactions with the Fordham community before so I was excited to come to Fordham.

The Observer: Did your idea of Fordham change as you started teaching here?

H.R.: I think that my experience at Fordham so far has reinforced what I thought prior to coming to the school. Fordham is a great welcoming community in terms of the students and the faculty and it has a highly motivated and highly driven student body. They have confirmed what I had thought about the school prior to joining the Fordham community.

The Observer: What is one thing you want to gain from teaching at Fordham?

H.R.: One of the things coming to Fordham has afforded me is a chance to experiment because students do know so much already that I can experiment with different material and different approaches to the material. I am gratified to know that so many of my students are willing to play along and experiment with me to make the course better.  The experience I gain from the experimentation is something that I am hoping to take away at the end of the semester.

The Observer: What is one message that you want to leave your students with at Fordham?

H.R.: I think that there are two things that I want to leave with the students. One is a skill that I think is a valuable part of the cultural experience and I do not think that they will get it from my class alone and I hope that they will get it over the next four years. That skill is the ability to be critical thinkers, to look at the world around them, to be inquisitive and to question the world around them. However, in terms of my class specifically, I hope they realize that religion appears in our culture in many unexpected and unusual places and that they should always be on the outlook for it. Just because we say we are in a secular society doesn’t mean that we are in an irreligious society.

The Observer: What message do you want to leave your students at FCLC with about Islam?

H.R.: I think that the one thing that I want to have them walking away from this course with is that there is a dichotomy between being a Muslim-American. Muslims are part of the American experience since the country’s inception and Muslims are an important part of that American history.

The Observer: What would you say has been your biggest accomplishment?

H.R.:  I hope I have not hit it yet but there have been some highlights throughout my life thus far. I have had the privilege of meeting President Obama on a few occasions. I have had so many opportunities to travel the world for my research and to write for major news organizations. I feel blessed that my credentials have opened up so many different opportunities for me.

The Observer: How do you like to spend your leisure time?

H.R.: I consider my teaching leisure. I do not consider it work. I love teaching and I love being with the students. I consider it part of my leisure time because it is fun for me. I like prepping lessons but I do not like grading lessons. I will be honest.

The Observer: I hear you like to listen to rap music. What other genres of music do you enjoy listening to?

H.R.: I do enjoy listening to rap as well as other types of music. I also like to listen to hip-hop. I have never really enjoyed listening to Reggaeton though. That is the one genre of music that I do not really like.