When 19-year-old Heraa Hashmi’s university classmates began asking her about her religion, it quickly led to one burning question: if Muslims don’t identify with the ideals of terrorists, why don’t they condemn them?
The short answer is that they do, but believing that empirical evidence is always more compelling than one person’s word, microbiology student Hashmi went home and prepared a 712 page-long list of influential Muslims who have done just that.
It took her three weeks to compile and features people from across the globe including a number of Australians.
Dr Sheikh Salim Alwan Al-Husainiyy of the Darulfatwa Islamic High Council of Australia is among those featured, alongside Hafez Kassem, the President of Muslims Australia, Shaykh Nouman Ali Khan, associate professor at the Curtain University in Perth and Imam Afroz Ali, the President of Al-Ghazali Centre for Islamic Sciences and Human Development in Sydney.
After a tweet about her list was met with widespread praise and over 30,000 likes last month, anyone can contact Hashmi to add a name to the spread sheet – something that is particularly relevant in the wake of the recent attack on a Berlin Christmas market.
Indian-American student Hashmi has always felt uncomfortable about being held to account for the actions of others she does not condone. She tells Teen Vogue, “Being a female Muslim person of colour, I wear my uniqueness on my head and skin.”
“When I was younger, it was difficult, being surrounded by the need to blend into the crowd. I hated the questions that came my way. I hated how I had to respond for my entire country and my entire religion. And in many ways it's still the same, but I started to realise that each difference is actually a connection to more people, more ideas, and more experiences.”