Excerpt: “I would encourage those of us who are not familiar with the tragedies that take place in the month of Muharram to take the time to go and understand and read our history. And that’s a Muslim history, not a Sunni or a Shia history. And to be able to relate and connect to every character that is there and to understand really, what are they made of? That they were able to move forward in the face of such atrocity, in the face of such challenge, and still say that the next world is more important than this one. That Allah is greater than all of this. That I will not compromise on my relationship with the Divine for anything of this dunya. It’s for you and I to take from, not from anybody else. It’s for you and I to reflect on, to make the individual decision. And it starts in being honest with yourself. Do you really believe that honesty drives you? Do you believe that integrity drives you?… I would encourage that you engage and take in some capacity. Push your comfort zone, and not for anybody else’s sake. Not to prove that you are somehow open-minded and you will be present in gatherings. Let this Muharram be about your heart… and yield to the idea that there is immense opportunity for gain and rejuvenation. We just have to decide whether it’s something we want to take for ourselves or not.”
About Khalid Latif is Executive Director and Chaplain for the Islamic Center at New York University (NYU).
In 2005, Imam Latif was appointed the first Muslim chaplain at NYU. In 2006, Imam Latif was appointed the first Muslim chaplain at Princeton University. In 2007, Imam Latif’s position was fully institutionalized at New York University, and so he committed himself to that institution and the building of a Muslim life institution.
Imam Latif’s dedication and ability to cross faith and cultural boundaries on a daily basis brought him recognition throughout the city, so much so that in 2007, Mayor Michael Bloomberg nominated Imam Latif to become the youngest chaplain in history of the New York City Police Department when he was 24 years old. Since then, Imam Latif has dedicated himself to America’s largest police department, and has developed tremendously valuable skills as a spokesperson for co-existence, mutual understanding, and productive relationships between cultures, communities, and religions.
Imam Latif has not only managed to build a strong Muslim institution at NYU, but he has offered his experience to the U.S. State Department, various institutions, corporations, mosques, and other communities in the United States, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, and Egypt. He is a highly sought-after speaker, offering to diverse audiences his unique blend of motivational speaking, leadership insights, spiritual development, and religious awareness. He has been invited to speak at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, Yeshiva University, St. John’s University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of California-Davis, University of California-Berkeley, Columbia University, Princeton University, The University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign), the Ohio State University and Harvard University. Imam Latif has been quoted or otherwise featured on numerous media outlets including BBC, NPR, CNN, the New York Times, Newsweek, Time Magazine, BET, and GEO TV. Amongst many awards and distinctions for leadership and community service over the last few years, Imam Latif was most recently named one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world in 2010 by Georgetown University’s Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim–Christian Understanding and The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.