Mohammed Maaz Rehan is a member of the 2018-19 MALA Young Leaders Fellowship. Fellows participate in digital seminars, dinner discussions, and other MALA events. As part of the program, Fellows reflect on their multiple layers of identities – as daughters, sons, professionals, athletes, and so much more – and share those reflections into the MALA story collection. Personal stories can be a powerful catalyst for change – challenging stereotypes, building bridges, and inspiring action. In a country as diverse and complex as the United States, the identities of Muslim Americans remain layered and contested. We all have stories to tell: stories that deserve to be collected, conserved, and celebrated. We are honored to share the stories of our Fellows here.
I identify as a Muslim American who strives to lead an impactful life. My Islamic faith is the law that I live by and my American nationality is my way of life. Each day throughout life, new experiences and exposures broadened my mind, evolving me into the man I was to be the next day. The journey of shaping my identity transforms with each winding path life takes on a daily basis.
My confidence as a Muslim comes from my strong belief in the religion of peace, its rules and regulations, rich history, eye-opening examples, and social justice traditions which also continue to catalyze my curiosity, love, and compassion.
I am an American not only because I am citizen of the United States by birth, but also my language, hobbies, music interests, and day-to-day struggles and opportunities socially define a true American. I grew up playing American sports, listening to American music, indulging in America’s favorite pastimes, living the true American dream.
My identity can be unveiled within the first few moments of meeting me, both by appearance, a Jersey boy wearing seersucker shorts and boat shoes, and by name, the most popular Islamic name of them all, Muhammad. I identify as the epitome of a Muslim American.
I have strived to solidify my identity and true definition of self so that my public portrayal and legacy are a reflection of my Muslim and American values. I strive to create positive impact, whether it may be during my 9-to-5, among friends, to strangers on the streets, or even within my own family. Impact, to me, is leading by example, sharing my stories and experiences to help others make their own life choices, and making a difference to those who cross my path.
My identity and self-definition has evolved over time by living through challenging times of social questionability and sticking firmly and proudly to what I believe in with theological clarity. I have chosen professions and organizations which impact a greater good and utilize my spare time in spreading my resources as I hope to continue through civic engagement with MALA.