How the heck could Islam be westernized? Daisy Khan's story
"After some soul-searching, she decided to abandon Islam because, she said, “it was too painful to always defend the actions of people that I couldn’t relate to.” But the choice left her adrift. By her mid-30s, she was an upwardly mobile Manhattanite with a high-paying design job, yet she felt unfulfilled.
In 1987, Ms. Khan began work as a project manager at Shearson Lehman Brothers on the top floor of the World Trade Center. On lunch breaks, she would walk by Masjid al-Farah, a mosque on West Broadway in TriBeCa, where one day she stopped in and met Mr. Abdul Rauf, the imam. He preached a liberal, mellower type of Islam, with an emphasis on meditation and inclusiveness. She began sneaking away from work for Friday afternoon prayers.
Here was a place where, Ms. Khan believed, she could reconcile her American identity with her religious heritage. This imam did not ask her to don the hijab or lose her Americanized name. He encouraged her to speak about women taking an active role in Islam. The two became close, and a courtship ensued. They married in 1996. Friends describe the couple as equal but complementary partners. “He is the thinker; she is the doer,” said Muzaffar Chishti, a lawyer who directs a think tank on immigration issues at New York University Law School, and a longtime friend who grew up with Ms. Khan in Kashmir.
She became interested in helping other Muslims, especially younger professionals like herself, balance their modern lives with tradition. In 1997, she and the imam opened a nonprofit to help promote a more progressive Islam, which was later renamed the American Society for Muslim Advancement."