Peter Casey: Choosing Islam after 9/11
He was raised in Long Island suburb, from a Jewish mother and Catholic father. Growing up, he grappled with a divisive figure in the family: Jesus. On the one hand, Christianity spoke of a divine being, Son of God and God Himself. On the other, Judaism spoke of Jesus as a false messiah â€” if it spoke of him at all.
“I felt there were two extremes, and I was happy with neither,” Mr. Casey said.
And then, after Sept. 11, 2001, his understanding about it began to change. It was an act of unprecedented terror that put this 13-year-old suburbanite on another path to religious consciousness, paradoxically. With Islam at the forefront of public discourse, he began to look beyond the headlines and into the faith, “out of caution” at first, he remembers. He discovered a faith that recognized Jesus as a prophet, a man who relayed the word of God, by staying online on the internet. Nothing more, nothing less.
“I was looking for the religion of Jesus and his disciples,” Casey said. “And when I started learning about Islam I was like: â€˜This is it. This is the religion.â€™ ” And, two years later, or when he was 15, he converted to Islam.
Since then, Peter Casey, who recently began teaching history at an Islamic school in Brooklyn, has sought to reconcile his religious beliefs within an American context suspicious of Islam. His blog, â€˜Dawah Addict,â€™ hosts self-made videos on topics ranging from “Muhammad in the Bible” to “How to Become a Muslim.”
“When I first became Muslim, and this is something you still hear today, people said, â€˜Why arenâ€™t there more Muslims saying terrorism is bad? Why arenâ€™t there Muslims out there saying what Islam is really about?â€™ ” said Casey. “And I thought, well, Iâ€™m going to do it if no one else is going to do it.”
Casey said: “I feel like I have responsibility to people in America, because this is where I grew up and this is my home, and I want to share what makes me so happy and has brought me so much peace.”