It’s been a year and a half since we first sat down with Rashed Fakhruddin. This week, Neat Nashville is following up with him to see how things are going!
“Life is getting busier every day.”
Volunteer president of the Islamic Center of Nashville on 12th South, Rashed, 47, said multitasking is just a part of his life. At times he said he wishes life would slow down a bit but at the end of the day, he enjoys it.
CHANGING the CULTURE
As of lately, Rashed has been more involved with the YWCA’s MEND initiative, engaging men to end domestic violence. He has given numerous sermons throughout the state during his last two and half years of involvement.
He said what lit a light bulb for him initially was first hearing the statistics about domestic violence.
“Three women lose their lives a day due to domestic violence. One in four women are subjected to severe physical abuse by their partner, and every fifteen seconds a woman is being battered in the United States. These are daunting statistics.”
Rashed said the Islamic scripture and the teaching of Muhammad state that part of the branch of one’s faith is to remove anything injurious from the path where people would be harmed.
“If I’m really a person of faith and I see someone in harm’s way, I can’t keep silent,” he said. “I didn’t know all this regarding statistics on domestic violence in the United States. It’s scary and the first thing I thought about is what’s being done to correct this? This is happening every day in our backyard.”
Rashed said what he loves about the YWCA’s MEND initiative is that it’s all about changing the culture around how men treat women and how boys treat girls.
“To change the culture around domestic violence, there must be a concerted effort. It can’t just be random,” he said. “It starts by educating the boys because the boys grow up to be men.”
So far this academic year, Rashed has been to twelve high schools to speak on not only domestic violence and respecting women, but also professional skills and success after high school and or college.
“In one school, I said, ‘Boys, that means you have to respect your female classmates.’ One by one the girls started clapping, and then the whole auditorium was clapping, and that really touched my heart,” he said.
October at the Islamic Center of Nashville was domestic violence awareness month, so Rashed had more opportunities to relay what Islam teaches about treating women with compassion and not to physically or emotionally abuse women.
“Islam comes to protect freedom of religion, life, property, honor, and intellect. Everything that contradicts that is against Islam.”
Rashed is also involved with You Have the Power, a victim’s rights organization for human trafficking and victims of violent crimes. He said everything he has learned in Islam has taught him to work for social justice.
During the day, Rashed continues to work as a supervisor in his department at Nashville Electric Service. He said he misses the technical side of the job, but he enjoys the human relation side of managing on a different level.
“I thank God I’m fortunate to have a platform with my work,” he said. “With Nashville Electric Service I serve on many education initiatives with Metro Nashville Public Schools and the Chamber of Commerce.”
an EVOLVING NARRATIVE for an EVOLVING COMMUNITY
Last time we sat down Rashed spoke extensively on the media’s narrative about Islam and how the public sees the religion. He said on a local level he’s glad the media in Nashville has been positive and respectful.
“The outreach we‘ve done has been very helpful and useful, and that’s something we will have to do more of,” he said. “We have to take control of the narrative. We can’t just say the media this and the media that. That doesn’t do us any good.”
Last year, the Islamic Center of Nashville located on 12th South had 51 group visits. Altogether that year they had 81 total engagements for the community. With the help of volunteers, they hope to grow the numbers of engagements each year.
“Quite frankly, I can’t blame people if they get their information from the national news. We have a great responsibility to educate and to be out there to communicate with the media and with our neighbors,” he said.
He said the evolution of the Nashville community has a whole has led him to make more connections with more people.
“By interacting with people you find out you have so many things in common with people who may or may not look like you,” he said.
Rashed loves having that connection with people and daily gets new business cards from people of all walks of life.
“If you don’t strike up a conversation, if you don’t reach out or say hi, if you just mind your business you’ll never get that opportunity to have those experiences.”
Rashed is actively looking for someone to take over as president of the Islamic Center of Nashville once his term ends in a year and a half.
He said what matters most to him right now his the success of his children who are spread out in college, high school, and middle school.
“I want them to have a promising future, but there’s a lot of things that might happen over the next four years that I’m concerned about,” he said alluding to the newly elected president, Donald Trump. “I’m afraid bigotry and hatred might be normalized because it’s coming from the person holding the highest office. I think in these next four years we’re going to have to be tight with each other and be resilient.”
He said the community is going to have to be stronger than ever and stand up for justice and equality across the board.
“The kids have to hear it from every business community and everyone in a leadership position that our culture here is about respect and tolerance and not about bigotry,” he said.
Rashed said in the future he wants to spend more time with his children and with his family. He said he promised his daughter he would teach her how to drive and a vacation to California.
“I also need to improve on my dribbling skills and my drive to the basket in basketball,” he said with a big smile. “My youngest son hounds me on the threes, so it’s making me develop my game.”
Rashed said some people have suggested he get more involved in politics on a local level in the future. He said it’s also been an idea to him but isn’t sure if his wife likes the idea.
In 2015, Rashed received the Women’s Political Collaborative of Tennessee’s Good Guy Award for his leadership and advocacy toward women’s issues. Last year, he received the Community Nashville Human Relations Award for building respect and understanding differences while being committed to fighting bias, bigotry, and racism. In 2016, he also won Southerner of the Year honoree for moving the South forward with groundbreaking nonprofits, impactful projects, and innovative ideas.
To keep up with Rashed and his work for the community, check out the Islamic Center of Nashville website.
Thanks for reading Nashville!