Heraa Hashmi is studying molecular biology full time, writing novels, working on a YouTube channel and keeping up with her 54,000 Twitters follower … oh, and she’s just 19.
Hashmi is a student at the University of Colorado Boulder, and focuses her non school-related work on everything from social justice to daily of campus life. She is a Muslim American and an Indian American.
Recently, there was a discussion in her history class on European history and religion’s influence on modern history. This topic included religion and violence, and how it’s in every religion’s history, along with it’s true followers condemning it. Then, according to Hashmi, a fellow student muttered under his breath, “Islam doesn’t feel that way.”
“This was somebody that you sit next to throughout the year,” Hashmi said.
She asked him to repeat himself in case she misheard him, but he said it again. Hashmi explained that Islam is one of three major world religions with a few bad apples who get most of the attention, and continued with a great response, “You can’t paint 1.5 billion people with the same brush.”
After much discussing, Hashmi felt they were just going in circles, and thought how these types of issues come up often in the media. Then she thought of the thousands of press releases and statements that come out from so many mosques and Islamic organizations nationwide, and the hundreds who reach out and do even more such as the blood drive after the Orlando shooting last year.
“In order to be a good Muslim, you have to be a good member of society,” added Hashmi.
So she went home, knowing that the results of Muslims denouncing acts of terrorism carried out in the name of Islam were there, but just has to put them together. She worked for a few hours everyday since, and then tweeted out of results. Within just a few days, this tweet was shared over 12,000 times.
Her end result was a spreadsheet with 5,720 cases of Muslim groups and leaders denouncing various acts of terrorism. It was so well documented that two of Hashmi’s Twitters followers, Ire Aderinokun, a User Interface designer, and Timi Ajiboye, who describes his work as ‘I make stuff that work on computers,’ turned her list into a searchable and interactive website, Worldwide Muslims Condemn List.
One of the people who saw Hashmi’s post through someone else’s share was a reporter at Teen Vogue, who in turned also did a story of her and her findings.
“Muslims shouldn’t have to answer for terrorist acts carried out by people they’ve never even met just because they claim to be acting in the name of Islam,” Hashmi said in her interview with Teen Vogue.
The writer of that article, Joshua Eaton, also added, “And people like her shouldn’t have to do research like this for people unwilling to educate themselves.”
Following this, Hashmi said that many of her non-Muslim friends have reached out with support for her and told her that after what happened in the election, they are there for her.
“The point I was trying to make with this list is that its unfair that we [Muslims] are held to this standard, but the long term solution is education. Even if they are rude or mean I am always open to questions, that it the only way we will build bridges and a strong community,” Hashmi concluded.