The Power of Dialogue: Interview with Qasim Rashid on his new book #TalkToMe

For a few days now, I keep seeing the same tweets in my timeline. “Thank you for backing my book #TalkToMe on Kickstarter”. #TalkToMe: The Five Conversations We Need to Have But Aren’t is Qasim Rashid’s latest book, which he describes as “a non-fiction memoir from inspiring thought leaders on how the power of dialogue can overcome racism, xenophobia, intolerance, and violence.” In only a week, Rashid has been backed for more than half of his goal on Kickstarter. With his new book, the author of The Wrong Kind of Muslim wants to tell stories of pluralism, stories that otherwise remain untold.

Rashid got his inspiration from the issues that are deeply rooted in our society. “In America, we live at a time of increasing violence, discrimination, and intolerance of one another. We cannot let extremists in America write our future. We must raise our voices and write our narratives for tolerance, education, and compassion,” Rashid says.

#TalktoMe is based on the idea of dialogue as a way to improve society. According to Rashid, we need meaningful communication. “Dialogue beyond mere lip service or pleasantries, but instead actual work to find common ground and build up on it for the sheer sake of respect of one another. We need to elevate our speech beyond mere legal requirements and into the realms of morality and integrity. This is a difficult standard because it requires self reflection, self accountability, and self respect. If achieved, however, it creates the conditions for mutual harmony and respect.”

We need to elevate our speech beyond mere legal requirements and into the realms of morality and integrity.

Rashid has a strong vision on leadership. It’s something we need nowadays more than ever. “Regardless of our faith, race, or social differences, leadership is a human need. And considering the state of the world today, leadership is sorely lacking.” What kind of leaders we need according to Rashid? “Humanity needs leaders willing to step out of their comfort zones and delve into what today appears a scary abyss of interfaith dialogue. It is these leaders who will also help mend race relations. It is these leaders who have the courage and compassion to respect their children, and raise them on pillars of pluralism. It is such leaders who convey and inspire their circle of influence with meaningful communication.”

Regardless of our faith, race, or social differences, leadership is a human need. And considering the state of the world today, leadership is sorely lacking.

On the Kickstarter page of Qasim Rashid, it says: “America is a great nation for many reasons, but it also suffers from the cancers of racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and intolerance.” It’s not all rainbow and sunshine, that’s clear. “I discuss in detail how far we have come as a nation from our dark early chapters to our dark chapters even until today. Our laws are written, however, in such a manner that allows us to challenge the status quo in a peaceful manner and bring about change,” Rashid says. Does the author see a positive evolution? “We have a long way to go as a nation, but I believe we are capable of getting there together with dialogue and compassion.”

Rashid has almost reached his goal on Kickstarter. His idea is convincing and so are his objectives. “You should only support my Kickstarter campaign if you believe in giving a platform to minority voices, to women, and to historically underrepresented voices in the media. I have 14 contributing authors in Talk To Me who identify as Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and atheist. Of the 14 authors, 11 are minorities (Black, Latino, or South Asian) and/or women. Currently, minorities are shamelessly ignored in the public sphere. I’m writing against that slanted narrative by giving a voice to minority authors whom the media largely ignores.” Sounds like a narrative that is desperately needed in today’s media landscape.

Want to know more about #TalkToMe? Check out Kickstarter and follow Qasim Rashid on Facebook and Twitter.

Written by Mvslim

Mvslim

In the mixed society we live today, we went looking for the ideal platform for Muslims. And of course, we didn’t find it. So we made one ourselves.