Earlier this semester I had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Kahn, and asked him some questions. I was interested in asking him questions because I had admired him as a teacher, and a person throughout the semester. I had never met someone who appeared as intelligent as Dr. Kahn, but was also down to earth. In class he spoke in a way that was easy to understand, he also accepted, and answered our questions no matter how ignorant, or insignificant. I knew Dr. Kahn’s background from his personal introduction at the beginning of the semester.
Consequently I knew that he had moved around a fair amount in his life. As a result of this knowledge I asked him to tell me about how growing up in different places, particularly America has impacted him, and his faith. He explained to me that different settings helped to understand different views. I could relate to this idea because before coming to school at Rochester College I came from a very small town, and had very limited views. I can understand how moving to different settings could impact, and bring a more comprehensive view on many issues.
After asking this first question I realized I did not know, or had forgotten, what Dr. Kahn did for a living before the 9/11 attacks. He was happy to backtrack, and answer my inquiry. He explained that his father, who was a doctor, had wanted him to follow in his footstep, and also become a doctor. After beginning medical school however Dr. Khan realized he did not have the desire to become a doctor, and studied to become a lawyer. In the years leading up to 9/11 he was a lawyer, and he enjoyed his job, but after the attacks he realized he could have a greater impact by teaching.
I found it remarkable that Dr. Khan not only had the courage to go against his fathers wishes, and study to become a lawyer instead of a doctor, but to leave his profession because he wanted to have a greater impact on the world threw teaching. Dr. Khan explained to me that the 9/11 attacks shaped his career path, and led him to where he is today. Threw my reading of Acts Of Faith I learned there are different types of Islam similar to the way there are different types of Christianity.
As a result of this knowledge I was curious if Dr. Kahn practiced the ritual of praying five times a day as most Muslims do. He responded that yes he does follow the ritual of praying five times a day, and views it as an important part of his faith. In class we had discussed a number of apps that can aid in the practice of the five daily prayers. I asked Dr. Kahn if he used any of these apps to aid in his prayer practice. He explained to me that he does not use the apps because he likes to rely on his own knowledge.
He said that he likes to keep his mind sharp, and finds that the practice of remembering the prayers is more personally satisfying then relying on an app. My next question was foolish, but my personal curiosity prompted me to ask if his style of dressing in all black was a result of his Islamic faith, or a personal decision. He told me that it was a personal decision, and provided several reasons. The first was that he felt confident when h wore all black. He then said that the choice made matching his clothes, and laundry much easier.
We then took our conversation on a quick detour into the horrors of pet hair. He told me that their were times when he had to wear business casual, or business formal attire, but when he had the choice he chose to wear all black. I found Dr. Kahn’s response admirable because it takes a great deal of courage, and self understanding for a person to not only comprehend what makes them comfortable, but to be able to act on that understanding even if it makes them stand out from others. I next moved the conversation into a discussion of his family.
I was curious about this aspect of his life because I understand the Christian family dynamic, and what the parents expect of the kids, and I was curious about how it compared to families who practice the Islamic faith. I asked how he felt about his daughters growing up in the current political, and social environment we are experiencing in America. He explained to me that the majority of the reason he does his job is to make things better for his kids. He hopes to minimize the hate they experience.
He further explained to me that his ultimate hope for his kids is for them to lead a well-balanced life and to be well adjusted. I was surprised when he went on to explain that he does not care if they choose to follow the Islamic faith or another religion as long as they lead fulfilling lives. I admired this statement, and I hope that someday when I have kids I can be as accepting, and straightforward as him. The conversation was nearly over at this point, but I had two final questions to satisfy my personal curiosity.
The first how he felt about being visible in the media, and the world. He said that he views it as going to work, and that he loves the feeling that he can make a difference in the world. He also told me that he loves the fact that the life he leads, and his achievements are something that he did himself, and he did not need to rely on anything besides his own hard work. My final question was if Dr. Kahn had always read the amount of news he currently reads, or if it was a result of his current career.
He told me that his greatest fear was not knowing, or forgetting something, so he was willing to put in the work of reading the current events, and issues from many angles. Igenuinely enjoyed the opportunity to sit down, and talk to Dr. Kahn. I realize now that I could have picked more academic topics, but I do not regret the questions I chose to ask. This conversation helped to reinforce, and cement the main ideal have been struggling with this semester. It showed me, once again, that it does not matter what background, or religion a person comes from it is their own merits, experiences, and hard work that make them who they are.