Hello Mr. Zieve,
Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Tariq Yusuf, I am a Software Engineer at Google working in Kirkland and living in Everett. I graduated from your alma mater, the University of Washington, in 2014 with my Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and have lived in the greater Seattle area my whole life.
I saw you mentioned in the Seattle Times this evening in connection with postcards that were sent throughout the Mukilteo area regarding a Mosque that is currently being built. The mayor mentioned in the news article that you had "international and national concerns" regarding the project to the point where you have held community meetings at your company about this matter.
I understand you may have some concerns given the political climate and rhetoric about Muslims in the recent months. I wanted to offer some point of contact in case you have not had a chance to talk with any of the area Muslims about this project or the goal and purpose of mosques (with specific emphasis on those in the region).
Some background on Muslims in the area, there are roughly 100,000 Muslims living in Washington state, some 40,000 of them in the Seattle area. That community includes around 40 mosques ranging from Bellingham to Bothell and Spokane to Seattle. The first mosque in the region was founded in SeaTac in the 70s.
A Gallup poll from 2009 showed that Muslims are not only one of the most diverse religious populations in the US, but also that Muslim women are among the most highly educated demographics in the US. In addition, Muslim American men and women are equally as likely to have a college degree or some form of higher education.
Specifically within the Everett and Mukilteo areas, a majority of the Muslims in the region work for the Aerospace industry, many of them for Boeing and Crane. One of our congregants at our mosque is one of the head stress test engineers for the 787 project.
One of the main reasons why having a mosque or community center to gather at is it allows us to run our community programs like after-school tutoring, guest speakers, weekly worship services, and counseling for troubled couples or youth. Additionally, Muslims that are connected with a strong mosque community are in fact more likely to give back to their communities through volunteerism and philanthropy. This is something I have seen first hand in all the mosques in the region and beyond.
I understand that a lot of the rhetoric can be concerning especially if one has no personal experience or encounter with Muslims. Because of this, I'd like to offer you an open invite for lunch or dinner to converse about some of the questions you may have or concerns that might be worrying you. In addition to that, I'd also like to recommend some resources that will be helpful in understanding American Muslims as well as getting a better feel for the Muslim community.
- The Seattle Islamic Speakers Bureau provides workshops and talks about Muslims for people who have little to no familiarity with Islam.
- The local Council on American Islamic Relations has lots of information on how to contact local mosques and community members to better understand how Muslims live in the US and specifically Seattle.
- Finally, the Muslim Association of Puget Sound is one of the major pillars of the Seattle area community and definitely a good place to talk to if you want to see what a mosque is like. This is the mosque and community center that's an example for all the others in the region.
If you ever want to ask any questions about the Muslims community or want to know more about us, you can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. If I can't answer your question, I can most certainly direct you to those who can.
I hope your family is well and you have a wonderful day.
Your neighbor in peace,
Software Engineer, Google