The M Word seeks to elevate, amplify, and celebrate the contributions of Muslim Americans to our country’s varied and inspiring cultural landscape. To help us, we are inviting audience members, online followers, panelists, and others—both Muslims and non-Muslims alike—to share their personal experiences with what it means to be Muslim in America. 

Today, we share Faizan Kothari’s story on being a Muslim American. The piece is Kothari’s response to The M Word’s questionnaire


Do you identify as a Muslim? Or have you been identified as a Muslim? If yes, please tell us about it.

Yes, I identify as a Muslim.

Describe what it means to be Muslim in America.

It means being looked at strangely and spied on constantly, a perceived enemy in your own home. But I think as a result of that targeting, a strong sense of community has emerged within the United States.

Given the current climate and public discussions about Muslims in America, what responsibility do you feel you have to the larger conversation?

We as Muslims shouldn’t have to be apologists. But we should talk about our own stories in our way constantly.

We want to hear your stories! For the chance to be featured by The M Word, submit your own video story with us on Facebook or submit your story in writing here. By submitting your story, you grant PEN America the right to use all still and motion pictures and sound recordings you provide in furtherance of its nonprofit charitable mission, including the right to advertising, promotion, and future marketing of PEN America and its activities via radio, television, video, DVD, the Internet, podcasts, PEN America publications, or any other use, by any means now known or hereafter devised, in perpetuity, throughout the universe. 

The M Word is generously supported by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art’s Building Bridges program.