Creating a global interfaith community by fostering discussion, awareness, and action.
The four C's come together at a converging point in the middle, all with different colors. This symbolizes different religions coming at a meeting point through Converge!
World Hijab Day hosted at a school in the Chicagoland area! Nonmuslims participated in this event and wore hijabs in solidarity with Muslim women, and the guys also partook by wearing the traditional Kufi! An amazing event that put a smile on everyone's face--and a prime example of the impact Converge's actions can have in a local community.
Here, I am implementing the "Discussion" aspect of Converge.
It is a picture taken during my TEDxTalk in the Chicagoland area!
I spoke about "Muslims and Latinos in the Media", and specifically focused on how statistics, despite their quantitative measurements, can be skewed and used to build fear of minority groups in the United States.
Implementing Converge's "Action" statement.
A picture of Illinois State Senator Bill Cunningham and myself. I was the youngest youth that urged and advocated for the passing of the Anti-Registry Bill which prevents enrollment of people into a registry program based on their demographics. This prevents situations similar to the internment of the Japanese in World War 2, which in fact is an issue today because similar conversations are occurring in the context of the Muslim population in the U.S
A screenshot of the Converge homepage!
Converge's promotional video that demonstrates the issue and our mission to solve it.
Additional categories (optional)
Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?
Eligibility: Date of Birth
March 7th, 2002.
Help us stay in touch!
Number: (708) 228-0429, a T-mobile Customer! :-)
20 Moorings Drive
IL: Palos Heights (60465)
Website or social media url(s) (optional):
Date You Started Your Project Started
6/01/2019 (Converge Team recruitment; result is a youth-led team that spans dozens of U.S states, multiple countries, and numerous identities and religions)
8/31/2019 (Converge new online platform released, on the Islamic New Year-- a happy coincidence!)
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Start-Up (first few activities have happened)
1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
Religious intolerance is the most deadly issue humans have faced since the beginning of time. It has been used as a tool to wage wars, attack neighbors, and create loathing to our neighbors. It has caused over 50 million deaths, and the death toll continues to rise. Without solving this issue quickly, countries and religious groups will continue to have negative stereotypes about each other, affecting government, social, and physical safety.
2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
Converge is an organization that provides a platform for interfaith discussion to minimize religious ignorance. The goal is to create a global community that is aware and accepting of other religions despite not interacting with them physically. Converge “Columns” are Op-eds that focus on modern issues from a religious lens. Readers come to Columns to read about different religious perspectives, ultimately expanding their awareness about other religions. In addition to columns, Converge hosts “Chats” (podcasts) with 2 people of different religious identities and how they approach a presented topic from different perspectives. Listening to people struggle to find common ground, and ultimately achieving it, is impactful to any type of listener. Converge “Create” amplifies creatives by featuring poetry and art from people of different religions. We do this because Art inspires emotions not elicited from simply reading or listening. Lastly, Converge creates local impact by helping change-making and passionate youth host physical interfaith events such as dinners, discussions, and workshops. Through these, Convergers can recognize how similar all of our morals and religious values are!
3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?
"Your country smells like a zoo."
Desensitized, I shrugged those comments off. However, when my local mosque received bomb-threats online, I truly began to see my town. My diverse community, dubbed “Little Palestine”, was less than 5 minutes away from the neighboring Christian community. They avoided each other like the plague, and the dynamic is also seen at school. From calling areas where Muslims hang out “camel corners” to mocking shouts of “AllahuAkbar!” from my peers, I felt deeply saddened by the daily intolerance I encountered. I wondered, why is there a divide? I came up with two answers: One, no one is initiating discussions about our similarities. Second, the media misrepresents religious communities. Propelled by fear, in combination with my love for discussion, I created Converge and built interreligious bonds between 75,000+ people globally.
4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”
Rough transcription in the Youtube video description for accessibility!
5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.
Blessing lives in Nasarawa, Nigeria, and found Converge online. Living in a country that has an equal population of Muslims and Christians, she resonated with Converge’s mission of creating an interfaith society. While scrolling through the site, she found artwork featuring beautiful mosques, Hindus celebrating the colorful Holi festival, and Jews worshipping in Jerusalem. The columns featured on Converge featured insightful thoughts about hot-button topics from a religious lens--a side of the media that many don’t see. The podcast/discussion section was still in the works, but had a lot of promise, especially considering that people from different religions rarely come together to converse with each other! Blessing, inspired by the work that Converge does, emailed Salma, the founder, and asked to join the team! An application later, Blessing is now a writer for Converge!
6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?
Converge is a rubber-band in a sea of paperclips. We stretch to every community through the online platform and help youth organize an event locally on a smaller scale. Paperclips are restrictive organizations that haven’t recognized youth are passionate and quickly mobilize for social good. Most organizations with our mission host interfaith events in their cities/communities. This is simply not enough--religious intolerance is present globally. Converge brings interfaith education, discussion, and action to a global scale through its online presence--something no organization has attempted.
7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
The essence of Converge has always been part of my life. I have been building interfaith relations for years: A TEDxSpeech that focused on religious and racial minorities, youtube videos that show a positive side of Islam, interfaith dinners and other projects I’ve led have educated 75,000+ people around the world. Converge’s new online platform has combined those three aspects of action, awareness, and education--creating a comprehensive and effective tool for building a global interfaith community. The new platform has already been viewed hundreds of times--and it is exponentially increasing! I have been contacted by people globally who are inspired and want to contribute to Converge’s mission because they see religious intolerance in their countries. Converge’s mission can truly resonate with millions, and I hope to reach all of these people in the future!
8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
Converge is rapidly growing because of our unique mission and the passion and grit of youth working behind it. One prospective project is a “Converge Toolkit”. A set of online resources that streamline the process of creating an interfaith event! We hope to translate it to different languages so that anyone globally (specifically youth!) can create an interfaith event despite language barriers! Second is the “Converge Conference”. I dream of this to be a place where people converge and listen to lectures of imams, pastors, rabbis, and talk about their religious perspectives! My ultimate goal is to have Converge materials and resources available at every educational institution around the world, to truly create a global interfaith community.
9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?
10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?
Middle Eastern or North African (for example: Lebanese, Iranian, Egyptian, Syrian, Moroccan, Algerian) (11)
Self-identify race, ethnicity, or origin: (5)
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?
Communities of color
Religious minority (non-Christian)
How did you hear about this challenge?
Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?
Sarah Raza, founder of Aware!
In addition to Sarah, another friend of mine, Kyla Guru!
Both are amazing individuals who are passionate, inspiring, and truly represent the youth as we deserve to be represented--as caring individuals who want to better our world.