Abdul-Khaliq keeps the faith amid recent chaos

As the United States sits on the brink of war, Minnesota quarterback Asad Abdul-Khaliq stands outside the Gophers locker room dressed like any other 20-something American.

The sophomore from Elizabeth, N.J. – right across New York Harbor from where the World Trade Center towers once stood – has a look similar to the next University student.

But over the past two weeks, things have been anything but normal for Abdul-Khaliq.

When the tragedies first occurred, the worries followed. Abdul-Khaliq has three aunts who worked in, or around, the towers.

Fortunately, Abdul-Khaliq was spared from a personal tie to the events.

“By the grace of God they didn’t go to work,” Abdul-Khaliq said that somber Tuesday. “It’s terrible though, for those who died.”

After the initial shock wore off for Americans everywhere, the finger-pointing began. The man most believe to be responsible is Osama bin Laden, a Muslim.

Abdul-Khaliq is also a Muslim. He has practiced the Islamic religion since he was eight years old. And he remains proud.

Since the attack, disheartening actions have affected Muslims around the country. Abdul-Khaliq has been more fortunate.

He said people at the University – especially his teammates – have been very understanding of the situation.

“They have been very supportive,” Abdul-Khaliq said. “Sometimes they make jokes but I know that’s just out of love. It hasn’t been a problem.”

Although evidence for what occurred in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania points towards Muslim extremists, Abdul-Khaliq said the deplorable actions of a few people should not reflect his religion as a whole.

“I know what happened is not an act of a Muslim,” Abdul-Khaliq said. “We all value human life to the fullest. We believe human lives shouldn’t be taken for no reason.”

Omar Ali, former president of the University’s Muslim Student Association, said non-Muslims should relate to Abdul-Khaliq and realize people who practice the religion are just the same as everyone else.

“He has a special gift that allows him to be in the spotlight,” Ali said. “It’s important for him to take responsibility and show that (the terrorist attacks) is not what being Muslim is all about.”

When it comes to national pride, Abdul-Khaliq carries that, too. On the day of the attack, he was one of the first Gophers football players to send his prayers to the victims.

On that sad Tuesday, Abdul-Khaliq also condemned the actions of the terrorists.

But while Abdul-Khaliq believes the United States should retaliate – and terrorism needs to stop – he’s not sure bombing is the way to solve the problem.

“Who ever did this, I hope they catch them and throw them in jail for life,” Abdul-Khaliq said.

Abdul-Khaliq stands against terrorism.

And he stands proud.


John R. Carter covers football and
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