Project Director of the Inclusive America Project at the Aspen Institute
Hijri Unknown-Present (AH); Common Era Unknown-Present (CE)
Zeenat Rahman is the Project Director of the Inclusive America Project at the Aspen Institute. Her expertise is on global youth issues, interfaith and diversity engagement. She is also a former diplomat. She was the director of public affairs at the Interfaith Youth Core in Chicago. She works to empower religious youth, especially young Muslims, and specializes in projects which build mutual respect for the cultural and religious pluralism among youth groups. In promoting civic engagement, she develops policy initiatives and international programs in partnership with national Muslim organizations.1 She was selected as a fellow for the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute and is a member of the Transatlantic Network 2020, a program which aims to build multilateral networks by empowering promising young leaders from North America, and Europe. Before joining the Interfaith Youth Core, Zeenat completed her master’s degree at the University of Chicago where she studied Muslim youth and Muslim religious institutions in America. As a student, Zeenat co-created a play about women who wear the hijab, the headscarf, and their daily lives within Muslim communities. Alluding to The Vagina Monologues, The Hijabi Monologues is a challenge to stereotypical notions of those who wear the headscarf and attempts to offer a more nuanced, personal narrative of Muslim women.2 Not only has the play received tremendous support from the American Muslim community, but it has also succeeded in dispelling the doubts and fears associated with the headscarf. One man who watched the play afterwards said that, “‘whenever I would see a Muslim woman covered, I would think she had a bomb under there...I just realized that after sitting and listening to these stories that you are regular people.”3 Based out of Chicago, Zeenat regularly contributes to the Chicago Tribune and has appeared on CNN and other media outlets. In fostering interfaith relationships, she emphasizes the need for respect, dialogue, and mutual accountability. In an op-ed article written for the Chicago Tribune, she says: “Real respect is not holding a double standard....interfaith engagement is not only up to rabbis, imams, and priests - we all have a responsibility to know one another.”4  "Zeenat Rahman," The Center for Religion and Civic Engagement.  “'Hijabi Monologues': the women under the head scarves,” The Los Angeles Times, March 6, 2009.  “Hijabi Monologues” Dispels Stereotypes of Muslim Women,” America.gov, March 25, 2010.  “Zeenat Rahman: What's accomplished if everybody draws Mohammed?” The Chicago Tribune, May 20, 2010.  ibid.