The Common Heart Project

Akbar & Chelsea

Love, Community, Respect


Akbar's father passed away only three years after his family immigrated to America from Saudi Arabia on a Diversity Lottery Visa in September, 2001. The Muslim community of a nearby mosque reached out to help his family cope and make ends meet. He had moved from a majority Muslim country to a Philadelphia suburb with a church and a synagogue all sharing one intersection with his mosque. In our conversation we discuss the value of religious institutions and spiritual community and what the bigger, core values are that connect us beyond the particularities of religious practices.  

Conversation Partners

Akbar Hossain, Muslim
Chelsea Odhner, Swedenborgian

"There’s no religion out there that says go out and do terrible things. When you think about the core values of what I was learning at the mosque—besides the nitty gritty of how to pray or what to do—but the very inherent values that I was learning were the values of love, community, respect—things that exist in any religion you can think about—and that was easy to get behind. It was easy to recognize that community matters, that helping those in need matters. And I was seeing that in my real life actions: they weren’t just talking about it, they were doing it with my family." —Akbar