Khalid Latif drove a sports car and was on the football team in high school in suburban New Jersey. While attending college at New York University, he began delving deeper into his faith. In addition to his school work and extra curriculars, he would record sermons and post them to the internet. Now 27, Latif is the Muslim chaplain for NYU and NYPD. He represents the next generation of young Muslims that comfortably coexist in the secular world of America and the religious world in of their hearts.
Latif ties his turban in the bathroom of the Islamic center before delivering a Friday sermon.
Latif takes a phone call in the lobby of NYPD headquarters. His roles as chaplain for two large instuitions keeps him very busy.
The Chaplain Unit of the NYPD meets once a month. Other officers include a rabbi, a Protestant minister, and a couple Catholic priests. Latif is the youngest by more than a decade.
Latif stays very engaged in Islam, constantly reading, studying and refining his faith.
Officers stand at attention during an NYPD graduation ceremony. As part of his chaplain duties, Latif delivered a non-denominational benediction at the beginning of the ceremony.
Latif exchanges ideas with Rabbi Sarna, the Jewish chaplain for NYU. The two organized a mission trip with Muslim and Jewish students to Georgia to repair homes after the 2009 floods.
Latif delivers a Friday sermon to a packed house at the NYU Islamic Center. The center is located in the basement of a church in the West Village. On Saturdays, IC volunteers roll out the carpets so the church can use the space as a soup kitchen.
The Islamic Center is open to anyone. And unlike most mosques, it does not have a ethnic majority. Blacks, whites, Arabs and South Asians of all ages and economic classes attend prayers and sermons. Latif is very proud of the diversity of his center.
Friends present Latif with a cake for his 27th birthday. Latif has thousands of Facebook friends and provides guidance, counseling and friendship to hundreds of students and community members.
Because of his role as a chaplain, Latif does not feel like he has anyone to share his problems with. He fears upsetting the dynamic between himself and those he helps. Often, he internalizes his problems and feels lonely.
Latif was named one of the 500 most influential Muslims in a list compiled by Georgetown University. He travels all over the country giving lectures and regularly appears on CNN to share his opinions on Islam in America. Here, Latif addresses a group of Jewish and Muslim students at NYU for an organization called Bridges that attempts to increase understanding through discourse.
Latif has a vision for Islam in America — one based on religious faith in the Qu’ran, understanding and diversity rather than cultural misconceptions and xenophobia.