Safia Khattak is a freshman at Middlesex County College and a member of Multiplying Good's Think Big Team. She attended high school in New Jersey, where was a member of Students In Action for many years.

When America was attacked on 9/11 19 years ago, everyone said we would never forget it. As a Muslim American, I'm telling you that no one lets me forget what happened that day. Many people remember that being the day when an Islamic terrorist group led a series of four major attacks on the United States. As a young Muslim American who wasn't even born when those attacks took place, I remember 9/11 for being the date that would forever connect being a Muslim with being a terrorist, regardless of personal actions or beliefs.

It was tough growing up knowing that people would always be against you and your religion even if you were doing good, just because of your faith. As a tenth grader, I witnessed the harsh impact of the 9/11 attacks on our society. My Students In Action (SIA) team and I went to Penn Station in Newark to pass out meals to people experiencing homelessness. While distributing the food, our SIA advisor was attacked just for being Muslim. This person tried to pull off her headscarf and directed hateful words towards our whole group. It was quite a challenge not to feel discouraged by that, but despite that feeling, we continued to double our efforts and force the world to acknowledge that not all Muslims are terrorists. We wanted the outside world to know that doing community service is part of our religion.

In the Quran (Muslim’s holy book), God says: “Help one another in acts of piety and righteousness. And do not assist each other in acts of sinfulness and transgression.” (Quran 5:2). Muslims are raised knowing that we should help and respect others regardless of their actions or words, no matter how hard that is. That attack against our SIA advisor became my team's biggest inspiration to continue doing service more than ever before. We wanted to show the world that 9/11 doesn't define Muslims. What defines Muslims is our actions. Community service changes many lives, not just the people who directly benefit from it. When Muslims do community service, it helps removes the stigma that was created by 9/11.