When the jets slammed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field a decade ago, the life of Joseph Rose* began to change.

A Christian college student, he knew little about Islam. He didn’t know a single Muslim personally. His mother called and warned him to shave off his full beard, fearing “hate attacks” by angry people mistaking him for a Muslim.

“I left the beard. No one attacked me,” Rose recalled.

As the initial shock of 9/11 wore off, something inside him spurred Rose to understand the forces shaking the world. “I began to read about Islam,” he said. “I knew not all Muslims were terrorists, but I was casually driven to understand ‘my enemy.'”

Later, he got a job as a newspaper photographer in Ohio and moved into an apartment there. His next door neighbor was a young Muslim from the Middle East.

“He invited me over to his apartment for Arabic coffee and chat. We would talk for hours and watch music videos from his home country. I asked him questions about his country and his religion. He smoked. He bowled. He worked at a hospital and helped his brother open a coffee shop. He was not a terrorist. He didn’t even seem religious. Just an average guy.”

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