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Guide to the Muslims in Brooklyn oral histories 2018.006

Brooklyn Historical Society
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Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Elena Locascio

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on June 13, 2019
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Revised by Maggie Schreiner to reflect updated access restrictions.  , April 2019

Container List

Oral History Interview with Rabia Ahsin, September 1, 2018

Biographical / Historical

Rabia Ahsin was born in 1991 in the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn. While studying political science at Brooklyn College as an undergraduate student, she joined the school's Islamic Society of Brooklyn College as well as with the Muslim Women's Educational Initiative, both of which were targeted by the New York City Police Department for religiously-motivated surveillance by an undercover officer while she was a member. She also became an outspoken activist against human rights abuses, including protesting with the school's newly-formed Students for Justice in Palestine and focusing her studies on surveillance in New York City. She went on to work as a special education teacher at all all girls' secondary school.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Rabia Ahsin discusses growing up in a Punjabi Muslim family in the Midwood and Ditmas Park neighborhoods of Brooklyn. She speaks extensively about the complex relationship between faith and culture, including her own connection to her Punjabi roots and her exploration of different traditions and customs within Islam. She expands on her education at Brooklyn College, including the hostility she experienced when she joined a school organization that advocated against violence in Palestine; studying human rights abuses against Muslims with Professor Jeanne Theoharis; and the undercover police officer who infiltrated the Islamic Society of Brooklyn College. She also talks about her struggles with mental health. Interview conducted by Zaheer Ali.

Conditions Governing Access

This interview can be accessed onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online at the Oral History Portal.

Subject Names

  • Ahsin, Rabia
  • Theoharsis, Jeanne

Subject Organizations

  • Brooklyn College
  • Islamic Society of Brooklyn College (Brooklyn College)
  • Students for Justice in Palestine (Brooklyn College)

Subject Topics

  • Children of immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Clothing and dress -- Religious aspects -- Islam
  • Food -- Social aspects -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Hijab (Islamic clothing) -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Islamophobia -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Muslim women -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Pakistanis -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Political activists -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Women in Islam -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Ditmas Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • Midwood (New York, N.Y.)