The ongoing controversy over construction of an Islamic Center near Ground Zero in New York has focused attention on Islam and Muslim Americans. But few Americans are aware that more than 60 Muslims are believed to have perished in the September 11 attacks, most of them in the World Trade Center.
Muslims who died in the Twin Towers included first responders, as well as restaurant, maintenance and white collar workers.
Tariq Amanullah was working on the 96th floor of the South Tower. He was an immigrant from Pakistan and a vice president at Fiduciary Trust, an investment management company.
His neighbor, Mohammad Ahmad, says Amanullah called his wife shortly after the second plane struck. "He was always very caring. He leaves at the last. So he said, 'OK. I'm finishing up something. Let me wrap it up, I'll be leaving pretty soon.' That's what he called [about]. Maybe he should have just run down right away," he said.
In the days after the attacks, Amanullah's friends posted this flyer hoping someone had seen him and would contact his family. They also scoured New York City hospitals hoping he was among the injured, not the dead.
Abid Hussain, a Pakistani immigrant who works in New York's financial district, says Tariq Amanullah was his best friend. Hussain says the true Islam defined Amanullah. "You got to be helpful with the people, you've got to pray, you've got to be accommodating, you've got to respect other religions as well. You've got to be humble," he said.
Amanullah's friends say he did all of those things, and began each day with prayer at the Warren Street Mosque. That house of worship is just three blocks further from Ground Zero than the controversial Islamic Center currently being debated.
There was no such controversy on the day Amanullah died - just grief for all of the victims, regardless of skin, color or creed.