Zamir Hassan says he realized long ago that he was "living the American dream." Hassan, who came to the United States from Pakistan in 1973 to attend graduate school at Cornell University, went on to launch his own computer-services company and in time settled in an affluent neighborhood of Bedminster, N.J., and served on the board of trustees of his son's charter school.
Then came the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. They jolted Hassan, now 62, for many reasons, one of them being how close the attacks struck. Just a year earlier Hassan had moved one of his companies out of its offices on the 33rd floor of 1 World Trade Center, where he'd worked nearly every day since 1973, to new quarters just a couple of blocks away. He was on his way into New York City — he'd decided to go in late that day — when the terrorists struck.
Hassan realized that, as he says, "It was time to give back." In the Muslim tradition, where charity is a cornerstone of faith, that meant helping those in need and mobilizing others to do the same.
Today, the nonprofit organization that Hassan founded, the Muslims Against Hunger Project, based in Pluckemin, N.J., taps a network of more than 3,000 volunteers of different faiths to serve the homeless, the hungry and the working poor.
In this slide show Hassan talks about his new dream of mobilizing Muslims all over the country "to break the bonds of poverty" by bringing social services to the needy.
Interviewer/sound recordist: Scott Gurian
Photos: Bill Cramer