“I was christened at birth with a Muslim name in a Nazarene Church in Brooklyn, where I grew up in a West Indian household in a Jewish neighborhood,” reflects Hassaun on the lifelong spiritual journey that brought him to Starr King. He embraced Islam in his early 30s and was initiated in three Sufi orders. “My idea of religious denominations spread beyond the great religious traditions,” Hassaun says, “to include the stories and music of many indigenous traditions and cultures around the world.”
Hassaun studied math and science in college and earned two graduate degrees in biomedical engineering and journalism. His diverse career includes engineering, a tour of duty at sea in the Navy, teaching, and 20 years as a science and technology journalist for high-tech trade magazines.
A long-time musician, last year Hassaun started attending open mic night at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists and performing his original songs, such as the powerful “A Black Man’s Prayer.” It was a total connection [at the Fellowship],” says Hassaun, “a place where I can say truthfully that music is my religion.” Seeking to “promote peace across denominational and ethnic barriers,” he says “I discovered a spiritual connection in music that is turning out to be deeper and more profound than anything I’ve ever experienced.”