Talib M. Shareef and Rashad Abdul-Azeem see no disconnect between their Islamic faith and their jobs at Robins Air Force Base.
Certainly no mixed loyalties. No lack of purpose or focus. No argument with the mission.
Chief Master Sgt. Shareef - a 28-year veteran of the Air Force - is chief of personnel service delivery and field operations for Air Force Reserve Command. Abdul-Azeem, a civilian employee, works in the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center's critical software maintenance group.
Both are Muslim lay leaders at the Robins chapel, where about 20 military active duty members attend Friday prayer services with some frequency along with a few civilian workers and contract employees.
With the global war on terror raging against radical Islamic elements in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is not easy being Muslim in America. It can be especially difficult in the military.
And suspicions can be heightened during the current month of Ramadan, a 30-day period of fasting, prayer and reflection that began Sept. 13.
Shareef, 46, is at peace with his faith and who he is. His chest bears the military distinctions of exemplary service. He sees no conflict between his faith and Air Force objectives.
"I love the Air Force. I'm dedicated, very loyal," he said. "This is home and I'm not going to allow anybody to come in here and tear it up. There is no disconnect at all for me."
Abdul-Azeem, his black beard sprinkled with gray, is in agreement. He opposes terrorism and any role played by Islamic groups.
"On a personal level, I reject it in my heart because I know that's wrong," he emphasized. "It does not represent Islam. When I see terrorism, I know it has no place in the Quran or in the authentic practice of the prophet Muhammad. It is strictly condemned and the people doing that are astray from the message of Islam - very far astray." (MORE)