Sunday 19 December 2010

New York Times Feature: Muslims in America

The New York Times has an interesting series of features by Andrea Elliott grouped under the theme of "Muslims in America":

Tending to Muslim Hearts and Islam's Future
Explores the Journey of Imam Shata as he becomes an America Imam:
"The bookish Egyptian came to America in 2002 to lead prayers, not to dabble in matchmaking. He was far more conversant in Islamic jurisprudence than in matters of the heart. But American imams must wear many hats, none of which come tailor-made."

To Lead the Faithful in a Faith Under Fire
Looks at the way Imam Shata has had to deal with questions from the FBI as Islam becomes a "religion under watch":
"In the Islamic world, imams are defined as prayer leaders. But here, they become community leaders, essential intermediaries between their immigrant flocks and a new, Western land. When Islamic traditions clash with American culture, it is imams who step forward with improvised answers. Outside the mosque, many assume the public roles of other clergy, becoming diplomats for their faith."

A Muslim Leader in Brooklyn, Reconciling 2 Worlds
Explores the wide variety of roles an imam has to play in America and the challenges he might face:
"America transformed me from a person of rigidity to flexibility," said Mr. Shata, speaking through an Arabic translator. "I went from a country where a sheik would speak and the people listened to one where the sheik talks and the people talk back."

Islam in the Suburbs - Audio Slide Show
Sheikh Reda Shata discusses his move from a storefront mosque in Brooklyn to a palatial mosque in Middletown, N.J.

A Cleric’s Journey Leads to a Suburban Frontier
Catches up with Imam Shata in the suburbs:
"To be a successful suburban imam, he found, meant persuading doctors and lawyers not to rush from prayers to beat traffic. It meant connecting with teenagers who drove new cars, and who peppered their Arabic with “like” and “yeah.” It meant helping his daughter cope with mockery at school, in a predominantly white town that lost dozens of people on Sept. 11"

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