The Imam from Within – New Leadership in the Muslim Community

The American Imam?

The following news story is an example of an evolving – and very welcome – phenomenon: the emergence of new leadership in Muslim community’s mosques and Islamic centers in the form of young imams who were born, raised, educated and indeed acculturated in America. Let’s share the published stories of such imams on this blog. If you know of such imams whose stories have not been published, share any contact information you have, so that we can communicate with them and write their stories. This is a narrative that we need to share with the mainstream religious and civil society.

Here is the link: http://www.pe.com/local-news/local-news-headlines/20120327-religion-younger-u.s.-born-inland-imams-emerging.ece

Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you.

Iqbal Unus

Here is another (supportive) point of view: http://insideislam.wisc.edu/index.php/archives/9652

Another story about an American-born imam: http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2012-01-18/american-imam-asif-umar-st-louis/52650812/1

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7 thoughts on “The Imam from Within – New Leadership in the Muslim Community

  1. 1 Addition – 1 Comment

    Mansoor Sabree has been the Imam of the Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam for the last 2 years. He was born and Raised in Atlanta GA. He spent several years studying Islamic Sciences in Syria.

    1 – Comment

    While we are transforming our leaders the real task is to transform our Mosque or Islamic Centers. The starts with addressing the “role” of the Imam. Does he lead prayers, teach quran, offer maritial advice. The challenge for younger Imams is that they may have the religeous knowledge to teach or give general advice but they will need to be furthered developed in order to satisfy the unending requests that a community will place on him. In many cases, the organizational boards are alo community leaders adn we should likewise look for the demographic on the boards to also shift with time.

    Great Article, I wish the Imam much success.

    • Yes, I have looked up Imam Sabree on the Internet. Someday I need to return to Atlanta to visit (my home town 1970-76). Thank you for brining his name up. As for your point about addressing the “role of the Imam” – that is indeed a challenge. I am not sure if we will be able to define a generic role that will work everywhere since we do not have an ecclesiastical order, certain basic responsibilities can be identified. For example, it seems that increasingly imams are being approached for counseling. Even if you appoint counselors in the mosque, people tend to want to talk to the imam himself, specially for marital counseling. That is where a young imam is at a disadvantage unless he has been an understudy for a length of time, as is the case with Imam Sabree, has a growing family himself, and has exception maturity beyond his age. I am interested in exploring who these young imams fare in meeting their community’s expectations in this area. As for bringing Boards in line with demographic realities, young imams may become catalysts in that direction.

      Let’s see what others have to say.

      Iqbal Unus

  2. I attended the ISNA Ed Forum this last weekend and went to a session that included a very young man who seemed to be some sort of cleric (my mistake that I didn’t catch his name). The thing that struck me about him was how young he was and how reluctant I felt to take his views and advice because of his very young age (he couldn’t have been much older than 25, if that). I worry that despite our great need for homegrown imams, we need them to be a bit more experienced and seasoned. I am asking for too much, I know, because the demographics simply don’t support it. But that is the one thing I consider problematic about the young imams. The good news is that over the coming years, that problem will take care of itself. 🙂

    • I will try to find out from ISNA EdForum people if they can identify the person you refer to, but the point you make is similar to the point I have raised in my reply to comment by theamericanummah above. What will it take a young imam to gain the confidence of an older generation? As you said, the problem will take care of itself in time, until the problem repeats itself.

      Let’s hear what others say.
      Iqbal Unus

  3. First, my apologies to both of you for the delay in approving your comments.

    1. Yes, I have looked up Imam Sabree on the Internet. Someday I need to return to Atlanta to visit (my home town 1970-76). Thank you for brining his name up. As for your point about addressing the “role of the Imam” – that is indeed a challenge. I am not sure if we will be able to define a generic role that will work everywhere since we do not have an ecclesiastical order, certain basic responsibilities can be identified. For example, it seems that increasingly imams are being approached for counseling. Even if you appoint counselors in the mosque, people tend to want to talk to the imam himself, specially for marital counseling. That is where a young imam is at a disadvantage unless he has been an understudy for a length of time, as is the case with Imam Sabree, has a growing family himself, and has exception maturity beyond his age. I am interested in exploring who these young imams fare in meeting their community’s expectations in this area. As for bringing Boards in line with demographic realities, young imams may become catalysts in that direction.

    2. I will try to find out from from ISNA EdForum people if they can identify the person you refer to, but the point you make is similar to the point I have raised above. What will it take a young imam to gain the confidence of an older generation? As you said, the problem will take care of itself in time, until the problem repeats itself.

    Let’s see what others have to say.

    Iqbal Unus

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