Pool of American imams too small to meet the demand

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RNS photo by Omar Sacirbey

RNS photo by Omar Sacirbey

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SHARON, Mass. (RNS) It will be at least 5 to 10 years before the pool of American imams becomes large enough to meet demand from mosques. In the meantime, Muslim communities will continue to depend on imams from abroad -- and that creates challenges for a community that increasingly wants to assimilate. By Omar Sacirbey.

  • John McGrath

    The US government should encourage the immigration of Turkish imams. Turkey has a modern, sensible, government run system of education for imam that stresses tolerance for all faiths. This is not the case in other Muslim countries.

    In fact, it would make sense for a non-profit in this country to raise money to open an imam training institute co-sponsored with the government of Turkey and using much of Turkey’s curriculum. The Institute could affiliate with an American university and teach some courses in their Religion departments. Imam candidates would also be required to take some courses in non-Islamic religions at the affiliated university.

  • Imam Daayiee Abdullah

    The problem is always looking to the outside for the answer. The problem remains having a background that is associated with being American and knowing America inside and out. If we follow your advice John, then it should work in the reverse as well, but you would never see it happen…why, because Americans are too…(fill in the blank) for their culture. There are American institutes that are training Americans to be Imams so we don’t need to go outside our country to fulfill our needs for American-born Imams.

  • Soraya Deen

    We need vibrant visionary leaders. Imams who have a shared vision with their congregations and the community, Imams able to motivate and inspire the congregation. Imams who are not only knowledgeable in the TEXT but also the CONTEXT. Both my books SERVE – A call to Muslims and LEAD – A call to Imaams were not well received in the community. …. My attempts to carry it at a leading mosque was turned down saying, “It was not ISLAM ENOUGH.” Helen Keller once said, “IS there anything worse than being blind? Yes! the most pathetic person in the whole world is someone who has sight but has no vision.”