“As a chaplain, I do not recommend this activity.”
May 12, 2017 3:12 PM   Subscribe

"Four centuries ago, an Ottoman-era job posting for an imam spelled out the high standards expected of leaders throughout Islamic history. The ideal candidate, the ad stated, must have mastered the languages of Arabic, Latin, Turkish, and Persian. He must know the Quran, the Gospels, and the Torah inside and out, and also be a scholar of Islamic law. And, for good measure, he must be “up to teaching standard” in his grasp of physics and mathematics. Easy, right?" So, how does that translate to Muslim leadership in Trump's America?
posted by ChuraChura (7 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Interesting article. Sounds like a high-quality, well-thought-out curriculum.

I do sincerely hope Zeb got support from the Duke Divinity faculty, who have considerable expertise in ministry and preaching after community trauma, or I am very disappointed in my alma mater.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:57 PM on May 12, 2017 [7 favorites]

Great article; thanks.


MetaFilter: As a chaplain, I do not recommend this activity.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:00 PM on May 12, 2017 [5 favorites]

More seriously, this would be a good read for any of those Christians who fetishize martyrdom and persecution -- consider what it means to be a principled religious leader and teacher whose congregation/students are seriously open to physical attack and death, along with all the complicated negotiations of a religious life in a secular society. It could winnow the empathic from the sociopaths.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:01 PM on May 12, 2017 [9 favorites]

the bookish imam of yesteryear isn’t going to cut it now – their clerics need to be woke.

I'd expect something more than "woke" from religious leaders, more like AWAKENED.
posted by sfenders at 7:11 PM on May 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

This was a fascinating article. Thank you for sharing it! Such interesting intersections; I thought this was especially neat:
Turk said there’s also an emphasis on the history of Islam in the United States. That means putting a sharper focus on deeply rooted African-American Muslim communities, which make up a large bloc of the nation’s more than 3.3 million Muslims but are often overlooked in a national discourse that centers on the immigrant experience.

Newer arrivals are, belatedly, seeing the value in learning from black Muslims who’ve lived with state and societal discrimination for much longer...
posted by lazuli at 9:24 AM on May 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Growing up as a Jew with Muslim friends, one thing I heard from them that I always thought was interesting was the fact that, unlike Judaism, American Islam (at least in my friends' experiences) didn't have a history of codified different levels of observance the way Judaism did. In other words, American Judaism consists of different formal movements, from Reform to Ultra-Orthodox, each embracing different levels of observance. Each movement has its own institutions (synagogues, seminaries, leadership) and its own philosophical history, and there's a very strong sense of communal identification (you're not just Jewish, you're a Conservative Jew). Islam in the US, on the other hand, doesn't have that same kind of structure - if you're a Muslim who doesn't keep halal or pray five times a day you're not a Reform Muslim, you're just a less-observant Muslim.

I wonder if what we're seeing here is a similar shift in how Islam is structured in the United States, and if this new rise in younger imams with deeper roots in the US will give rise to the creation of similar Muslim movements. There's even a parallel in the idea that a modern imam should be woke - Jewish communities (especially less religious ones) in the US tend to have a strong orientation towards social justice; it's not uncommon these days to hear a rabbi talk about Black Lives Matter or protecting undocumented immigrants from the pulpit.

Of course, there's one big difference between the two that can complicate things - there just aren't that many Jews on earth, especially after the Holocaust, which gave American Jewish movements much more leeway to determine their own identity. When you have a case like American Muslims, where your community is a tiny drop in the bucket compared to the ummah worldwide, and the center for legitimacy in the religion is based in existing institutions in the Middle East, you have significant external pressures in a way that simply did not exist for American Jews.
posted by Itaxpica at 9:39 AM on May 13, 2017 [12 favorites]

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