Saturday, March 04, 2006

An imam grows in Brooklyn

From the NYT - “A Muslim leader in Brooklyn, reconciling two worlds”:

The imam slips into a plain brick building, nothing like the golden-domed mosque of his youth. He stops to pray, and then climbs the cracked linoleum steps to his cluttered office. The answering machine blinks frantically, a portent of the endless questions to come.

A teenage girl wants to know: Is it halal, or lawful, to eat a Big Mac? Can alcohol be served, a waiter wonders, if it is prohibited by the Koran? Is it wrong to take out a mortgage, young Muslim professionals ask, when Islam frowns upon monetary interest?
In other words, everybody wants to know if they can act American. But it would be all-too-easy to make a snide remark here. The article suggests that Sheik Reda Shata is making a genuine attempt to bridge the gap between Islamic and Western culture:

"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."
Wondering about that Big Mac question?

Is a Big Mac permissible? Yes, the imam says, but not a bacon cheeseburger.
D’oh! (Hat tip to Ann Althouse).

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