HUNTSVILLE, Alabama - Carrying a message of tolerance and love, a new imam for Huntsville, Alabama, has finally filled a severe gab in spiritual guidance in the Muslim community's daily life, with a commitment to advance the cause of moderate Islam in the US.
I want to represent Islam so that the people in America can see Islam as good, to see the truth of the religion, Imam Ragab Abdelmoneim told All Alabama website on Friday, May 17.
Islam is a religion of tolerance, peace, love, moderation - this is a message for all over the world.
The 32-year-old imam was welcomed at the new imam for Huntsville Islamic Center earlier this month, to offer spiritual guidance to more than 200 families in the congregation.
An Egyptian national, the imam relocated with his wife, Walaa Abuhany, and their daughters Tasbeeh Abdelmoneim, 3, and Abrar, 9 months, in the US.
Teaching for years at Al Azhar University in Cairo, where he was also a graduate student, Abdelmoneim has already begun classes in the Qur'an for the youth of the congregation.
For Huntsville Muslim community, finding an imam was not an easy task.
The assignment of Abdelmoneim followed a two-year search for a suitable imam.
It took them two years till he was suggested by friends of Mohamed Elhady, a Huntsville engineer who is also the congregational president, in Cairo.
Completing all the US visa requirements for Abdelmoneim and his family took another year.
We needed a spiritual leader to explain things and to comfort people, Elhady said.
But we had to be very careful to find someone who is not connected to any extreme ideas. Good Citizens
For Alabama Muslims, the imam had to be capable of dealing with a diverse American Muslim community, to present a true image of US Muslim citizens.
In America, I have found Islam in the actions of the people, said Elhady, who emigrated from Libya to the U.S. more than 30 years ago when Muammar al-Gaddafi came to power.
At the heart of this country, there is equal opportunity. This is Islam, he added.
We want to educate our kids to be good citizens, to be a good addition to this country.
The United States is home to a Muslim community of between six to eight million.
A recent Gallup poll had found that the majority of US Muslims are patriot and loyal to their country and are optimistic about their future.
Suffering a shortage in colleges to train imams in Islamic theology, the US has been facing a problem in the numbers of imams.
Opened in California in 2009, Zaytuna College was the country's first Muslim university.
Imams hold degrees in Islamic theology, and until recently, the only institutions that offered this course of study were outside the US.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net