The younger generation of Muslims are drawn to the idea of being a faith leader
By TIM TOWNSEND, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Published 08:01 p.m., Friday, January 20, 2012
ST. LOUIS — Asif Umar, the new imam of the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis, represents the ascendance of a distinctly American brand of Islam.
The 27-year-old son of Indian immigrants belongs to the generation of Muslim Americans who grew up in the often harsh glare of the post-9/11 spotlight.
When TLC's "All-American Muslim" has been attacked as terrorist propaganda, younger Muslims hope Umar and leaders like him can change attitudes.
Immigrant parents who once insisted that their children become doctors and engineers have begun relaxing those expectations for a new crop of young Muslim-American scholars who feel drawn to be faith leaders, said Yvonne Haddad, professor of the history of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations at Georgetown University. She said ads recruiting imams, which once asked for experience in places like Egypt, Saudi Arabia or India, now seek people who know English, can relate to interfaith groups and communicate with a younger generation.