US growth of Islam creates need for religious scholars

Michigan

FILE – In this Dec. 16, 201, file photo, a man watches the sun setting over Dhiriyah, a UNESCO World Heritage site that includes a 17th-century fortress, mosques and clay-colored structures just outside of Saudi Arabia’s capital of Riyadh. Saudi Arabia has announced a new tourist visa scheme Friday, Sept. 27, 2019, as part of efforts in the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom to diversify its economy and reduce dependence on oil. (AP Photo/Karin Laub, File)

DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich. (AP) –

As Islam grows in the United States, some communities are dealing with a Muslim clergy shortage driven in part by students who want guidance from religious instructors they understand linguistically and culturally. And the Trump administration travel ban makes it more difficult for traditionally trained leaders to come into the country.

The Al-Hujjah Islamic Seminary, near Detroit, and a small number of schools in North America are scrambling to meet the demands, offering English-only classes in-person and online.

The growth can’t come soon enough. Mosques, like Toledo’s Ahlul Bayt Center are using part-time imams. Ali Nawras, a center board member, says the arrangement works for day-to-day needs but only a full-time leader can understand local-community challenges and forge bonds with the youth and Muslim and non-Muslim populations.

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