by Nasser Weddady

The rise and recent downfall of Imam Shamsi Ali, the former spiritual leader of New York City’s 96 Street mosque offers invaluable insights into the complexity of the internal dynamics shaping US Muslim communities post 9/11.

His story includes all the ingredients that are currently at play in the struggle to formulate a new American-Muslim identity: foreign influence; internal political divisions pitting conservatives, ultra-conservatives, seculars; ethnic tensions and of course foreign-born versus U.S.-born American-Muslims.

It also raises questions about the role of religious institutions in driving the American-Muslims’ civic agenda, and whether U.S. foreign policy should be at the heart of that agenda. What should be the future direction of interfaith engagement, and what exactly is its goal?

Nasser Weddady is Director of Civil Rights Outreach at the American Islamic Congress