Ingrid Mattson stands to change the way you think about Islam (even if you are Muslim).
Ingrid Mattson stands to change the way you think about Islam (even if you are Muslim).In September, more than 30,000 Muslims converged on Chicago to hear the inaugural speech of the new president of the Islamic Society of North America. The person who commanded their attention was a diminutive, unassuming 43-year-old professor named Ingrid Mattson-the first woman to head the largest Muslim organization on the continent.That Mattson is not only a woman but also a convert makes her an unconventional voice for the estimated six million Muslims in North America. One of seven children, she grew up Catholic in a working-class town in Ontario. She turned to Islam in college, inspired by Muslim students from West Africa, whom she remembers as being, despite their poverty, "the most naturally generous people I had ever known."Mattson teaches Islamic studies at Hartford Seminary, in Hartford, Connecticut, and in the classroom, as in the world, she encourages people to examine the ways in which societies wield and distribute power. "The most important quality of a human being is self-awareness," she says. In her new role as ISNA president, she hopes to persuade Muslim communities to "rethink" the institutional structures that sometimes limit women's participation.
|Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere who denounce those acts [of terrorism] do so in the name of Islam as well.|