19 September 2010

Part of the Fabric of the City, a Growing Islamic Community

Part of the Fabric of the City, a Growing Islamic Community, by Julia O'Malley (Anchorage Daily News, 14 September 2010)

Anchorage's Muslim community has no Imam, or main religious teacher. On Friday, Mohamed Sayed, a 28-year-old petroleum engineer for BP who is originally from Egypt, led the prayers and gave the sermon. I asked what he wanted people to take from what he said. He told me he hoped they would remember to be devout and unified, that they would try to be visible examples in Anchorage of compassion and charity. Islam, he said, is just like any other religion.

He hoisted his young sons in either arm. They were wearing matching sweater vests. He introduced me to his wife. They like Anchorage because it's quiet and family-oriented, he said. He plays in a soccer league with people from all walks of life. That's an example of how the city is tolerant, and how Muslims like him are integrated into the mainstream, he said.

"You'll find us around you, but you probably won't notice we are Muslim," he told me. "Because we are just like you."