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By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA Today
Hartford, Conn.. - Ingrid Mattson knows the media drill well.
She made the "We condemn ... (fill in terrorism incident)" speech - as if she says, that's all anyone needs to hear from the president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).

It was her first at the woman / first convert / first North American-born head of the continent the largest Islamic group.

They talk Retel tion as 20 years ago, she left the Catholicism of her Canadian childhood and her college focus on philosophy and art to its spiritual home in Islam.

"Now is the time for attention, and me back to the problems," says Mattson, a professor at Hartford Seminary, where he led the first American-accredited Muslim chaplaincy program in the MacDonald Center.

Mattson begins in the second half of her two years in the community Labor Day weekend national conference outside Chicago. The annual event draws 40,000 Muslims of every sect, culture, age, race and ethnicity for scores of sessions on faith, family and society and a massive multicultural bazaar.

But, two weeks before the conference, sitting with two women in his small, book-filled office, Mattson is a time to kick off her shoes. She throws her long brown jacket stifling tailored blue blouse, leans back and talks about her vision of American Muslims live and to visit her friend, Heba.

Heba Abbas, 31, a faithful young Muslim in her snug black headscarf, and the inner-city Chicago public school teacher, fitness trainer is a Palestinian-American woman with a thoughtful mosque during the Indian-American man. Both are also triathletes training for an event.

"This is who I mean. They ISNA work. They are the reason why I concentrate on building a strong religious and civic institutional life of Muslims in America. I want to be sure that I am not first and the last young woman leader. Why flash in a pan?" says Mattson, who turns out to be a Friday 44th

Unique American Islam

They talk about caring American Islam, rooted in traditional belief, which dates back before the theological, political and legal disagreement broke the Ummah, the Islamic world, centuries before.

This is the faith they chose at the age of 23, that is, she says, by the beauty of Islam, the ethic of service and the synthesis of life and believe that any action in connection with God.

The key is not to confuse the eternal religion - submission to God, respect for the prophet, prayers, love and purpose of the pilgrimage to Mecca - Islam is the many cultural expressions that shift with the times and society, Mattson says. Her essays and speeches are threaded with references to the Koran, the Hadith (the words of the prophet) and Sunna (the record of his practice).

In. S. Muslim men and women should be empowered to speak the same policy in all areas - medicine, ethics, law, education, justice, marriage and family - through the establishment of common sources of Islam, she says.

Other questions about Mattson and she sounds like goldilocks the headscarf: too liberal for some, too conservative for others, and correct many young activists.

"I am proud of it as my choice for president," said Eboo Patel, 31, founder of Chicago's interfaith Youth Core, which is a provider of social opportunities for Muslims, Christians and Jews. He sees Mattson message to life in ISNA.

"Most of the American Muslim community is very young and overwhelmingly under the 40th All our leadership needs of people can relate to," says Patel. "It is in ethos of service that combines the United States and Islam. This is what religious communities can offer their best inspiration in the world using their own heritage."

But Pamela Taylor, a co-founder of Muslims for Progressive values, to Mattson for women lead congregational prayers.

"I'm afraid that they bought in the same logic that can be, and is used to restrict all women: education, political office, even driving," said Taylor.

Roles for Women

Mattson shakes that criticism. Yes, it is concluded, based on the Prophet is said to have one who leads men and women together in prayer men.

However, other religious roles - reciting the Koran, preaching, teaching, scholarship, counseling and issuing legal decisions - are open to everyone. She is enthusiastic about the forthcoming book from noted scholar who has traced female Muslim scholars back to 27 generations of women prophets. It is called the "artificial barriers to women in spirituality," to make her more: Sermons misogynistic, misguided and demeaning counseling, limited access to education and science, and prayer rooms for women who are too small, inconvenient or inaccessible.

Asked whether the people in front of mosques and women in the back? "If you are inclined to prayer," says Mattson, "not in front of or behind any person. You are God. This is the whole point of prayer."

Jamillah Karim, assistant professor of religion at Spelman College in Atlanta, says Mattson is not wise to focus on women as imams.

"Most women are not overly concerned. This is an American religious community still in formation. Women are more interested in issues of family life, traditional, such as marriage and divorce," says Karim.

University of Delaware political scientist MA Muqtedar Khan gives Mattson mixed reviews. He calls her "angel" and "Queen of American Muslims." But, he adds, "They will never rock the boat.

"It is not radical in anything. It is permissible to ISNA strong positions against terrorism, but they will never be in conflict with the government. You will not criticism of U.S. policy. You will see her continue to talk about the diversity within Islam. She will make her mark as an activist with things like her chaplaincy program, but not as a scholar with influential ideas or someone who modernizes thinking within Islam, "says Khan.

It will not rock the boat?

Mattson rolls her brown eyes. Headline-making, provocative individual action holds no attraction for her.

"This is a" great man "theory of history. Look where that has gotten us. I would like to build. I am interested in long-term institutional strength," she says.

Compassion and care

Themes in this year's conference includes sessions on faith and social justice and social services, and the so-called "U.S. Sponsored Torture: a concern for Muslims and all people of faith."

"If religion is not about extending the borders of your empathy, and perhaps write to turn it off," she says. "Religion is to do everything with the extension of mercy and care. If not, it's only tribal ISM: Muhammad I said religion should be the opposite."

Mattson says she takes the controversies and oppose their own way, atheists, ideologues and "Islam-phobes" who say that is outdated or religion, Islam is anti-Zionist or, simply, irrationally, fear any Muslims among them.

"These days, if you have something nice to say, or Muslims, it is seen as soft on terrorism, as if all Muslims are terrorists.

"Anti-Muslim sentiments are used as a way to score" in politics, she says.

"People see us, they see Heba and her husband, who wears a beard and kufi (CAP), and they have no idea about the life they lead."

From the life that leads Mattson.

When people saw her, from her colorful scarf to her long skirt, walking 3 miles home in the steamy summer nights, they would not know:

• She is the mother of two teenagers.

• It relaxes from mowing the lawn, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis forced her to give out.

• It was her name when she married her husband, an Egyptian engineer, was born in Baghdad, with which they work with during the Afghan refugees in Pakistan in jaren'80.

Pictures from friends of the family participate Afghan Snapshots Mattson tacked to office walls, along with newspaper photos old man feeding pigeons swarmed him. She inspires her, she says, because "this is a man who has discovered what he wants to do."

"What do you do?" Mattson issue May be a pet.

When someone asks her guidance, they will say: "Is it kind of want to be Muslims. Do not let other people of your religion for you."

Mattson Islam? "Glorify God through service of God's creatures."
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