Part III of “An Imam in America” series by the NY Times.
March 7, 2006
An Imam in America
Tending to Muslim Hearts and Islam’s Future
By Andrea Elliott
The young Egyptian professional could pass for any New York bachelor.
Dressed in a crisp polo shirt and swathed in cologne, he races his Nissan Maxima through the rain-slicked streets of Manhattan, late for a date with a tall brunette. At red lights, he fusses with his hair.
What sets the bachelor apart from other young men on the make is the chaperon sitting next to him — a tall, bearded man in a white robe and stiff embroidered hat.
“I pray that Allah will bring this couple together,” the man, Sheik Reda Shata, says, clutching his seat belt and urging the bachelor to slow down.
Christian singles have coffee hour. Young Jews have JDate. But many Muslims believe that it is forbidden for an unmarried man and woman to meet in private. In predominantly Muslim countries, the job of making introductions and even arranging marriages typically falls to a vast network of family and friends.
In Brooklyn, there is Mr. Shata.