U.S. Muslims Debate Over Holding Services In English

February 19, 2010

Author: Rachel Zoll

Source: Deseret News

Wire Service: AP


Sana Rahim was born in the cowboy country of southeastern Wyoming, to Pakistani parents who had emigrated so her father could earn a doctorate.

She speaks Urdu with her family but can't read or write the language. She recites prayers in Arabic but doesn't know exactly what each word means.

Now a 20-year-old junior at Northwestern University, she, like many other American-born Muslims, is most comfortable with sermons and lectures in English, although they can't always find U.S. mosques that offer them.

"I don't really get the time to study Arabic," Rahim said. "With all the different groups in America, English is a unifying thing that ties us together."

Like Jewish immigrants who fought over English-language prayer and Roman Catholics who resisted the new Mass in English, U.S. Muslims are waging their own debate about how much English they can use inside mosques without violating Islamic law and abandoning their culture.