The Islamic Center of New England has always been led by imams born outside America. The two-campus mosque would like to change that, but it's proving harder than leaders had thought.
The ICNE's mosque here on the South Shore of Boston has been without an imam since 2006, when the last imam was arrested for immigration fraud. A rotating cast of lay and trained imams have led congregational Friday prayers and other mosque functions since then.
After dozens of interviews, the mosque board is eyeing a U.S-born convert who's familiar with American culture and who studied Islam and Arabic in Saudi Arabia. The imam's academic pedigree impressed the immigrant members of the mosque, while his fluency in American pop culture helped him connect with mosque youth.