The Ta’leef Collective

The Ta’leef Collective December 31, 2011

Followed a link from someone's Facebook page to the Taleef Collective website and watched some of their videos. Judging by the brief interviews there, the Taleef Collective looks like an innovative community initiative that strives to create a social space that appeals to and meets the needs of American-born Muslims, and which doesn't reproduce all the religiously unnecessary and/or culturally out-of-place practices and hangups that make many immigrant-run mosques in American less hospitable than they could be to new and younger Muslims.

They're all very thoughtful, and it's fascinating to hear frustrations and concerns that you  assumed only you to be guilty of harboring voiced aloud, and by up and coming community leaders.

For example, I really cracked up at how the brother in the clip below points out how absurd it is that ungrounded young American Muslims–whether  converts not–engage in what one might call "moral hypochondria." He captures the absurdity of the dynamic wonderfully, describing it as not only a disease, but a disease we pretend to have. The example he gives is of an American-born person who presumably leads a normal, integrated life in American society that leads him or her to regularly interact with all manner of people but who suddenly becomes a prude about dress once they're in the masjid. This sort of almost comical cognitive dissonance arises at least partly, I think, out of the tendency of some converts and American-born Muslims to overcompensate for their lack of an Islamic cultural background  by neurotically aping the mores (often imagined mores) of people from Muslim-majority cultures.

Here's part of the description of the project from its website:

Ta’leef Collective began as Zaytuna Institute’s Outreach program in 2002 and was born into an independent organization in 2005.  Ta’leef Collective provides the space, content and companionship necessary for a healthy understanding, embrace and realization of Islam. We serve seekers actively interested in Islam and converts to the faith, assisting them in realizing a sustainable conversion to and practice of Islam, and a healthy, gradual integration into our greater Muslim community. Ta’leef Collective also strives to reengage the growing number of disenfranchised and often marginalized Muslim young adults.

It looks very exciting. I sure wish stuff like this had been happening when I was coming up.


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