New imam leads Bosnian Muslims during Ramadan, seeks connections with non-Muslims
Imam Muaz Redzic leads the prayer service at the Bosnian Cultural Center.
The new leader of a local mosque hopes to make fast friends in the broader community. First, Muaz Redzic is guiding Bosnian Muslims through the holy month of Ramadan that began this weekend.
The Bosnian Cultural Center’s new imam led prayers Friday and spoke about the importance of the month-long fast observed by Muslims.
“It’s a special time for Muslims,” said Redzic, 33, a married father of two. “It is a time of re-addressing the self and connecting to God.”
Redzic’s arrival this month also may launch a time of sharing Islamic faith and Bosnian culture with others.
Aside from his primary goal of sustaining religious activities at the mosque, 2839 Eastern Ave. SE, he aspires to host open houses and educational classes for non-Muslims.
“People tend to fear the unknown. Islam is still very much unknown ground for many Americans,” Redzic said. “We are more than happy to introduce ourselves.”
He attended Islamic high school in Sarajevo, then earned college degrees in religious studies from Kuwait University and Vanderbilt University.
He has lived most of the past nine years in the United States.
When the local mosque’s previous imam departed, Redzic was named the new leader.
On Friday, he called out prayers and sacred texts in Arabic, then translated them into Bosnian. A crowd of shoeless men bowed eastward in neat rows, their white faces touching the ornate carpet.
Just outside the worship space, pairs of shoes filled a rack and overflowed onto the floor. The variety of sizes matched the diversity of ages, from older men to younger boys wearing the soccer jerseys of David Beckham and Bosnia’s Vedad Ibisevic.
“It’s kind of like Christianity’s Sunday services,” said Adem Velic, a 22-year-old Kent County Sheriff’s Department deputy. “It gives us that strength that we need from inside.
“I get here every week that I can.”
Unlike other local mosques, this one is cultured by Bosnians, many of whom came to the area during a 1990s war in their homeland.
Part of their Bosnian identity is retained through the mosque, Redzic said.
It’s also the place for Muslims, Bosnians and others, to offer a diet of five daily prayers, like spiritual refreshment amid the daily routine.
Special nightly Ramadan prayer services, combined with fasting, teach Muslims to control their worldly desires, Redzic said.
And the mosque may teach the non-Muslim world about Islam, if Redzic succeeds.
“The biggest part of the problem is the negative press,” he said. “The filter through which the media talks about Islam is the violence.
“I’m not saying all Muslims are angels. I’m talking about what Islam teaches. Islam is submitting to God’s will and finding peace in that.” www.mlive.com