ISNA Elects a Woman President

Washington, DC: North America’s largest Muslim organization on Tuesday announced electing its first woman president and hoped that her election would signal support for women leaders throughout the Islamic community.
Ingrid Mattson, a Canadian convert to Islam and an Islamic law scholar at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, was elected to lead the Islamic Society of North America just ahead of its annual convention, which started on Friday.
She succeeds Sheik Muhammad Nur Abdullah, director for the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis, as ISNA president.
“I think it shows what Muslims can do and would like to do,” said Ms Mattson while commenting on her election. “I am proud of my community’s decision.” Formed in 1963, the organization, based in Plainfield, Indiana, is an umbrella group that represents dozens of Muslim associations and provides support to hundreds of mosques. Its annual meeting regularly draws as much as 50,000 people.
“This is a community that can choose to be whatever it wishes to be, unlike many other Muslims throughout the world who don’t live in democratic societies,” Ms Mattson said.
Ms Mattson studied at Queen’s University in Kingston, where she studied engineering before returning home to study philosophy and fine arts at the University of Waterloo.
She converted to Islam during her last year at the University of Waterloo. “She is a logical choice because she has been involved in the Islamic Society of North America for many years,” said Mohamed Elmasry, a University of Waterloo professor and now the head of the Canadian Islamic Congress.
“It’s a wonderful message to the Muslim community that Muslim women, who are sometimes seen as less, can rise to these positions,” said Sayyid Syeed, secretary general of ISNA.


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