The Islamic Society of North America (www.isna.net), the largest religious organization representing Muslims in North America, has elected Dr. Ingrid Mattson as its President. She is the first woman to head the organization.
Dr. Mattson, who earlier served as the first female ISNA Vice President, is Professor of Islamic Studies and Director of Islamic Chaplaincy at the Macdonald Center for Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary in Hartford, CT. Dr. Mattson, born in Canada, studied Philosophy at the University of Waterloo, Ontario (B.A. '87) and earned her Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from the University of Chicago in 1999.
Dr. Mattson has numerous publications exploring the relationship between Islamic law and society, as well as gender and leadership issues in Muslim communities. Her forthcoming book, The Qur’an: Its History and Place in Muslim Societies, is being published by Blackwell Press. Dr. Mattson lives in Connecticut with her husband and two children.
ISNA members also elected Imam Mohammed ibn Hagmagid – popularly known as Imam Magid -- as the organization’s Vice-President. Imam Magid is the Executive Director and Imam of The All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS; www.adamscenter.org). He is also Chair of Fairfax Faith Communities in Action, member of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington Assembly, and Board Member of the Fairfax Youth Partnership. Imam Magid lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and five children.
Local Muslims can point to Dr. Mattson and claim, "See! We're not all misogynists who stuff their wives in burqas to hide the bruises! Look how much we respect the contributions of educated women--revert women, at that!"
But they've left her on a tight leash with an imam from Sudan (Darfur, anyone?) who's a graduate of Al-Azhar University (the Harvard of the madrassas) in Cairo as vice-president--no doubt to make the real decisions while Dr. Mattson acts as the public relations face of ISNA.
The people who want to be fooled, and whom ISNA expects to be fooled, will be.
And from ISNA's point of view, that's all that matters.