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In Chapel Hill, grieving students Zeb had never met recognized him as a chaplain and collapsed in his arms.Some were sobbing so hard, he said, they couldn’t even get out the traditional greeting of assalamualaikum.“There was a strategic decision by the GOP to make Islam a wedge issue, and Trump is the result of that multimillion-dollar effort to marginalize Islam and Muslims, and other minority communities.” So far, the school has produced nine graduates of its two-year master’s program, and Turk can rattle off each of their accomplishments like a proud father.Jihad Saafir, an African-American imam in South Central Los Angeles, turned his father’s storefront mosque into a thriving Islamic center that operates a food pantry for the neighborhood.Turk described it as boring and irrelevant; he often wished he were watching football.Suffice it to say that’s not the model Turk had in mind when, nearly four decades and aformal religious education later, he opened Bayan Claremont, the nation’s first Islamic school to offer accredited master’s degrees.There’s great respect among the homegrown set for their pioneering immigrant elders, but also a de facto challenge: keep up or drift into irrelevancy.Zeb was still reeling from the Duke ordeal when, not even a month later, another blow came: Three Muslim students were gunned down 20 minutes away, in the rival college town of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

What that means in an Islamic context is still being hashed out, but already US-born clerics appear more willing to break taboos and to work more inclusively with allies than the current crop of full-time imams, 85% of whom were born abroad, according to a 2011 study.César Dominguez, born in California to Latino immigrants, is a former theater actor who’s now being groomed to head an Islamic outreach center in Mexico.Sondos Kholaki, who became one of the few women to head the board of a US mosque, is leading a campaign to improve the image of Islam among evangelical Christians.For years, US Muslims have been trying to build an all-American Islamic authority to bridge cultural gaps in immigrant Muslim communities and attract US-born worshippers who seek greater independence from conservative institutions in the Middle East and South Asia.Some two dozen seminaries and other US-based Islamic training programs have sprung up in recent years, laboratories for a new generation of US-born clerics.

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