He said the group was also a touchstone for his children, who don’t often interact with other Muslim children and feel like they have to hide their religion from their peers.
Robertson said his son and daughter enjoy attending potluck dinners and family game nights. So they make a point to attend those events as much as possible.
Misurella said Embrace aims to fill that gap between the born Muslim and convert communities and step in where others don’t, acting as a “comprehensive care initiative” for converts by providing faith-based lectures as well as social programming and events.
That care also includes working within mosques to educate born Muslims about converts’ experiences. To do this, Embrace created a four-week convert sensitivity training program.
“We go to the masjids and we educate the community about the challenges converts go through in their homes, workplaces and social life and how they can help them,” Misurella said.
Mosque Leadership Skills
Misurella said he wants to see more converts taking leadership roles in their local mosques, such as serving on mosque boards, or leading the way on social justice issues and in community activism.
This will serve not only to empower converts, but it will also help to normalize the religion in the eyes of Americans.
“Right now Islam is seen as a foreign religion, not something that belongs here,” Misurella said. “Many of our representatives who are in front of the camera giving the interviews are usually immigrants. They have an accent and they wear different clothing, and that further adds to the stigma.”
However, if more converts were to take on more visible roles within the public face of Islam, it could represent a fundamental – and perhaps beneficial – shift in how the faith is viewed.
“If you had American Muslim converts who were taking the lead, who were the ones in front of the camera, leading dawah efforts, that’s how you can start changing that stigma,” he said.
Robertson said converts “absolutely” need to hold more leadership roles in mosques which will promote a cultural mix in mosque leadership.
He said converts, most likely being born and raised in America, also have a unique perspective and better opportunity to reach out to first-generation born Muslims who may be having a hard time relating to their parents while growing up in The States.
“We have that same perspective that they have,” Robertson said.
As Embrace grows and works to care for and better integrate Muslim converts, there are plans to expand.
“We’re looking at Detroit for our next chapter, and in Maryland we’re getting the ground work going,” Misurella said, “but we also want to keep working on our leadership development, offering great social programs, activism and solving problems.”Pages: 1 2