NY/NJ: A CLERIC’S JOURNEY LEADS TO A SUBURBAN FRONTIER
MIDDLETOWN, N.J. – Sheik Reda Shata pushed into Costco behind an empty cart. He wore a black leather jacket over his long, rustling robe, a pocket Koran tucked inside.
The imam, a 38-year-old Egyptian, seemed not to notice the stares from other shoppers. He was hunting for a bargain, and soon found it in the beverage aisle, where a 32-can pack of Coca-Cola sold for $8.29. For Mr. Shata, this was a satisfying Islamic experience.
“The Prophet said, ‘Whoever is frugal will never suffer financially,’ ” said the imam, who shops weekly at the local store and admits to praying for its owners. He smiled. “These are the people who will go to heaven.”
Seven months have passed since Mr. Shata moved to this New Jersey suburb to lead a mosque of prosperous, settled immigrants. It is a world away from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, where he toiled for almost four years, serving hundreds of struggling Muslims for whom America was still new.
His transition is a familiar one for foreign-born imams in the United States, who often start out in city mosques before moving to more serene settings.