For the first 15 years of his working life, Naim Shah Jr. was the personal assistant to the imam at Masjid Ibadallah, a mosque in Los Angeles. He helped with Friday sermons and religious classes and dealt primarily with his Muslim congregants.

But for the last six months, Shah has worked with Christian and Jewish activists across the city, drumming up support for the “responsible banking” ordinance, a law that would spur banks that do business with the city of Los Angeles to modify mortgages, increase loans to small businesses and invest in their neighborhoods.

What does community banking have to do with his commitment to Islam? Everything, says Shah, 41, who is also a professional accountant and a former director of Humanitarian Day, an American Muslim day of service to local communities, especially the homeless.

“One of the solutions to Islamophobia is organizing around city-based issues,” he said. “Trying to deal with global issues can lead to entanglements. Uniting around local issues can broaden understanding.”(More)


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