DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — They filled the cafe night after night. To the casual observer, it might have appeared to be a roomful of 20-somethings with enviable amounts of idle time.
Yet the 30 young Muslim men and women who met for 30 days had serving society, not socializing, on their minds. And the group calling itself 30/30 emerged from the meetings with an agenda: to help teens in their community deal with social ills such as drug and alcohol addiction and mental illness — and to teach those on the outside about their faith.
A few goals emerged from the caffeinated conversations, now being fine-tuned in follow-up sessions: Establish mentorship and counseling programs for high school students, offer leadership retreats for young adults and develop brochures that explain Muslim practices such as women wearing head scarves.
"We had a list of objectives when we first started," said Mariam Zaiat, 22. "Part of it is to educate. Part of it is there is a void and we need to fill the void. Part of it is that we are capable and what are we doing?"
The quest seems well-suited for the young activists in a community with one of the largest Arab and Muslim populations in the country. Many are the children or grandchildren of immigrants. They are training to be doctors, lawyers, nurses, social workers and therapists. Their sense of mission took root at the Islamic Center of America and affiliated Young Muslim Association. (MORE)