On a sunbaked Friday afternoon in late August, the parking lot at the North Austin Muslim Community Center is packed for the weekly prayer service.
Imam Islam Mossaad, a slender man with a trim beard and steady, dark eyes, works his way through a crowd of men, greeting them with "salaam aleikum" ("peace be upon you"). Most are familiar faces, family friends who have watched Mossaad grow up in Austin over the past three decades.
Now the 32-year-old is leading the city's largest mosque, a move that surprised his family, which had high hopes for his engineering career. But this is where Mossaad feels he belongs.
And many in the community are grateful to have a leader who blends a regular-guy persona — Mossaad is an avid Longhorns fan — with devotion to Islamic learning. (MORE)