Snapchat Imam Suhaib Webb says it is an honor to be denounced by ISIL.
Suhaib Webb is not a typical Imam. He is a blue-eyed, strawberry blonde white American. He is a Protestant-converted Muslim. He is a former hip-hop DJ. Also, recently, the ISIL denounced him. Webb is also very active in the social media, especially Snapchat. He has more followers than any other Muslim leaders in America.
Webb was born in Oklahoma, to a Protestant family. He was named William Webb at birth. When he was 19, he converted to Islam, influenced by his friends in the hip-hop world. After earning a Bachelor's degree in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma, he studied under a Senegalese Sheikh, privately.
From the Sheikh, he learned enough Arabic and Islam to become a community leader in the city of Oklahoma. After serving the Muslim community for some time, the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City hired him as an Imam. It was one of Webb's religious teachers who gave him the name Suhaib. In Arabic, it means, 'of reddish hair or complexion'.
Webb is known to speak about matters related to American Muslims both candidly, and publicly. He realized how important it was to spread the peaceful message of Islam online after the Boston Marathon bombers self-radicalized themselves on the Internet. He was the Imam at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center when the bombing took place.
As of now, he has an account on Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. He regularly posts videos on YouTube, and to a 'Virtual Mosque' as well. Webb has around 30,000 followers. They regularly follow his Snapchat sermons. According to Webb, he initially refused to join Snapchat but caved in when he realized the app's potential to reach young people who might not normally hear his message. Now, he snaps at all hours of the day, and from all places.
One thing that Webb really finds useful in terms of social media, in general, is its helpfulness in getting instantaneous feedback, a feature that is not available with respect to sermons delivered in a mosque setting. According to Webb, the feedback helps him to improve.
Webb is very much aware of the elevated pedestal that his white privilege is giving him. He says that it is something that would never leave him, however, he tries to disinvest from it as much as he can.
According to Webb, it is an honor to be denounced by ISIL, a group that is so theologically anemic.
Webb is currently working on a number of projects, including one to spread Islamic education through smartphones. He says that it up to the American Muslims to elevate the conversation.
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