Imam Abdur Rahman, the spiritual leader for South Coast Muslims, was forced to leave the United States or face imminent deportation this past week. According to sources closes to Rahman, the Imam violated the terms of his temporary visa by selling spiritual texts on the internet. According to Rahman himself, he was seeking to make his temporary visa permanent when he was rebuffed by immigration and homeland security officials. He claimed that other imams throughout the United States have experienced intense scrutiny and long delays in such matters since 9/11. In either case, Rahman said he plans to appeal the decision from England, his native country.
Congresswoman Lois Capps intervened to allow Rahman to stay an additional three weeks. Rahman said by the time he received notice that he had 30 days to leave the country, 28 days had already elapsed. When Rahman moved to Santa Barbara eight years ago, he said about 60 Muslims congregated for daily prayer services. Now, he said, that number has reached 120. Rahman has been active with the Interfaith Alliance, and at his last prayer service last Friday at the Goleta Valley Community Center, there were nine other religious leaders – ministers, rabbis, and priests – in attendance.