“I was looking for a place to be accepted as myself and to be the true face of Islam, though I am not the best follower,” Abdullah Polovina, who leads a congregation of Bosnian Muslims in Portland, told The Oregonian on Monday.
The imam, 41, has recently completed a master’s degree at Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, where he was the first Muslim to ever enroll.
Taking the position of the leader of Bosniaks Educational and Cultural Organization, he first connected with leaders at Seattle University through interfaith-dialogue events.For more than a decade, Polovina lived in Seattle as an imam before moving to Portland in 2013.
Holding education at a high position, Polovina said he wanted to pursue a graduate degree that would improve his leadership, finding Seattle’s transformation leadership program appealing.
For him, studying the Bible was not comfortable at the beginning. Later, he quickly settled into sharing his own perspective and appreciating the overlaps.
During the class, he proved many similarities between Islam and Christianity from moral values to key historical figures.
“I felt at home,” Polovina, an immigrant from the former Yugoslavia, said.
“I strengthened my faith and strengthened myself as a leader.”