MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Kip Curnutt is a young, white male. He’s an expecting father from Montgomery, Alabama. He’s a former musician. He’s an advocate for humanity. Kip Curnutt is a Muslim.
Although Curnutt’s physical appearance and background don’t reflect American stereotypes of a devout Muslim, he has managed to acquire a position of great respect within the Muslim community of Morgantown, West Virginia. As Imam of the Islamic Center of Morgantown, Curnutt guides the Muslim community in worship and spiritual guidance, a position for which he was taught from within the Morgantown Muslim community.
“I had studied with (the previous Imam) for a long time,” Curnutt said. “I was a student of his, and for me, I was an outsider. I was someone who had converted to Islam.”
Growing up in an agnostic family in Alabama, Curnutt was not much exposed to religious practices as a young child aside from the occasional Southern Baptist church services he would attend with his parents to save face.
“We went to church. Not really because of a religious thing, but because everyone went to church,” Curnutt said. “It was that environment where people know each other, and they don’t really know any outside traditions. (They) were typical people who just have one view of things.”
However, at age 11, Curnutt befriended a young Afghan boy and spent much time getting to know him and his family. Curnutt watched the family’s traditions, prayers and the meals they would share and found himself drawn to the Muslim way of life…