At ISNA, we believe that Muslim Americans are a positive force in society through their work for spiritual and civic engagement in the US and beyond. Our mission is to foster the development of the Muslim community, interfaith relations, civic engagement, and a better understanding of Islam. We strive to be an exemplary and unifying Islamic organization in North America that contributes to the betterment of the Muslim community and society at large.
From the 1960’s to the 1980’s, the Muslim population in North America grew rapidly, and many in the community sought to explore and celebrate the intersection of their strong Muslim and American identities. Dozens of Muslim organizations formed across the country, and in 1982 several collaborated with Muslim Student Association to create the Islamic Society of North America, an organization envisioned to bring together the varied communities so that they might share knowledge and support with one another.
As the communities that ISNA supported began to flourish, they also began to outgrow the support that we once provided. Their independence was a victory for the work we had done, but presented a difficulty for ISNA’s purpose and future. By the late 1980’s, we saw North American Muslim communities that were more vibrant than ever before, but also less connected, both to ISNA and to each other. We began to focus on what the Muslim communities of the new millennium would need.
Over the course of the next decade, ISNA underwent a major paradigm shift. We started to actively engage other faith communities and interfaith organizations, and to pursue partnerships with government and civil society organizations, reaffirming our commitment to building a muslim community that is active and visible in greater society. As this work grew, so did the engagement of our constituent communities, demonstrating that interreligious engagement was an integral part of American Muslim life. With the attacks of September 11th, this work became even more crucial.
In the 15 years since, we have learned that our communities’ needs go beyond supporting new mosques. For our organizations to remain vital we must learn from each other’s experience and share best practices for sustaining strong religious communities, Moreover, we know that it is not enough to foster greater understanding of our own faith and the faiths of others, but that we must also work together to make positive change in the country and the world that we share.
The changing landscape of religion in America demands new ways of understanding Muslim communities and Muslim identity. To this end, we help organizations build lasting impact by facilitating educational opportunities, fostering productive partnerships, and organizing for spiritual and civic engagement. In short, ISNA works to uplift Muslim community in all of its forms.