Islamic Society of North America ISNA Thu, 23 Apr 2020 18:15:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 ISNA Shares in Grief with Fellow Americans: El Paso and Dayton Tragedies Sun, 04 Aug 2019 16:41:32 +0000 The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) shares in grief with its fellow Americans over the tragic and senseless loss of life in two hate inspired mass shootings this weekend in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.

In a statement, ISNA President Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed said: “Our sincere and fervent prayers are with the individuals and families who have had their lives forever impacted by these senseless tragedies. ” 

We stand together with our fellow citizens in calling for sensible gun reform laws. 

Like America our membership is diverse: consisting of all ethnicities, socio-economic classes and political affiliations.  It is this diversity in our membership that makes us strong, similar to our great nation. It is a platform where card carrying NRA members, gun control supporters, republicans, democrats, conservatives and liberals find commonality in common sense and unity in belonging. However the xenophobic hate speech continues to divide our nation and its communities by fanning the flames of racial, ethnic and religious hatred in this country. It is time to stop the epidemic of gun violence once and for all and address the root cause of this senseless violence.   ISNA supports and reaffirms the constitutional right of all citizens to bear arms, and calls for sensible federal policies to ensure that guns stay out of the hands of those who pose a risk to society. 

Both shootings occurred during a time of year that Muslims believe to be especially important in our faith, the ten days of Dhul Hijjah, or ten days leading to Hajj.  Malcolm X, when writing about his Hajj experience shared, “”There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist.”

ISNA calls upon its fellow Americans to join with us and create unity around the idea that no American should be fearful of stepping out of their home, engaging in day to day activities, and being impacted by gun violence.

  • Start today with a random act of kindness.  
  • Amplify the call: like and share content on social media. #NeverAgain
  • Reach out to your elected officials: 
  • Donate blood: If your not in El Paso or Dayton, you can still help. Every 2 seconds someone is in need of blood.
  • Support organizations working with victims and for gun control legislation
Faith Leaders Mourn Victims of Mosque Attacks in New Zealand & Recommit to Taking Action Against All Forms of Anti-Muslim Violence Fri, 15 Mar 2019 19:59:41 +0000 For immediate release:

ISNA and Shoulder to Shoulder mourn the 49 victims of the horrific anti-Muslim attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, an atrocious act of violence committed against a people of faith in the midst of their Friday prayers. As we pray for the families and loved ones of those impacted in New Zealand, we recognize the urgent need to continue tirelessly working in our communities to ensure the safety those impacted by anti-Muslim violence across the globe and here in the United States. We recommit to directly engaging faith leaders in the United States to be strategic partners in countering discrimination and violence against Muslims, taking a firm stand against Islamophobia, xenophobia, and white supremacy fueled by racism and hate.

We call on all people of faith and goodwill to listen to those impacted by anti-Muslim bigotry, get educated on the issues, contact your local mosque or Muslim, Arab, Sikh, or South Asian organization and show your solidarity through word and action. We call on our nation’s elected officials to denounce hate speech and violence in every form.

Tayyab Yunus, Executive Director of the Islamic Society of North America, says, “In the face of hate, what we need is communities coming together as one humanity for a better world. The best that we can do as one humanity is to go out and do something good. Showing up with others for social good is the living message that will counter hate and bring to life a better world.”

Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism writes, “The massacre in Christchurch pierces our hearts to the very core. To murder people in the midst of worship is the epitome of evil. As we mourn this senseless loss of life, we hold our Muslim family in our hearts and commit to stand with them during this painful time. This violence against minority communities, fueled by anti-Muslim and white supremacist rhetoric, is not new. This horrendous attack on a place of worship represents the darkest forces of humanity, which have been emboldened by a global rise of a grotesque ideology demonizing those who are different.”

The Rev’d Margaret R. Rose of The Episcopal Church writes, “Now more than ever is the time to be allies with our Muslim neighbors here and far away. We are called to actions of solidarity and healing: praying, marching, policy making, countering hate by walking in the way of love that encompasses every human being. The Episcopal Church joins with Shoulder to Shoulder in this work.”

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America shared, “We will not be silent in the face of Islamophobia, racial hatred and violence. Every house of worship should be a safe place of worship, theological reflection, hope and healing. When one faith community is attacked, we are all attacked. As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” Our Christian faith and Lutheran teaching calls us to strive for a greater understanding, relationship and cooperation that will lead to justice, peace and life abundant, which God intends for us all.”

Rabbi Marc Schneier, President of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, responded to the New Zealand attacks in saying, “I see it as my responsibility to the Islamic community to be at the forefront of battling Islamophobia and any attack or form of bigotry against the Islamic faith and Muslims. I stand with my Muslim brothers and sisters and condemn in the strongest terms the attacks which took place at Al Noor Mosque and at Linwood Mosque in New Zealand. We must stand together against Islamophobia.”

To take action in your communities today and beyond, we encourage:

  • Our fellow Muslims to continue attending prayers at the mosque
  • For our brothers and sisters from other faiths who wish to stand with us in solidarity, show up to Friday Prayers today and onward. Listen & learn. (Please note: we recommend you ask first before showing up and to work together so as not to add anxiety to a tense and deeply painful time)
  • Please consider donating to this campaign by Masjid At Taqwa / New Zealand Islamic Centre through LaunchGood


ISNA Welcomes Pakistan Supreme Court Acquittal of Asia Bibi Tue, 06 Nov 2018 19:05:10 +0000 The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) welcomes the acquittal of Asia Bibi by Pakistan’s Supreme Court. We deplore the violent acts and destruction of property by those who oppose the acquittal of Asia Bibi. Religious illiteracy and, particularly, the irresponsible exploitation of the popular sentiment of the love for Prophet is misguided.


In a statement, ISNA President Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed said:
“We welcome the decision of the Supreme Court in acquitting Asia Bibi of blasphemy. Our beloved Prophet came as a mercy to mankind to fill the world with love and mercy. Allah called him in the Quran (27:107) Mercy for Worlds (Rahmatan lil Aalameen). He taught us to be loving and forgiving by his example. When our Prophet (P) heard that a woman in his neighborhood who used to throw dirt on him every time he passed by her house was sick, he visited her and prayed for her healing. The laws of blasphemy do not reflect the teachings of our Prophet and need to be reformed.”


Click here to read the full decision by the Supreme Court. ISNA believes the decision represents a sound understanding of the challenges our brothers and sisters are facing in Pakistan.


The decision cites the Madina Constitution which ISNA promotes as it gives a clear understanding of our Prophet’s vision about a pluralist society, where there is full religious freedom to different religious communities to practice their faith.
ISNA Board of Directors has appointed 3 new members to join its team. Sat, 03 Nov 2018 00:58:23 +0000 The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Board of Directors has appointed 3 new members to join its team. We are honored to welcome Drs. Mohamed Elsanousi, Iltefat Hamzavi, and Shariq Siddiqui.

Click here to learn more about the ISNA Board of Directors.

Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi

Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi is the Executive Director of the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers, a global network that builds bridges between grassroots peacemakers and global players to work towards sustainable peace. Most recently, Dr. Elsanousi acted as the director of Community Outreach and Interfaith Relations for the Islamic Society of North America for twelve years. He also served on the Core Group Taskforce for the Department of State’s working group on Religion and Foreign Policy under Secretary Clinton and Kerry, which he was charged with making recommendations to the Secretary of State and the Federal Advisory Commission on how the US government can better engage with civil society and religious actors. Dr. Elsanousi holds a bachelor’s degree in Shariah and Law from the International Islamic University in Islamabad, Pakistan, a Master of Laws from Indiana University, a graduate diploma in philanthropic studies from the Indiana University Center on Philanthropy, and a Ph.D. in Law and Society from the Indiana University School of Law.

Read Full Bio

Dr. Iltefat Hamzavi

Dr. Iltefat Hamzavi has practiced dermatology since 2001. In addition to general dermatology, he specializes in photodermatology, hidradenitis suppurativa, vitiligo, and ethnic dermatology. Dr. Hamzavi splits his time between Hamzavi/Dermatology Specialists and Henry Ford Hospital. He also directs the investigator-initiated research group at Henry Ford. He has served as the President of Hidradenitis Suppurativa Foundation and Co-chair of the Global Vitiligo Foundation. Inside the American Muslim community, he has served as the founding board chair emeritus of the Institute for Social Policy (ISPU). He has served on the board of Crescent Academy International as well as the Michigan Muslim Community Council (MMCC). In addition, he serves on the national and state boards for Emgage and Alim. Iltefat cherishes time with his family and service to his home state of Michigan.

Read Full Bio

Dr. Shariq Siddiqui

Dr. Shariq Siddiqui serves as the visiting director and assistant professor of the Muslim Philanthropy Initiative at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and also the Executive Director of Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA). ARNOVA is a leading international association that connects scholars, teachers, and practice leaders in research on nonprofit organizations, voluntary action, philanthropy and civil society. Shariq has a Ph.D. and M.A. in Philanthropic Studies from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. He also has a JD from the McKinney School of Law at Indiana University. Shariq has served as a nonprofit practitioner and board member for over 20 years.

Read Full Bio

New National ISNA Survey Finds Strong Support for Climate Solutions Among Muslim-Americans Wed, 31 Oct 2018 16:46:22 +0000 Supported by ecoAmerica, George Mason University’s Center for Climate Communication, and the Parliament of the World’s Religions, ISNA conducted what we believe to be the first-ever national convenience survey sample focused exclusively on Muslim-Americans. The results were striking. Of the more than 1,180 Muslim-Americans that fully participated in the online survey from April to May, 2018, the overwhelming majority:
  • Correctly understand the origins of climate change (largely human activity)
  • Are deeply concerned about the current and future impacts of climate change upon all of Allah’s creation, especially the most vulnerable and future generations
  • Support shifting toward cleaner energy sources, and imposing a corporate polluters’ fee
Results of the forty-three question survey suggest strong support for taking measures to address climate change from Muslim-Americans across gender, age, geographic origin, and even political orientation.
Respondents also expressed overwhelming levels of religious motivation for their beliefs in taking action on climate change, and their interest for Islamic educational institutions to more thoroughly teach children about climate change.
No other American religious group surveyed by ecoAmerica (the funder of the study and our institutional partner on climate change) had higher percentages demonstrating awareness of climate causes, impacts, and actions steps to address it than Muslims.
For more information on the survey methodology, results, and recommendations, please see the full report here.
ISNA Outraged by the Shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue Sat, 27 Oct 2018 21:30:13 +0000 The Islamic Society of North American (ISNA) is outraged and disturbed by the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. To support the community with short-term needs including funeral expenses and medical bills, please click here.

In a statement, ISNA President Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed said:

“We grieve the loss of innocent lives from this tragic incident. A place of worship is a place of refuge. We stand in solidarity with our Jewish sisters and brothers in speaking out against anti-semitism.”

Today’s shooting is an example of the rising anti-semitism and bigotry as well as the epidemic of gun violence. ISNA remains committed to addressing anti-semitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of hatred.

ISNA has joined the Muslim Youth of North America (MYNA) to partner with the Reform Action Center (RAC) and The North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY) to spearhead Muslim-Jewish advocacy trainings and actions on gun legislation at the state and federal level. To learn more about our work, please click here.

ISNA Reiterates Stand Against Nuclear Weapons Wed, 24 Oct 2018 12:47:03 +0000 On Tuesday, September 16, Imam Saffet Catovic, an environmental activist, ISNA Green Initiative Member, and former Bosnian diplomat offered remarks on behalf of the Islamic Society of North America at a multi-country sponsored event, “To Safeguard Future Generations – Multi-faith Responses to the Threat of Nuclear Weapons. The program was organized by the Permanent Mission of Austria to the United Nations and the NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace, and Security (NGOCDPS), and co-sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Nigeria, Thailand and South Africa to the UN.

Imam Catovic cited former IOICA National Director (and current ISNA President) Dr. Sayyid Syeed’s support for the 1999 Parliament of World’s Religions Moral Call to Eliminate the Threat of Nuclear Weapons, which say, “The threat posed to humanity and all other forms of life by the sheer destructiveness of nuclear weapons presents an unacceptable risk for this and future generations. This unacceptable risk presents a moral imperative for the elimination of nuclear weapons.”

During his remarks, Imam Catovic also cited Islamic teachings supporting the stance on nuclear weapons. Referencing a 2005 opinion of Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi and Dr. Jamal Badawi, members of the Fiqh Council of North America’s Council of Islamic Jurists, Catovic repeated their conclusion that “it is haram to deploy nuclear weapons. The shariah of Allah could never approve such weapons. According to the principles of Islamic law, there should instead be a universal ban on their development and possession. No criteria exist that
allows some states to maintain nuclear weapons while others are denied them.”

Referencing maqasid al-shariah, or the goals/purposes of Islamic canonical law, both scholars said that among other reasons, nuclear weapons:
represent a serious threat to peace
are brutal and merciless
do not differentiate between combatants and non-combatants, and, therefore, cannot be used as a means of legitimate self-defense

Finally, Imam Catovic ended his remarks with the environmental costs of developing and deploying nuclear weapons, with damage harming many future generations that had no direct relationship to the conflict for which the weapons would have been used.

ISNA has been involved with anti-nuclear weapons discussion for nearly two decades. You can find more information about nuclear weapons and other policy issues on our interfaith advocacy website:

Protect Immigrant Families: ISNA Stands Against Proposed Changes to Public Charge Mon, 15 Oct 2018 20:14:48 +0000 Protect Immigrant Families: ISNA Stands Against Proposed Changes to Public Charge

On October 10, the Federal Register officially published a proposed policy change that could dramatically affect low-income immigrants’ pathways to residency and citizenship. By redefining a legal concept called “public charge,” the new rule would effectively penalize immigrants for using health care, housing, and nutrition assistance programs. Families would be forced to choose between their immediate needs for food and shelter, and their long-term aspirations to stay in the United States as citizens. The rule was drafted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security at the direction of the Trump administration.

The Islamic Society of North America staunchly opposes the proposed change as an affront to both American and Muslim values. As Muslims, we believe that our lives are defined by our piety, just actions, hard work, and dedication to the community — not by how much money we have. The new regulations promoted by the Trump administration would ensure that only wealthy immigrants can afford to build a future in the United States. Low-income immigrants will be compelled to opt-out of important social services out of fear that it could jeopardize their future in the United States; the proposed regulations therefore effectively take away health care, housing assistance, and food assistance from needy families.

According to government procedure, US citizens and organizations now have 60 days to submit comments rejecting these changes to the public charge rule. The government is required to read and respond to our comments before implementing the new regulations. Please join ISNA in submitting a comment through this user-friendly website created by the organization Protecting Immigrant Families:


No faith can be America’s enemy – OpEd by Congressman Eric Swalwell Fri, 28 Sep 2018 14:42:21 +0000 2018 ISNA Election Results Sun, 19 Aug 2018 20:30:54 +0000 The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) has completed its general election and expresses deep appreciation for all of the candidates who offered to serve the organization. The following leaders have been elected to these positions on ISNA’s Board of Directors.

ISNA President: Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed
Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed is the former National Director of ISNA’s Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances in Washington, DC. Before heading the Washington office, he served for 12 years as ISNA Secretary General. He served as President of MSA and pioneered its transformation into ISNA. He’s also formerly served as Secretary General of the International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations (IIFSO), General Secretary of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS), and Chairman of the Editorial Board of Islamic Horizons magazine. Dr. Syeed was one of the founders of the American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences (AJISS) and served as Editor and then Editor-in-Chief.

ISNA Vice President USA: Safaa Zarzour
Safaa Zarzour is an educator, attorney and a community activist. Professionally, he is the Superintendent of Universal Schools in Illinois and Indiana. He is also the Principal of Zarzour Law LLC. Previously, he has served as Secretary General of ISNA, General Council and Chief Operations Officer of Zakat Foundation of America, and Chief Executive Officer of IQRA International Foundation, and as an adjunct law professor at Loyola Law School. Zarzour is the cofounder of the ISNA Education Forum, Chairman of the Council of Islamic Schools of North America (CISNA), member of the Board of Advisors of the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving, Vice Chair of the Mosque Foundation, elected board member of Oak Lawn Community High School and President of the Syrian Forum USA.

ISNA Vice President Canada: Mohammed Jalaluddin
Mohammed Jalaluddin has a Master of Science Degree from the University of Texas at Dallas, and has over 30 years of experience in Islamic Finance and Senior Business Management. Jalaluddin is the founding member and currently the President of Ansar Financial Group, Toronto that offers interest-free investments and is Sharia Compliant. He is also the Vice Chairman of Islamic Cooperative Housing Corporation in Toronto and President IMRC Canada. Jalaluddin is a life member of ISNA and has served MSA/ISNA since 1972 in various capacities such as a Board Member and Secretary, Association of Muslim Scientists and Engineers (AMSE) and as speaker/moderator at ISNA Conventions.