Community in the Time of Corona

Documenting the American Muslim Response to the COVID-19 Crisis

BY PETRA ALSOOFY AND KATHERINE COPLEN

A doctor wearing a black hijab checks a patient chart on a clipboard

SUMMARY

ISPU set out to document stories of service from American Muslims in the fight against COVID-19. This report includes a quantitative measurement of service in each state, everything from providing healthcare workers with mental health support to donating much-needed funds to meet the basic needs of families who have been hardest hit by the crisis. It will also include stories of individuals and communities that took action to alleviate or prevent the suffering around them. This collection of contributions will serve as a living document, recording the story of American Muslim impact during this unprecedented moment in history.

Introduction

The whole of the United States is suffering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but reporting shows that certain communities are disproportionately impacted. Muslims in America make up the country’s most socioeconomically disadvantaged faith group, with a full third of Muslim families living at or below the poverty line. And low-income people are among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. They are the most likely Americans to be frontline workers, lack access to proper healthcare and have no cash or credit cushion should they lose their jobs. Muslims also make up the most ethnically diverse faith community in the country, with 28% of Muslims identifying as Black or African American. Data show that Black Americans are dying from COVID-19 at disproportionately higher rates, placing Black Muslims at the intersection of the socioeconomic and racial impacts of the disease. The National Black Muslim COVID Coalition (BMCC) was organized to directly address this issue.

And while American Muslims overall make up only about 1% of the population, they make up a disproportionately large segment of the frontline workers risking their health and that of their families in the fight against COVID-19. For example, in Michigan, 15% of all doctors and 11% of all pharmacists are Muslim. In New York City, one of the hardest hit areas of the country, Muslims make up a full 10% of the city’s medical doctors and 13% of pharmacists. Muslims also make up a staggering 40% of all New York City cab drivers, an under-recognized group of essential workers risking their health every day by transporting ill customers to health appointments or the pharmacy. 

Furthermore, as a faith community, philanthropy is a core practice for American Muslims, who give to many different causes inside and outside their faith community. Like other faith groups, American Muslims are most likely to give to their houses of worship, followed by giving to causes that alleviate domestic poverty. ISPU studies show American Muslims give mostly due to a sense of religious obligation and the belief that those with more should help those with less.

Responses in time of crisis are not new in the American Muslim community. ISPU has studied similar collective community action during the Flint Water Crisis, as well as the long-term investment and service to address the healthcare needs of uninsured or underinsured Americans through free medical clinics around the country, such as the Huda Clinic

Right now, in the grip of COVID-19, giving is taking all kinds of forms. As states went on lockdown and physical distancing and self-quarantine became the new norm, news reports emerged of American Muslims leaping into action to support those around them. ISPU and the National Muslim Taskforce on COVID-19 launched a project to collect and organize the ways American Muslims are serving others as the country collectively suffers the impact of the pandemic. The resulting report includes many different kinds of service to communities by individuals and organizations at every scale, from small personal donations to public health research to national-scale philanthropic programs. Community in the Time of Corona: Documenting the American Muslim Response to the COVID-19 Crisis is a opportunity for the community to share these stories during a period of national crisis.

OUR PARTNERS

This project was completed in partnership with the National Muslim Taskforce on COVID-19 (a coalition chaired by AMHP, FCNA, IMANA, and ISNA), U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations, Muslim American Society (MAS), Islam in Spanish, and National Black Muslim COVID Coalition (BMCC).

IMANA
Islam in Spanish logo
Islamic Society of North America
Muslim American Society logo
The Fiqh Council of North America
National Black Muslim COVID Coalition logo
US Council of Muslim Organizations
A doctor wearing a black hijab checks a patient chart on a clipboard

SUMMARY

ISPU set out to document stories of service from American Muslims in the fight against COVID-19. This report includes a quantitative measurement of service in each state, everything from providing healthcare workers with mental health support to donating much-needed funds to meet the basic needs of families who have been hardest hit by the crisis. It will also include stories of individuals and communities that took action to alleviate or prevent the suffering around them. This collection of contributions will serve as a living document, recording the story of American Muslim impact during this unprecedented moment in history.

Table of Contents

OUR PARTNERS

This project was completed in partnership with the National Muslim Taskforce on COVID-19 (a coalition chaired by AMHP, FCNA, IMANA, and ISNA), U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations, Muslim American Society (MAS), Islam in Spanish, and National Black Muslim COVID Coalition (BMCC).

Introduction

The whole of the United States is suffering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but reporting shows that certain communities are disproportionately impacted. Muslims in America make up the country’s most socioeconomically disadvantaged faith group, with a full third of Muslim families living at or below the poverty line. And low-income people are among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. They are the most likely Americans to be frontline workers, lack access to proper healthcare and have no cash or credit cushion should they lose their jobs. Muslims also make up the most ethnically diverse faith community in the country, with 28% of Muslims identifying as Black or African American. Data show that Black Americans are dying from COVID-19 at disproportionately higher rates, placing Black Muslims at the intersection of the socioeconomic and racial impacts of the disease. The National Black Muslim COVID Coalition (BMCC) was organized to directly address this issue.

And while American Muslims overall make up only about 1% of the population, they make up a disproportionately large segment of the frontline workers risking their health and that of their families in the fight against COVID-19. For example, in Michigan, 15% of all doctors and 11% of all pharmacists are Muslim. In New York City, one of the hardest hit areas of the country, Muslims make up a full 10% of the city’s medical doctors and 13% of pharmacists. Muslims also make up a staggering 40% of all New York City cab drivers, an under-recognized group of essential workers risking their health every day by transporting ill customers to health appointments or the pharmacy. 

Furthermore, as a faith community, philanthropy is a core practice for American Muslims, who give to many different causes inside and outside their faith community. Like other faith groups, American Muslims are most likely to give to their houses of worship, followed by giving to causes that alleviate domestic poverty. ISPU studies show American Muslims give mostly due to a sense of religious obligation and the belief that those with more should help those with less.

Responses in time of crisis are not new in the American Muslim community. ISPU has studied similar collective community action during the Flint Water Crisis, as well as the long-term investment and service to address the healthcare needs of uninsured or underinsured Americans through free medical clinics around the country, such as the Huda Clinic

Right now, in the grip of COVID-19, giving is taking all kinds of forms. As states went on lockdown and physical distancing and self-quarantine became the new norm, news reports emerged of American Muslims leaping into action to support those around them. ISPU and the National Muslim Taskforce on COVID-19 launched a project to collect and organize the ways American Muslims are serving others as the country collectively suffers the impact of the pandemic. The resulting report includes many different kinds of service to communities by individuals and organizations at every scale, from small personal donations to public health research to national-scale philanthropic programs. Community in the Time of Corona: Documenting the American Muslim Response to the COVID-19 Crisis is a opportunity for the community to share these stories during a period of national crisis.

American Muslim Responses

Browse Muslim service by state (click a star on the map) or by type (select category boxes to the right of the map).

Bookmark this page and return in July for additional responses, state-by-state analysis, and in-depth stories showcasing some of the contributions listed below.

Types of Service

To examine American Muslim service in depth, ISPU researchers created nine different categories, further broken into a variety of subcategories to accommodate specific service input by survey respondents. These categories were selected based on contributions reported to ensure as many aspects of societal needs were accounted for in the study. Submissions were coded into categories based on details provided by survey respondents.

Stethascope icon

Medical support includes healthcare workers and public health officials continuing to serve in their existing positions.

A grocery bag filled with food icon

Food security and basic needs support includes donations of food and household supplies.

An apple on top of a book icon

Education includes teachers and administrators providing remote education and organization, from K-12 through university, as well as public educators providing translation services, community education, and more.

A crescent and star icon

Spiritual support includes faith leaders, counselors, chaplains, and others involved in decision-making at houses of worship, hospitals, and universities providing both community leadership and individual support.

A box of medical supplies icon

Safety/PPE/supplies support includes individuals and groups who provided, created, and financed the supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and medical supplies, including sewing masks, donating blood, and fundraising for equipment.

A lightbulb icon

Technology/innovation includes the creation of new products, like testing kits, ventilators, and PPE, as well as new sterilization and sanitization processes.

A person amid a crowd with their hand up icon

Civic engagement/policy/community leadership includes those who work within their communities to influence decisions impacting public safety, from the closing of worship spaces, to facilitating voting by mail and census completion, to increasing understanding of new federal and state laws.

A profile of a head with a heart in the middle icon

Mental health includes providing counseling and resources, as well as creating new avenues for community support during this time of crisis.

Dollar icon

Economic security support includes financial contributions that do not fall into any other category.

Medical Support

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Food Security / Basic Needs Support

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Economic Security Support

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Education

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Spiritual Support

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Safety / PPE / Supplies Support

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Technology / Innovation

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Civic Engagement / Policy / Community Leadership

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Mental Health

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