Imam Hassan Selim has led the Islamic Center of Cedar Rapids for more than eight years. Like many in his position, he is tasked with forming a more inclusive mosque, one that can assist an always changing and diverse community in often challenging times.
One recurring obstacle was the lack of real-life examples of mosques that had overcome these same challenges. Imam Selim learned of ISPU, and our Reimagining Muslim Spaces (RMS) project, while attending a conference where Executive Director Meira Neggaz presented our research.
According to Selim, “I was familiar with ISPU’s work, but had no idea how well it would fit the challenges I was facing until I heard ISPU’s presentation. Through the RMS report series, I was able to match my religious training and knowledge with practical examples, best practices, and guidelines on how to achieve inclusiveness and civic engagement in my mosque. ISPU research took an abstract Islamic idea/ideal and presented it as a reality.”
Imam Selim shared ISPU’s research with his incoming board, used ISPU research to coordinate the use of his mosque as an early voting center, and plans to use another RMS report to encourage the forming of a free clinic. He also, following a specific recommendation from our Creating a Welcoming, Inclusive, Dynamic Mosque report, championed the appointment of a woman as the chairperson of his mosque.
“I was convinced that appointing a woman as the chairperson would be a sign of, and a step towards, creating an inclusive mosque,” he says. “Knowing that there is no religious issue with the matter, I advised that this would be a step in the right direction. Now, we are proud to have a Muslim woman as our chairperson.”
“At our mosque here in Iowa, ISPU’s research and recommendations have transformed how we operate,” Imam Selim says. “ISPU’s research is instrumental, enlightening, and invaluable. In my opinion, their reports should be read by every imam across the country.”