Our Impact

At ISPU, we take our tagline of Research Making an Impact seriously. We rigorously and meticulously count and log the ways in which our work makes a difference, furthering well-informed dialogue and decision-making. Here is a sampling of stories, data, quotes, and event summaries that illustrate some of that impact across the country.

Researchers working together for better outcomes

“As a clinical researcher and epidemiologist I am well aware of the financial cost, human resources, time, and energy required to deploy large scale surveys and national polls. Through the Institute of Muslim Mental Health and in partnership with the Stanford University Muslim Mental Health Lab and The Khalil Center, we have contributed several mental health related questions to the most recently analyzed ISPU American Muslim Poll. It was a win-win partnership.

With our collective expertise in Muslim mental health and their ability to collect high quality information, we have recently completed an analysis of American Muslims’ attitudes and experience with mental health care. The research will continue to help mobilize resources to address the needs of the American Muslim community.”

Dr. Hamada Hamid, ISPU Scholar

Using data for successful reentry

“Our organization, Tayba Foundation, has served the education and reentry needs of over 9,300 incarcerated men and women across 42 states in over 500 prisons. Over 90% of our student population are African American and the majority converted while in prison.

So, we were very excited to attend the ISPU webinar on African Americans and mosque attendance to see what we could learn and take back to benefit our students. Myself and a number of the Tayba team attended the event and then had multiple follow-up team discussions about what was shared. The event and the research gave us more insight into some of the dynamics that we must consider. We know that part of successful reentry for returning citizens is to be part of a masjid community, and the ISPU research will aid in how we coach our clients and students on how to best bring regular masjid attendance into one’s life.”

Rami Nsour, Founding Director of Tayba Foundation 

Informing health textbooks for youth

“I was creating a health textbook with an Islamic focus for middle and high school aged Muslim youth. Certain topics are quite sensitive and controversial (such as premarital relations, genders, same-sex attraction, racism, reproduction, intoxicants, contraception, abortion, low self esteem, bullying, mental illness, sexual violence, domestic violence, divorce, etc).

I was able to cite ISPU’s research as evidence on the need to address such heavy and sensitive topics with our Muslim youth. ISPU’s research was an integral part in proving the reality of the struggles and hardship that many Muslim youth face.

Without this research, the Islamic Health series would not be able to provide evidence in most sensitive topics. It would have been based on speculation and assumptions, which is likely to be questioned.”

– Amber Khan, Author of Islamic Health Ages 9 and Up and Islamic Health Ages 14 and Up

shutterstock_494317339

Establishing Eid as a national holiday

Grassroots organizers have worked to build relationships with key politicians in the Texas legislature in order to support a bill designating Eid to be recognized as a state holiday. ISPU’s data on civic engagement played a key role in this effort.

“We showed data on the number of Muslim voters, how involved they were in their communities, the average education and income levels, and the issues that were most important to Muslims,” ISPU Educator Tara Turk-Zaafran, who was involved in the effort, says. The outcome? “The bill passed, and Eid is an official holiday in Texas!”

Effective September 21, 2021, H.B. 1231 amended the Government Code to designate Eid al Fitr and Eid al Adha as optional holidays for state employees. “The research ISPU provides has the power to change the course of Muslim lives in America if used properly,” Tara says.

– Tara Turk-Zaafran, ISPU Educator

Researchers working together for better outcomes

“As a clinical researcher and epidemiologist I am well aware of the financial cost, human resources, time, and energy required to deploy large scale surveys and national polls. Through the Institute of Muslim Mental Health and in partnership with the Stanford University Muslim Mental Health Lab and The Khalil Center, we have contributed several mental health related questions to the most recently analyzed ISPU American Muslim Poll. It was a win-win partnership.

With our collective expertise in Muslim mental health and their ability to collect high quality information, we have recently completed an analysis of American Muslims’ attitudes and experience with mental health care. The research will continue to help mobilize resources to address the needs of the American Muslim community.”

Dr. Hamada Hamid, ISPU Scholar

Using data for successful reentry

“Our organization, Tayba Foundation, has served the education and reentry needs of over 9,300 incarcerated men and women across 42 states in over 500 prisons. Over 90% of our student population are African American and the majority converted while in prison.

So, we were very excited to attend the ISPU webinar on African Americans and mosque attendance to see what we could learn and take back to benefit our students. Myself and a number of the Tayba team attended the event and then had multiple follow-up team discussions about what was shared. The event and the research gave us more insight into some of the dynamics that we must consider. We know that part of successful reentry for returning citizens is to be part of a masjid community, and the ISPU research will aid in how we coach our clients and students on how to best bring regular masjid attendance into one’s life.”

Rami Nsour, Founding Director of Tayba Foundation 

shutterstock_494317339

Establishing Eid as a national holiday

Grassroots organizers have worked to build relationships with key politicians in the Texas legislature in order to support a bill designating Eid to be recognized as a state holiday. ISPU’s data on civic engagement played a key role in this effort.

“We showed data on the number of Muslim voters, how involved they were in their communities, the average education and income levels, and the issues that were most important to Muslims,” ISPU Educator Tara Turk-Zaafran, who was involved in the effort, says. The outcome? “The bill passed, and Eid is an official holiday in Texas!”

Effective September 21, 2021, H.B. 1231 amended the Government Code to designate Eid al Fitr and Eid al Adha as optional holidays for state employees. “The research ISPU provides has the power to change the course of Muslim lives in America if used properly,” Tara says.

– Tara Turk-Zaafran, ISPU Educator

Informing health textbooks for youth

“I was creating a health textbook with an Islamic focus for middle and high school aged Muslim youth. Certain topics are quite sensitive and controversial (such as premarital relations, genders, same-sex attraction, racism, reproduction, intoxicants, contraception, abortion, low self esteem, bullying, mental illness, sexual violence, domestic violence, divorce, etc).

I was able to cite ISPU’s research as evidence on the need to address such heavy and sensitive topics with our Muslim youth. ISPU’s research was an integral part in proving the reality of the struggles and hardship that many Muslim youth face.

Without this research, the Islamic Health series would not be able to provide evidence in most sensitive topics. It would have been based on speculation and assumptions, which is likely to be questioned.”

– Amber Khan, Author of Islamic Health Ages 9 and Up and Islamic Health Ages 14 and Up

Imam Hassan Selim

“ISPU’s hard facts were what I truly needed to present to my audience as we discussed Black History Month. I could see the faces of my panelists and audience brighten with surprise and amazement that there could be such well done research on a matter of interest for Muslims in America. I am not surprised, as I always use your data and research and find them so instrumental, enlightening, and invaluable.”

IMAM HASSAN SELIM, Islamic Center of Cedar Rapids

Mohamed Shukri

“ISPU’s work is a lifesaver. I use ISPU’s stats and data to educate a whole host of groups. Even when I meet groups skeptical of the challenges facing Muslims, ISPU’s data usually wins the day.”

MOHAMED SHUKRI, Daban Consulting

Rep Andy Levin

“The rigorous research of organizations like ISPU provides the knowledge we need to act more intelligently, effectively, and, in the end, compassionately on behalf of all Americans. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to be part of the most diverse Congress in the history of the United States and how grateful I am to get to partner with ISPU to do the work of the American people.”

CONGRESSMAN ANDY LEVIN (MI-09)

Sarah Harvard

“ISPU research does a remarkable job in covering areas that are often overlooked in dialogue about the community. . . . ISPU is single-handedly the only solid resource for journalists covering Islam and the American Muslim community.”

SARAH HARVARD, Journalist

In 2021. . .

A journalist holds a notebook, a recorder, and two microphones

847

mentions of ISPU research in media outlets–that’s more than 2 per day!

A grand mosque with a large blue dome

1,354

institutions—including schools, mosques, media outlets, and more—trained with ISPU research.

A girl in hijab typing on a laptop

28,271

followers connected with on various social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

1,521

national, state, and local policymakers and community leaders equipped with new resources and information.

A small group watches an ISPU presentation

63

ISPU Scholars active in our network.

2,025

partners engaged across the nation and industries.

A Temperature Check

As executive director of digital content and innovation at VPM, Virginia’s home for public media, Angela Massino turned to ISPU resources when she began conceptualizing a new podcast on refugee resettlement more than two years ago. Her team used ISPU’s toolkit for journalists and data on demographics and Muslim experiences to inform their work all along the way

“I look at this research as a tool, like many tools, to help inform how we frame and inform a project—in the same way that we listened to many podcasts, read books, met with policy experts etc. What is unique though, is it specifically calls out issues in the past made by the media and their implications on public opinion. This is helpful, it reemphasizes the responsibility of the media and holds us accountable.” Read more→

Sadia Khan (far right) with the UC Berkeley MSA Political Action Committee

A Student’s Compelling Testimony

We know anecdotally that Muslim college students suffer from Islamophobia, but there was room to learn much more. So, ISPU partnered with MSA West to survey over 500 Muslim college students across California, gaining important insights on the well-being of a vulnerable and under-researched population. What we discovered is already making an impact.

Sadia Khan is a legal studies major at UC Berkeley and a member of her campus’ MSA Political Action Committee.In 2019, she testified on a panel at a California State Assembly hearing on campus climate. During her testimony, Sadia shared with  assembly members data from our report on how many Muslim students reported facing religious discrimination on campus… Read more→

A panel sitting on stage that include Kevin Singer, co-founder of Neighborly Faith, and Petra Alsoofy, ISPU's Outreach & Partnerships Manager

Evangelicals Learn to Love Their Muslim Neighbors

Kevin Singer, co-founder and director of Neighborly Faith, says ISPU is a vital partner in the work to bring Christians and Muslims together across America. “We use [ISPU research] all the time to make a case for loving our Muslim neighbors as they really are, not who we think they are.” 

ISPU joined Neighborly Faith for several events at Christian colleges in 2019, including a two-day conference at Wheaton College where Evangelical students gathered from across the country to learn how to build meaningful relationships with their Muslim neighbors. 

“It is vital that we reach young Evangelicals and help them better understand who American Muslims really are,” Kevin says. Read more→

A teacher instructing her students on how to do something on a tablet

A Teacher Passes on the Facts

Teachers do so much more than teach math and language arts. Educators teach the next generation how to work together with empathy and mutual respect. 

That’s why at ISPU, we use our research to create trainings for educators across the country. Empowered with the right data, ISPU-trained teachers help foster a safe learning environment for all of their students, especially those who happen to be Muslim.

Sara Sisco, a teacher at Potter’s House High School in Kent County, participated in our June training in Grand Rapids, Michigan and was immediately moved to integrate what she learned into her curriculum. Read more→

An elderly African American man holds his “I voted” sticker after he cast his ballot

Muslims on the Frontlines of Civic Engagement

In 2016, our American Muslim Poll discovered that only 60% of American Muslims were registered to vote— that’s significantly less than any other American faith community. 

Syed Ashraf and Mohib Ullah have been on the frontlines of the grassroots effort to change this statistic for years. Both are co-chairs of the ADAMS Civic Engagement (ACE) committee at the ADAMS Center mosque in Sterling, Virginia. 

The ACE team found out early on that presenting their ideas for increased civic engagement to their community was difficult without documented evidence. In Mohib’s words, the data from ISPU’s American Muslims and the 2016 Elections report “gave us a voice that validated our statements.” Read more→

A Temperature Check

As executive director of digital content and innovation at VPM, Virginia’s home for public media, Angela Massino turned to ISPU resources when she began conceptualizing a new podcast on refugee resettlement more than two years ago. Her team used ISPU’s toolkit for journalists and data on demographics and Muslim experiences to inform their work all along the way

“I look at this research as a tool, like many tools, to help inform how we frame and inform a project—in the same way that we listened to many podcasts, read books, met with policy experts etc. What is unique though, is it specifically calls out issues in the past made by the media and their implications on public opinion. This is helpful, it reemphasizes the responsibility of the media and holds us accountable.” Read more→

Sadia Khan (far right) with the UC Berkeley MSA Political Action Committee

A Student’s Compelling Testimony

We know anecdotally that Muslim college students suffer from Islamophobia, but there was room to learn much more. So, ISPU partnered with MSA West to survey over 500 Muslim college students across California, gaining important insights on the well-being of a vulnerable and under-researched population. What we discovered is already making an impact.

Sadia Khan is a legal studies major at UC Berkeley and a member of her campus’ MSA Political Action Committee. Read more→

A panel sitting on stage that include Kevin Singer, co-founder of Neighborly Faith, and Petra Alsoofy, ISPU's Outreach & Partnerships Manager

Evangelicals Learn to Love Their Muslim Neighbors

Kevin Singer, co-founder and director of Neighborly Faith, says ISPU is a vital partner in the work to bring Christians and Muslims together across America. “We use [ISPU research] all the time to make a case for loving our Muslim neighbors as they really are, not who we think they are.” 

ISPU joined Neighborly Faith for several events at Christian colleges in 2019, including a two-day conference at Wheaton College… Read more→

A teacher instructing her students on how to do something on a tablet

A Teacher Passes on the Facts

Teachers do so much more than teach math and language arts. Educators teach the next generation how to work together with empathy and mutual respect. 

That’s why at ISPU, we use our research to create trainings for educators across the country. Empowered with the right data, ISPU-trained teachers help foster a safe learning environment for all of their students, especially those who happen to be Muslim. Sara Sisco, a teacher at Potter’s House High School in Kent County,Read more→

An elderly African American man holds his “I voted” sticker after he cast his ballot

Muslims on the Frontlines of Civic Engagement

In 2016, our American Muslim Poll discovered that only 60% of American Muslims were registered to vote— that’s significantly less than any other American faith community. 

Syed Ashraf and Mohib Ullah have been on the frontlines of the grassroots effort to change this statistic for years. Both are co-chairs of the ADAMS Civic Engagement (ACE) committee at the ADAMS Center mosque in Sterling, Virginia. Read more→

Since 2002, ISPU has produced…

1,052

TOTAL PUBLICATIONS

169

REPORTS + POLICY BRIEFS

828

ARTICLES + OP-EDS

“I emphasize activism vs. passivity in my teaching and ISPU’s data on the challenges American Muslims face in their public religiosity serves as a wake-up call to my students. I wish our community had had access to this quality of information years ago!”

ZAYNAB ANSARI, Faculty and Female Resident Scholar at Tayseer Seminary

Dean Obeidallah

“I use ISPU research to reinforce my arguments, inform my rebuttals and to prove the absurdity of a world that far too often relies on fear and misunderstanding.”

DEAN OBEIDALLAH, Host of The Dean Obeidallah Show

“ISPU’s Islamophobia work is powerful. I use it all the time in my work organizing for social justice. Since hearing about the research, that showed the intersectionality between anti-Muslim bigotry and other types of bigotry, we have conducted more than 50 trainings to coalition build. And it works!”

MANZOOR CHEEMA, Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia

Author Hena Khan holding her children's book, "Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets"

An Author Empowered by Research

As a mother of two teenage boys, Hena Khan constantly worries for them in this changing and uncertain world. “Like all parents, I often think about my kids’ futures. How can I create a better world for them today, quarantined at home? How can I create a safer world for them tomorrow in the classroom and one day in the workplace? ” she says.

While there is so much in the news to cause anxiety, she’s working hard to focus on the good and the trustworthy. One of the sources she turns to is ISPU, where she proudly served as a board member for six years.

Hena is also a best-selling author of children’s books, including Amina’s VoiceGolden Domes and Silver LanternsUnder My Hijab, and It’s Ramadan, Curious George. As a writer and speaker, she use ISPU’s work to stay informed… Read more→

Imam Hassan Selim

An Imam Embraces Inclusivity

Imam Hassan Selim has led the Islamic Center for Cedar Rapids for more than four 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 our research was being presented by Executive Director Meira Neggaz.

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….” Read more→

Photo by Braden Kopf

Liz Kineke

A Journalist Is Inspired

The Muslim Ban. Christ Church. State level anti-Muslim legislation. Reporting on American Muslim communities and the issues that impact them has never been more challenging.

That’s why our workshops for media professionals are so important. They give journalists like Liz Kineke access to the facts, helping her cover American Muslims fairly and creatively.

ISPU “planted a seed about the need for better representation of Black Muslims—women in particular—in the media,” Liz says. “The choice I made to feature a young, Black woman came out of [ISPU’s training for journalists]. The seminar helped me see my gaps and blind spots in reporting on Muslims in America.”

Courtroom sketch of a Muslim man on trial

He Needed Proof—ISPU Had It

Abed Ayoub, National Legal & Policy Director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, needed proof. Proof that Muslim-perceived perpetrators accused of ideologically motivated violence were receiving harsher treatment from the legal system.

“We would have cases like the one in the ISPU report come in and often couldn’t work on them. We would refer them out because our defense team and board didn’t think it was a priority and told us to work on Muslim ban or immigration issues…. We had no documented proof that these cases getting much harsher sentencing was a systematic problem and couldn’t convince the community we needed to target resources to it.”

Enter ISPU’s 2018 report Equal Treatment?. Read more→

Author Hena Khan holding her children's book, "Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets"

An Author Empowered by Research

As a mother of two teenage boys, Hena Khan constantly worries for them in this changing and uncertain world. “Like all parents, I often think about my kids’ futures. How can I create a better world for them today, quarantined at home? How can I create a safer world for them tomorrow in the classroom and one day in the workplace? ” she says.

While there is so much in the news to cause anxiety, she’s working hard to focus on the good and the trustworthy. One of the sources she turns to is ISPU… Read more→

Imam Hassan Selim

An Imam Embraces Inclusivity

Imam Hassan Selim has led the Islamic Center for Cedar Rapids for more than four 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 our research was being presented by Executive Director Meira Neggaz. Read more→

Photo by Braden Kopf

Liz Kineke

A Journalist Is Inspired

The Muslim Ban. Christ Church. State level anti-Muslim legislation. Reporting on American Muslim communities and the issues that impact them has never been more challenging.

That’s why our workshops for media professionals are so important. They give journalists like Liz Kineke access to the facts, helping her cover American Muslims fairly and creatively.

ISPU “planted a seed about the need for better representation of Black Muslims—women in particular—in the media,” Liz says. “The choice I made to feature a young, Black woman came out of [ISPU’s training for journalists]. The seminar helped me see my gaps and blind spots in reporting on Muslims in America.”

Courtroom sketch of a Muslim man on trial

He Needed Proof—ISPU Had It

Abed Ayoub, National Legal & Policy Director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, needed proof. Proof that Muslim-perceived perpetrators accused of ideologically motivated violence were receiving harsher treatment from the legal system.

“We would have cases like the one in the ISPU report come in and often couldn’t work on them. We would refer them out because our defense team and board didn’t think it was a priority…” Read more→

Year in Review

Here are some of the events and highlights from 2021, a year of growth.

MARCH 2021

We launched part two of Community in the Time of Corona, a rolling series of analyses including new data on relevant topics facing American Muslim communities a year into the COVID-19 pandemic.

APRIL 2021

In collaboration with the Center on Muslim Philanthropy and the Islamic Society of North America, we co-published the US Mosque Survey 2020.

MAY 2021

ISPU Working Group on Black Muslim Research members selected Rasheed El Shabazz as the inaugural ISPU Black Muslim Experiences Fellow. His project, The Mosque and the Block, builds on findings in the US Mosque Survey 2020.

ISPU on Capitol Hill passing out research to House staffers (March 2020)

MAY 2021

For the first time in more than a decade, ISPU held our first researchers convening and hosted 50+ researchers from across the country who study topics related to American Muslims, including: faith, family and health, institution building and community development, American pluralism, and Muslim contributions.

JULY 2021

Building off of findings from the American Muslim Poll 2019 showing that Americans who are Muslim are more likely than other groups polled in our survey to attempt suicide, ISPU scholars and other researchers published an analysis of this topic that was published as a letter in JAMA Psychology.

JULY 2021

Ten existing ISPU Educators were trained and equipped with materials to train local journalists in their own communities.

SEPTEMBER 2021

The launch of a project a half-decade in the making: a set of online courses hosted on ReligionAndPublicLife.org. These courses equip adult learners to apply solution-seeking research in cultivating their understanding of American Muslim life.

A man in graduation robes and glasses

SEPTEMBER 2021

After deliberation with a panel of scholars and our team, we awarded three outstanding early career researchers on topics related to American Muslims our 2021 Young Scholar Award.

DECEMBER 2021

As part of our ongoing effort to make ISPU’s research accessible and engaging across a variety of platforms, we launched a podcast: Deep Dives with ISPU. These content-rich episodes feature experts discussing the most pressing issues facing American Muslim communities today.

Year in Review

Here are some of the events and highlights from 2020, a year like no other.

MARCH 4, 2020

ISPU hosted a briefing on religious-based bullying on Capitol Hill, assisted by honorary host Representative Rashida Tlaib, providing vital research to policymakers and Congressional staffers

Portrait of man wearing protective face mask looking straight standing on the hilltop above city

APRIL 15, 2020

We launched Community in the Time of Corona, a project collecting data on Muslim responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The project uses interactive mapping, stories, and photos and will begin a second phase in 2021 .

JUNE 2020

In June, we hosted a weekly webinar series entitled When Doors Reopen, to highlight ways to foster more welcoming, dynamic, and inclusive Muslim spaces after COVID-19. ISPU staff, scholars, and other affiliates participated in these panels.

Two young, Black Muslim women posing and smiling

JUNE 18, 2020

Calls for racial equity erupted following George Floyd’s murder by a police officer in Minneapolis in May. We created digital toolkits highlighting our research on racism and Black Muslim experiences and responses and Black Muslim experiences more broadly to help inform conversations happening across the country.

JULY 13, 2020

In July 2020, ISPU was honored to receive the Center for Nonprofit Advancement’s 2020 Board Leadership Award. The Board Leadership Award recognizes a nonprofit board with “outstanding leadership” that showcases the pivotal role that a board plays in building and supporting a truly successful organization.

OCTOBER 1, 2020

American Muslim Poll 2020: Amid Pandemic and Protest was the fifth such survey of its kind from ISPU, released shortly before a critical election. But when we began planning for the poll’s release, we could not have imagined just how historic it would be. Our fielding period was March 17 to April 22, the first four weeks of a country-wide shutdown in the wake of spiking cases of COVID-19.

OCTOBER 8, 2020

Thanks to a new partnership with the Pulitzer Center, in October 2020, we educated a cohort of emerging journalists and presented our strategies on covering Muslims creatively and confidently to a large audience at the Online News Association conference.

OCTOBER 10, 2020

ISPU partnered with Yaqeen Institute to publish a policymakers’ briefing book and two ISPU | Yaqeen Talk Toolkits discussing devotion to faith and marital counseling. These Talk Toolkits were developed to empower and equip imams, youth directors, MSA leaders, and Islamic schools to address topics relevant to the concerns of American Muslims today.

NOVEMBER 21, 2020

ISPU’s celebrated its first virtual annual banquet in 2020, joined by friends old and new, near and far, to celebrate An Extraordinary Evening in Extraordinary Times. Comedian Jeremy McLellan emceed the event, and ISPU’s wide range of supporters spoke to our impact on their work and communities. We raised over $215,000 for our work throughout the entire end of year campaign!

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