Reimagining Muslim Spaces

Solutions for More Vibrant, Inclusive and Service-Oriented Islamic Centers

The Reimagining Muslim Spaces (RMS) study aims to stimulate and support mosques and community centers to meet the diverse social, civic, and economic needs of their congregants with special attention to often marginalized groups, including women, youth, and converts. Utilizing case study analysis produced by the RMS study, mosques and community centers can reduce barriers to participation, improve the services they offer and increase constituent engagement. Through providing recommendations that individuals, communities, and institutions can implement, the RMS study will contribute to improved community building, reduced marginalization, and increased community cohesiveness.

Keep scrolling to experience our RMS videos, reports, case studies, infographics, and other resources below.

NEW! 5 Ways to Create an Inclusive Mosque For Women Video

Scope of the Study

ISPU began by assembling a multidisciplinary group of stakeholders—from mosque leaders to disillusioned young people, women, converts, and ethnic minorities—to advise on the project and to test recommendations. To further define the challenges, discover solutions, and craft actionable recommendations, ISPU analyzed existing national data and conducted primary qualitative research in three hubs—Metro-Detroit, the DC/Maryland/Virginia area, and the Bay Area, California—chosen due to their sizable Muslim populations and their diversity.

ISPU identified exemplary models of mosques and community centers that have high participation rates for young people, with a special focus on women and converts, and exceptional programs that meet the needs of their constituents. Through using this data-driven research approach, coupled with actionable recommendations, the RMS study aspires to move the concept of being “unmosqued” from a buzzword to a solvable social challenge.

ISPU has developed a community education toolkit, including case studies and community briefs, that mosques and community centers can use to practically implement the RMS study’s recommendations. These case studies focus on engagement and inclusivity, social service programming, civic engagement models, and governance issues. This research creates a roadmap to help communities transform their current spaces into ones that are inclusive to all community members and responsive to their collective need. In order to bring the research directly to communities, ISPU has created an Inclusivity Workshop Toolkit, including videos, participant surveys, and exercises that centers can use to address issues at hand and create an action plan for incorporating study recommendations.

RMS at a Glance

Creating Welcoming Mosques for All – Video Series & Workshop Toolkit

After conducting extensive research, analyzing the data, and creating a set of practical recommendations, ISPU has been traveling across the country sharing our findings directly with mosque leaders, volunteers, and attendees via a two-hour interactive workshop. In order to increase our reach, we’ve turned our traveling workshop into a virtual one, enabling interested people to use our material to hold a workshop in their mosque.

“The ISPU study is one of the first chances we start to scientifically look at the phenomenon of what’s probably been going on for a long time.”

—Halim Naeem, Psychologist

“I want to see our mosques be that welcome mat to convene and to nourish and to empower communities. This study is going to show us all the different elements of that for women, youth and converts.”

—Syed Mohiuddin, Former Board Member, United Way of Southeastern Michigan

RMS Reports

RMS Case Studies

RMS Infographics

Related ISPU Reports

  • How can we provide better support to convert youth? According to Ta’leef Collective, over 20,000 Americans convert to Islam annually. But, many new converts leave Islam in the first two years after conversion. In this series of small group discussions, participants discussed the challenges faced...

  • How can predominately South Asian and Arab American mosques promote a greater understanding of race and civil rights, and create inclusive environments for African American Muslim youth? The United States’ several million Muslims are the most racially, culturally, and ethnically diverse group in the country....

  • This report is intended as a best practices guide for faith communities, as well as for the professionals and advocates supporting them, as they attempt to develop or expand houses of worship in the face of organized grassroots opposition. Recommendations are drawn from case studies...

  • This report is intended as a best practices guide for US municipal authorities—elected officials,  municipal attorneys, planners and appointed review board members—as they steward and adjudicate development applications for mosques and related accessory uses and attempt to manage and reduce conflict around those proposals. Recommendations...

  • During the summer of 2004, the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) released the results of an extensive study on Detroit metropolitan area mosques. Dr. Ihsan Bagby of the University of Kentucky conducted the study, surveying more than 1,300 participants from twelve different local...

  • Mosques are the cornerstone of the Islamic experience in America. One sign of the growing presence of Muslims in the United States has been the rapid growth of Muslim civil society, characterized by a dramatic increase in the number of mosques, social and political organizations,...

Additional Reports & Resources

In addition to the reports and resources listed below, ISPU recommends the following experts and organizations:


Muslims Understanding & Helping Special Education Needs (MUHSEN)

Peaceful Families

Muslim Women’s Alliance

Other Resources

Meet the Research Team

Dr. Ihsan Bagby

Principal Investigator and Fellow, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Associate Professor, University of Kentucky

FaiqaMahmood_150x215Faiqa Mahmood

Lead Researcher and Fellow, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Afif Rahman

Research Assistant, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Nashwah Akhtar

Research Assistant, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Dalia Mogahed

Director of Research, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Sarrah Buageila

Project Manager, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Meet the Advisory Council

Marwa Aly

Filmmaker, “Unmosqued” documentary

Previous Muslim Chaplain, Trinity College and Wesleyan University

Shahed Amanullah

Co-Founder and Director,
Affinis Labs

CEO and Co-founder,

CEO and Founder, Halalfire

Hazem Bata

Secretary General, Islamic Society of North America

Patrick Cates

Managing Director, DREAM of Detroit

Program Advisor, Beacon Foundation

Ahmed Eid

Filmmaker, “Unmosqued” documentary

Maryam Eskandari

Founder, MIIM Designs

Undergraduate Advisor, Harvard University Department of Architecture

Tannaz Haddadi

Founder and President of the Board, Next Wave Muslim Initiative

Butheina Hamdah

Development Associate, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Dr. Altaf Husain

Vice President, Islamic Society of North America

Assistant Professor, Howard University School of Social Work

Iffa Kazi

Operations and Special Projects Manager, El-Hibri Foundation

Saleem Khalid

Executive Director, Muslim Enrichment Project

Farhan Latif

President, El-Hibri Foundation

Atif Mahmud

Filmmaker, “Unmosqued” documentary

Hind Makki

Curator and Founder, Side Entrance Blog

Meira Neggaz

Executive Director, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Sarah Sayeed

Former Board Member, Women in Islam, Inc.

Author, “Women Friendly Mosques and Community Centers”