Reimagining Muslim Spaces

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 services they offer and increase constituent engagement. With implementable recommendations, the RMS study will contribute to improved community building, reduced marginalization, and increased community cohesiveness.

ISPU began this study by assembling a multidisciplinary group of stakeholders—from mosque leaders to disillusioned young people, women, converts, and members of ethnic and racial minority groups—to advise on the project and test recommendations. ISPU then analyzed existing national data and conducted primary qualitative research in three hubs: Metro-Detroit, the DC/Maryland/Virginia area, and the Bay Area, California.

An older man with a beard sitting outside a mosque

ISPU also 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. Using this data-driven research approach and actionable recommendations, the RMS study aims to move the concept of being “unmosqued” from a buzzword to a solvable social challenge.

ISPU 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. Case studies focus on engagement and inclusivity, social service programming, civic engagement models, and governance issues. This is a roadmap to help communities transform their current spaces into ones that are inclusive to all community members and responsive to their collective needs. To bring the research directly to communities, ISPU created an Inclusivity Workshop Toolkit, including videos, participant surveys, and exercises centers can use to address issues and create an action plan for incorporating study recommendations.

RMS at a Glance

What if you were asked to recall the best moment you had at a mosque? The time that was most fulfilling, when you felt most excited and inspired about being there. We asked American Muslim women this question, and here is what we found.

Allison, Daniel, and Kayla are converts to Islam. Follow their journeys to see how their mosques created welcoming, inclusive, and dynamic environments for them to grow in their faith.

In the wake of tragedy, it is hard for Muslim and allied leaders, communities, and institutions to manage the fallout and increased scrutiny. ISPU’s case study examines how the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC) effectively responded to the Boston marathon bombing.

Talk Toolkits

ISPU worked with the Yaqeen Institute to integrate ISPU research into a series of khutbahs developed by Yaqeen, allowing communities around the country to receive evidence-based and inspiring Friday sermons. These toolkits are specifically developed as a tool to empower and equip imams, youth directors, MSA leaders, and Islamic schools to address topics relevant to the concerns of American Muslims today.

Want to use ISPU | Yaqeen Talk Toolkits to start conversations about women’s inclusivity, civic engagement, community racism, Islamophobia, social services, devotion to faith, or reclaiming the narrative about Islam? Read more and view the materials.

A hijabi woman kneeling on a prayer rug

Organize Your Own Inclusivity Workshop

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

Infographics

Other Relevant Reports

  • On July 25, 2017, the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) hosted a one-day convening in partnership with the John Templeton Foundation (JTF) to identify the needs, opportunities, and challenges for weekend Islamic schools as they relate to character development in students between the...

  • 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 U.S. 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 Resources

Meet the Research Team

Dr. Ihsan Bagby

Dr. Ihsan Bagby

Principal Investigator and Fellow, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Associate Professor, University of Kentucky

Faiqa Mahmood

Faiqa Mahmood

Lead Researcher and Fellow, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Dalia Mogahed

Dalia Mogahed

Director of Research, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Afif Rahman

Afif Rahman

Research Assistant, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Nashwah Akhtar

Nashwah Akhtar

Research Assistant, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Sarrah Buageila

Sarrah Buageila

Project Manager, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Meet the Research Team

Dr. Ihsan Bagby

Dr. Ihsan Bagby

Principal Investigator and Fellow, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Associate Professor, University of Kentucky

Faiqa Mahmood

Faiqa Mahmood

Lead Researcher and Fellow, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Afif Rahman

Afif Rahman

Research Assistant, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Nashwah Akhtar

Nashwah Akhtar

Research Assistant, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Dalia Mogahed

Dalia Mogahed

Director of Research, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Sarrah Buageila

Sarrah Buageila

Project Manager, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Meet the Advisory Council

Marwa Aly

Marwa Ali

Filmmaker, Unmosqued documentary

Previous Muslim Chaplain, Trinity College and Wesleyan University

Shahed Amanullah

Shahed Amanullah

Co-founder and Director,
Affinis Labs

CEO and Co-founder,
LaunchPosse

CEO and Founder, Halalfire

Hazem Bata

Hazem Bata

Former Secretary General, Islamic Society of North America

Patrick Cates

Patrick Cates

Managing Director, DREAM of Detroit

Program Advisor, Beacon Foundation

Ahmed Eid

Ahmed Eid

Filmmaker, Unmosqued documentary

Maryam Eskandari

Maryam Eskandar

Founder, MIIM Designs

Undergraduate Advisor, Harvard University Department of Architecture

Tannaz Haddadi

Tannaz Haddadi

Founder and President of the Board, Next Wave Muslim Initiative

Butheina Hamdah

Butheina Hamdah

Former Development Associate, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Altaf Husain

Dr. Altaf Husain

Vice President, Islamic Society of North America

Assistant Professor, Howard University School of Social Work

Iffa Kazi

Iffa Kazi

Operations and Special Projects Manager, El-Hibri Foundation

Saleem Khalid

Saleem Khalid

Executive Director, Muslim Enrichment Project

Farhan Latif

Farhan Latif

President, El-Hibri Foundation

Atif Mahmud

Atif Mahmud

Filmmaker, Unmosqued documentary

Hind Makki

Hind Makki

Curator and Founder, Side Entrance blog

Meira Neggaz

Meira Neggaz

Executive Director, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Sarah Sayeed

Sarah Sayeed

Former Board Member, Women in Islam, Inc.

Author, “Women Friendly Mosques and Community Centers”

Meet the Advisory Council

Marwa Aly

Marwa Ali

Filmmaker, Unmosqued documentary

Previous Muslim Chaplain, Trinity College and Wesleyan University

Shahed Amanullah

Shahed Amanullah

Co-founder and Director,
Affinis Labs

CEO and Co-founder,
LaunchPosse

CEO and Founder, Halalfire

Hazem Bata

Hazem Bata

Former Secretary General, Islamic Society of North America

Patrick Cates

Patrick Cates

Managing Director, DREAM of Detroit

Program Advisor, Beacon Foundation

Patrick Cates

Patrick Cates

Managing Director, DREAM of Detroit

Program Advisor, Beacon Foundation

Ahmed Eid

Ahmed Eid

Filmmaker, Unmosqued documentary

Maryam Eskandari

Maryam Eskandar

Founder, MIIM Designs

Undergraduate Advisor, Harvard University Department of Architecture

Tannaz Haddadi

Tannaz Haddadi

Founder and President of the Board, Next Wave Muslim Initiative

Butheina Hamdah

Butheina Hamdah

Former Development Associate, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Altaf Husain

Dr. Altaf Husain

Vice President, Islamic Society of North America

Assistant Professor, Howard University School of Social Work

Iffa Kazi

Iffa Kazi

Operations and Special Projects Manager, El-Hibri Foundation

Saleem Khalid

Saleem Khalid

Executive Director, Muslim Enrichment Project

Farhan Latif

Farhan Latif

President, El-Hibri Foundation

Atif Mahmud

Atif Mahmud

Filmmaker, Unmosqued documentary

Hind Makki

Hind Makki

Curator and Founder, Side Entrance blog

Meira Neggaz

Meira Neggaz

Executive Director, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Sarah Sayeed

Sarah Sayeed

Former Board Member, Women in Islam, Inc.

Author, “Women Friendly Mosques and Community Centers”

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