Debating Engagement vs. Boycott

ISPU held its first debate at the Islamic Society of North America’s (ISNA) 2015 national conference. The debate, which focused on the philosophical question of boycott versus engagement with those with whom you don’t agree, brought together prominent thinkers on either side of the question with the aim of providing a platform for civil, thoughtful debate on a divisive topic.

With an overflow audience of 250 people, one attendee tweeted, “The biggest takeaway from ISPU debate 2015 is that we can have a civil and open debate within our community.”

In 19 years at ISNA, I have never seen a session that drew that many national and local community leaders.

– ISNA Debate attendee

Samar Kaukab speaking at a podium
Tweet by Suad Abdul Khabeer: Real talk. this debate is really about differing versions of what is possible. And we just got to live with that #ISPUDebate2015
Tweet by Ingrid Mattson: Full house for "debating engagement vs boycotts" #isna52chicago #ispudebate2015
Tweet by Linda Sarsour: Shoutout to @TheISPU for a great debate on engagement vs. boycott. We need more real & raw conversations like these. #ISNA52Chicago
Tweet by Dilshad D. Ali: This is the session to be at so far. All online debate finally discussed in person #ISPUDebate2015 #ISNA52Chicago

Debate Participants


Abbas Barzegar

ISPU Scholar

Assistant Professor of Islam, Georgia State University

Hatem Bazian

Co-founder, Senior Faculty, and Academic Affairs Chair, Zaytuna College


Samar Kaukab

Executive Director of Arete, University of Chicago

Salam Al-Marayati

President and Co-founder, Muslim Public Affairs Council

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