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Islamic Society of North America

By:
Sulayman S. Nyang
Source:
The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World What is This? Provides comprehensive scholarly coverage of the full geographical and historical extent of Islam

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Islamic Society of North America

Formed in 1982, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is an umbrella organization for several Muslim professional groups that have grown out of the Muslim Student Association (MSA), including the Association of Muslim Social Scientists, the Association of Muslim Scientists and Engineers, and the Islamic Medical Association. Various Muslim communities and mosques have also affiliated themselves with ISNA. These locally based affiliate organizations vary in size, membership, ethnic composition, and styles of leadership. Regardless of these variations, each of these Islamic centers and mosques is perceived by local Muslims as a mirror image of the national organization, ISNA.

The ISNA is headquarted in Plainfield, Indiana, where its general secretariat operates out of a mosque-cum-office complex built with funds donated by the United Arab Emirates. The building was designed by a Muslim architect, and sits on Indiana farmland that is on the verge of urban transformation. The headquarters consists of a general secretariat run by a secretary general who is directly accountable to the elected president of the ISNA. The staff members there work under directors, who supervise the following units: Islamic Teaching Center; Islamic Schools Department; Membership and Field Services Department; Convention and Audiovisual Department; and Publications Department.

The constitution of the ISNA recognizes two policy-making bodies, namely, the Majlis Ash-Shura (Consultative Council) and the Executive Council. The first body consists of twenty-four members: seven of these members are elected by the ISNA  's general body; five are elected by the presidents of the ISNA  's chapters and affiliates; and six are ex-officio and include the presidents of the constituent organizations. In addition, the Majlis Ash-Shura includes the president of the ISNA, the ISNA vice presidents for the United States and for Canada, the chairman of the North American Trust Fund (the publishing arm of the ISNA), the chairman of the Communities Islamic Trust Fund, and the presidents of the following national organizations affiliated with the ISNA: the Muslim Arab Youth Association, the Muslim Youth of North America, the Council of Islamic Schools of North America, the Muslim Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Malaysian Islamic Study Group.

The society has a membership and support base of about four hundred thousand Muslims. Its leadership is drawn predominantly from the Muslim immigrant communities, although the number of native-born American Muslims serving in the organization is growing. Its members are kept informed of national and international affairs through its organ, The Islamic Horizons, edited by an American-born Muslim of Pakistani origin, Kamran Memon. Since its inception, the ISNA has held an annual meeting every summer. Muslim leaders from overseas are invited to address the gathering.

Bibliography

  • Haddad, Yvonne Yazbeck, ed.The Muslims of America. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.
  • Haddad, Yvonne Yazbeck, Jane I. Smith, and Kathleen M. Moore. Muslim Women in America: The Challenge of Islamic Idenity Today. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Hafiz, Yasmine. “Tahera Ahmad Is First Woman To Recite Quran at ISNA Convention,” The Huffington Post, Sept 9, 2013. Available at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/08/tahera-ahmad-first-woman-recites-quran-isna_n_3881455.html, last accessed May 16, 2014.
  • Haque, Amber. Muslims and Islamization in North America: Problems and Prospects. Brentwood, MD: Amana Publica-tions, 1999.
  • Islamic Society of North America. 1990 Annual Report. Plainfield, Ind., 1991.
  • Islamic Society of North America. ISNA Companion. Plainfield, Ind., 1991.
  • Nimer, Mohamed. The North American Muslim Resource Guide: Muslim Community Life in the United States and Canada. New York: Routledge, 2002.
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