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Islamic Society of North America

Islamic Society of North America

The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is a large umbrella organization of Muslims in North America. Established in 1982–1983, the ISNA grew out of the Muslim Students Association (MSA), which had been founded in 1963 to help the growing immigrant Muslim student population preserve their identity and practice their religion in a non-Islamic environment. Unlike the MSA, the ISNA aimed at organizing the larger Muslim groups across North America. Boasting a membership of several thousand, the ISNA today includes and coordinates the activities of the MSA and many other organizations. It has an ambitious social and educational program: It seeks to help local communities establish mosques, schools, and student houses; owns a publishing house that produces Islamic literature for use at all levels; puts out a periodical, Islamic Horizons, and several professional journals; holds annual conventions in major cities where eminent scholars from the Islamic world are invited to speak; arranges seminars and workshops for teachers and Islamic workers; and arranges study groups and other programs for youth. It has established financial institutions to enable Muslims to make investments in accordance with Islamic economic principles. Finally, it tries to create political awareness among Muslims to enable them to play an effective role in the political process. The ISNA is governed by a constitution and is administered by elected officials. It is headquartered in Plainfield, Indiana.

The ISNA's significance lies not only in that it represents a developed stage of organized Muslim activity in America and Canada, but also in that it has begun to produce a new crop of Muslim leaders, activists, and professionals who, with their distinctive experiences and perspectives, will influence the coming generations of Muslims in North America and also will help to determine ways in which Islam and Muslims are perceived in the West.

See alsoIslam; Islamic Circleof North America; Journalism, Religious; Mosque; Publishing, Religious.


Ahmed, Gutbi Mahdi. "Muslim Organizations in the United States." In The Muslims of America, edited by Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad. 1991.

Johnson, Steve A. "Political Activity of Muslims in America." In The Muslims of America, edited by Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad. 1991.

Nyang, Sulayman. "Islamic Society of North America." In Oxford Islamic Encyclopedia of the Modern IslamicWorld, edited by John J. Esposito. 1995.

Mustansir Mir

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