Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Navigating identity through philanthropy: A history of the Islamic Society of North America (1979–2008)
by Siddiqui, Shariq Ahmed, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2014, 265; 3665939
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation analyzes the development of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), a Muslim-American religious association, from the Iranian Revolution to the inauguration of our nation's first African-American president. This case study of ISNA, the largest Muslim-American organization in North America, examines the organization's institution-building and governance as a way to illustrate Muslim-American civic and religious participation. Using nonprofit research and theory related to issues of diversity, legitimacy, power, and nonprofit governance and management, I challenge misconceptions about ISNA and dispel a number of myths about Muslim Americans and their institutions. In addition, I investigate the experiences of Muslim-Americans as they attempted to translate faith into practice within the framework of the American religious and civic experience. I arrive at three main conclusions. First, because of their incredible diversity, Muslim-Americans are largely cultural pluralists. They draw from each other and our national culture to develop their religious identity and values. Second, a nonprofit association that embraces the values of a liberal democracy by establishing itself as an open organization will include members that may damage the organization's reputation. I argue that ISNA's values should be assessed in light of its programs and actions rather than the views of a small portion of its membership. Reviewing the organization's actions and programs helps us discover a religious association that is centered on American civic and religious values. Third, ISNA's leaders were unable to balance their desire for an open, consensus-based organization with a strong nonprofit management power structure. Effective nonprofit associations need their boards, volunteers and staff to have well-defined roles and authority. ISNA's leaders failed to adopt such a management and governance structure because of their suspicion of an empowered chief executive officer.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Craig, David M., Burlingame, Dwight L.
Commitee: Curtis, Edward E., Sinno, Abdulkader
School: Indiana University
Department: Philanthropic Studies
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 76/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: American studies, Management, Islamic Studies
Keywords: Identity, Institution-building, Islamic, Muslim-american, Nonprofit, Philanthropy
Publication Number: 3665939
ISBN: 978-1-321-38823-7
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