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Islamic Education in the United States and the Evolution of Muslim Nonprofit Institutions

Sabith Khan and Shariq Siddiqui

This book is a novel and ambitious attempt to map the Muslim American nonprofit sector: its origins, growth and impact on American society. Using theories from the fields of philanthropy, public administration and data gathered from surveys and interviews, the authors make a compelling case for the Muslim American nonprofit sector’s key role in America. They argue that in a time when Islamic schools are grossly misunderstood, there is a need to examine them closely, for the landscape of these schools is far more complex than meets the eye.
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Chapter 5: Philanthropy, institution building and legitimacy in Islamic schools in America

Sabith Khan and Shariq Siddiqui


This chapter presents the results of a national survey of full-time Islamic schools in the US and their governance practices during times of crisis (9/11 and Great Recession). There have been two prior attempts to collect national data from Islamic schools. The first was conducted by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) in 1989. The second data collection was by the Islamic Schools League of America (ISLA) in 2004. The survey results by the ISLA have been published in a number of academic venues.The survey examines whether competition within the school district, greater bonding due to Islamophobia and economic stress influenced Islamic school governance practice. In addition, this chapter provides demographic data regarding Islamic schools. We draw upon existing literature on competition, Islam in America, Muslim American philanthropy, nonprofit diversity and legitimacy to examine how Islamic schools continue to navigate the challenges of Islamophobia after 9/11/2001 followed by the economic challenges of the Great Recession of 2008. Our primary theoretical contribution is in re-examining the changing nature of philanthropy and its role in American Islamic schools. In particular, we examine how schools navigated identity, public policy and performance in search of legitimacy.

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