Spanning over 400 years in the Americas, the Muslim American story is long and multifaceted. Muslims are one of the most diverse faith communities in the United States with no majority ethnicity or race. Muslim identity is highly racialized and stigmatized because of an increasing climate of Islamophobia. Islamophobia existed long before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; however, it became more prominent in the public square after 9/11 (Wasif, 2021). The Muslim nonprofit sector is young, with many organizations established in the post-9/11 era. These nonprofits are small and are funded mostly by Muslim American donors. According to the Pew Research Center (2017), the Muslim American community is young and has less income and wealth than average Americans.

The Muslim American community consists heavily of immigrants and their children. According to the Pew Research Center (2017), 20% of Muslim Americans are Black, 28% are Asian, and 8% are Hispanic. While 41% are classified as White, this classification includes Arabs, Persians, and Kurds, whose only option on American forms is White (Besheer, 2018; Cooperman, 2017). The challenges of Muslim Americans are further compounded by the US Department of Treasury’s guidelines for best practices for charities established after 9/11, which recommends that Muslim donors assess overhead as a possible indicator of bad actions. Government scrutiny of Muslim charities and donors along with the scrutiny of overhead created a broad misconception about overhead.

Muslim-led nonprofits are heavily impacted by Islamophobia and a lack of legitimacy. Therefore, Muslim-led nonprofits lack funding from mainstream philanthropy, which restricts the Muslim nonprofit sector in several ways. First, philanthropic foundations do not understand how to engage with these organizations. Second, philanthropic foundations are afraid to engage with these organizations because of Islamophobia. Third, when Muslim-led organizations receive funds as part of a broader interfaith network, because of their relatively smaller budgets, they usually receive a smaller amount than their counterparts — and these funds are largely programmatic, requiring difficult matches from the Muslim-led nonprofits.

Read the full article about Muslim-led nonprofits by  Shariq Siddiqui,Abdul Samad, and Rafeel Wasif at Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.