I’d never heard of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) until about an hour ago when a book on Amazon with an unusual title (Islam Is a Foreign Country) piqued my interest. It just so happened that its author, Zareena Grewal, turned out to be the (former) director of the Center, so I went looking to see who they were. Here’s what I found:
ISPU is an independent, nonpartisan think tank and research organization committed to conducting objective, empirical research and offering expert policy analysis on some of the most pressing issues facing the United States. These issues include U.S. foreign policy, national security, the economy, and public health. In addition, ISPU has assembled leading experts across multiple disciplines and built a solid reputation as a trusted source for information about American Muslims and Muslim communities around the world. […]
More: ISPU - Who We Are
I also checked out the site to see who was on their Board of Directors, Board of Advisors, staff, and scholars (under Experts). Yes, I’m very cautious these days because there are too many so-called “scholars” and “specialists” who are little more than paid hacks of the Islamophobia industry. Then there are the Muslim concern trolls who only ever show up on Fox News & CNN (especially after terrorist attacks or when they’re hawking one of their books) or who are hired by right-wing outfits like the Gatestone Institute, where they rub shoulders with some of the worst, most hateful anti-Muslim mouthpieces.
There are also some rather extreme Muslims out there, so there’s the concern about anyone known for their antisemitic views. I didn’t see any names that set off alarms, and the article “Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia Surge in Europe” put my mind at rest on that particular matter.
I found their Islamophobia: A Threat to All page especially interesting as it offers three research publications for download. Towards the bottom of the page, under the heading “Existing ISPU Research on Islamophobia”, it also provides PDFs of some (slightly) older, but still very relevant topics.
The Issues section covers such topics as American Muslims, European Muslims. the Middle East, South Asia, US Politics, National Security, the Economy, Public Health, and of course there’s a 9/11 Series.
Last but not least, is the Publications section. There, in addition to the first volume of ISPU Insights (a biannual publication that highlights things they’ve been working on throughout the year), you’ll find sections for Reports. Policy Briefs, Articles and Books.
It was under Policy Briefs that I found the PDF below, which this Page takes its title from and which I thought might be of particular interest to quite a few of you here. The author, Asifa Quraishi-Landes, does a great job of articulating what Sharia is (and isn’t) as well as explaining what’s required in terms of scholarship for reform to happen that will be accepted by most Muslims (i.e. the mainstream, not the far-left progressives who are much smaller in number and tend to lack the gravitas and credibility—in an Islamic context—required for them to be considered a serious catalyst for change).
I think most of you will find the ISPU website to be a very useful resource when struggling to understand certain aspects of Islam and the Muslim worldview. Sure, there is a shared foundation, but there are many other factors that influence that worldview: where one was raised/lives, whether one was born into a Muslim family or is a convert (most of whose immediate family members are probably not Muslim), why and at what point in life one converted, not to mention one’s socioeconomic background, education level, individual personality, etc.
Alright, I’ll stop yakking now and let you move on to reading the PDF and/or exploring the website (I’ve only barely scratched the surface myself—there’s a LOT of info there). Hope this helps a little.