An Impact Report of Muslim Contributions to Michigan 

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Executive Summary

As Thomas Jefferson teaches, an educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.

Today, issues surrounding Muslim Americans are central in our political discourse, policy debates, and popular culture. Yet most Americans say they do not know a Muslim, and according to media content analysis, more than 80 percent of media coverage of Islam and Muslims in the United States is negative. This opens the door for a narrow media image to distort public perceptions of this diverse community. If “an educated citizenry” is vital to the health of our democracy, then providing accurate information on Muslim Americans is a civic duty. Muslims for American Progress, a project of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), aims to do just that.

To fill the widespread gaps in knowledge about Muslim American citizens, including their positive effect on the country, the Muslims for American Progress project quantified the contributions of Muslim Americans in the state of Michigan. We did so by analyzing contributions across eight key areas: medicine; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); civics and democracy; philanthropy and nonprofit; education; economics; arts and entertainment; and sports. Our researchers quantified Muslim American contributions by combining hard facts with human faces. We achieved this goal by profiling individuals and organizations of distinction that showcase the community’s diversity and reveal important and oftentimes overlooked contributions by Muslims to the state. Michigan’s Muslim community serves as a case study for the rest of the nation, and the findings from this project are in many ways indicative of Muslim contributions across the United States. To our knowledge, this is the first analysis of its kind that explores the dynamic ways in which Muslims contribute to wider American society.

The Muslims for American Progress project team conducted quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis between January and October 2016. 

Qualitative interviews, lasting 60 minutes, were conducted with 146 individuals from the eight key areas. A surname analysis was conducted on data sets acquired from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the Michigan Department of Education, and from the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Secondary analysis was conducted on economic and population source material from “The Muslim Green: American Muslim Market Study 2014– 15” (DinarStandard and American Muslim Consumer Consortium [AMCC]), the Bureau of Labor Statistics Aggregate Expenditures Reports, and the Pew Research Center report from 2011, “Muslim Americans: No Signs of Growth in Alienation or Support for Extremism.”

We found that, indeed, Michigan Muslims contribute a tremendous amount across issue areas to the success of the entire state and the health, happiness, and well- being of their fellow Americans, despite comprising just 2.75 percent of Michigan’s overall population. This report explores in detail the myriad contributions of Michigan Muslims. These include, for example, the following: 

  • Michigan Muslims comprise more than 15 percent of the state’s medical doctors and more than 10 percent of the state’s pharmacists. Many of Michigan’s Muslim doctors are leaders in their respective fields, paving the way for future generations by inventing and using new medical techniques and technologies to meet the needs of today’s patients.
  • Muslims in Michigan are expanding the state’s STEM fields. More than 1,600 new patents were awarded to Muslim-led teams in the state over the past 5 years (comprising 4.15 percent of all patents awarded in that time), and many of those inventors were presented prestigious professional awards for their ingenuity. Michigan’s Muslim STEM professionals are not only committed to inspiring the next generation of engineers and scientists, but also to breaking down gender barriers by encouraging women to pursue STEM careers.
  • Muslims represent Michigan constituents at every level of governance as politicians, public trustees, and lawyers. Currently, 35 Muslim Michiganders hold public office and more than 700 lawyers in the state are Muslim. Michigan is home to several prominent Muslim politicians and civil servants, many whose careers marked a “first” for Muslim public service and engagement in the state, and these individuals are hard at work transforming the civic landscape to make Michigan better for all.
  • They are incredibly charitable. Not only was $177 million donated in 2015 for both domestic and international causes, but Michigan Muslims also generously donated their time and expertise to other Michiganders in need.
  • They are helping rebuild the state’s economy. As of 2015, there were 35,835 Muslim-owned businesses in Michigan, making up 4.18 percent of all small businesses in the state and employing at least 103,062 Michiganders. Furthermore, Michigan’s Muslim households spent more than $5.5 billion in 2015.
  • They are devoted to educating future generations of Michiganders. The number of licensed Muslim educators in Michigan grew 127 percent in the last 5 years to more than 1,100 teachers, teaching an estimated 29,889 of the state’s students. 

Taken together, the Muslims for American Progress data demonstrate that Michigan Muslims make substantial contributions to the state’s well-being across all eight key areas. These findings contrast starkly with the typical depiction of Muslims in America as portrayed in mainstream media.

With this report, we offer recommendations to mainstream media providers and consumers, policymakers, activists and allies, and nonprofit organizations centered on changing the common narrative of Muslims in America. That is, we implore them to help reframe the narratives of Muslim Americans by combatting negative portrayals and focusing on this group’s contributions to the betterment of wider society as professionals, humanitarians, and thought leaders. Muslims’ full membership in American society benefits the wider public and, therefore, these findings should encourage a cultural shift away from perceptions of fear, mistrust, and hate toward a greater level of respect, understanding, and appreciation of Muslim American communities.

Project Background


As Thomas Jefferson teaches, an educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.

Today, issues surrounding Muslim Americans are central in our political discourse, policy debates, and popular culture. Yet most Americans say they do not know a Muslim, and according to media content analysis,1 more than 80 percent of media coverage of Islam and Muslims in the United States is negative. This opens the door for a narrow media image to distort public perceptions of this diverse community.

If “an educated citizenry” is vital to the health of our democracy, then providing accurate information on Muslim Americans is a civic duty. Muslims for American Progress (MAP), a project of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), aims to do just that. 

Media Coverage of Muslims

In recent years, Western media coverage of Islam has been almost exclusively negative. MediaTenor, an international research institute, conducted a media content analysis study and examined 2.6 million Western news stories from 10 American, British, and German outlets between 2007 and 2013 and found that the media’s coverage of Islam has rarely been positive.2 According to the study, the average tone of coverage, which has always been poor, continued to worsen in the decade after 9/11. Most coverage depicted Islam, Muslims, and Muslim organizations as a source of violence and a security risk, but the media seldom examined the lives of ordinary Muslims. According to MediaTenor, the tone of media coverage of Muslims, Muslim religious leaders, and Muslim organizations deteriorated in the 5 years they analyzed, hitting its lowest point in 2013, with three in four news stories providing negative media coverage of Islam. Their research suggested that overall coverage of the Muslim world has been determined by security issues at the expense of stories about religious and social life. These findings contrast with other religious groups: Muslims have the most negative media coverage of all the religious identities under study. An update to the study found that media representations of Islam were worse in 2015 than any other time since 9/11.

Aims of the Study

To fill the widespread gaps in knowledge about Muslim American citizens and their positive effects on the country, this project quantified the contributions of Muslim Americans in the state of Michigan. We did so by analyzing contributions across eight key areas: medicine; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); civics and democracy; philanthropy and nonprofit; education; economics; arts and entertainment; and sports. Our researchers quantified Muslim American contributions by combining hard facts with human faces. We achieved this goal by profiling individuals and organizations of distinction that showcase the community’s diversity and reveal important and oftentimes overlooked contributions by Muslims to the state. Michigan’s Muslim community serves as a case study for the rest of the nation, and the findings from this project are in many ways indicative of Muslim contributions across the United States. To our knowledge, this is the first analysis of its kind that explores the dynamic ways in which Muslims contribute to wider American society.

Muslims in Michigan

Muslims have a long history in Michigan, with the first recorded mosque in the state opening in 1921.3 Muslim immigrants first came to the state to work in the rising automotive industry, but because of immigration restrictions imposed in the early part of the twentieth century, international Muslim migration to Michigan virtually ended after 1924 until quota restrictions were lifted in 1965. However, Islamic communities in the state flourished during the midcentury period because of the founding of the Nation of Islam in Detroit. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Muslim migration resumed and, since then, the number of both foreign- born and American-born Muslims has grown substantially, especially with the rise of second and third generations. As of 2015, the state’s estimated Muslim population is 273,734, comprising 2.75 percent of the total population. Michigan Muslims worship in at least 87 mosques located throughout the state.4


Impact in Medicine

Michigan is home to two medical schools that rank in the top 10 in number of graduates holding an active license to practice in the United States.5 Muslims are highly represented among the state’s licensed medical practitioners. For example, although Muslims represent 2.75 percent of Michigan’s total population, they make up more than 15 percent of the state’s licensed medical doctors. Additionally, our qualitative research shows that Muslim doctors are not simply practicing medicine in Michigan, they are also responsible for making significant innovations across the entire medical field.

Quantitative Overview

Before beginning this research, anecdotal estimates stated that 10 percent of Michigan’s medical doctors were Muslims, but no research could substantiate this claim. This project set out to investigate that guesstimate by comparing a listing of all Michigan’s medical doctors against a list of common Muslim names (for more information, refer to Appendix 1). In addition to quantifying the percentage of Muslim medical doctors, we determined that Muslims have a strong presence across many of the state’s medical fields (Table 1). 

Table 1. Top five medical fields with highest Muslim representation (2016)

License Type Muslim Representation (%)
Pharmacy 10.6
Dentistry 7.4
Podiatry 6.9
Osteopathy 6.1

Using these figures, we estimate that in Michigan alone:

  • Muslim medical doctors provide 1.6 million appointments to patients per year,
  • 39,987 jobs are indirectly supported by Muslim physicians,6 and
  • Muslim pharmacists fill more than 15 million retail drug prescriptions per year.7

These estimates tell us that Muslims play an integral role in the state’s health workforce and will likely continue to do so in the future by meeting the state’s needs for more actively licensed physicians to meet demand, considering Michigan’s rapidly aging population.8

Qualitative Overview

Muslim medical professionals are innovating the field by combining their medical expertise and training with ingenuity, excellence, and philanthropy. After conducting in-depth interviews with leaders in Michigan’s medical community and everyday professionals, we learned about the positive effect Muslims have made in the state. The following list of findings provides a snapshot of some of these accomplishments in the field of medicine. 

Medical Firsts and Breakthroughs: Many of Michigan’s Muslim doctors are leaders in their respective fields, paving the way for future generations by inventing and using new medical techniques and technologies to meet the needs of today’s patients. 

Mahmood Hai

Mahmood Hai

Laser light therapy: Doctor Mahmood Hai, who practices in Westland and Dearborn, specializes in the treatment of prostate blockages and is a leader in developing the greenlight laser technology, which is an innovative treatment option for men with enlarged prostate glands. This approach is clinically proven to be less painful and invasive for patients than traditional methods. Under Hai’s leadership, his team performed the original Food and Drug Administration clinical trials in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic to become the first in the country to use the latest high-powered, 180- watt XPS GreenLight laser. Reflecting on his career, Hai explained that his most important contributions are his “day-to-day work as a physician, to see the pain of my fellows, and to help.”
Michigan’s first proton beam: Michigan doctor Hesham Gayar is the chair of radiation oncology at McLaren’s Great Lakes Cancer Institute in Flint, and medical director of the planned McLaren Proton Therapy Center—the first proton facility in Michigan and one of only 12 in the entire United States.9 Proton therapy is considered the future of radiation by cancer-treatment specialists and researchers around the world.10
Mental health in immigrant and minority communities: Michigan State University’s Doctor Farha Abbasi is a pioneer in addressing the mental health needs in immigrant and minority communities. In 2008, she organized the first Muslim mental health conference, which included speakers and participants from the state and federal governments, faith leaders, and mental health professionals to address issues from drug abuse to post traumatic stress disorder. This was groundbreaking because, as in many minority faith communities, there is a lack of acceptance of mental help and many in need of treatment face cultural, linguistic, and financial barriers that prevent them from receiving mental health care. A result of the annual conference has been a global demand for Abbasi’s work, and a landmark study of stress and resiliency by conference organizers and participants is underway.
Michigan patient bill of rights: Doctor Ghulam Qadir is a psychiatrist with more than 30 years of experience in metropolitan Detroit. He specializes in addiction and geriatric psychiatry. Qadir has won many professional awards and has served as the Vice Chairman of the Controlled Substances Advisory Commission for the State of Michigan. In the early 2000s, he worked with state representatives to pass the revised Michigan Patient Bill of Rights, which provides a list of guarantees for both those receiving and providing medical care that is displayed in every state licensed medical facility. He has also worked to amend the Michigan Mental Health Code. 

Charitable Medical Care: The importance of charity is a topic that appeared in countless interviews with the medical practitioners with whom our team met. Providing excellent medical care to all, regardless of insurance status, is a hallmark of Michigan’s Muslim medical community. 

The HUDA Clinic11 in Detroit is a Muslim-run medical clinic that that provides free care to more than 1,400 patients annually. The clinic is operated by more than 50 health care professionals who provide primary care, mental health, dental, podiatry, and ophthalmology services. Taking a holistic approach to health and wellness, HUDA also runs a successful community-run urban garden in the city. To date, HUDA has grown more than 5,000 plants and received help from hundreds of volunteers from across metropolitan Detroit.12
The ACCESS Community Health and Research Center was founded in 1989 by Dr. Adnan Hammad, who served as director of the center for 22 years. The center offers primary and specialty care to both insured and uninsured individuals, serving approximately 25,000 patients per year in three facilities located across the Detroit area. The ACCESS Community Health and Research Center is having an impact beyond state lines. Not only is the center an affiliated member of the World Health Organization, it also organizes an annual conference on health issues in Arab communities that is attended by medical specialists and researchers from around the world.
In Flint, the center of an ongoing water crisis in which lead in the drinking water has negatively affected thousands of city residents, many go without health insurance and cannot afford requisite lead testing. Responding to this need, Doctor Jawad Shah and many other Muslim doctors from across Michigan regularly visit Flint offering their expertise to conduct blood tests, treat skin rashes and sores, and run health screenings for children and adults.
Interviews with Muslim leaders of local medical professional chapters13 emphasized the importance of caring not just for their Michigan patients, but also for global communities in times of need. Some of the nations the doctors of these organizations visited for medical relief trips in 2015–2016 include Bangladesh, Haiti, India, Jordan, Kenya, Nepal, Pakistan, Sudan, and Syria. 

Impact in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)

The future of the American economy is in STEM fields. According to forecasts by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in STEM occupations is projected to grow to more than 9 million between 2012 and 2022.14 In Michigan alone, employment in STEM will increase to 257,410 jobs by 2018, up from 246,530 (+10,880) in 2008.15 To investigate the contributions Muslim Michiganders make in these fields, we reviewed patents filed in the state over the last 5 years and spoke with 21 STEM professionals including engineers, educators, researchers, and inventors.

Quantitative Overview

Because of the city’s pivotal role in America’s industrial revolution, Detroit historically has been considered a city of innovation. As such, one of the five U.S. Patent and Trademark Offices is located in downtown Detroit. Our team visited this office to determine how many of all the patents in the period between 2011 and 2016 were awarded to Muslim-led invention teams in the state. We also used state licensing records to determine the number of Muslims registered as professional engineers.16 We found the following data for Michigan:

  • 1,638 new patents were awarded to Muslim-led teams between 2001 and 2016, making up 4.15 percent of all patents awarded in that time; and
  • There are 862 Muslim licensed professional engineers, who constitute 4.2 percent of all licensed engineers in the state. 

Qualitative Overview

Inspiring the Next Generation: Many of the STEM professionals we spoke with emphasized the importance of mentoring young people in STEM fields. Here we highlight several individuals who donate their time to doing just that. 

Fattum Mutahr is an award-winning industrial and systems engineer who has devoted a significant part of her career to encouraging young people to pursue careers in STEM. This includes working with students in First Robotics, a global robotics competition, and participating in A World in Motion —a program that enables her to make visits to four classrooms throughout the school year to teach students about engineering. Mutahr also founded a youth program called Reality Check that has served 300 students in grades K–12 with the goal of promoting educational success in urban centers.
At the University of Michigan–Dearborn, Mesut Duran is a professor of technology whose research interests focus on technology and STEM learning. At the university, he was awarded a National Science Foundation grant of $900,000 for research on fostering interest in information technology. Throughout his career, Duran has been dedicated to integrating STEM into all levels of education and to increasing the use of technology in teaching and pedagogy.
Said Tayim is the chief information officer of Accident Fund Insurance and chair of the Capital Area Information Technology Council, a Lansing- based organization that encourages a growing and vital information technology industry and work- force in the greater Lansing area. Founded in 2015 with the mayor and several local companies, Tayim and his colleagues seek to encourage not only training and education in STEM fields, but also to connect Michigan’s qualified talent pool to local jobs. This consortium of employers and professionals aims to keep talented workers and recent graduates in the state. 
Imad Makki is a technical expert in vehicle diagnostics and prognostics and controls and won the Henry Ford Technology Award in 2006 for inventing Ford’s Ecoboost technology. Makki also serves as director of the Ford High School Science and Technology Program, a project that en- courages high school students to pursue careers in STEM. He began in this position in 2009, and since then, Makki has expanded the program tremendously, offering education to more than 250 students per session and providing summer internships to approximately 50 students. 

Women in STEM: Women are vastly underrepresented in STEM careers, holding only 24 percent of all STEM jobs in the nation.17 In our interviews with STEM professionals, we found many Muslim women are leading the way to increasing gender parity in the field and spurring new developments in their respective areas of expertise. 

Lisa Gandy is an assistant professor of Computer Science at Central Michigan University (CMU). She specializes in natural language processing and teaches at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Gandy is remarkable not only because she is the only woman in the department, but also because she has assisted in developing a camp aimed at encouraging young girls (ages 11–14) from rural areas to pursue an education in STEM fields and serves as an advisor in CMU’s Women in Technology Club.
Nausheen Shah is an assistant professor at Wayne State University specializing in particle physics. She earned her Ph.D. in Theoretical and Mathematical Physics at the University of Chicago, and her work is at the forefront of the field. She reflects that “physics is a male-dominated field [and] fewer than one out of five physics majors, whether at the bachelor’s, doctoral or postdoctoral level, are women.” Shah is ready to challenge that disparity; in early 2017, she chaired the Conference of Undergraduate Women in Physics at Wayne State University.
Fatima Kebe

Fatima Kebe

Fatima Kebe is an industrial engineer at Ford’s transmission manufacturing operations division. She has been recognized as one of Ford’s Thirty Under 30, an initiative that connects Ford employees with nonprofit organizations to build future generations of community-minded workers, and Kebe is working to improve the organization of the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries. Kebe has also created several programs aimed at facilitating youth leadership and professionalization among potential leaders from marginalized communities.
Ayat Shukairy is a trailblazer in digital marketing and the burgeoning field of conversion rate optimization. She is also co-author of the top-selling book Conversion Optimization: The Art and Science of Converting Prospects to Customers, which offers readers insight into successful sales techniques and approaches to meet the needs of particular customers. Shukairy is the founder of FigPii, a company specializing in “growth-hacking” in online marketing. She is also co-founder of Invesp, a pioneering company in conversion rate optimization. Shukairy is considered a top expert in this field and has been invited to speak at professional conferences worldwide.
Davine El-Amin is an electrician at Ford’s Dearborn Truck Plant where her work varies from installing transformers to fixing electrical systems both underground and free-climbing 30 feet off the ground. El-Amin has also served as chairperson in the UAW Local 600 Dearborn Body Shop and as a lecturer of Labor Studies at the University of Michigan–Dearborn. 

Impact in Civics and Democracy

In the years following 9/11, scholars have documented a significant rise in political and civic organization and participation in Muslim American communities.18 Michigan is no exception. Considering that the state is home to one of the largest and most concentrated Muslim populations in the United States, we asked how they are affecting the state’s political arena and found that, indeed, Muslim Michiganders are actively engaged at all levels of governance and civic engagement. 

Quantitative Overview

In Michigan alone:

  • 35 public office positions are currently held by Muslims and 47 have been filled by Muslims in the last 5 years19;
  • Muslim public servants serve in both state and local offices, with some individuals representing the entire state (9.9 million residents) and others representing constituents in 11 different municipalities; and
  • The state bar has 701 registered Muslim lawyers, making up 2 percent of the state’s lawyers. 

Qualitative Overview

Trailblazers: Michigan is home to several prominent Muslim politicians and civil servants, many whose careers marked a “first” for Muslim public service and engagement in the state. The paragraphs that follow o er a snapshot of some of these individuals and organizations, and what they do to make Michigan a better place for all. 

Adam Shakoor is the founding partner and attorney at law at Shakoor and Associates, P.C., and he also served in the 36th District Court as Chief Judge in the City of Detroit—making him the first Muslim judge in the country. As chief judge, he oversaw 31 judges, 6 magistrates, and more than 550 employees, handling more than 500,000 cases annually. Shakoor has a long history of dedication to justice for all, having served as attorney and trustee for Rosa Parks, both during her lifetime and after her death. Over the years, he has received more than 100 awards and honors for his work in law, government, teaching, and comm- unity activism.
Rashida Tlaib is the first Muslim to serve in the Michigan State House of Representatives, and only the second Muslim woman nationwide to serve in a state legislature. She served three terms as a legislator from 2008 to 2014. 

Al Haidous became the first Muslim mayor in the United States in 2001, when he was elected to serve the City of Wayne, a position he held for 14 years. The national recession of 2007–2009, which hit southeastern Michigan especially hard,20 took place during his tenure as mayor, and roughly half the private-sector, full-time jobs in the city were eliminated in that period. Despite the nation’s financial troubles, he and the council managed to safeguard essential services and balance the budget. He left Wayne debt-free when he moved on to serve as a Wayne County commissioner in 2014.

Fadwa Hammoud is the assistant prosecutor of Wayne County. When she started in this position at age 24, she was the youngest prosecutor in the state. Reflecting on her role as a public servant, she explained “we are the fighters of justice and liberty and of ensuring that the Constitution is [protected].” Hammoud also serves as a school board trustee in Dearborn Public Schools—a position she has held since 2015, and has since been reelected in 2016 for an additional 6-year term. A recent accomplishment during her tenure includes the introduction of an affordable 4-year culinary arts degree program at Henry Ford Community College.21

In a sweeping election in 2015, Hamtramck, Michigan, gained national attention for electing the nation’s first Muslim-majority city council. Hamtramck is unique in being the most diverse municipality in Michigan in terms of residents’ national origin. Upon his election, city council member Abu Musa stated his goal for the city: to “represent every single citizen in Hamtramck, [and] serve all city of Hamtramck.”22 

Transforming Michigan: In the fields of civics and democracy, Michigan Muslims are far from accepting the status quo and are hard at work transforming the civic landscape to make Michigan better for all. 

Doctor Abdul El-Sayed served as Health Commissioner for Detroit, a position he revived while serving under Mayor Michael Duggan. Before El-Sayed became commissioner, the control of Detroit’s health department was placed outside of the city and it operated as a nonprofit. During his tenure, El-Sayed successfully increased the department’s operating budget tenfold (from $1 million per year to $10 million), restructured the department, and implemented cutting-edge community-health projects that “nucleate” city health services by bringing care to neighborhoods in need. For example, in the wake of the Flint water crisis, El-Sayed proactively sought $135,000 in grant money to test for lead in every Detroit public school in the city, and in the “Healthier Lives Division” is creating walking groups led by health workers to combat geographical isolation, obesity, diabetes, and asthma by promoting regular physical exercise. In January 2017, El-Sayed announced his bid for Governor of Michigan and subsequently resigned from his position in Detroit.
Chris Blauvelt

Chris Blauvelt

Founded in 2013 by Ebrahim Varachia and Chris Blauvelt, Patronicity is a crowd-funding platform for Michigan-based public works and community- based organizations that democratizes access to public capital by allowing projects to raise money and receive public matching money. Patronicity works in collaboration with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Since Patronicity’s founding, Varachia and Blauvelt have raised more than $6 million toward 103 public projects such as public parks and community spaces in Michigan. Patronicity is being used as a model elsewhere in the country and has been implemented in Massachusetts and Indiana.
Eric Sabree currently serves as the Treasurer of Wayne County and has had a distinguished career in public service in the Detroit area. As treasurer, Sabree oversees the county’s foreclosure activities; Wayne County has the largest number of tax foreclosures in the United States, more than 90 percent of which are in the city of Detroit. Despite the chronic financial troubles facing constituents, Sabree has championed a preventive approach to the foreclosure crisis that focuses on education and intervention before constituents are in danger of losing their homes. Since implementing this new course of action, tax foreclosures declined 36 percent, from 28,000 in 2015 to 18,000 in 2016.23 Sabree’s responsibilities entail much more than foreclosures. His office manages the funds and investments in the county, the largest in Michigan. 

Impact in Philanthropy and Nonprofit

One of the five pillars of Islam is zakat, meaning charity or almsgiving, and our research finds that Michigan’s Muslim communities are incredibly charitable. Not only have hundreds of millions of dollars been raised in the last year for both domestic and international causes, but time and expertise have also been generously donated to other Michiganders in need.

Quantitative Overview

In 2015, Michigan Muslims donated:24 

In addition to these items, Muslim medical practitioners in the state donated more than 1,100 hours of mental health counseling and provided medical care to at least 4,937 patients in 2015. Furthermore, Muslim philanthropic organizations helped to rehabilitate 150 homes. The average Michigan Muslim household spent 18 percent more on charity in 2015 than the average household nationally. 

Qualitative Overview

Muslim philanthropists aim to serve not only their faith group but the entire Michigan community. The efforts of prominent philanthropic and nonprofit activists and organizations with whom we spoke fell into two categories: those who helped individuals from all backgrounds with their basic human needs for food, shelter, and water; and those whose mission includes providing occupational training, youth-oriented programs, and other often-overlooked services. 

Meeting Human Needs:

In Grand Rapids, outreach coordinator Akerm Mutahr organizes a food pantry at the Masjid At-Tawheed. These services provide meals to an average of 20 families weekly. Working in conjunction with local food markets and food purveyors, the Grand Rapids mosque provides fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, and dairy items in addition to hygiene products to local families in need.
Patrice Bryson

Patrice Bryson

Martha Pearl is a Detroit-based advocacy organization founded by Patrice (Ghania) Bryson in 2015 that works on behalf of people who are homeless, displaced, or otherwise economically disadvantaged with the goal of restoring human dignity. Bryson’s desire to serve comes in part from her own struggles with homelessness in the past. She explained: “Through my journey I have learned to open my heart to the community I am in service to and that you can’t truly help any person you don’t love. I was never a victim of homelessness or poverty. Rather, homelessness and poverty gave me a voice and allowed me to open my heart to love beyond measure.” In 2015, Martha Pearl has carried out its mission by advocating on behalf of Detroit’s unhoused populations and by serving breakfast to more than 125 community members every Sunday morning at the Tumaini Center, a local neighborhood service organization.
Zaman International of Inkster, Michigan, was founded by Najah Bazzy, a registered nurse, in 1996 (the organization was incorporated as a nonprofit in 2004). Zaman provides basic services to thousands of families in need, having collected more than 60,000 donations of food, clothing, and furniture in the last 5 years. In addition, the organization also provides many unique services. For example, since 2005, Zaman has offered “Plots for Tots” an infant burial program for families of all faiths without the resources to give their children proper burials, and the organization has purchased more than 200 plots toward this end. To date, Zaman has provided essential services to more than 1.3 million people in need with help from more than 5,000 volunteers and 300 community partners.
Muslim Family Services (MFS) is a nonprofit organization in metropolitan Detroit that offers a variety of charitable programs and services, including a transitional home for displaced and abused women and children seeking shelter, called Sakinah House, which means “peace” or “tranquility” in Arabic. Started in 2013 in conjunction with ICNA Relief USA, the home was donated to MFS and is the first Muslim-developed and -operated women’s home in Michigan. MFS works with women in need to assist them in developing skills toward becoming independent members of society. The organization also runs donation drives (providing hundreds of backpacks to students in need); two food pantries in Detroit and Ypsilanti; a foster care program that trains and assists parents; and a variety of counseling services for families, couples, and substance abusers. MFS also provides resettlement assistance to newly arrived refugees in Michigan. 

Going Above and Beyond:

The Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village (SBEV), located in Flint, is a community center that serves thousands of families by providing services to remediate lead poisoning and distribute clean water, offering tutoring services to students, and delivering family assistance and resources. Founded by Dr. Jawad Shah in conjunction with a team of long-time Flint residents, community members, stakeholders, and newcomers, SBEV is devoted to the developmental needs of Flint’s at- risk youth population.
The M.A.D.E. Institute provides reintegration programing, mentoring, and job services to citizens returning from prison. It was founded by Leon El-Alamin, who was formerly incarcerated. His organization helped in the successful 2014 Genesee County campaign to “ban the box,” or to remove the checkbox on job applications that required applicants to disclose felony convictions. Fair-chance policies such as this have proven successful across the country and are associated with a significant decrease in unemployment for ex-convicts.25
Bilal Amen is a co-founder and the chief operating officer of HYPE Athletics, a nonprofit, community- based organization that partners with federal, state, and local agencies to support the positive development of children and adolescents through athletic participation and competition. The organization’s sports programming includes basketball, boxing, soccer, and dance with the goal of giving children a safe space to play and find a sense of community. It is open to all young people in Wayne County and operates out of two locations. On a typical summer day, an estimated 800–900 children visit HYPE facilities.
Doctor Ayesha Fatima is a pediatric gastroenterologist at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak and assistant professor at Oakland University’s William Beaumont School of Medicine. She was named one of Hour Detroit’s Top-Docs in 2016. Dr. Fatima’s compassion for those in need extends beyond her work in pediatric gastroenterology; she is the founder of two nonprofit organizations, Women Physicians for Humanity (WP4H) and the Syrian American Rescue Network (SARN). WP4H has more than 2,000 members across the United States, and the group’s mission is to help families who are suffering as a result of international conflict, disaster, and poverty. SARN helps newly arrived refugees find homes, secure jobs, family services, and become self-sufficient. SARN recently received a Distinguished Service award from the Syrian American Medical Society. Today, SARN has 400 volunteers assisting more than 2,000 refugees in southeastern Michigan. 

Impact in Economics 

Michigan is experiencing a period of substantial economic growth, thanks in part to a growing cohort of young professionals and a diversifying economy.26 Many individuals in Michigan's Muslim communities are leading the charge, mixing traditional professional training in business with expertise in medicine, arts, and technology to create jobs for themselves and thousands of other Michiganders.

Quantitative Overview

Entrepreneurship and Job Creation: In 2015, Muslims owned an estimated 35,835 businesses in Michigan, making up 4.18 percent of all small businesses in the state,27 and Muslim-owned businesses employ an estimated 103,062 Michiganders.28 

Table 2. Top 10 licensed professions among Muslims in Michigan

Profession Percent
1. Medical Doctor 15.4
2. Pharmacy 10.6
3. Dentist 7.4
4. Podiatry 6.9
5. Osteopathic Medicine 6.1
6. Physical Therapy 5.8
7. Professional Engineers 4.2
8. Barbers 3.6
9. Audiology 3.5
10. Acupuncture 3.4

Professional Licenses: To get a sense of Muslim contributions across professional fields, our team compared all professional licensure listings in the state against a list of common Muslim names (for more information, refer to Appendix 1). Using 2015 state licensing data, Table 2 shows the top 10 licensed professions in terms of Muslim representation in Michigan.

Table 3. Muslim household spending (2015)29

Expenditure Amount
Food and food services $678,687,500
Housing and home services $1,777,302,000
Insurance and pensions $616,245,000
Entertainment $274,903,000
Education $407,445,000
Charity $177,345,000
Health care $417,747,00
Personal care $68,766,000
Motor vehicle and service $679,455,00
Apparel and service $303,723,000
Other $125,328,00
Aggregate spent in all households $5,526,946,500

Consumer Spending: Muslim Michiganders also make significant contributions to the state’s economy through consumer spending. In 2015, Muslim households in Michigan spent more than $5.5 billion (approximately $67,000 per household annually). Table 3 indicates how this money was spent per household.

Compared with the nation generally, in 2015 Michigan Muslim households spent 20 percent more than the average American household in total consumer spending, four times more on education than the average American household, and two times more on apparel and services than the average American household. 

Qualitative Overview

Interviews with industry leaders and burgeoning professionals revealed several distinctive patterns about how Muslim Michiganders are having a positive effect on the state’s economy.

Big Business: Far from being limited to small, mom-and-pop markets and shops, Michigan Muslims constitute a significant part of Michigan’s executive business class.

CIG Capital Investments is a boutique financial investment firm specializing in medicine. The company was founded by Osman Minkara in 1998. The company’s clientele range from individual medical practitioners seeking to invest in the best and most innovative medical technologies to billion-dollar hospital corporations that are trying to expand their global reach. For example, under CIG management, Michigan’s Henry Ford Hospital opened a 1 million-square-foot, $250 million hospital in Saudi Arabia, creating a multinational link between Riyadh and Detroit through which millions of dollars and thousands of medical students and doctors flow. For Minkara, this project is more than just a building; it is a way to create lasting networks to help make Detroit a global city.
Ciena Healthcare is a Michigan-based health care company established in 1998 by Ashraf Qazi. Ciena provides nursing home services to more than 4,000 people and employs more than 5,000 Michiganders. Currently, the company operates in 39 locations across the state.
Saleem Khalid

Saleem Khalid

Saleem Khalid is committed to addressing structural inequality wherever he can, seeking economic justice for all. He began his professional career with Standard Federal Savings, now known as Bank of America, where he became the bank’s first Muslim and African American vice president. Khalid’s storied career in Detroit’s banking and financial sector has allowed him to recognize long- standing discriminatory lending practices against people of color in the city. As the Executive Director for the Detroit Alliance for Fair Banking, a coalition of community, religious, and political organizations formed to monitor financial institution compliance, Khalid oversaw a $4.2 billion community action plan that provided Detroiters unprecedented access to credit, employment, supplier, professional, and other opportunities.30 Using his experience and expertise to address such inequalities, he worked with the National Bank of Detroit and other banks to make housing loans available to those in underserved communities.
Zafar Razzacki is the chief executive officer of Maven, a car-sharing platform operated by General Motors. Razzacki is leading General Motors in thinking about the car differently by providing transportation services to millennials who are increasingly drawn to rideshare services in lieu of individual car ownership. Right now, Maven is offered in five national markets, including Ann Arbor. His leadership within General Motors represents a new model of entrepreneurship called intrapreneurship.A 

The Next Generation: Michigan Muslims are blending a mix of expertise, social justice, and creativity to revolutionize Michigan’s new economy. 

Retea was founded by social entrepreneurs Saad and Ali Bazzi in 2015. The business slogan of Retea is “Drink tea, educate a refugee,” which exemplifies the company’s mission, as every pouch provides 10 hours of education by donating proceeds directly to refugee education programs across the world via the International Rescue Committee. Currently, Retea operates out of Eastern Market in Detroit.
Alwan Cosmetics was founded by Maysoon Hamad Abu-Omarah and her three daughters in 2013, in her home kitchen. Located in Dearborn, Alwan is among the first vegan, kosher, halal, and cruelty-free cosmetic lines. Hamad Abu-Omarah reflects on her firm: “I wanted to put a product out there for everyone. It’s a unifying makeup and it’s so much more than the product.” Alwan provides a full line of beauty products, ranging from eyeshadow and nail polish to botanical skin care items.
Reda Jaber holds both MD and MBA degrees from the University of Michigan. This educational background has provided him a unique and powerful skill set upon which he has built his budding career, and in 2016, he was named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30.31 Jaber was selected for his outstanding work in medical-related startups as a partner at IncWell, a Michigan-based, early stage venture capital firm that has invested in more than 40 companies. Of all his investment projects at IncWell, Vivid Vision is among his favorites; the startup created a vision care instrument that uses virtual reality technology to treat problems such as amblyopia (also known as lazy eye), and was founded by a Michigan native. Although IncWell is no longer making new investments, Jaber is now the director of market and business development at Gemphire Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company in Livonia, where he draws on his various educational and professional experiences to advance both business and medical development. Throughout his career, Jaber has demonstrated his dedication to both medicine and entrepreneurship and to advancing both fields wherever he can

Impact in Education

The education landscape in America is changing rapidly. With the growth of charter schools, magnet schools, specialized academies, and private and religious educational institutions, educators and educational specialists must adapt to meet the needs of today’s students. In speaking with professionals in the education community, we learned that the number of Muslim educators is growing rapidly, and many of these individuals are devoted to educating future generations of Michiganders.

Quantitative Overview

In Michigan alone:

  • 1,107 (1.22 percent) K–12 teachers licensed between 2010 and 2016 are Muslim,
  • The number of licensed Muslim educators in Michigan grew 127 percent in the last 5 years,
  • Muslim K–12 teachers teach an estimated 29,889 students per year,32 and
  • Muslim households spend nearly four times more on education than the average American household.

Qualitative Overview

Public School Impact: In the 2015–2016 school year, 1,540,005 students were enrolled in Michigan’s K–12 public schools33 and Michigan Muslims have demonstrated they are committed to supporting success for every student in the state. 

Maurice El-Amin is the assistant principal at Cass Technical High School, a magnet school located in Detroit. Although many Detroit public schools are struggling to keep their doors open, Cass Tech is one of a select number of Detroit schools offering a world-class education, including International Baccalaureate programming. El-Amin is new to this position, but he has been working at Cass Tech since 1999, when he started as a mathematics teacher. He is passionate about education and changing cultural attitudes about school success: “[it’s] not just enough to memorize formulas or steps, it is critical to understand the logic of what one is solving. This is a skill that will serve our students well into the future.” El-Amin’s career reflects his dedication to the education of all Michigan students, a pattern common among the state’s Muslim educators.
Zaynab Salman is a social studies teacher at Canton High School where she estimates that she has taught more than 1,000 students during her career. Salman comes from a family of educators and is passionate about getting her students to connect with social history: “Teaching history is not just understanding names and dates and people. It’s also realizing it has a point of connectivity, that this actually has an influence in my life.”
Mariam Bazzi is the president of the Dearborn Public School Board of Education. Elected to the board in 2014, she views the position as a way to become more involved for her own children and those throughout Dearborn. She also serves as vice chair of the Henry Ford College Board of Trustees. The work she does in education is on top of her impressive full-time career as the Wayne County assistant prosecuting attorney, where she works as the leading attorney on the Mortgage and Deed Task Force, formed in response to rising fraudulent property activity in the county. Her dedication to public service has been recognized by experts across the country—in summer 2016, she participated in the Young Americans Leader- ship Program at Harvard University to help spur communitarian efforts in American cities coping with economic troubles.

Charter School Leaders: Our research team connected with leaders in Michigan’s charter school communities and learned about how Michigan Muslims are invested in some of the state’s newest schools. 

Nawal Hamadeh is the founder and superintendent of Hamadeh Educational Services (HES). Since establishing HES in 1998, Hamadeh has opened four schools throughout metropolitan Detroit. U.S. News and World Report recognized HES’s Star International Academy as one of America’s best high schools from 2007 to 2012, and HES was named one of America’s 15 most- promising charter school groups by the Charter School Growth Fund. Hamadeh attributes the success of her school system to the organization’s dedication to meeting the needs of a diverse student body.
Brothers Mohamad and Said Issa co-founded Global Educational Excellence (GEE), a system of charter schools and educational centers. Their schooling system has grown from just 97 students in 1996 to more than 4,500 students and 650 staff members today. GEE’s 16 schools and three early childhood centers are located throughout metropolitan Detroit (and one in Ohio), catering their education provision to Michigan’s diverse student bodies.
Principal of GEE’S Central Academy located in Ann Arbor, Luay Shalabi has held this position since 1997. Because the student body of Central Academy is incredibly diverse, one of the core foci of this school is prioritizing the needs of English language learners. Shalabi has received several distinguished awards over the years toward this end. In 2011, he received the Michigan Citizen of the Year Award from The Michigan Council for Social Studies in recognition of his work to increase tolerance and diversity, and in 2015, he received the Top Administrator of the Year Award by the Michigan Association of Public School Academies. U.S. News and World Report ranked Central Academy among the top 10 percent of all high schools nationwide in 2008 and again in 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2016. 

Impact in Arts and Entertainment

Artists and entertainers have the unique ability to reach across social boundaries of class, race, gender, and religion to reach wide audiences with their message. The Muslim Michiganders we spoke with recognized their ability to use their platform as artists and entertainers to empower others. 

Amer Zahr is a comedian, author, and producer known locally for the annual “1001 Laughs Dearborn Comedy Festival” in Dearborn, held at the Arab American National Museum. He began his comedy career as a law student at the University of Michigan, and his act draws on his life as an Arab Muslim in America. Today, he performs throughout the world, completing 40 to 60 shows per year.
Zarinah El Amin

Zarinah El Amin

Niyah Press is a book publishing company founded by Zarinah El Amin. Niyah grew out of El Amin’s desire to publish her own writing, and today, Niyah Press has published more than 10 books. El-Amin has also published an annual series of calendars, Beautifully Wrapped, selling more than 2,000 copies worldwide. The calendar features photos of men and women from all over the world who cover their head for religious and cultural reasons. The proceeds from the calendars are donated to education funds for girls in Africa. Beyond publishing, El Amin regularly holds classes and lectures to encourage others to write and publish. El-Amin reflects, “there is so much wisdom and knowledge in the world and I want to help people take the initiative to share it.”

Leah Vernon is an author, fashion blogger, and plus-size activist. Vernon began blogging in 2013, and readers immediately responded to her style and writings on body acceptance, culture, and diversity. Vernon is also the author of a young-adult fiction novel titled Impure, published in 2016. Her goal is to empower women and girls from all walks of life with the message to “love themselves in a society where women are taught to hate themselves.”

Sultan Sharrief is a film producer, director, and writer whose films address issues at the intersection of race, class, and religion. One of his most successful films, Bilal’s Stand (2010), is about a black Muslim high school senior, Bilal, as he works at his family’s taxi stand while grappling with his desire to pursue a college education. The film received international accolades, winning Best Feature at the Detroit-Windsor International Film Festival, and was screened at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Sharrief aims to encourage people and youth to tell their own stories through art and film.

Cooking competitor Amanda Saab appeared on the national reality television show MasterChef in 2015, and although she did not win, she was able to share her culture’s food with the world. The blog named her the first hijabiB to appear on reality TV. Saab began cooking during her training as a social worker. Looking for a way to perform self-care, she fell in love with cooking. Today, she is using her cooking skills working for a Michigan-based philanthropic organization, Zaman International. 

Impact in Sports

Some of the world’s finest athletes, such as National Basketball Association All-Star Shaquille O’Neal and Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, are Muslim Americans. In Michigan, Muslims compete and they also support athleticism through coaching, entrepreneurship, and even blogging. 

Notable Athletes and Teams: Athletes hold a revered position in American society and their influence reaches far beyond their athleticism. Young people often look to athletes for inspiration as role models, and the athletes here are no exception. 

Rahaf Khatib

Rahaf Khatib

Rahaf Khatib is an international marathoner who has competed in six full marathons, 14 half- marathons, and countless other races. As a long- time Michigan resident, her first marathon was the Detroit Free Press Marathon. In 2015, Khatib was featured in Runner’s World magazine and then on the cover of Women’s Running magazine. Since her social media debut in July 2015, the hashtag #RunLikeAHijabi, inspired by her running career, has united like-minded athletes and has been used on promotional items to raise money for her pet charitable cause, raising money to help refugees in Michigan.34
Detroit City Football Club is home to numerous Muslim soccer players. We interviewed forward Mohammad Alyami and learned that like many others, he came to Michigan for the love of soccer. Though Alyami incurred a sports injury that ended his soccer career with the team, he supports the Detroit City Football Club team alongside thousands of fans.
The Fordson High School football team came to national attention in 2011 with the release of the movie “Fordson” documenting the Muslim-majority team’s experiences in post-9/11 America. They practiced, trained, and played like any other American high school team, even during the fast of Ramadan. In 2011, Fouad Zaban, coach of the Fordson team, was invited to join a select few other Muslim Americans and President Barack Obama at the annual Iftar dinner at the White House.35 

Supporting Sports: Muslim Michiganders are also active in sports fan culture, bonding with others in the love of sport across many platforms. 

Karam Hadid runs the sports blog 24/7 NFL News. Hadid is now a Michigan State University student attending medical school, but he has always been passionate about sports. He started 24/7 NFL News in 2013, and has a social media following of more than 4,000 people. The site regularly features reader submissions; the site’s motto is “where fans have a voice.”

Rishi Narayan runs Underground Printing in Ann Arbor. He began the apparel screen printing company, which specializes in sportswear, as a college student with his childhood friend. Underground printing began in a garage in 2003, but has since grown into the go-to shop in Ann Arbor for sports printing with more than 20 locations in college towns throughout the Midwest.

The Maize’N’Blue family deli in Ann Arbor has been selling sandwiches to hungry Wolverines fans for almost 30 years. Their food has become a tradition for many local college football fans and players, serving hundreds of people every week. Photos of former players and sports memorabilia line the walls. Owner Hamza Sukkar explains that his family’s business “is an Ann Arbor landmark. It’s been around so long, tradition is in the business.” 

Impact by Renaissance People

Although many of the contributions made by Michigan’s Muslim communities fit into one of the eight categories explored above, there is a remarkable group of individuals whose work defies categorization, making them renaissance contributors; that is, people who apply their many talents or knowledge in their contributions. In many cases we investigated, this included the strategic leveraging of new technological platforms to mix business, philanthropy, science, and more to have a bigger, positive effect on the larger community. In this way, these renaissance people are advancing knowledge and fulfilling basic human needs.

Razi Jafri

Razi Jafri

Piper Carter, an acclaimed Detroit-based artist, political organizer, and educator is a self-defined “culture creator,” “image maker,” and “advocate for justice.” As the founder of the Women in Hip Hop Foundation, the longest-running, antimisogyny, open-mic platform, Carter has been influential in Detroit’s hip-hop community. As a media expert, she has dedicated her time to running media literacy programs for youth groups, helping them decode and analyze media and create their own digital social media content. Carter is the recipient of a $50,000 Knight Foundation grant; the funds were used produce the annual Dilla Youth Day Detroit, held at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The event celebrates the legacy of hip hop through hands-on science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics activities. More than 1,000 community members turned out for Dilla Youth Day in 2016.

Razi Jafri, a Detroit resident with a background in engineering and biotechnology, is dedicated to making the lives of all Detroit residents better, especially the most vulnerable among them. He has worked on a series of recent projects that demonstrate this commitment. With colleagues, he has created several unique smart phone applications aimed at solving social problems and inequalities. One is Crowdfeed, a smart phone application that allows individuals and families who cannot afford food to gain access to a meal by linking select restaurants and stores to donations in real time. Another is NeighborFix, an app that provides an on-line marketplace for people to connect with and hire their neighbors for home repairs and odd jobs; this app provides jobs to families who need extra income while granting Detroit residents access to the household help they need but who face ZIP code discrimination by contractors. Jafri has also worked as a Civilla Fellow on a mapping project that located every automated external defibrillator in Detroit to create a digital tool that aids emergency responders to quickly identify the location of defibrillators in a medical emergency. In all these projects, Jafri demonstrates his love and commitment to making a positive social impact on Detroit.

Juman Doleh-Alomary is a visionary in every field in which she is involved, rising to leadership positions in professional arenas with few other women. She not only serves as the Information Technology Audit Director at Wayne State University, but also as a board member on the Michigan Underground Storage Tank Authority (appointed by Governor Rick Snyder) representing the public interest, where she helps to manage more than $40 million in the Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund and assists underground storage tank owners in remediating contamination caused by tank leakages. To help address gender inequalities, especially in business and entrepreneurship, Doleh-Alomary serves on the executive board of the Arab American Women’s Business Council and leads the networking committee for the group. Doleh-Alomary also serves on the executive board of ISACA, a nonprofit, independent association that advocates for professionals involved in information security, assurance, risk management, and governance. As vice president of the Detroit chapter, she has been asked by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association international women’s task force to work on encouraging women to pursue careers in STEM, specifically within audit and cyber security. She is committed to mentorship and professional development of the next generation adding that “it’s important to give 100 percent to the things you do and think about how much can you add value in everything else”; advice that embodies all the work she does.

Chris Blauvelt and Amany Killawi, co-founders of the internationally recognized Muslim crowd-funding platform LaunchGood, have facilitated the donation of millions of dollars to charity projects through their Web site since its inception in 2013.

LaunchGood is headquartered in Detroit. Although LaunchGood efforts are mostly created by Muslim individuals, projects in need of funding range from clean water for Flint residents in the wake of the Flint water crisis to the repair of Jewish cemeteries.36 To date, donations collected on the site have totaled more than $15 million and have gone toward 1,548 projects by 87,986 donors. The founders are renaissance contributors because of their vast and diverse educational backgrounds. Blauvelt earned an engineering degree from the University of Michigan, where he graduated with honors, and a master’s degree in educational leadership, whereas Killawi is a graduate of the School of Social Work at Wayne State University. Their combined expertise led them to create LaunchGood and has galvanized communities throughout Michigan and across the United States.

Fay Beydoun, named by Crain’s Detroit as one of the Most Influential Women of 2016,37 is a community visionary who has devoted her varied career to serving Michigan’s communities at large. She is the executive director of American Arab Chamber of Commerce and chief operating officer of the Tejara Global Business Development Center, an international export incubator that seeks to attract and promote foreign investment to Michigan. Tejara has worked with 127 businesses, approximately 85 percent of which are in southeast Michigan. In addition, she currently serves as a commissioner for the Michigan Commission on Middle Eastern American A airs and has served as a vice chair of the Michigan Democratic Party. In all these position, Beydoun has been dedicated to serving all of Michigan’s diverse ethnic and racial communities, saying, “I’d like to make sure all the work I do connects together [...] to address issues that impact all ethnic business communities.” 

Jacqueline El-Sayed embodies renaissance qualities in all that she does, making positive contributions across the entire state of Michigan through idealism and professionalism. El-Sayed is currently the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Marygrove College. She has also served as an influential faculty member of Kettering University for nearly two decades, rising to the position of associate provost. Beyond the academy, El-Sayed has served as a chair on both the Michigan Truck Safety Commission and the Michigan Motorcycle Safety Advisory Committee and played an instrumental role in the passage the 2008 State Highway Safety Plan. She reflected on her role, explaining, “I was idealistic, I was saving lives through traffic safety.” She has also been twice elected as trustee of the Bloomfield Hills Board of Education, where she helped create the Diversity, Academic Equity and Race Relations task force to increase diversity in staff hiring and build a more culturally competent school district—a model for districts across the state.38 Other honorable positions held by El-Sayed include national chair of the Council of Fellows Professional Development Committee for the American Council on Education, national co-chair of the Undergraduate Experience Committee for the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE), national treasurer for the Women in Engineering Division of ASEE, and on the Advancement Committee at the Society of College and University Planners. Her distinguished career trajectory makes El Sayed one of Michigan’s finest residents, bettering the lives of all in the state.

Flint, Michigan: A Case Study of Muslim Contributions

The Flint water crisis, a city-wide drinking water crisis that affected more than 100,000 residents beginning in 2014, has resulted in a federal state of emergency (declared in 2016). The crisis, which stemmed from the region’s chronic financial problems, is still ongoing. The national response to the plight of Flint has been immense, with response efforts ranging from legal and political aid to charitable contributions in the form of water and money. Our team uncovered that responses by Muslim Americans have been incredible. 

The information below provides an overview of the many contributions Muslims have made toward alleviating the Flint water crisis.39 The response by Muslims in just this one Michigan city can be used as a case study for what Muslims contribute to wider society not just in Michigan, but in the entire United States. This information was shared with then-President Obama ahead of his visit to Flint in spring 2016, and with state and local politicians during Michigan Capitol Day of 2016.

To help Flint, Muslims donated and distributed more than 1 million bottles of water; donated nearly $300,000 toward replacing lead pipes, clean water, and medical care; volunteered in aiding water distribution, running health clinics, and organizational development, with more than 550 volunteers; and were the first to break ground in replacing lead pipes with copper pipes. This task was initiated by Flint resident Jenan Jondy.40 Jondy implored, “we can’t wait any longer. It’s a basic human right to have clean water.” 

Philanthropic Contributions

The Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village has helped thousands of Flint families by facilitating water distribution, serving as a water pick-up site, and providing space to medical practitioners to run free health clinics.

LaunchGood, a crowd-sourcing platform, hosted a Water-for-Flint campaign that raised $54,017 from more than 600 donors. The campaign was started by the Michigan Muslim Community Council, and a #Muslims4Flint hashtag was used to create awareness and momentum on social media. 

Medical Contributions

Muslim doctors have donated significant time and expertise in treating Flint residents whose health was compromised by the tainted water. Lead poisoning is known to cause long-term bodily damage and cognitive impairment, especially in children.41 To address the Flint community’s medical needs, Muslim dermatologists and general practitioners intervened to treat skin rashes and sores, perform lead tests, and conduct health screenings pro bono.

A healthy diet is associated with increased ability to combat the negative effects of lead poisoning on the body. Armed with this knowledge, the Flint Muslim Food Pantry—a food distribution program —has worked tirelessly to provide high-protein, high-fiber meals to Flint families in need. 

The Urban Ethical Living initiative was created in conjunction with the Center for Cognition and Neuroethics and the Insight Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroscience. This initiative is partnering with the Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village and plans to find effective ways to study and address the many issues facing Flint, including the pervasiveness of food deserts, a deteriorating education system, and the water crisis. The research also aims to focus on the removal of blight using a debt-free model and working toward complete ownership—one that can be applied in declining rust-belt cities across the nation. Project leaders are currently writing grants and carrying out preliminary research to test the efficacy of a grassroots approach toward political advocacy, educational impact, and social services provisions. 

Legal and Civic Contributions

Nayyirah Shari is an organizer for the Flint Democracy Defense League and a director of Flint Rising. She was involved in filing a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Flint residents. As a community leader, Shari was also included in discussions by the Flint Water Advisory Task Force in addressing the crisis.42

The Flint Coalition, a lobbying and advocacy group, comprises multiple Muslim nonprofit organizations working together on a four-point plan to 1) replace the affected lead pipes in Flint, 2) work with the state to invest resources designated toward alleviating the long-term needs of Flint, 3) appoint an independent auditor to oversee spending in Flint; and 4) contract local business to perform the necessary repairs and infrastructural improvements.

Collaborative efforts among Muslim community- based organizations such as the Michigan Muslim Community Council, Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village, Islamic Relief, Life for Relief and Development, and many mosques and their congregants across southeastern Michigan have taken place to help Flint in its time of need. 



Taken together, the findings presented in the Muslims for American Progress data demonstrate that Michigan Muslims contribute substantially to the state’s well-being within and beyond all eight key areas: medicine, STEM, civics and democracy, philanthropy and nonprofit, education, economics, arts and entertainment, and sports.

These findings contrast starkly with the typical depiction of Muslims in America as portrayed in mainstream media. Studies show that that media representations of Islam were worse in 2015 than in any other period since 9/11 and that nine out of 10 news stories about Muslims, Islam, and Islamic organizations were related to violence.43 These news stories promote negative images of Muslims and Islam to unsuspecting audiences, and these audiences relay the image to subsequent audiences.44 Misperceptions of Muslims permeate the reports of news correspondents, crucial decisions by policy makers may be influenced by those unrealistic perceptions, and the public’s stereotypical images may affect the formation and acceptance of such policy. As such, an intervention to challenge the prominence of such negative imagery in mainstream media is necessary, and the findings in this report offer a rich and detailed starting point for this intervention.


What do these vast and varied findings of Muslim contributions in the state of Michigan tell us and how can these data be used to facilitate broad social, policy, and organizational changes?

Recommendations for the Media and Media Consumers

These findings demonstrate how and the extent to which Muslim Michiganders contribute to the betterment of wider society every day as professionals, humanitarians, and thought leaders. Their full membership in American society benefits the wider public and, therefore, these findings should encourage a cultural shift away from perceptions of fear, mistrust, and hate toward a greater level of respect, understanding, and appreciation of Muslim American communities.

Media makers have a duty to reflect the fullness of Muslim American life, as they do with other communities, to the American public because their work offers consumers a particular outlook of the world and representation of reality. For example, Muslim leaders and organizations, if they are ever mentioned, often remain nameless in most news coverage. This limited coverage is related to an overall lack of knowledge about Muslims and Islam more generally among the American public. Media consumers compare media representations with their own experiences and make judgments about how realistic such representations are. Without coverage of the everyday, commonplace ways that Muslims make positive contributions to society, media consumers are unable to critically engage with the majority negative coverage of Muslims and Islam.

Negative media portrayal of Islam and Muslims must be balanced by coverage of everyday Muslim Americans who contribute tremendously to the fabric of Michigan’s societies. To improve the image of Muslims in the United States, it requires a strong and persistent collaborative effort between Muslims themselves and media makers. This report provides the basis for such an effort, thereby increasing overall media literacy of Muslim Americans and Islam more generally.

Recommendations for Policy Makers

This research should be read as evidence in support of policies that actively encourage Muslim migration, both nationally and to the state of Michigan. Steve Tobocman, founder of Global Detroit, has persuasively argued that Michigan’s cities should actively foster migration flows to this state.45 Given that Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder, has set a goal to increase the state’s population by more than 70,000 people by 2020, Tobocman looks to immigration to bring about this increase, explaining that “immigration serves as the critical driver of our population turnaround and immigrants can help Detroiters revitalize their neighborhoods and Michigan households boost their incomes.”

The data presented here corroborate such claims. We found that Michigan Muslims (approximately 63 percent of whom are immigrants46) and their organizations rehabilitate blighted homes across the state, maintain urban gardens that increase property values and feed those most in need, serve as city council members and community organizers, and much more—all vital aspects for preserving and growing healthy neighborhoods across the state.

Whereas Muslims make remarkable contributions every day to the state of Michigan and should fill the state’s constituents with pride, no minority group should have to prove its value this way. Policy makers should recognize the full human potential in each resident, Muslims included, and avoid legislation that seeks to limit or impugn Muslim migration (both from other places in the United States and from abroad) to Michigan. This research should be read as evidence against policies that seek to ban or limit Muslims from entering the state because such policies would have perilous effects on the medical industry, philanthropy, the overall economy, and many other aspects of social life.

Recommendations for Advocates and Allies

To our knowledge, this is the first analysis of the dynamic ways in which Muslims contribute to wider American society. The quantitative figures should be empowering to Muslim American advocates and allies who are working toward equality and justice, because they provide an alternative to anecdotal evidence where little empirical data exists. This report allows organizers and community leaders to help replace fear with facts. An educated citizenry is vital to the health of American democracy, and this report provides the basis to social justice advocates and community leaders to respond to negative media coverage and widespread misperceptions of Muslims in American society. Armed with these findings, we recommend that advocates and allies elevate political discourse by writing letters to the editors of media outlets that portray Muslims in unfair ways, attending town halls and responding to elected officials who propose anti-Muslim policies, and challenging the spread of anti-Muslim fear wherever it persists.

Recommendations for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Organizations

The goal of capturing and reporting on contributions made by Muslim Michiganders and their organizations posed significant challenges. This is because many Muslim-run organizations and projects do not adequately or regularly record their good deeds. As such, we recommend that Muslim philanthropic, nonprofit, professional, and other organizations and projects should begin recording day-to-day output, maintain detailed records, and update such files on a regular basis to create annual impact reports. These reports will provide the organizations with a simple basis for showing how and the extent to which they contribute to their wider communities, and it also will enable them to apply for grant money to grow their organization and thus their contributions. A sample contribution recording form intended for use by nonprofit organizations appears in Appendix 3.

The types of organizations that could benefit from instituting policies to collect contribution metrics include the following:

  • Student organizations (e.g., Muslim Student Associations),
  • Community-based organizations (e.g., women’s rights and leadership organizations),
  • Civic engagement events and mobilization campaigns (e.g., Get Out the Vote),
  • Professional organizations (such as medical or engineering societies), and
  • Other nonprofit and philanthropic organizations. 


Next Steps

Future Research

In the future, scholars should replicate this study in other locales in the United States so that we may gain a fuller picture of Muslim contributions in the entire country. Although Michigan is known for having one of the most concentrated populations of Muslims in the nation, other cities and states are home to significant numbers of Muslim Americans as well. Additionally, this research has demonstrated that even a small number of Muslim Americans can have an inordinately large and positive effect on their larger communities. As such, future research should consider the relative influence of Muslims in rural areas compared with urban environments. Another possible area of future inquiry could consider gender parity in licensed professions by comparing male and female representation within a randomly selected sample of Muslim professionals from the licensing data to make comparisons with the general American public. Finally, this research could also be used as a template for measuring the contributions of other religious minorities in the United States whose religious identity is not accurately captured by the U.S. Census. 

Appendix 1: Methodology

The Muslims for American Progress (MAP) project team conducted quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis between January and October 2016. Qualitative interviews, lasting 60 minutes, were conducted with 146 individuals from all eight focus areas: medicine; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; civics and democracy; philanthropy and nonprofit; education; economics; arts and entertainment; and sports. A surname analysis was conducted on data sets acquired from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the Michigan Department of Education, and from the Department of Licensing and Regulatory A airs. Secondary analysis was conducted on economic and population source material from “The Muslim Green: American Muslim Market Study 2014– 15” (DinarStandard and AMCC), the Bureau of Labor Statistics Aggregate Expenditures Reports, and the Pew Research Center 2011 report, “Muslim Americans: No Signs of Growth in Alienation or Support for Extremism.” A detailed explanation of the methods used in this study are reported below.

Measuring Muslim Contributions

The primary goal of this study was to count, capture, and explore Muslim “contributions” to Michigan communities across eight key fields: medicine; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; politics; philanthropy and nonprofits; economics; education; arts and entertainment; and sports. But what does it mean to contribute? For this study, we understood contribution to mean any individual or organization giving or adding to a common societal supply, fund, or goal, thereby influencing the state of Michigan in a positive way.47 Contributions to each of the eight areas are measured differently; how and why our research team did so is explored in greater depth below. In general, we recorded contributions made in the last 5 years. Any organization that claimed to be Muslim-affiliated and any person who self-identified as Muslim was considered to be “Muslim” for the purposes of this study.

Studying Muslim American Communities

Studies of impact on local communities by ethnic and racial groups typically rely on the U.S. Census, which captures demographic data such as household size, household income, occupation, educational attainment, and other socioeconomic variables, all of which may be used to measure the contributions that these communities make. However, using Census data to measure the impacts of religious groups such as Muslims is not possible because there are basic laws prohibiting national census takers from asking mandatory questions concerning a person’s religious beliefs or regarding one’s membership in a religious body.48

The Pew Forum’s landmark surveys of Muslim Americans in 2007 and 2011, on the other hand, provide many of the aforementioned socioeconomic data and opinion data, but these data are available only at the national and regional levels. Hence, the Pew Forum’s surveys could potentially be used to shed light on Muslim contributions at the national and regional levels, but not at the state or local levels.

To overcome these limitations, the MAP project used a variety of innovative techniques to gather in-depth, empirical information about Muslim contributions to the state of Michigan. Taken together, this mixed-method data collection approach allowed us to discover Muslim contributions in a range of fields that was not otherwise possible given existing data sources. A review of the quantitative and qualitative methods and sources that we drew upon appears below. 

Quantitative Methods

Muslim Name Approach
To derive estimates for Muslim presence in various professional fields, the MAP project used a Muslim name approach. To begin, our team created a list of more than 43,000 common Muslim names.49 We then compared the Muslim names with those found on publicly available state-issued professional licenses and listings. The results allowed us to o er an estimate of Muslim presence across these fields in terms of both the total number of individuals and as a percentage of the overall Michigan workforce in these fields.

The Muslim names list contained all the nonstandard variations for names transliterated from Arabic and other foreign languages. For example, we included all the variants of the name Mohammad, Muhummad, Mahamad, etc. It also captured common Muslim names across many global Islamic communities, from the Arab world to Eastern Europe and West Africa.

This list, to be sure, does not provide an accurate total of the Muslim population in each professional field. For instance, it captures names of individuals who may not be Muslim yet hold a common Muslim name (most frequently Arab Christians and Zoroastrians). This approach also misses any individual who identifies as Muslim and does not have a name recorded on our list (for example, converts to Islam or anyone without a traditionally Muslim name). Given these issues, this list likely undercounts the number of Muslims on each list. We believe, however, that it provides a reasonable estimate of the number of Muslims in each licensed profession.

The Muslim name list was cross-referenced with 40 public listings and active licensing registries for the state of Michigan:

  • Medical (including 26 subtypes)
  • Law
  • Patent holders (awarded between 2010 and 2015) Engineering
  • Teachers
  • Accountancy
  • Real Estate
  • Architects
  • Barbers and Cosmetology
  • Other professional licenses types

These listings were obtained in spring 2016 from publicly available sources such as the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory A airs, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Detroit Satellite Office, and the State Bar of Michigan.

Michigan Muslim Population Estimates
We estimate that there were 273,734 Muslims in Michigan as of 2015, representing about 2.75 percent of Michigan’s total population. We derived this estimate using DinarStandard’s American Muslim Consumer Consortium50 figures, adjusting for population growth between 2013 and 2015 in the state using American Community Survey results. Based on these calculations, Michigan Muslims account for 5 percent of the nation’s total Muslim population.

Consumer Impact Figures
To derive the consumer impact of Muslim households in Michigan, this report relies on data provided by DinarStandard’s American Muslim Consumer Consortium 2014 study.51 Operating under the assumption that Michigan’s Muslim population is representative of the nation, we estimate that Michigan Muslim house-holds account for 5 percent of these national figures of consumer spending. Accounting for growth between 2014 and 2015 occurred by using national figures provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in each spending category. 

Qualitative Methods

MAP Project researchers were individually assigned to investigate each of the eight topic areas: medicine; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; politics; philanthropy and nonprofits; economics; education; arts and entertainment; and sports. Because each professional field contains a unique set of actors and social circumstances, data collection methods were adapted to meet the needs of each area, and our team employed nonrandom, snowball sampling techniques.52 Research in each topic area began with in-depth interviews with community leaders who acted as key informants, connecting us with other relevant professionals and providing insight about what positive contributions look like in their field. In sum, our team conducted 146 formal interviews as well as countless email exchanges and phone calls. 

Table 4. Interviews

Field Number of Interviewees
Medicine 21
Politics 27
Philanthropy and nonprofit 23
Economics 20
Education 14
Arts and Entertainment 11
Sports 9

The snowball sampling technique allowed our team to investigate contributions in each field with a grounded, bottom-up approach. For example, working with professionals in the Michigan political arena, our team created an estimate of the number of Muslim individuals holding a public office.

As with most qualitative studies, the findings yielded here are neither exhaustive nor representative; instead, these findings o er a window into some of the most important and unique forms of contributions being made by Michigan Muslims to their larger communities. Field work was completed in less than 1 year. As such, our research merely scratches the surface in terms of the depth of contribution; it is likely that this report did not cover the works of other major contributors. A future study may consider alternative sampling methodologies to reach a wider set of participants. Furthermore, because this study focused primarily on contributions made within the last 5 years, it does not capture historical patterns of contribution. Finally, because of the greater density of Muslims in urban areas, the contributions of Muslims in rural areas were not a primary focus of this report and should be considered in the future. 

Appendix 2: List of Muslims Holding Public Office in Michigan

Name Location Title Years Served Number of Constituents
Abdul El-Sayed Detroit Director, Department of Public Health Aug 2015 – present 688,701 (pop. of Detroit as of 2013)
Abe Munfakh Michigan Commission on Middle Eastern American Affairs (CMEAA) June 2015 – Apr 2019 9,922,576 (pop. of Michigan as of 2015)
Abu Musa Hamtramck City Council Jan 2012 – Jan 2020 22,099 (pop. of Hamtramck as of 2013)
Adel Mozip Michigan Commission on Middle Eastern American Affairs (CMEAA) June 2015 – Apr 2017 9,922,576 (pop. of Michigan as of 2015)
Ahmer Iqbal Wayne County Restructuring Team, Special Projects Jan 2015 – Jan 2017 1.775 million (pop. of Wayne Cty as of 2013)
Al (Abdul) Haidous City of Wayne Mayor Jan 2002 – Jan 2015 17,593 (pop. City of Wayne as of 2015)
Al (Abdul) Haidous Wayne County Commissioner, 11th District Jan 2015 – Jan 2017 1.775 million (pop. of Wayne Cty as of 2013); 17,593 (pop. City of Wayne as of 2015)
Anam Miah Hamtramck Mayor Pro Tem Jan 2012 – Jan 2020 22,099 (pop. of Hamtramck as of 2013)
Asim Alavi Michigan Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission (MAPAAC) 2012 – 2016 9,922,576 (pop. of Michigan as of 2015)
Bilal Saad Michigan Michigan Underground Storage Tank Authority Board May 2015 – May 2017 9,922,576 (pop. of Michigan as of 2015)
Charlene Elder Wayne County Circuit Court Judge, 3rd circuit Dec 2005 – Dec 2020 1.775 million (pop. of Wayne Cty as of 2013)
Dave Abdallah Michigan Commission on Middle Eastern American Affairs (CMEAA) Dec 2014 – Apr 2017 9,922,576 (pop. of Michigan as of 2015)
Dave Abdallah Dearborn Heights City Council Jan 2016 – Jan 2020 56,620 (pop. of Dearborn Heights as of 2013)
David Turfe Wayne County Judge Nov 2006 – Jan 2019 1.775 million (pop. of Wayne Cty as of 2013)
Eric Sabree Wayne County Deputy County Treasurer 2011 – 2016 1.775 million (pop. of Wayne Cty as of 2013)
Eric Sabree Wayne County Treasurer Apr 2016 – present 1.775 million (pop. of Wayne Cty as of 2013)
Fadwa Hammoud Dearborn School Board Trustee July 2015 – Nov 2016 95,884 (pop. of Dearborn as of 2013)
Fay Beydoun Michigan Commission on Middle Eastern American Affairs (CMEAA) June 2015 – Apr 2019 9,922,576 (pop. of Michigan as of 2015)
Fayrouz Saad Detroit Director of Immigrant Affairs Oct 2015 – present 688,701 (pop. of Detroit as of 2013)
Hatem "Tim" Attalla Wayne County Director of Corporate Affairs Jan 2015 – Jan 2017 1.775 million (pop. of Wayne Cty as of 2013)
Ismael Ahmed Michigan Retired, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services 2007 – 2011 9,922,576 (pop. of Michigan as of 2015)
Jacqueline El-Sayed Michigan Michigan Truck Safety Commission (chair) Jan 2004 – Sept 2011 9,922,576 (pop. of Michigan as of 2015)
Jacqueline El-Sayed Michigan Driver's Education Advisory Committee (chair) Jan 2004 – Sept 2011 9,922,576 (pop. of Michigan as of 2015)
Jacqueline El-Sayed Michigan Motorcycle Safety Advisory Committee (chair) Jan 2004 – Sept 2011 9,922,576 (pop. of Michigan as of 2015)
Jacqueline El-Sayed West Bloomfield School Board Jan 2011 – Jan 2017 64,690 (pop. of West Bloomfield as of 2010)
Juman Doleh-Alomary Michigan Michigan Underground Storage Tank Authority Board May 2015 – May 2017 9,922,576 (pop. of Michigan as of 2015)
Lina Haralji Michigan Commission on Middle Eastern American Affairs (CMEAA) June 2015 – Apr 2019 9,922,576 (pop. of Michigan as of 2015)
Mallak Beydoun Detroit Senior Advisor to Mayor Duggan Feb 2016 – present 688,701 (pop. of Detroit as of 2013)
Mallak Beydoun Detroit Director of Constituent Affairs Sept 2016 – Feb 2017 688,701 (pop. of Detroit as of 2013)
Marcus Mohammed Benton Harbor Mayor of Benton Harbor Nov 2015 – 2019 10,038 (pop. of Benton Harbor as of 2010)
Mariam Bazzi Dearborn School Board Jan 2014 – present 95,884 (pop. of Dearborn as of 2013)
Mariam Bazzi Michigan Commission on Middle Eastern American Affairs (CMEAA) June 2015 – Apr 2018 9,922,576 (pop. of Michigan as of 2015)
Mike Jaafar Wayne County Deputy Police Chief Oct 2011 – present 1.775 million (pop. of Wayne Cty as of 2013)
Mike Sareini Dearborn City Council Nov 2013 – 2017 95,884 (pop. of Dearborn as of 2013)
Mohammed Hassan Hamtramck City Council Jan 2009 – Jan 2017 22,099 (pop. of Hamtramck as of 2013)
Mona Hammoud Wayne County Ethics Board Feb 2016 – Dec 2018 1.775 million (pop. of Wayne Cty as of 2013)
Mona Youssef Wayne County Family Court Referee, Wayne County 3rd Circuit Court June 2010 – present 1.775 million (pop. of Wayne Cty as of 2013)
Nasim Ansari Michigan Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission (MAPAAC) First term: 2011 – 2013; second term: 2013 – 2017 9,922,576 (pop. of Michigan as of 2015)
Nasim Ansari Portage Mayor Pro Tem 2013 – 2017 47,523 (pop. of Portage as of 2013)
Rashida Tlaib Michigan, 6th District State Representative 2009 – 2015 95,000 (provided by Rashida)
Saad Almasmari Hamtramck City Council Jan 2016 – Jan 2020 22,099 (pop. of Hamtramck as of 2013)
Sam Salamey Dearborn Judicial Magistrate, 19th District Court 1993 – 2007 95,884 (pop. of Dearborn as of 2013)
Sam Salamey Dearborn Chief Judge, 19th District Court Jan 2013 – Jan 2019 95,884 (pop. of Dearborn as of 2013)
Sharif Hussein Michigan Commission on Middle Eastern American Affairs (CMEAA) June 2015 – Apr 2017 9,922,576 (pop. of Michigan as of 2015)
Susan Dabaja Dearborn City Council President Jan 2014 – Jan 2018 95,884 (pop. of Dearborn as of 2013)
Susan Dabaja Dearborn Commission on Middle Eastern American Affairs (CMEAA) June 2015 – Apr 2017 9,922,576 (pop. of Michigan as of 2015)
Suzanne Sareini Dearborn Retired, Dearborn City Council President Pro-Tem 1990 – 2013 95,884 (pop. of Dearborn as of 2013)
Suzzane Sukkar Michigan Commission on Middle Eastern American Affairs (CMEAA) June 2015 – Apr 2018 9,922,576 (pop. of Michigan as of 2015)
Syed Taj Canton Board of Trustees 2008 – 2012 90,173 (pop. of Canton Twp as of 2010)
Yvonna Abraham Dearborn Heights Magistrate and Director of Probation Dept, 20th District Court Jan 2012 – present 56,620 (pop. of Dearborn Heights as of 2013)
Zenna Elhasan Dearborn Heights Judicial Magistrate and Probation Director, 20th District Court July 2011 – Dec 2011 56,620 (pop. of Dearborn Heights as of 2013)
Zenna Elhasan Wayne County Director of Corporation Counsel Dec 2011 – present 1.775 million (pop. of Wayne Cty as of 2013)

Appendix 3: Sample Contribution Recording Form

Research Team

Advisory Team

  • Mustafa Davis – Photographer, film producer, and digital media consultant, founder of Mustafa Davis StudiosTM.
  • Tarek El-Messidi – Marketing consultant and digital strategist for businesses and nonprofits.
  • Dr. Sally Howell – Associate Professor of History, Director, Center for Arab American Studies at the University of Michigan - Dearborn.
  • Jennifer Maytorena Taylor – Award winning documentary producer and director of character-based social issue feature films. Assistant Professor, Social Documentation at UC Santa Cruz.
  • DinarStandard – A growth strategy research and advisory firm covering: OIC markets, Halal, Ethical, Social entrepreneurship, Islamic finance, and the Muslim market. 
  1. Sally Howell, Old Islam in Detroit: Rediscovering the Muslim American Past (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014).

  1. Estimates come from link.

  1. Wayne State University ranks third in the nation in the number of graduates having an active license to practice in the United States, and the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor ranks eighth. For more information, see Aaron Young et al., “A Census of Actively Licensed Physicians in the United States, 2014 ,” Journal of Medical Regulation 101, no. 2 (2015).

  1. In Michigan, the average physician supported 11.04 jobs in the state’s economy, including his or her own. The Economic Impact of Physicians in Michigan (IMS Health, 2014).

  1. More than 142 million retail drug prescriptions were filled in Michigan in 2015, excluding those filled by mail order. “Total Number of Retail Prescription Drugs Filled at Pharmacies,” The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2015.

  1. Michigan is home to the eighth largest population of people 65 years or older as of 2014. “Profile of Older Americans: 2015,” Administration for Community Living.

  1. McLaren Proton Therapy Center in Flint is still under development. No firm date for opening has been established and the center is working to integrate all components of the subsystem to prepare for eventual patient treatment.

  1. Particle radiation (electron, proton, and neutron beams) has been found to have higher levels of biological e ectiveness than traditional treatment methods. Rajamanickam Baskar et al., “Cancer and Radiation Therapy: Current Advances and Future Directions,” International Journal of Medical Sciences 9, no. 3 (2012): 193–99.

  1. For more information, refer to Faiqa Mahmood, American Muslims and Free Health Services to Underserved Populations: The Huda Clinic: A Case Study (Washington, DC: Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, 2016).

  1. For more on the HUDA Urban Garden initiative, visit their website.

  1. Researchers interviewed members of Michigan chapters of the Islamic Medical Association of North America, Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America, Syrian American Medical Society, National Arab American Medical Association, and National American Arab Nurses Association.

  1. United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Stem 101: Intro to Tomorrow’s Jobs,” Occupational Outlook Quarterly (Spring 2014).

  1. Anthony P. Carnevale, Nicole Smith, and Michelle Melton, (Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, 2014).

  1. It is not a state requirement for practicing engineers to hold a license, and this estimate reflects only those who opted to become licensed.

  1. David Beede et al., Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation (U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics Statistics Service, 2011).

  1. Anny Bakalian and Mehdi Bozorgmehr, Backlash 9/11: Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans Respond (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009).

  1. This estimate was gathered via snowball technique and social networks. For a full list of Muslim Public o cials who have served in the last five years, see Appendix 2.

  1. John Gallagher, “Michigan Still Digging Out of Its ‘Lost Decade’ Hole,” Detroit Free Press, July 3, 2016.

  1. Fadwa Hammoud: A Community Voice on Dearborn’s School Board,” Arab American News, October 14, 2016.

  1. Niraj Warikoo, “Hamtramck Elects Muslim-Majority City Council,” Detroit Free Press, November 5, 2015.

  1. Eric D. Lawrence, “Wayne County Foreclosure Numbers See Big Dip,” Detroit Free Press, June 26, 2016.

  1. These figures come from consumer impact data among Michigan Muslim households and from interviews with more than 17 Muslim philanthropic organizations; see Appendix 2 for more information.

  1. Matthew Dolan, “5 Trends to Watch in Michigan’s EconomyJanuary 2, 2016.

  1. According to the Pew Research Center report, 20 percent of American Muslims are self-employed. To calculate the estimated number of Muslim-owned businesses in Michigan, we used the total estimated number of Michigan Muslims (273,734), multiplied by the percentage of American Muslims that are over 18 years of age (65.45 percent) to arrive at the number of adults in Michigan (179,172), and multiplied this figure by the Pew percentage of Muslim self-employed or small business owners (20 percent). Muslim Americans: No Signs of Growth in Alienation or Support for Extremism (Pew Research Center, August 2011).

  1. The 2016 Small Business Profile compiled by the U.S. Small Business Administration reported that 20 percent of small businesses in Michigan have employees. Therefore, 20 percent of the 35,835 Muslim-owned business (totaling 7,167 business) in the state have employees. To determine the estimate of the number of people these 7,167 businesses employ, the average number of employees a Michigan small business employs (10.38) was used as a multiplier, summed with the remaining self-employed Muslims (28,668), to reach a total of 103,062 jobs created or sustained in 2016.

  1. These estimates are based on the 2014 American Muslim Consumer Consortium (AMCC) report and 2015 BLS Aggregate Expenditures reports. See Appendix 2 for more information.

  1. Jaber on Forbes’ 30 Under 30.

  1. According to a 2015 Michigan Radio survey of 680 teachers across the state of Michigan, the average classroom size is 27 students. Mark Brush and Jennifer Guerra, “Teachers Tell Us Class Sizes Are Getting Bigger in Michigan,” Michigan Radio, December, 3, 2015.

  1. In spring 2017, Khatib announced that she would raise money for the Syrian American Rescue Network and launched a crowd-funding campaign campaign aiming to raise $15,000.

  1. "Dearborn Football Coach Has Dinner at White House,” Click On Detroit, August, 11, 2011.

  1. In February 2017, 170 headstones in a historical Jewish cemetery were vandalized. Muslim Americans raised more than $100,000 in 4 days (and reached their goal of $20,000 in 3 hours) on LaunchGood’s website and received national attention for their charity. “Dearborn Football Coach Has Dinner at White House,” LaunchGood, last modified March 2017.

  1. Fay Beydoun," Crain's Detroit, June 2, 2016.

  1. For more on the DAERR program, see Ann Zaniewski, “Bloomfield Hills Forum Aims for More Inclusive Schools,” Detroit Free Press, April 28, 2015.

  1. Fieldwork in Flint took place in January through April 2016. The contribution estimates provided are current up to spring 2016.

  1. Gary Ridley, “Flint Lead Water Line Replacement Begins with Controversy,” MLive, March 3, 2016.

  1. The Long-Term E ects of Lead: Flint and Beyond,” Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University, 2016.

  1. See the Flint Water Advisory Task Force’s Final Report (March 2016).

  1. "Islamophobia in Focus: Muslims and the Media,” Georgetown University, September 22, 2016.

  1. Evelyn Alsultany, Arabs and Muslims in the Media: Race and Representation after 9/11 (New York: New York University Press, 2012). Jack Shaheen, “Media Coverage of the Middle East: Perception and Foreign Policy,” The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 482, no. 1 (1985): 160–75.

  1. Steve Tobocman, “Michigan and Detroit Need Immigrants to Reach Goals,” Detroit Free Press, February 11, 2017.

  1. Muslim Americans: No Signs of Growth in Alienation or Support for Extremism (Pew Research Center, August 2011).

  1. It is worth acknowledging feedback from Muslim stakeholders in Michigan who critiqued the framing of this study around “contributions” because it necessarily focuses on people and organizations who have resources to give, thus overlooking many disadvantaged Muslim Michiganders who are proud American citizens and neighbors, yet they have little to measurably contribute. Taking this valuable critique into account, our team purposively sought interviewees across the socioeconomic strata.

  1. For a brief history of the religion question and the U.S. Census, refer to ”A Brief History of Religion and the U.S. Census,” Pew Research Center, January 26, 2010

  1. We are grateful to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for providing the initial seeds for this list.

  1. The Muslim Green: American Muslim Market Study 2014/15 (New York: DinarStandard, 2014/2015).

  1. DinarStandard served as advisors to this economics section of the project; members of our team worked their sta to create the estimates of Michigan household spending provided in this report. For the executive summary of DinarStandard’s 2014 AMCC report, click here.

  1. Snowball sampling refers to a qualitative research technique wherein researchers create a study sample through “referrals made among people who share or know of others who possess some characteristics that are of research interest.” (See Patrick Biernacki and Dan Waldorf, “Snowball Sampling: Problems and Techniques of Chain Referral Sampling,” Sociological Methods & Research 10, no. 2 (1981): 141– 63.) This method is useful when random sampling techniques are not possible or research subjects are hard to locate.

  1. Intrapreneurship is defined as “emergent behavioral intentions and behaviors that are related to departures from the customary ways of doing business in existing organizations” or, in other words, the act of behaving like an entrepreneur while working within an existing organization. Bostjan Antoncic and Robert D. Hisrich, “Clarifying the Intrapreneurship Concept,” Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development 10, no. 1 (2003): 7–24.

  1. Hijabi: A term used to describe a woman who wears a head scarf.