Muslims in the United States are experiencing a variety of social welfare, mental health, behavioral health, marital and family problems. Family and marital problems continue, hunger and homelessness continue, other challenges continue to face our youth each and everyday, our disabled and elderly continue to need support. The formerly incarcerated have nowhere to turn when they reenter society and as practicing Muslims want to make a new start in life. We are facing a crisis because of the lack of Muslim counselors and the lack of mainstream providers knowledgeable of best practices with Muslims. We need social workers and mental health professionals in our full time Islamic schools. We need volunteers, paraprofessionals and professionals who can work with Muslims facing a variety of challenges everyday.
The Islamic Social Services Association, Inc. (ISSA-USA) envisions a spiritually and culturally competent social service network that ensures the highest quality of life possible for every individual, family, and community.
The mission of ISSA-USA is to build a network of professional, paraprofessional and volunteer social service and mental health providers; and to enhance their capacity through education, training, technical assistance, research, mentorship and collaboration.
Our approach is multifaceted and includes a focus on the secular and other faith providers, Muslim community members, imams, community leaders and professionals as well as promotion of cross-cultural awareness among Muslims. ISSA-USA offers a range of training and capacity building resources for Muslim, other faith and secular communities that facilitate our approach.
ISSA-USA's methodology is multifaceted and includes a focus on mainstream providers, Muslim community members, imams, community leaders, human services students and professionals. Additionally the plan promotes cross-cultural awareness among Muslims, the coordination of zakat and sadaqa collection and distribution on the local level, the development of strategic alliance and partnerships and the investment in qualitative and quantitative, evidence based human service research.
ISSA was established in 1999 at the annual conference of Muslim Social Services where 60 Muslim social workers, mental health professionals and counselors convened in Washington D.C. This dedicated group of individuals were concerned about the social issues affecting the Muslim community in North America. These community leaders believed it would be important to develop a network of Muslims in the field of human services to begin to address the mental health, social welfare, and general family issues that impact Muslims. Additionally, founders felt that it would be important to work closely with secular and other faith professionals to develop a partnership in meeting this work, promote understanding about Islamic traditions, beliefs, and practices, as well as provide a forum to discuss contemporary social issues facing Muslims in America.
In 2003 ISSA split into 2 sister and independent non-profit organizations: one in the USA and one in Canada. They were each incorporated having their own voluntary board of directors for services to be delivered in the U.S.A and Canada respectively. These two boards of directors work together on projects that serve to educate and connect social service providers to the community.
Visionary founders of ISSA include the late Dr. Maryam Funches, Dr. Aneesah Nadir, Dr. Bilquis Eltarab and Shahina Siddiqui.
Dr. Aneesah Nadir, President, Co-Founder
Ph.D of Social Work. Policy and community practice focused. Retired professor at Arizona State University. Practice focused on marriage and family. Based in Phoenix, Arizona.
Dr. Mohammad Hoque, Vice President
Ph.D. of Social Work. Focus on research and statistics. Retired professor at Mississippi Valley State University. Latest research on Bullying of Muslim children. Based in Chicago, Illinois.
Dr. Cheryl El-Amin, Board Member
Ph.D. of Social Work. Focus on school social work. Practice focuses on marriage education and advisement. Based in Detroit, Michigan.
Zarinah Nadir, Esq., Secretary
Juris Doctor. Family and juvenile law attorney. Focused on access to justice and the enforcement of Islamic law under the US civil law. Sociology and crim justice instructor at University of Dubuque. Based in Phoenix, Arizona.