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How Do We Research? Let’s Dig into the Details!

The FYI is committed to strengthen our families and uplift our communities – and we do it by working with you, hand-in-hand! Our community-based participatory research approach ensures our projects are grounded in community spirit and collaboration. Through emphasizing and addressing your voices and needs directly across all our work, we are bridging community, research, and practice.


How We Do It

We’ve been actively involved in community-building and engagement since the beginning. This deep connection ensures we remain attuned to the community’s heartbeat throughout our research process. Here are just a few ways we stay connected with you and our community:

  • Partner with communities. Together, we pinpoint priorities, explore research questions, identify wellness needs, and address the unique concerns arising from within a faith and cultural contexts.  
  • Engage and integrate communities’ voices and experiences throughout the research process. We believe every voice matters. Through listening sessions, interviews, data collection, and advisory roles and opportunities, we highlight richly diverse and nuanced Muslim American experiences.
  • Incorporate community perspectives on data. Our collaborations with your community don’t end with data gathering. We loop back with the community to interpret our findings, ensuring that research interpretations align and resonate with lived experiences. 
  • Identify practical solutions. True impact is about turning data into actionable change. Grounded in community-informed data interpretations, we’re committed to streamlining practical solutions that have positive real-world impact in the lives of our community members.
  • Share the benefits. We ensure the resources we distribute far and wide are not only practical and accessible, but also culturally relevant and faith-based, so that they resonate with our community. 

Guiding Principles of Our Research

  • Embracing Our Resilience. We take a strengths-based approach, aligning with Muslim value systems which incorporate empowerment and resilience for the individual and the collective. We adopt the Prophetic model of uplifting each other and lean on the resilience frameworks preexisting in Muslim communities to better understand what works and offer solutions and support to those who are struggling.
  • Celebrating Intersectionality.  The Muslim American community is a tapestry of experiences. Every layer – whether race, ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic background – adds depth. A cookie cutter approach to minorities misses all the unique nuances to what it means to be a Muslim American. We dive into these important layers that make our community so richly diverse to understand and address healthy development that incorporates each unique experience. 
  • Context Matters. Every environment tells a unique story. Growing up in a two-parent household is not the same as a single-parent household, just as attending a predominantly immigrant-led mosque is distinct from the experience at a Black-led mosque. Whether it’s understanding household or community dynamics, we center the contextual factors in individuals’ healthy development that mainstream psychological research often overlooks.
  • Faith at the Forefront. We don’t just impose existing psychological models. We bring faith-based and culturally-tuned perspectives into the conversation. By intertwining faith values with our research, we highlight empowering strategies already in our communities while benefiting from existing psychological models that, together, nurture development for all.

Our Active Research Initiatives

Our Past Research Projects

  • Ramadan ESM Study
  • Ramadan Goal Study
  • Pornography
  • Muslim Youth Risk Behaviors
  • Uplifting Black Muslim Youth
  • Marriage Preparation
  • Mental Health
  • Divorce
  • Elder Care
  • Well-being during the Pandemic

Our Esteemed Partners in Research

Our Active Research Initiatives

  • Community Trust: We elevated Muslim American representation in psychological research and have emerged as a reliable beacon for mental health, well-being and healthy development in our communities. 
  • Evidence-Informed Excellence: We addressed real concerns impacting the Muslim American community with cutting-edge research and data-driven resources. 
  • Building Bridges: We have fostered meaningful partnerships within the Muslim American community and beyond. 
  • Pushing Boundaries in Psychology: We have pioneered groundbreaking and previously stigmatized research on Muslim American populations – and your voices anchored our breakthrough!
  • Shifting Narratives: We have catalyzed reform in community dialogues and societal narratives on mental health and well-being by championing education and resource dissemination.
  • Guidance through Knowledge: We have prioritized developing resources that are not just informative but also accessible and actionable, ensuring you can apply a research-baked solution in your life immediately.
  • Cultivating Future Leaders: Through mentorship, we are nurturing the next generation of scholars prepared to further serve the community and transform psychological research.

Zakat eligibility of The FYI

The Family & Youth Institute, or The FYI, is a well-known Muslim organization in the United States. It works to promote mental health and wellness by strengthening and empowering individuals, families, and communities through research and education. It has been working for many years to bring Islamic perspectives to understanding and promoting mental health in our communities.

It is dedicated to serving and supporting Muslims – safeguarding our deen, our families, and our future generations. Therefore, the work of The FYI comes in the category of ‘fi sabeelillah’ or the Path of Allah, within the eight categories where Zakat money can be used.

Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed for it and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah, and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah, And Allah, is Knowing and Wise.”
(Al-Tawbah 9:60)

According to scholars who widen the meaning of fee sabeelillah to include any activities that promote Islamic growth, The FYI is indeed eligible to receive part of the Zakat funds for its programs and services. I urge Muslims in America to support this organization through their donations, general charity, and through their Zakat. I ask Allah swt to strengthen and guide The FYI to continue its good work in supporting Muslims.

Shaikh Ali Suleiman Ali, PhD

About Shaikh Ali

Sh. Ali Suleiman Ali was born in Ghana where he spent his childhood studying with various Muslim scholars. He then moved to Saudi Arabia and enrolled in the Islamic University of Madina.  He graduated with a degree in both Arabic and Islamic Studies. Dr. Ali went on to complete his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Sh. Ali serves on the Advisory Council of The Family & Youth Institute. He is the Senior Imam and Director of the Muslim Community of Western Suburbs in Canton, Michigan. Additionally, he serves as the Director of Muslim Family Services in Detroit and is a council member of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA). He is also a member of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF) and the Association of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA).