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Uplifting Black Muslim Youth

Uplifting Black Muslim Youth

Uplifting Black Muslim Youth

Uplifting Black Muslim Youth

Black Muslim Youth

Uplifting Black Muslim Youth

History of the project

Uplifting Black Muslim Youth

Step 1: Identify Issues

In 2009, conversations with Black Muslim Youth leaders highlighted that existing Muslim youth programs were not culturally sensitive or accessible for Black Muslim Youth. Some barriers included:

  • Racism
  • Structural barriers in immigrant-led national organizations
  • Lack of knowledge about the lived realities, needs, and strengths of Black Muslim youth
  • Inadequate support systems.

As a result, we committed to promoting the development of young people through The Uplifting Black Muslim Youth project. We began to work with community stakeholders to identify research questions and concerns. Given the diversity of Black Muslim communities, the focus of The FYI’s Black Muslim Youth Project is to understand the lived experiences of Black Muslim youth who were raised Muslims and are descendants of individuals who had been forcibly enslaved.

[Note: While there are some similarities and experiences shared with African immigrants, the experience of colonialism and immigration differs profoundly from the experience of enslavement in the U.S. and thus the focus of this research and toolkit is on indigenous Black Muslims.]


Step 2: Research

Uplifting Black Muslim Youth

Research questions were conceptualized working with Black Muslim youth leaders from the Muslim Alliance of North America (MANA). Given the lack of previous psychological research about Black Muslim Youth, we engaged in qualitative, exploratory research through seven focus groups to highlight important themes and issues that can inform future research directions. Individuals were recruited and invited to participate in the research study and give voice to their lived experiences. The study received IRB approval through Wayne State University and data collection was partially funded by The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU).

Seven focus groups with thirtyone individuals participated in the focus groups held in Detroit, MI. In these groups, participants were asked to share their personal thoughts and experiences on the role of the Black culture/racial identity, religion, family, friends, and Muslim community. The answers were also contextualized by understanding the group’s demographics (age, gender, caregiver, SES), important relationships (parents, friends, etc.), and religious socializing factors impact (space, place, time, individuals).

The initial findings were presented for community input, feedback, and confirmation at the Black Muslim Psychology Conference (2015, 2017, and 2018).

Uplifting Black Muslim Youth

The Academic Presentations and Publications associated with this study:

Step 3: Solution Seeking

Based on the research findings, we worked to identify community-based needs and assets through in-person and online forums. In 2018, we returned to The Black Muslim Psychology Conference and engaged in solution-seeking with approximately forty community leaders, clinicians, researchers, educators, and organizers. We also sought solutions through an online needs assessment shared with Black Muslim leaders nationwide to get a wider perspective on the community challenges/barriers, assets, and resource needs in parenting, youth development, mental health, and marriage. The online needs assessment had seventy-one participants with relatively even proportions of men and women.

Uplifting Black Muslim Youth

Step 4: Resource Development

Using the research findings and solution-seeking input to guide resource development, we developed three resources to help uplift Black Muslim youth.

Uplifting Black Muslim Youth

Uplifting Black Muslim Youth: Towards A Positive Youth Development Approach Book

Black Muslim youth stands at the cross-section of anti-Black racism and anti-Muslim sentiments. What is it like to identify with both of these uniquely marginalized groups? How are young Black Muslims thriving in these conditions? What can adults do to ensure optimal development? Following 10 years of work from the authors who have pioneered research on American Muslim youth and counseling Muslims, this groundbreaking book explores the complex factors impacting Black Muslim youth outcomes. Centering on the voices of Black Muslim youth, this book summarizes the latest research and is a road map for individuals and institutions invested in transforming feelings and experiences of marginalization, to those of strength and resiliency.

Uplifting Black Muslim Youth

Uplifting Black Muslim Youth Toolkit

Using the book as a guide, the toolkit gathers free resources to empower individuals and communities to uplift Black Muslim youth. Based on community feedback, two major sections were completed, one geared toward Black Muslims and the other for allies wanting to support, acknowledging each audience’s unique role in promoting growth.

Step 5: Dissemination

We work with partners to continue disseminating the research and resources through research, community meetings, presentations, and collaborations. If you would like to partner to disseminate these resources, please contact us!

Step 6: Evaluation

Black Muslim communities are diverse in their thoughts, experiences, and backgrounds. While we have attempted to include some of these variations throughout the book and toolkit, we fully acknowledge that we have not done justice to all the unique variations and expressions. We recognize that many topics, issues, and resources may still need to be included–as such we consider this effort to be preliminary and something to be improved upon.

We are committed to supporting and serving our community, suggestions for improvement and additional resources are welcomed and can be sent here.

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).