By Adil James, MMNS
ISPU (the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding) has become one of the premium organizations in Southern Michigan, one which has reached out and has begun to play a role on the national and even international stage, despite having been organized only nine years ago in Canton.
ISPU aims to initiate projects, elevate discussion about Islam, and disseminate policy recommendations.
About 700 people attended the posh event at Burton Manor this past Saturday, an event at which chairs were covered in an extra gesture of formality, an event attended by many prominent members of the Democratic party, some of whom were to lose unfortunately in the elections this past Tuesday, and some who went to victory during the elections, for instance Michigan congressman John Conyers.
The event showcased the work commissioned by ISPU (including numerous studies and research products by college professors that were printed and placed on the banquet tables), and showcased the talented people who are intimately involved with ISPU, who include not only those Muslims who have for decades been involved in organizing Michiganâ€™s Muslim community, such as Ghalib Begg and Najah Bazzy, but also similarly connected people from around the country, such as Suhail Khan from Washington DC, who has been closely tied to the top levels of Republican politics, also for decades.
The theme of the conference was the increasing reach of this relatively young but disproportionately important think tank called ISPU, which recently opened an office in Washington DC after branching from Michigan.
ISPU has commissioned numerous research projects through the leading scholars in the relevant fields–research projects that are devoured by the other think tanks in Washington DC (including the conservative ones), for example one on Al Qaeda in Pakistan by Hyder Malik, another on the subject matter of Friday khutbas, another on Muslim mental health in the military.
Shireen Zaman, ISPUâ€™s executive director, explained that â€œ[we] literally now have a seat at the table,â€ citing DC functions at which she sat between important policy makers and could discuss ISPU issues.
ISPU chose Rashad Hussain, Obamaâ€™s envoy to the OIC, as the keynote speaker–he spoke about the growing pushback against the Muslim community as perhaps a positive sign in that it is the response to the growing activity of Muslims on the national stage.
For more information about ISPU please visit www.ispu.org.