Can one be true to faith and yet be involved in “public service”? Can being religious and faith-driven be a force for good while working in a “secular” world?
Often, the Western world sees the separation of church and state in black and white terms, but there is a case to be made for projects and organizations which do very important work in public service and navigate the world of faith and public service in a nuanced manner.
We at Muslim Public Service Network (MPSN) help young American Muslims answer these difficult, but relevant questions.
Scanning the landscape of the U.S., Red Cross and Red Crescent, Islamic Relief, and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) are examples of organizations that impact millions of lives around the world through their work – and are driven by their commitment to the same faith that inspired the founders.
Similarly, we at MPSN aim to inspire and engage young American Muslim leaders to enter public policy circles. We have a base of over 250 alumni, who have served America and the world in a very tangible manner. Since 1994, our unique curriculum and high caliber of program applicants has attracted many prominent Muslim scholars and experts who have enthusiastically volunteered their time and knowledge to support the program.
Each aspect of the MPSN program has proven to be a great potential for personal and career development and reinforces a Muslim identity based on knowledge, ethics, and service to society.
Fellows attend graduate-level academic seminars that offer an Islamic perspective on public policymaking. These seminars, taught by nationally known scholars and experts, will enrich participants’ knowledge of Islamic perspectives on the most urgent issues in public policy today.
As a result of this innovative program, talented Muslim Americans are on policy-making career paths where they can make meaningful contributions to American society. The impact of our fellows on politicians on Capitol Hill has been visible as many supervisors agree that the presence of MPSN fellows in government offices fosters a very positive image of Muslim Americans.
Our network of fellows has grown over the last decade and currently has over 250 alumni from 24 states. Fellows have served in influential offices such as the White House and U.S. Senate and have been taught by scholars and experts in government and public policy. Alumni currently hold positions on Capitol Hill, as well as the State Department, Department of Justice, and a variety of non-profit organizations such as the ACLU.
In a small way, we believe we are helping to address some of the bigger questions and challenges that faces America today – and are tangibly producing leaders in the public sphere who are secular in outlook, but rooted in their beliefs.
Sabith Khan is the Executive Director of the Muslim Public Service Network (MPSN).
Photo Credit: MPSN