Muslim Faith-Based Organization Shows How Faith and Public Service Intersect

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

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Sabith Khan

Sabith Khan is a social entrepreneur, researcher and founder of MENASA, a think-tank and policy shop engaged in issues related to MENA and South Asia. Sabith has worked for several years in the field of strategic communications, public affairs and nonprofit management, trying to understand and communicate issues pertaining to civil society, development and youth in the US and MENA region. Sabith has worked with several large global public affairs firms, on award-winning campaigns in healthcare, entertainment and government relations. During his stint at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, he ideated and executed a global award-winning campaign for Apollo Hospitals (Abby and Clio Awards). He has also worked in the Middle East managing accounts as diverse as Dubai Film Festival, Mohammed bin Rashid Foundation, Dubai International Film Festival, Dubai School of Government. Most recently, he served as the Executive Director of Muslim Public Service Network in Washington D.C, an NGO that engages and inspires young American Muslims to do public service. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Planning Governance and Globalization at Virginia Tech. He has been involved as a team member and leader in several international development projects including consulting for the Near East Foundation, in helping set up their Monitoring and Evaluation system for their offices across the MENA region. Sabith has a Master of Public administration and a Master of Arts in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. In Summer 2013, he conducted research on American Muslim philanthropy at the Lilly School of Philanthropy, Indianapolis, in an attempt to map giving behavior among Muslims over the last ten years i.e., 2002- 2012. Sabith’s research interests include Religion and Philanthropy, Youth issues in USA, Middle East North Africa and South Asia, Governance and Civil Society. Sabith is also the co-editor of Millennials Speak: Essays on the 21st century, a snapshot of the ideas and opinions of the global Millennial Generation. Twenty writers from five continents, a diverse mix of young academics, policy professionals, and future thought and creative leaders, cover topics from the legacy of the Arab Spring, the global food system, the U.S. student loan crisis, youth unemployment, to popular culture. Currently working: Founder and Executive Director, MENASA Publications: 1. Humanitarian Aid and Faith-Based Giving: The Potential of Muslim Charity - Unrest Magazine, George Mason University. May 2013. Accessible at http://www.unrestmag.com/about-unrest/past-issues/#sthash.GEqNfv0U.dpuf 2. Arab American Diaspora and American Muslim Philanthropy: impact of crisis situations on mobilization and formation of a “community.” American University in Cairo Press. Cairo. (NP). Expected Fall 2013. 3. Middle-East Peace Talks 2010: Investigating the Role of Lobbying and Advocacy Groups in Washington, D.C. as Spoilers. Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Spring 2011. Accessible at : http://www.maxwell.syr.edu/parcc/Research/intrastate/Spoilers_of_Peace_Project/ Blog: www.sabithkhan.wordpress.com

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