Early 1993, the East African community started to come to Minnesota to flee the wars in their homelands to find a better life for them and their families. In June 1998, a group of scholars and community leaders became aware a need for community space. As many immigrants have done in the past, these scholars and leaders yearned for a place to preserve the community’s identity, culture, religion, and values. They established the first phase of Islamic Civic Society of America (Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque) in the heart of the West Bank in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. In April 2006, the current building of ICSA became for sale by the owner, in short period of time the full amount of $400,000.00 was raised and the building was purchased with community effort.
The Islamic Civic Society of America (ICSA) demonstrates the compatibility between Islamic and Civic principles in a democratic society. Members of ICSA are dedicated to governing for the common good while addressing the specific needs of the Muslim community. The Islamic Civic Society of America’s Operating Principles guide members in their commitment to advance ICSA identity while achieving goals.
The purpose of ICSA is to develop the civic capacity and civic infrastructure needed to advance our Islamic and democratic identity in each generation while achieving goals. The outcome contributes to producing a more just society.
Islamic Civic Society of America institution will develop the moral capacity of the people to produce a just society. Within a democratic society, moral capacity encompasses both religious precepts and Governing Document. ICSA understands that Islamic principles are compatible with civic principles to develop the capacity needed for ICSA to carry out its identity and mission.
Islamic Beliefs and Principles:
- Six Articles of Faith: Belief in Allah, Angels, Divine Books, Prophets and Messengers, Day of Judgment and Devine Fate
- Five Pillars of Islam: Declaration of Faith, Prayers, Charity, Fasting, and Pilgrimage
- Five Rulings of Islam: Mandatory, Recommended, Permissible, Discouraged, and Forbidden
- Five Essentials of Life: Protection of Religion, Life, Intellect, Property, and Dignity
- Four Main Sources of Islamic Legislation (Sharia): Qur’an, Hadeeth (Prophetic Traditions), Consensus of Islamic Scholars, and Legal Analogy
Democratic & Civic Principles:
- Human Capacity: We believe that human beings are created as a God’s (Allah) representatives on earth; and that every human being has worth and the capacity to know what is good, to grow in that knowledge, to co-create justice, and to govern for the common good. Every human being has a God-given purpose and gifts for contributing to the common good. All are called to develop both moral and civic capacity in order to fulfill purpose for self within a larger society.
- Democracy: As long we understand we are God’s representatives on earth—governance by the people—can be a good form of governance to safeguard human dignity and achieve the common good. Governance happens in the tension between democratic ideals: law and conscience, freedom and equity, diversity and unity. In our congregations and in our society, we need to develop the capacity of the people to govern for the good of the whole.
- Active Citizenship: We believe that faithful people have an obligation to be active citizens both in their congregations and in the larger society. An active citizen takes on the obligations of a governing member: to participate in public deliberation, decision making, and policy making in good faith to move towards the common good. No matter what structure of authority exists, a citizen cannot abdicate responsibility to govern for the good of the whole.
- Political Competence: We believe that in order to build the common good, faithful citizens have an obligation to come to the public square to deliberate with others of diverse opinions. Congregations have an obligation to develop the civic competence of members so they can participate effectively. We need to contribute to finding common ground among diverse viewpoints in order to govern for the common good.
- Institutional Efficacy (capacity): We believe that a just society is sustained through a strong civic infrastructure in which all individuals and all institutions organize to achieve that end. Congregations should be governing assemblies (“Majlis/Gole”) that build and sustain the civic infrastructure in alignment with institutions from other sectors.
Civic Standards for Decision-Making:
Those impacted by the issue (stakeholders) define the problem in light of the ICSA Operating Principles and the particular economic, political, social, and environmental situation in which the problem occurs.
- All those involved (stakeholders) actively contribute resources (time, knowledge, constituencies and dollars) for solving the problem.
- All those involved (stakeholders) participate in decision-making and policy creation.
- All those involved contribute to sustainability of the outcomes in accordance with ICSA’s identity and mission in the places where they have the authority to act.
Civic Organizing Disciplines:
- Governing Document
- Civic Leadership (Life work statements)
- Values- Driven Calendar
- Power Analysis
- Work Plan
- Public Meeting
- Evaluation and Civic Policy Making
Disciplines Require the Use of Political Skills:
- Critical Thinking-Distinguishing objective reality (facts) from subjective reality (interpretative) as both relate to principles and common goals.
- Open-ended questions to engage different perspectives.
- Strategic listening to determine and clarify self-interest as it relates to common goals.
- Suspending judgment to get divergent points of view.
- Ability to negotiate and compromise while staying accountable to civic principles.
- Fostering constructive tension
- Holding self and others accountable for follow through on agreements.