In Islam, knowledge is considered a thing of great value, and Muslims are strongly encouraged to seek knowledge and strive for excellence. In recent years, the Muslim population in America has increased but Muslims are still considered as being a minority group. As a consequence, Islamic educational grants are limited, and non-profit organisations offering scholarships are an indispensable source for scholarship awards.
Categories of grants
Islamic educational grants or scholarships are geared towards Muslim students pursing secular and religious based study programs in and outside of the US. Stipulations are applicable and the grant seeker should make sure his objectives correspond with that of the funding body. These types of awards are generally organised into categories, aimed towards specific groups within the Muslim community.
Individual ethnic groups, women, or those attending Islamic schools are examples of categories. Location is another category, and funds are restricted or prioritised for students residing or studying in a specific location. Examine your options thoroughly.
The criteria of individual funding bodies may vary, although most aspire to support students pursuing careers where Muslims are under represented. Another common aim is to encourage greater integration of Muslims into the society at large to create improved relations between Muslim and non-Muslims.
States with a significant number of Muslim residents generally have private organisations, Mosques or local businesses that award educational grants to Muslim students, on condition that the applicant attends a local college or university. The Freedom and Justice Foundation of Texas is one example of a location based grant. Along with generalised requirements, the applicant must major in political science, journalism, communications and other 'public affairs related' courses, fields in which Muslims have lower visibility. On completion of the studies, the student must work for a year in the community with a Muslim non-profit organisation.
Muslims of various ethnicities can take advantage of minority based grants targeted towards African Americans, Hispanics and other ethnic groups. Scholarships may be more readily available than Islamic educational grants and should be researched. American Mideast Leadership Network (AMLN) is one of the few private organisations dedicated to awarding scholarships for Arab American Muslim students. An objective of AMLN is to encourage "...cultural exchange to promote mutual understanding between Americans, and Arabs." Recipients of the scholarship must be active within the Arab American community, and arrange college campus events every semester along with other requirements.
Islamic and overseas studies
Students wishing to pursue Islamic studies or study in a Muslim country should consider grants or scholarships offered in countries outside of the USA such as Saudi Arabia, UK and India. Although Study Abroad Funding is not an Islamic educational funding body, it does offer international scholarships for those interested in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at an undergraduate level in North Africa and the Middle East. The Alfaisal University has a full graduate scholarship for students studying science, medicine or engineering. It includes full tuition, a monthly allowance and a return ticket home for a single trip during the duration of the course of studies.
Grants for women
As with ethnic based grants, women are considered to be a minority; therefore Muslim women can take advantage of grants targeted towards women and other minority groups. Islamic based grants for women are difficult to find, so scholarships should be considered. The Muslim Women's Association is a private non-profit organisation in the USA dedicated to awarding funds for young Muslim women pursuing higher education. This association is very active in organising events to raise funds for awards, and also rely heavily on donations. Priority is given but not limited to US residents, and those of the DC area. Contact the organisation for details on eligibility requirements.
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- The Freedom and Justice Foundation: Texas Muslim Scholarship Fund
- American Mideast Leadership Network: Scholarship for Arab American Students
- IIEP Passport Study Abroad Funding: Middle East and Islamic Studies Scholarship
- The Alfaisal University: Undergraduate/Graduate Scholarship
- Muslim Women's Association: Scholarship for Muslim Women