The Dr. Abdulmunim A. Shakir Scholarship is offered every year by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) to memorialize Shakir’s achievements and services to the community. This particular program is offered as an Islamic Society of North America Scholarship and it honors the memory of Dr. Shakir, a scholar and educator who towards the end of his academic career taught in Michigan, establishing the first Muslim World Studies program at Wayne County Community College. As one of the many goals of the Islamic Society of North America is decreasing interfaith barriers and increasing a broad understanding of Islam; this Islamic Society of North America scholarship works to increase education to those who win an award.
With the immense amount of humanitarian and interfaith dialogue which occurs as part of the group’s mission, one of the many hopes regarding the Islamic scholarship program is that it will serve to educate not only new members of the group but encourage further community involvement by students. While no form of community service is required of those who receive a Dr. Abdulmunim A. Shakir scholarship, the simple fact that students will have the financial assistance needed to better allow them to afford school helps foster the humanitarian interests of the funding organization.
Since the program’s inception, 20 different Dr. Abdulmunim A. Shakir scholarships have been given out every year. Each award gives out $1,000 to winning applicants which can be applied to the college of their choosing. In order to be eligible for the program students will need to have at least a 3.0 grade point average, be entering college for the first time as a freshman and be prepared to declare a major in any field. Though offered as an Islamic Society of North America scholarship, there does not appear to be any direct eligibility requirement that students be followers of the Islamic faith. However the Islimic scholarship application does require the submission of an essay detailing an applicant’s commitment to the faith, indicating that it is in fact specifically for Islamic students.
Some sources describe these Muslim scholarships as being dedicated specifically to ensuring Islamic students have access to financial aid in the first year of college, and the application does seem to agree with that assessment. All applications are judged based on both personal and academic merit. While the deadline for the program is normally July 29, in 2011 the deadline was pushed back to May 1. Those students looking apply in later years should check for updated deadline information to see if that deadline remains in following years.
Because the Islamic Society of North America is readily committed to humanitarian activities, another hidden eligibility requirement of the Dr. Abdulmunim A. Shakir scholarship is a clear dedication to community volunteer services. Looking over the application material, including the letter of recommendation form, it quickly becomes clear that the organization is looking for people who have not only volunteer activity experience but also have a strong potential to lead. Though not listed as eligibility requirements, the fact that the letter of recommendation specifically asks for information on an applicant’s volunteer experiences and their potential ability to lead suggests that it is in fact a requirement. Added to the fact that the application itself has space available for inputting volunteer experience, it becomes pretty clear that this is an important part of the overall requirements to win an award.
Islamic Society of North America scholarships for Muslim students can do a lot to help bridge the financial gap for a student’s first year of college. While the program does not offer a year to year renewal process, they are clearly meeting their goals of memorializing Dr. Abdulmunim A. Shakir by expanding the accessibility to education to as many new students as possible. A student who is applying as a first term freshman to their college who also has strong ties to the Islamic faith and plenty of volunteer experience would be wise to fill out an application and have it sent in by the deadline.