Regretfully, after nearly four years of operation, we will be publishing our final Inside Islam post next month. As part of its Academia in the Public Sphere initiative, the Social Science Research Council has provided us with funding for an unprecedented four consecutive cycles. Since August of 2008, we’ve published more than 500 blog posts, broadcast over 100 radio shows, and reached a following of 25,000 unique readers per month. And quite fittingly, just a few moments ago, we received our 10,000th follower on our @insideislam twitter feed.
Following the attacks of 9/11, there was support for efforts to highlight the underrepresented or neglected cultural, intellectual, and political aspects of Islam and Muslims. More than a decade later, while there are still lots of examples of prejudice and outright hostility towards Islam and Muslims, Americans’ attitudes do at least seem to be becoming more diverse. At the same time, economic challenges often illuminate underlying fears of a society, whether religious, cultural, racial, or otherwise and the recent recession has unfortunately led to an increased level of hatred and fear toward Muslims residents in the west and the Islamic faith in general, all around the world.
Regardless of one’s background or beliefs, it is essential that Americans of all ages become more culturally and religiously conversant. By 2050, it is almost definite that people of color will be the majority of the U.S. population, and Muslims are projected to become a more significant minority. Globally, Muslims are likely to near one third of the world’s population by the middle of the 21st century.
Financial constraints on academia and philanthropic initiatives have limited the amount of resources dedicated toward educating the public. Although fiscal changes and shifts in funding priorities have affected us here at Inside Islam and have prevented us from being able to publish new material after June, the importance of our mission will not change. Over the past four years, we’ve offered nuanced perspectives of Muslims and Islam, and have attempted to portray reality through both breadth and depth.
After we post our final piece in June, we will continue to host all of our content at insideislam.wisc.edu. Please continue to explore the wealth of material on a range of topics. Most importantly, communicate what you learn to others. Go out of your way to interact with others who are different from you, even if it is initially uncomfortable. Some media are likely to continue producing thinly sliced segments exoticizing Muslims and sensationalizing fear around Islam, but it will be the conversations between individual people that will strengthen our communities.
We thank you for your participation and contributions over the last four years and hope that you will continue to read and comment as we wind the project down over the next month. If you have ideas for ways that Inside Islam might further its mission beyond June, we would love to hear them. You can post them as comments below or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.