Based within Georgetown University’s Prince Alaweed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Muslims in American Public Square (MAPS) was a five-year initiative (1999-2004) whose mission was to “examine the role and contribution of Muslims in the American civic life.” MAPS’s research on this topic was funded by a $1.25 million grant from Pew Charitable Trusts.
MAPS was composed of numerous scholars, some of whom were involved in radical Islamic organizations such as the American Muslim Alliance, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the International Institute of Islamic Thought, and the United Association for Studies and Research.
In May 2001, MAPS sponsored a National Leadership Focus Group which included the participation of representatives from the American Muslim Alliance, the American Muslim Council, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Assembly of North America, the Islamic Center of America, the Islamic Circle of North America, the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim Alliance of North America, the Muslim American Society, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, and the Muslim Students’ Association of the U.S. and Canada. Among the representatives in attendance were Abdullah Idris Ali, Nihad Awad, Ihsan Bagby, Shaker Elsayed, John Esposito, Souheil Ghannouchi, Wallace Deen Muhammad, Zulfiqar Ali Shah, Muzammil Siddiqi, and Eric Vickers.
MAPS’s major projects included:
(a) publishing two volumes wherein thirty commissioned scholars discussed “research on the participation, contribution and role of the Muslim community in American civic life.”
(b) publishing a Directory of Muslim Civic Organizations and Centers/Mosques, and Who’s Who Among American Muslims: The latter includes biographical information on approximately 1,000 Muslim civic leaders in America who have achieved prominence in public affairs, academia, science and technology, media, business and commerce, sports and entertainment, and civic organizations.
(c) arranging four one-day regional seminars in New York, Atlanta, Chicago, and Los Angeles, to bring commissioned scholars together with Muslim religious and community leaders to exchange ideas on Muslim participation in American civic life
(d) conducting a national survey to gain insight into the views of Islamic centers/mosques, community leaders, and Muslim congregants:
The Executive Summary of this survey, published in 2004, states the following:
“In a few short years [since 2000], [American Muslims] have undergone massive political shifts … Muslims are a politically active group. A high proportion of registered Muslim voters (95%) plan to vote in national elections … [There has been a] dramatic shift away from the Republican Party and President Bush versus the 2000 election. … In the post-9/11 world, Muslim identity is key in voting decisions. Nearly seven-in-ten Muslim voters say being a Muslim is important in their voting decision. … [T]hree-in-five American Muslims are dissatisfied with the way things are going in American society today … Muslims also have a strong desire for political unity within their religion. …A majority of American Muslims say that American Muslims should vote as a bloc for president this year. … Muslims overwhelmingly back changing U.S. policy in the Mideast as the best way to way wage the war on terror. Muslims would prefer the government backed a Palestinian state and was less supportive of Israel. … Slightly more than a third of Muslims say that in their own experience, Americans have been respectful of Muslims, but that American society overall is disrespectful and intolerant of their culture.”
The Center was renamed the Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in 2005.