Our mission is to be the unifying federation of Islamic organizations of greater Chicagoland, the leading advocate of Muslim community interests and a catalyst for enriching American society.
For over two decades, the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC) has served as the unifying force that brings together over 400,000 Muslim Americans in the greater Chicago region, and now increasingly all of Illinois. With over 60 member organizations, ranging from mosques, to Islamic schools and community organizations based in the Chicagoland region, the CIOGC is made up of a very large and diverse body. Muslims are represented by a wide array of ethnicities, races and cultures including African Americans, Nigerians, South Asians, Arabs, Bosnians, Albanians, Turks, Latinos, Caucasians, and many more. The Council brings these extraordinary communities together in cooperation and collaboration to engage and work with the interfaith community, government, media, and the public in general.
Building Stronger Communities
For many Muslim Americans, the mosque is the hub of religious life. It is a place to pray, worship, and congregate as a community. Many Chicagoland mosques also offer weekend religious schools for children, sports activities, social and educational gatherings for adults and meeting places for picnics, and other fun and wholesome activities. Programs and services like these run by the Council's member organizations provide much-needed services to the ever-growing Chicago Muslim community. Among the members of the Council are also mosques and organizations that provide pre-marital and marital counseling, parenting workshops, food pantries, fitness classes, Zakat (charity), disaster relief, and other social services for the community. The Council sponsors member organizations' programs in cooperation with other mosques and Muslim institutions to help educate the community and train mosque leaders on how to expand and build on the services and programs they offer.
Networking, Working for the Common Good
During the year, the Council organizes multiple networking opportunities for Muslim Americans to come together. These meetings, often held at the mosques and Islamic centers of member organizations, highlight the host community while creating a dynamic platform for people to collaborate, share activities, accomplishments and ideas.
Through the Council, Muslim Americans from varying backgrounds and from across the region come together to work on projects that positively impact the Muslim community and the broader Illinois and American communities as well. Over the years, these projects have included civic engagement efforts like Illinois Muslim Action Day (IMAD), voter education and registration drives, hunger alleviation through food drives, organizing for immigration reform, public policy advocacy in Springfield for “Charity without Fear," taxi cab driver rights and defending Muslims' civil liberties.
Working in Coalitions, Interfaith Partnerships
The Council not only builds and nurtures unity within the Muslim American community, but it also leverages the strength that comes with unity to work in coalitions and partnerships on shared issues and on common concerns with community-based and interfaith groups as well. This further empowers the Muslim American voice while lending its strength to the broader communities in which we live. One of the primary ways the Council does this is through its work with Governor Pat Quinn's Muslim American Advisory Council (MAAC), in which Council plays an active role.
Other organizations the Council works with includes the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago (CRLMC), Archdiocese of Chicago, Presbytery of Chicago, the United Methodist Church, American Friends Service Committee, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA), Protestants for the Common Good, Chicago Center for Cultural Connections, United Power for Action and Justice and the Chicago Faith Coalition on Middle East Policy.
A Strong & Intelligent Voice for Muslim Americans
The Council actively engages with civil society and presents a strong and intelligent voice for Muslim Americans to advocate for topics, issues, and concerns relating to the Muslim American community. The professional staff and members of the board of directors, along with committee leaders and volunteers regularly meet with elected representatives and appointed officials at all levels of government on behalf of the Muslim American community. The meetings range from roundtables organized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to meetings with the Human Rights Commission in Chicago, the Governor of Illinois, Mayor of Chicago and elected state representatives.
Over the course of its relatively short history, the Council has achieved several significant milestones. The first accomplishment was the Council's work to cultivate an open, collegial forum for Chicago area Muslim leaders to share ideas and concerns and collectively resolve problems. From time to time, based on emerging needs in the community, the Council has also actively facilitated the formation of new organizations, such as the Muslim Civil Rights Center and, most recently, the Organization of Islamic Speakers.
Through its outreach efforts on behalf of its members, the Council has formed invaluable relationships with several faith-based groups, including: the Archdiocese of Chicago; Protestants for the Common Good; the Chicago Board of Rabbis; the Catholic Theological Union; other religious constituencies, including Methodists, Presbyterians, and Unitarians; and faith-based civic groups, such as the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), and the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions (CPWR).
Consequently, a significant portion of the interfaith dialogue in the Chicago area between Muslims and people of other faiths takes place under the auspices of the Council. Additionally, the Council has successfully collaborated on major cooperative projects with leading Chicago institutions. Among these projects are the historic "Chicagoans & Islam" gathering in November 2002 with United Power for Action & Justice (where, for the first time in the history of the US, about 2,500 Muslim Americans interacted on a one-on-one basis with fellow Americans from other faiths), various prominent interfaith events across the region - held independently and with partners like NCCJ, CPWR and the Office of Cardinal George; and prominent press conferences addressing a variety of topics including hate crimes, post 9-11 backlash, racial profiling, violation of civil rights of Americans and immigrants, with partners like the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), NCCJ, the Offices of City of Chicago Mayor, Richard Daley, Illinois Governor George Ryan and Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, Terry Hillard.
The Council has also been instrumental in successfully uniting Muslims from across the United States and Canada for the annual conventions of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), a world-renowned federation of North American Muslim organizations. The Council has been an indispensable partner with ISNA in organizing and managing the conventions, particularly the many conventions held in Chicago during the 1990s. In recent years, the ISNA annual convention has become one of the world's largest gatherings of Muslims, attended by approximately 50,000 people. During the Chicago conventions, the Council has also assumed full responsibility for organizing and hosting all interfaith events held during the convention.
In December 2001, the Council collaborated with the Office of Chicago Mayor, Richard Daley, to implement Chicago's first ever Islamic display, that was on display during the 2001-2002 holiday season at Daley Plaza, in the heart of downtown Chicago, along with Christian and Jewish holiday displays. In the early 2000s, the Council actively assisted the Chicago Police Department in the development and production of a diversity video to train and sensitize police officers and other security personnel, especially those assigned to Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports, about the concerns of Muslim-Americans subjected to security searches at airports and other facilities. This video has been resoundingly successful and, based on requests by police departments across the U.S., appears set for broad national use. The Council is responding to increasing requests for such sensitivity training assistance from police departments as well as other government agencies, such as the I.N.S. The Council's effective co-hosting of the annual ISNA conventions and especially its vehement post-September 11 advocacy on behalf of the Muslim community has gained it national prominence among Muslim organizations.
The Council hosts visiting delegations of international Muslim scholars and leaders from the Muslim World League, a distinguished international NGO that serves as an observer to the United Nations. Drawing upon its long-term relationships with Chicago's leaders, the Council arranges elaborate programs and events for delegations with leading academics, top government leaders, and interfaith and civic partners.
In 2006, the Council established its highly-anticipated monthly publication, The Chicago Crescent, a print and online newspaper devoted to stories for and about the Muslim community across Chicagoland. In addition, the group distributes an informative and engaging weekly E-Newsletter that covers CIOGC news as well as general topics of interest to the Muslim community to thousands of subscribers encompassing a wide range of Council supporters across Chicago, Illinois, and the U.S. The Council also routinely manages and responds to requests for participation from local and national organizations and media outlets on topics and issues relating to Islam and Muslims and regularly holds meetings with editorial staff at prominent local print, broadcast, and online news media outlets to advocate on behalf of the Muslim community to ensure fair, accurate, and diverse coverage.