Muslim philanthropy and the environment

The Problem

Religious donations play a huge role in the philanthropic world, but environmental causes only make up about 3% of US charitable giving. By extension, religious organizations are one of the highest recipients of philanthropy and possess the potential to be major contributors to environmental causes.

Though Muslims place high significance on charitable giving and volunteerism, few studies have been devoted to how Muslim populations and organizations donate their time and resources to environmental causes in the US or internationally. As the United States grows more diverse in its religious makeup, improved understanding of Muslims’ and other faiths’ attitudes toward and support for environmental causes is needed.

The Project

Under the supervision of Shariq Siddiqui, an assistant professor at the IUPUI Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and the director of the Muslim Philanthropy Initiative, research associate Sitashma Thapa is leading a qualitative and quantitative study on environmental resilience and sustainability from an Islamic philanthropy lens.

The project aims to better understand not just how much Islamic nonprofits and congregations contribute to sustainability causes, but also which causes are most supported. Causes examined include mitigation, adaptation, and environmental justice. The study aims to incorporate ERI tools, such as the Hoosier Resilience Index and the Hoosier Life Survey, to examine religious attitudes and giving in Indiana and include comparisons between the giving practices of other faiths.

Though the project will initially focus on US philanthropic activity, a second phase aims to encompass charitable giving globally. As part of this work, Thapa will lead roundtable discussions with religious leaders abroad on the topic of climate change and its relevance to Muslim philanthropy.  

The Path Forward

In June 2023, Thapa began a literature review of existing research on faith-based philanthropy, especially Islam, for sustainability and environmental resilience causes. Findings will be published in a special issue of the Journal on Muslim Philanthropy and Civil Society. Roundtables are being planned for 2024.

Published June 13, 2023