How do Muslim American youth experience character development (tarbiya) within the Muslim community? How do they learn and develop virtues? Who helps them build these virtues?

In this groundbreaking three-year project, we will use community-building activities and research studies to answer these important questions. We will start by building a
community of practice–a network of Muslim youth, those who nurture their development, and those who research their lived experiences. Through different community activities, we will build relationships with Muslim youth and communities to understand which virtues are experienced, where and how virtue learning happens, and what helps Muslim youth in their virtue journey.  Finally, we will use the insight gained from the community of practice to launch a longitudinal research study on character development.
This project will be led by Dr. Madiha Tahseen of The FYI, and Dr. Merve Balkaya-Ince of Baylor University. The research team is eternally grateful to the continued mentorship of Dr. Sameera Ahmed, Dr. Sarah Schnitker, and Dr. Karen Melton. Please see the “Meet our Team” section below for more information.

This project was made possible through the support of Grant 62353 from the John Templeton Foundation. All praises is due to Allah (God) for giving us the opportunity to serve the Ummah.

Project details

In this groundbreaking project, we wanted to answer the following questions:

  • How are we building our Muslim youth’s character and engaging in tarbiya in our communities?

  • What strategies and programs are the most effective in building youth character?

  • How can we teach others about the character development that happens in Muslim communities?  
We will focus on answering these questions using a community-based approach to identifying the issues, researching what factors affect the issues, and then coming up with solutions to share back with communities. We will engage in the following activities:

What do we hope to create as a result of this project?

You can read the executive summary of the project here.

Meet the Team

Madiha Tahseen, Ph.D.,
Project Leader
Merve Balkaya-Ince, Ph.D.,
Project Co-Leader
Sameera Ahmed, Ph.D.,
Project Advisor
Quaiser Abdullah, Ph.D.,
Project Advisor, Facilitator
Sarah Schnitker, Ph.D.,
Project Advisor
Karen Melton, Ph.D.,
Project Advisor
Aneesah Nadir, Ph.D.,
Project Advisor
Osman Umarji, Ph.D.,
Project Consultant
Afnan Shebib,
Project Administrator