Daisy Khan

Daisy Khan
Born Kashmir
Nationality American
Known for Executive Director of American Society for Muslim Advancement

Daisy Khan is the Executive Director of the Muslim identity while building bridges between the Muslim community and general public through dialogues in faith, identity, culture, and arts. Ms. Khan mentors young Muslims on challenges of assimilation, gender, religion and modernity, and intergenerational differences. Daisy Khan has been hailed as a healer, a link between moderate Islam and the West, and a force for equality for Muslim women. She and her husband proposed building a community center near ground zero which precipitated a national dialogue in the media about the effects of 9/11.

Early life

Daisy Khan was born in the foothills of the Himalayas in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Khan was raised in a Muslim household that was both traditional and remarkably forward-looking, where education was highly valued.

Khan attended a Christian missionary school, St. Patrick’s Presentation Convent School.[2] In an environment with an amalgam of Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims – harmony, tolerance and unity of religious believers was the primary mantra of her Kashmiri childhood.

Khan’s grandfather, Ghulam Khan, was a powerful influence in her life. The chief engineer for the state of Kashmir, he studied civil engineering at Harvard in the 1920s, and sent most of his children to college in the United States.

Transition to America

At the age of 16 with the support of her parents, Khan left for the United States to pursue an education in art and design. She arrived on Long Island, and lived in Jericho with an aunt and uncle.

After high school, she earned a degree from the New York School of Interior Design. In her early 20s, she decamped to Manhattan and embraced the professional life, pulling 80-hour weeks as an architectural designer.

Through this period, Khan continued wrestling with Islam: she was forced to juxtapose the peaceful Islam of her childhood memories with the violent struggles portrayed by the media during the rise of an Iranian theocracy.

Career Beginning

In what Khan recalls as an odd coincidence, her first large projects involved religious architecture. Khan’s first big project was helping design the Islamic Center of Long Island, now one of the New York area’s most prominent mosques and cofounded by her uncle. For her next project, Khan reached across religious lines and worked on designing a Hindu temple. Through her work with religious architecture and local devotees, Khan recognized how immigrants yearned to recreate their homelands in America.

Khan went on to work as project manager for what was then Shearson Lehman Brothers on the 106th floor of the World Trade Center. She remembers the lasting effect of the first foiled bombing in 1993. After Shearson she worked for the publishing company Primedia, where she oversaw the design of Seventeen magazine’s offices, and then later joined a telecommunications firm—but in her spare time assisted her husband, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, in community affairs and development.


In an effort to promote their vision of a harmonious and forward thinking Islam, in 1997 the couple established the non-profit group that is now called the American Society for Muslim Advancement. It is a New-York based non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening an authentic expression of Islam based on cultural and religious harmony through interfaith collaboration, youth and women’s empowerment, and arts and cultural exchange. She gained a reputation as a bridge builder.

Faith based Initiatives

Driven by its mission and core values, ASMA has created two main inter- and intra-faith programs.

To prioritize the improvement of Muslim-West relations and the advancement of Muslim women globally, Khan has launched two cutting edge intrafaith programs to spur movement by change agents among the two disempowered majorities of the Muslim world: youth and women. The MLT: Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow and WISE: Women's Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality.

Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow (MLT): Cultivates and empowers a global network of young Muslim leaders, creating a platform that can maximize their collective impacts as social change agents.

Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE): Builds a cohesive, global movement of Muslim women that will reclaim women’s rights in Islam, enabling them to make dignified choices and fully participate in creating just and flourishing societies.

Interfaith programs

In the aftermath of September 11, Khan created interfaith programs to emphasize commonalities among the Abrahamic faith traditions, such as a groundbreaking theater titled Same Difference and the interfaith Cordoba Bread Fest.

Women Empowerment

In 2006, Khan founded the Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE),[3] a group whose stated mission is to “empower” Muslim women around the world. She had grown increasingly disturbed by the questions people kept raising about the treatment of women in the Islamic world— stonings, honor killings, forced marriages, restrictions on women’s education. Since its inception, WISE has launched the first- of- its kind, web portal for Muslim women, the first global Muslim women’s Shura Council, and champions a call for “jihad against violence.” Daisy Khan and the WISE program manager recently published an article in the Huffington Post on “Training Afghani Imams to End Violence Against Women.” [4]

As the very first website dedicated to providing the story of Muslim Women, the WISE portal can be found at: http://www.wisemuslimwomen.org/.

Information on the Global Muslim Women’s Shura Council, which strives for gender equality as an intrinsic part of the Islamic faith, is available here: http://www.wisemuslimwomen.org/about/shuracouncil/ Drawing upon its members’ expertise in both Islamic jurisprudence and fields like history, political science, theology, sociology, and the arts, the Shura Council issues informed and religiously-grounded opinions on controversial issues of particular relevance to Muslim women in their personal, familial and societal lives.

The Global Muslim Women’s Shura Council statements on domestic violence, violent extremism, female genital cutting, and adoption can be read here: http://www.wisemuslimwomen.org/about/shuracouncil/#Shura%20Council%20Statements.


Amidst growing Islamophobia in the United States, Khan published her most recent article in the Guardian, “Islamophobia is America’s Greatest Enemy.”[5]

Khan also sat down for a Council on Foreign Relations Panel Discussion in June 2011 to discuss "Islam in America." [6]

In March 2011, Daisy Khan spoke against Peter King’s hearings on the “radicalization” of American Muslims. Watch Khan further organized a Rally against Peter King’s hearings titled “I am a Muslim, Too” on March 6, 2011 in Times Square, NYC.[7]

In the realm of civil liberties, Daisy Khan addressed the question of, “Is the NYPD Really Against Muslims?” in the Huffington Post [8]

In response to 10th anniversary of September 11, Khan brought together 300 people of all religions for a night of remembrance. The event, entitled In Good Faith: Stories of Hope and Resilience,[9] highlighted hundreds of bridgebuilding projects undertaken since September 11, while also paying tribute to the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim families of 9/11 victims.


Event appearances by year

2012: http://asmasociety.org/calendar/index.html
2011: http://asmasociety.org/calendar/2011.html
2010: http://asmasociety.org/calendar/2010.html
2009: http://asmasociety.org/calendar/2009.html
2008: http://asmasociety.org/calendar/2010.html

Publications and Social Media

Media Features Highlights New York Times -- "Daisy Khan, An Eloquent Face of Islam" [10]
MORE Magazine -- "Mosque's Daisy Khan Not Backing Down" [11]

Daisy Khan’s most recent article for The Guardian.[12]

Daisy Khan serves as an “On Faith” panelist and writes opinion-editorials for The Washington Post.[13]

TIME Magazine listed Daisy Khan among the TOP 140 Twitter feeds of 2012
Glamour Magazine listed Daisy khan among the TOP 7 women to follow on Twitter


WISE’s Imam Training Project (ITP) in TIME Magazine profiled her in their special ten year September 11 anniversary edition.

  • Promoting Peace & Interfaith Understanding- Interfaith Center of New York
  • Lives of Commitment - Auburn Theological Seminary
  • Annual Faith Leaders- Affinity Health Plan 2007
  • 21 Leaders for the 21st Century- Women’s E News
  • Hall of Fame- Jericho High School
  • Women Who Inspire Other Women”- Arab American Support Center
  • Prophetic Voice- Shalom Center
  • Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights-Unitarian Universalist Service Committee- 2011
  • Peace Award - City of Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Building bridges through Interfaith Dialogue- IQRA Education Foundation
  • 1st Charles Ansbacher Fellow


  • Hunt Alternatives – “Prime Mover”
  • Clinton Global Initiative: Commitment to Action
  • New Seminary Honorary Interfaith Minister
  • TIME Magazine

Media Features

See also


  1. ^ "Daisy Khan: Executive Director and Co-Founder, American Society For Muslim Advancement". American Society for Muslim Advancement. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  2. ^ "Presentation Convent Higher Secondary School". Retrieved 2012-04-16. 
  3. ^ "WISE Muslim Women". Retrieved 2012-04-16. 
  4. ^ "Daisy Khan:Training Afghani Imams to End Violence Against Women". Huffington Post. 2012-02-21. Retrieved 2012-04-16. 
  5. ^ Khan, Daisy (2012-02-09). "Islamophobia is America's real enemy". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-04-16. 
  6. ^ http://www.cfr.org/religion/islam-america-video/p25188
  7. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7l7oYS0AP0&feature=related
  8. ^ http://www.asmasociety.org/about/dk_huffpost.pdf
  9. ^ http://www.asmasociety.org/emails/asma/2011sept16_02.html
  10. ^ Grynbaum, Michael M. (2010-11-12). "Daisy Khan, an Eloquent Voice for the Islamic Community Center Near Ground Zero". The New York Times. 
  11. ^ http://www.more.com/news/politics-opinion/mosques-daisy-khan-not-backing-down
  12. ^ Khan, Daisy (2012-02-09). "Islamophobia is America's real enemy". The Guardian (London). 
  13. ^ The Washington Post http://onfaith.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/panelists/daisy_khan/ . 

External links

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