1973 North American Islamic Trust
The growth of America’s Muslim population (which rose from less than a million a generation ago to 3.5 million in 2015) has created demand for many more mosques and Islamic schools in the U.S. To help meet this need, a donor-funded endowment known as the North American Islamic Trust was created in 1973 to finance mosque construction for new congregations. A 2000 study found that over a quarter of all U.S. mosques had by then been funded by NAIT, and many more have been financed since. To ensure their perpetual use for Islamic purposes, NAIT now holds title to more than 300 Islamic centers in 42 states.
The trust also established a publishing arm to produce the texts needed for Islamic worship. In addition, NAIT created sharia-compliant mutual funds and business investments where congregations can build endowments to support Muslim religious and community life in the future.
There is controversy around NAIT. Some of the founders of the trust were members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is banned or watched closely by police in many countries due to a history of militancy. With extensive funding from Saudi Arabia, the trust sometimes supports Wahhabist strains of Islam that can become extremist. During the past decade, leaders of NAIT-owned mosques in Florida and New York have been convicted of supporting terrorist activity.
- North American Islamic Trust, nait.net