WISE History

Daisy Khan co-founded American Society and served as the Executive Director of the American Society of Muslim Advancement (ASMA), a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering an American Muslim identity while building bridges between the Muslim community and the public through dialogues in faith, identity, culture, and arts.

To prioritize the improvement of Muslim-West relations and the advancement of Muslim women globally, Ms. Khan launched two cutting edge intra-faith 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 (2004) and WISE: Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (2006) programs seek to empower Muslim women and Youth to cultivate a leadership that is committed to social justice and which speaks with a credible, humane, and equitable voice in the Muslim community.

After eighteen years Ms. Khan stepped down as Executive Director of ASMA to assume a leadership role of WISE, a program that was spun off to be its own entity.

During her tenure at ASMA, Ms. Khan observed that throughout history, harmonious interfaith relations have existed between the world’s great religions, and at a time when many believed there is a “clash” between the West and the Muslim world, Ms. Khan challenged this wrong belief by increasing collaboration between the Abrahamic faith traditions to increase cooperative efforts where priorities overlapped.

Ms. Khan holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts and prior to doing community work, she worked as an architectural designer for 25 years. With a deep interest in the arts, Khan believes that one of the most effective mediums for bringing people together is culture and the arts. In the aftermath of 9-11 Khan identified a growing network of American Muslim artists from all fields including performing, literary, and visual arts and over time built an impressive database of artists including actors, comedians, filmmakers, musicians, painters, photographers, poets, Quranic reciters, sculptors, singers, and writers.

In 2002, Ms. Khan (ASMA) began building bridges between Americans and Muslims, by organizing major arts events showcasing the artistic and cultural expression of Muslims with people of other faiths. She went on to create groundbreaking interfaith arts programs to emphasize commonalities among the Abrahamic faith traditions. Over the past 18 years Khan has built an impressive track record of producing arts programs of high quality, high turnout, and high impact (listed below).

Reflections at a Time of Transformation:
Muslim Artists Reach Out to New Yorkers (2002)

Daisy Khan (ASMA) produced the largest public Muslim response to the September 11th attacks called “Reflections at a Time of Transformation: Muslim Artists Reach Out to New Yorkers.” Over 600 people from the tri-state area attended this event, held at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. The exhibit displayed specially- created works of art by a diverse group of 22 visual artists, poets, sculptors and musicians.

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Revealing Truths:
Muslim Women Artists and Continuity and Change

Daisy Khan (ASMA) provided publicity and audience outreach in 2004-2005 for a Ayse Turgut, who launched two independent curatorial projects in New York, Revealing Truths: Muslim Women Artists and Continuity and Change: Islamic Tradition in Contemporary Art

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Continuity and Change:
Islamic Tradition in Contemporary Art (2004)

NYC, Daisy Khan (ASMA) worked with Ayse Turgut, an independent curator to identify artists for an exhibition Continuity and Change: Islamic Tradition in Contemporary Art highlighting contemporary Muslim artists in the diaspora

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Same Difference (2004)

A theatrical production for healing titled, “SAME DIFFERENCE: NYC Faith Stories in Words, Music and Dance.” Taken from over 100 one-on one interviews with New Yorkers, SAME DIFFERENCE gave an opportunity to hear the true, uncensored voices of New Yorkers speaking about life before and after September 11.

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Festival Cordoba

ASMA produced Festival Cordoba, in collaboration with six interfaith partners, it was an evening of celebrating and learning through Music- was inspired by the efforts of young Jewish and Muslims New Yorkers to build bridges between their communities

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7 Women, 7 Heavens (2006)

At WISE’s launch in NYC, Daisy Khan produced an theatrical production with a cast of women for 7 Women, 7 Heavens highlighting major social taboos: forced marriage and domestic violence faced by Muslim women in the west.

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Cordoba Bread Fest (2005-2006)

“Córdoba Bread Fest explores the links between the Abrahamic traditions while strengthening understanding of our own faiths. In celebrating something as basic as bread, we can transcend our differences in a warm, nourishing environment where interfaith dialogue spontaneously happens.” -Daisy Khan

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Domestic Violence Street Theatre (2009)

WISE partnered with Bedari in Pakistan to establish a domestic violence awareness campaign in Pakistan to train police officers and community members, via Formal trainings and ordinary street theatre.

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In Good Faith:
Hope and Resilience (2011)

To mark the tenth anniversary of September 9, in 2011 Daisy Khan produced In Good Faith: Stories of Hope and Resilience under The American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA) to recognize ten years of interfaith work and accomplishments by various groups and individuals since September 11, 2001.

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Preventing ISIS/DAESH Recruitment (2017)

A short film produced by Daisy Khan with NYU film students to showcase step by step online recruitment of a young vulnerable Muslim student by ISIS.

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ZOOM Into Racism (2020)

As the world was rapidly fractures due to the #Covid crisis, WISE 2.0 an online collaborative platform was spearheaded by four Muslim women advisors as an ideal moment to strengthen bonds between Muslim women leaders, to help people through the maze of change, to persuade others to the path of personal transformation and to The online zoom convenings titled Muslim Women Zoom into the “Quran” or zoom into “Racism” feature scholars, activists, writers and poets who help the audience find meaning in the context of Islamic faith that has deep relevance to humanity at large. 500 Muslim women and women of other faiths have attended the WISE’s Zoom sessions.

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