CIGA Vision

To be a premiere research institution for ideas, analysis, and policy recommendations on global affairs impacting the Muslim World, and its future relations with world powers based on shared principles, common interests, and mutual respect.

CIGA Mission

The Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) is an independent, nonprofit, research and public policy institution based in Istanbul, Türkiye, and affiliated with Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University. Its mission is “To conduct high quality research and analysis, educate the public and policymakers, train experts, and propose novel ideas and policy recommendations regarding global policies and relations impacting the Islamic world, and the development and progress of Muslim societies.”

Philosophy and values

CIGA shall conduct and carry out its research, policy analysis, and educational and training programs with particular focus on the different aspects of social development and democratic progress, and their interrelated disciplines and dynamics throughout the Muslim World, particularly in countries across the Middle East and North Africa, based on the following principles:

(1) Respect for the history and tradition of Islamic culture and civilization with the recognition that this civilization has been open to positive influence, change and reforms within its core values.

(2) Freedom and self determination as the foundation of human dignity to all peoples regardless of religious affiliation, race, gender, age, class or socio-economic status.

(3) Respect for civil liberties, political freedoms, human rights, and cultural pluralism.

(4) The institualization of a political culture emphasizing democratic traditions including citizen equality, citizen participation, pluralism, political tolerance, and free and responsible media.

(5) Formation of political systems that is based on representative government, transparency, accountability, and good governance.

(6) Application of equal justice under the rule of law through the creation of an independent judiciary and bill of rights.

(7) Establishment of a fair economic system based on social justice, public welfare and development, decent education and social services, and equal opportunity and access to national resources for all citizens.

(8) Promotion of national security as a comprehensive concept that includes not only geo-strategic and military aspects but also political, socioeconomic, cultural, and humanitarian dimensions.

Moreover, the work of the Center will be built on six core values. These core values shall drive the organization and set the foundation for the Center’s long-term strategic plan.  The core values are:

(1)  The production of the highest Quality research,

(2)  Integrity in methodology,

(3)  Objectivity in analysis,

(4)  Engagement and Cooperation with professionals and experts in the field,

(5)  Accessibility to the public, and

(6)  Relevance to policymakers.


Islam and Muslim Societies Studies (IMSS)

The Department of Islam and Muslim Societies Research (MSRT) works on studying the common interests and shared vulnerabilities of the Muslim World. This department focuses on three levels. The first level explores the conceptual and intellectual ground of what binds the Muslim World together as a unit of analysis. The second level pinpoints institutional structures and social practices within Muslim societies which form the transnational and interregional basis of fulfilling a viable site of Islamic values. The third level identifies fault lines and obstacles facing the proper development, strength and stability of Muslim societies. On a conceptual level, MSRT will map the values, concepts and purposes required to make the Muslim World a beneficial and sustainable method of analysis for policy and critique. Here, experts will investigate the legal, political, social and economic concepts essential to Islamic political thought. For example, teams may research the evolution of the concept of the Muslim Ummah, the role of Shariah in modern societies, the idea of sovereignty from an Islamic perspective, the idea of Jihad, or economic principles of Islamic thought. At an institutional level, researchers will take on the idea of waqf, hisba and zakat. By matching theory to practice, and locating exact sites of implementation of Muslim ideals in good governance and economic development, the last challenge is to identify faultlines within Muslim societies which form obstacles for prosperity and justice. Here our focus is on enduring challenges such as sectarianism, multiculturalism, secularism and civil-military relations.

Geopolitical and Strategic Studies (GPSS)

The Department of Geopolitical and Strategic Studies (GPSS) works to understand the strategic objectives of international actors and their relationship to the Muslim World. GPSS approaches the rise of regional and international powers by studying and determining the global strategic objectives of eight countries or regions as well as their specific strategic objectives in the Middle East and the Muslim world, in addition to surveying major strategic studies and analysis for these countries that aid in understanding their objectives, strengths and weaknesses. These studies are designed to present complex global challenges in a format that is accessible and issue oriented.

Islamophobia and Muslim Minorities Studies (IMMS)

The Department of Islamophobia and Muslim Minorities (IMMS) works to map and understand the dynamics and manifestations of Islamophobia around the globe as well as issues that touch upon the everyday life of Muslim minorities.  Hereby we understand Islamophobia as a form of anti-Muslim racism, a hostility of Islam that perpetuates negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination, and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from social, political, and civic life. Islamophobia’s manifestations are different depending on the specific socio-historical and cultural contexts of the societies, but it is employed in discourse and is rooted in structural racisms and thus projects itself also into the popular opinion of Islam and Muslims and increase of hate crimes committed against Muslims.

The IMMS’s objective is to study and understand Islamophobia’s roots from an epistemological and historical perspectives, outlining the political and cultural factors contributing to its rise, its intellectual framework, and the reasons for its pervasiveness. The cultural and social impact of Islamophobia, including its negative effects on its victims and practitioners will be part of the research agenda. Although regional focus of IMMS’s Islamophobia studies lies on the U.S and Europe, also the question of how Islamophobia is employed as part of Israel’s foreign policy and oppression mechanisms towards the Palestinian people, and its manifestations in Muslim societies. Namely, the historical developments of Muslim societies turning to the Western model of modernization and secularism has created a rhetoric and mechanisms that are used by governments and groups entangled in global power struggles reproducing Islamophobic narratives and discrimination. Thus, Islamophobia is not only a problem of non-Muslim, “Western” societies, but due to the infiltration of the ideological hegemony of the “North” it is also impacting societies in the Global South, especially because of the so called “war on terror”. 

IMMS’s second research area is Muslim minorities and challenges they face in their everyday lives being caught in the middle of discourses on freedom of religion, multiculturalism, immigration and integration, identity politics as well as Islamophobia. Muslim minorities in the U.S and North America, Europe and Australia, Central and South America, Asia and Africa are represented by immigrants and their descendants as well as convert Muslims who are often native - or even indigenous - to the countries in which live. However, just as the “born Muslims”, also converts have to face discrimination and hostility, although the racist discourse differs from that which is used against Muslims with an immigrant background.