The organized Muslim community at Stanford has a history that dates back to the 1950s when the first Islamic Society at Stanford University (ISSU) was formed to promote cultural and social events for its members. In the 1990s a wave of second generation Muslim students entered the university and expanded the focus of the organization. To fulfill their goals, a host of new organizations grew out of the ISSU in the mid 90s including the Muslim Student Awareness Network, the Turkish Student Association, and Pakistanis at Stanford, among many others. Through this decade, the organizations have continued to grow and have strengthened their presence on campus to accommodate the increased interest in the Muslim world and the energy of its growing constituencies.
On May 29, 2013, Stanford University formally announced plans to establish The Markaz: Resource Center for Engagement with the Cultures and Peoples of the Muslim World. The new resource center, which was approved by Provost John Etchemendy, is located in the Nitery Building of Old Union.
The Markaz, whose name comes from the Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew, Turkish and Urdu word for "center," is unique in its cultural focus and goal of serving all students interested in Africa, the Middle East, and central, south and southeast Asia, as well as the American Muslim experience.
The creation of the center is a result of advocacy over the years by faculty, staff and students. The center seeks to accommodate personal, institutional and educational needs of the campus community by promoting and enhancing cultural diversity. It serves as a safe space for a whole community of students on the Stanford campus.
The center serves the community that identifies with or has an interest, scholarly or otherwise, in Islamic culture, the Muslim world, global Muslim communities and non-Muslim minorities within the Muslim world.
The resource center serves as an entry point for students who want to get more information about opportunities to engage outside the classroom with the cultures, faiths and peoples of this vast region. The Markaz aims to facilitate dialogue and discussion around the critical social and political issues that have been at the forefront of the national conversation since 9/11. The Markaz provides space to, and serves as a hub for, the many students and student groups that identify academically, culturally and otherwise with the Muslim world.