A New Year's Jihad Retreat By Joe Kaufman in the New York Daily News (January 30, 2004), the organizations "have held conferences featuring speakers accused of terror ties and have published material supporting suicide bombings against Israel."
Both ICNA and MAS stress the need for providing forums for Muslim youth. ICNA, in order to address this "need," has created an apparatus called Young Muslims (YM). Likewise, MAS has established its own Youth Division. Through the two groups, children can learn the tenets of radical Islam by attending winter and summer camps.
Prior to 9/11, the camps would be referred to as "Jihad Camps," but given the greater meaning of the term (holy war), why attract more attention than what's necessary? Today, though, while the name has changed, the same radical message is taught. In YM Newsletter Issue 3 (2002/2003), Young Muslims extols the virtues of the works of Osama bin Laden's mentor, Abdullah Azzam. According to YM Newsletter Issue 4 (2003), one of its goals is to assist in outreach "designed to call people to Islam, strengthen their belief in it, and organize them to work and to wage jihad in its cause."
From December 31st of this year through January 2nd, the Tampa chapter of MAS will be launching a new camp, or as they put it, an ‘ILM & TARBIYAH RETREAT. Taking place in Lithia, Florida, at the Cedarkirk Camp & Conference Center, the theme of the event is "A Generation with a Mission." That title is a little more subdued than the YM August 2002 "Planning for Our Akhira (afterlife)," but make no mistake, the speakers are just as extreme.
Featured at the "retreat" is the former President of MAS-Chicago, Chantal Carnes. Carnes is well known in the radical Islamist American community; she has given speeches at such venues as ICNA, MAS and Muslim Students Association (MSA) conventions. In addition to being a lecturer, she has also hosted a radio program for the Islamic Broadcasting Network (IBN). Each half-hour program was spent reviewing a different book.
On the occasion of July 22, 2003, Carnes and a guest had reviewed the title ‘Imam Shaheed Hassan Al-Banna - From Birth to Martyrdom.' During the show, she lathered Al-Banna, the founder of the violent Muslim Brotherhood, with praise. She stated, "Every movement I can think of – every organization I can think of – in a way or another, is tracing back to what he started." She said he had "inspired" her, and that "His life was captivating." She said she liked "the fact that he was a shaheed (martyr)," and that she was going to model Al-Banna's "personal development" with that of her own.
According to former federal prosecutor John Loftus, "Al Banna was a devout admirer of Adolph Hitler and wrote to him frequently. So persistent was he in his admiration of the new Nazi Party that in the 1930's, Al-Banna and the Muslim Brotherhood became a secret arm of Nazi intelligence."
Carnes also gushed about the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood started with only four persons. She exclaimed, "It's not quantity, it's quality!" According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Muslim Brotherhood is a "terrorist group"… "The Brotherhood shares with HAMAS a complete rejection of Western values and Communism and calls for the establishment of a pan-Islamic state founded on the basis of shari'a, or Islamic law… The two movements similarly share the view that Israel is the theological archenemy of Islam… As the precursor of the HAMAS movement, the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza promoted the long-term strategy of creating the foundations of a Muslim state that would eventually become powerful enough to destroy Israel."
On another occasion, Carnes and her guest had reviewed a book (‘To Be A European Muslim') written by the grandson of Hassan Al-Banna, Tariq Ramadan. She admiringly referred to Ramadan's writing as being "deep." She stated, "He's actually not that old to be writing about such deep concepts." In August of 2004, Ramadan made the news when the Department of Homeland Security barred him from entering the United States by revoking his visa and work permit. Cited was the Immigration and Naturalization Act, which denies entry to aliens who have used a "position of prominence within any country to endorse or espouse terrorist activity."
Chantal Carnes thoughts on Al-Banna and his lineage are nothing new to MAS, for as Daniel Pipes states on his website (in a piece concerning a 2004 paintball event held by MAS-Tampa), "the Muslim American Society is the U.S. face of the Muslim Brotherhood."
The other featured speaker for the MAS Retreat is Mazen Mokhtar. Mokhtar is the Youth Division Head of MAS-New Jersey and the Khateeb (sermon-giver) of Masjid Al-Huda and the Institute of Islamic Studies. Mokhtar is also associated with the terrorist group Al-Qaeda.
In August of 2004, shortly before he was to speak at a Young Muslims camp in Pennsylvania (‘A Few Good Men'), the U.S. government accused Mokhtar of assisting Al-Qaeda through the use of a web site he had created. The web site was www.minna.com, and it was a "mirror site" (replica) of www.azzam.com (Azzam Publications), a site named for Abdullah Azzam that was soliciting funds and recruiting Taliban, Chechen and Al-Qaeda mujaheddin (holy warriors) for terrorist operations overseas. Mokhtar's site was to be used as a back-up for Azzam Publications, when Azzam was shut down after the 9/11 attacks, so that fundraising and recruitment could continue.
On Azzam Publications, in an "APPEAL FOR PROFESSIONAL WEB DESIGNERS," it is stated, "…we hope inshallah, that Allah would reward you for any time or effort spent in assisting our aspiration of providing an independent media source from the Islamic perspective." It seems that Mokhtar answered the appeal.
His reward? A search was conducted on the New Jersey home of Mokhtar, and copies of Azzam Publications sites were found on his computer's hard drive and files. These sites were being run by a British citizen named Babar Ahmad, a man thought to have been part of an operation headed by captured Al-Qaeda mastermind, Khalid Sheik Mohammed.
On Mokhtar's Minna site, in the page titled ‘Jihad in Chechnya,' a video CD depicting terrorist operations was being sold through the website. On the bottom of the page, it states, "Any enquiries regarding the content of this CD should be directed to the Islamic Army of the Caucasus, to Field Commander Shamil Basayev, Field Commander Khattab or their spokesman Movladi Udogov." In September of 2004, Shamil Basayev claimed responsibility for the Beslan school massacre in Russia, which left over 300 dead, mostly children.
Acquaintances of Mokhtar's expressed "surprise" at the notion that he would be affiliated with something such as this -- that his speeches were "mild," not extreme. However, when one looks at his past, prior to his involvement with Al-Qaeda, one gets an entirely different picture.
On an Internet newsgroup forum, from the years 1992 to 1996, Mazen Mokhtar had made some very disturbing (and somewhat comical) remarks about the terrorist group Hamas and the concept of suicide bombing. Some of his statements are as follows:
"One of the reasons of my support for Hamas is that they have very high moral standards… If their standards were lax, they would have lost my support, and moral standards can't get any more lax than killing those who are innocent."
"Bombing houses is best left to the IDF (IOF?) they are the experts in the field. Hamas prefers to invest its limited resources in doing good."
"I have read the [Hamas] covenant. I support the covenant…"
"Hamas's path is the only path in the history of the Palestinian struggle against Israel that has produced results, and the results are impressive, I must say. I think it is clear that Hamas has the wider vision and the better plan."
"…the operations of HAMAS are heroic."
"In any action of mass self defense, there is the possibility that some innocent people will die… I have enough trust in Hamas to feel that no one is killed before being identified as a collaborator."
"Yes, [suicide bombing is allowed], assuming that the targets are legitimate (and the suicide bombing is a sacrifice, not a suicide.)"
"[Blowing yourself up is not considered suicide], because it's an effective method of attacking the enemy and continuing jihad… These are not people [sic] committing suicide because they are fed up with life, these are people who are sacrificing their lives for Allah."
The Muslim American Society of Tampa cannot plead ignorance, with respect to the views of the two featured speakers it is sponsoring at its retreat. This is the case not just because MAS has associated with these two in the past, but because quite simply, the viewpoint of the organization is identical!
On the MAS-Tampa website, one can peruse through an e-library filled with many significant Islamic texts, all written or translated in English. Included in these works is a text entitled Sahih Bukhari, whose section, ‘Fighting in the Cause of Allah (Jihaad),' begins with the following: "I asked Allah's Apostle, ‘O Allah's Apostle! What is the best deed?' He replied, (1) ‘To offer the prayers at their early stated fixed times.' I asked, ‘What is next in goodness?' He replied, (2) ‘To be good and dutiful to your parents.' I further asked, what is next in goodness?' He replied, (3) ‘To participate in Jihad in Allah's Cause.'"
Also of relevance on MAS-Tampa's e-library are a number of discourses, letters and prayers authored by Hassan Al-Banna, himself. In one of the letters dated 1947, entitled ‘Toward the Light,' there is contained a foreboding message. In it, Al-Banna lists a set of political, judicial and administrative goals. They are: "(1) An end to party rivalry, and directing the political forces of the nation into a unified front; (2) Amending the law, such that it conforms to all branches of Islamic legislation; and (3) Reinforcing the armed forces, and increasing the number of youth groups; igniting in them the spirit of Islamic jihad."
With all of this in mind, one has to wonder how long it will take the participants in a jihad camp or retreat to accomplish the "deeds" and "goals" set forth in Sahih Bukharih and Al-Banna's letter. Will they take the time to learn and grow as mature adults, or will they skip right to the third of each (Jihad) and move immediately towards the here-after (Akhira)?
The earlier discussion has made it clear that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has enjoined us to believe in five articles of Faith:
Belief in one God. Who has absolutely no associate with Him in His divinity.
Belief in God's Angels.
Belief in God's Books, and in the Holy Qur'an as His Last Book.
Belief in God's Prophet, and in Muhammad (God's blessing be upon him) as His Last and Final Messenger.
Belief in life after death.
These five articles make up the bedrock of Islam. One who believes in them enters the Muslim community. But by a mere verbal profession alone, one does not become a complete Muslim. To become a complete Muslim one has to fully carry out in practice the instruction given by Muhammad (peace be upon him) as ordained by God. For belief in God makes practical obedience to Him incumbent; and it is obedience to God which constitutes the religion of alone is your God, and this means that He is your Creator and you are His creature; that He is your Master, and you are His slave that He is your Ruler and you are His subject. After having acknowledged Him as your Master and Ruler, if you refuse to obey Him you are a rebel on your own admission. Along with faith in God you believe that the Qur'an is God's Book. This means that you have admitted all the contents of the Qur'an to be from God. Thus it become your bounden duty to accept and obey whatever is contained in it. Along with that you have admitted Muhammad (peace be upon him) to be God's Messenger, which means that you have admitted that each and every one of his orders and prohibitions are from God. After this admission obedience to him become your duty. Therefore you will be a full-fledged Muslim only when your practice is consistent with your profession otherwise your Islam will remain incomplete.
Now let us see what code of conduct Muhammad (peace be upon him) has taught as ordained by God Al-mighty. The first and foremost things in this respect are the 'Ibadat' the Primary Duties which must be observed by each and every person professing to belong to the Muslim community.
'Ibadat' is an Arabic word derived from 'Abd' (a slave) and it means submission. It portrays that Allah is your Master and you are His slave and whatever a slave does in obedience to and for the pleasure of his Master is 'Ibadat. The Islamic concept of 'Ibadat' is very wide. If you free your speech from filth, falsehood, malice and abuse and speak the truth and talk goodly things and do all these only because God has so ordained to do they constitute 'Ibadat, however secular they may look in semblance. If you obey the law of God in letter and spirit in your commercial and economic affairs and abide by it in your dealings with your parents relatives friend and all those who come in contact with you verily all these activities of yours are 'Ibadat. If you help the poor and the destitute give food to the hungry and serve the ailing and the afflicted persons and do all this not for any personal gain of yours but only to seek the pleasure of God, they are nothing short of 'Ibadat. Even your economic activities the activities you undertake to earn your living and to feed your dependants are 'Ibadat if you remain honest and truthful in them and observe the law of God. In short all your activities and your entire life are 'Ibadat if they are in accordance with the law of God and your heart is filled with His fear and your ultimate objective in undertaking all theses activities is to seek the pleasure of God. Thus whenever you do good or avoid evil for fear of God, in whatever sphere of life and field of activity you are discharging your Islamic obligations. This is the true significance of 'Ibadat, viz. Total submission to the pleasure of Allah, the moulding into the patterns of Islam one's entire life, leaving out not even the most insignificant part thereof. To help achieve this aim a set of formal 'Ibadat (worships) has been constituted which serves as a course of training. The more assiduously we follow the training, the better equipped practices. The 'Ibadat are thus the pillars on which the edifice of Islam rests.
Salat is the most primary and the most important of these obligations. And what is Salat? It is the prescribed daily prayers which consist in repeating and refreshing five times a day the belief in which you repose your faith. You get up early in the morning, cleanse yourself and present yourself before your Lord for prayer. The various poses that you assume during your prayers are the very embodiment of the spirit of submission; the various recitals remind you of your commitments to your God. You seek His guidance and ask Him again and again to enable you to avoid His wrath and follow His Chosen Path. You read out from the Book of the Lord and express witness to the truth of the Prophet and also refresh your belief in the Day of Judgment and enliven in your memory the fact that you have to appear before your Lord and give an account of your entire life. This is how your day starts. Then after a few hours the Muezzin calls you to prayers and you again submit to your God and renew your covenant with Him. You dissociate yourself form your worldly engagements for a few moments and seek audience with God. This once again brings to the fore of your mind your real role in file. After this rededication you revert to your occupations and again present yourself to the Lord after a few hours. This again acts as a reminder to you and you once more refocus your attention an the attention on the stipulations of your Faith. When the sun sets and the darkness of the night begins to shroud you, you again submit yourself to God in Prayers so that you may not forget your duties and obligation in the midst of the approaching shadows of the night. And then after a few hours you again appear before your Lord and this is your last prayer of the day. Thus before going to bed you once again renew your Faith and prostrate before your God. And this is how you complete your day. The frequency and timings of the prayers never let the object and mission of life be lost sight of in the maze of worldly activities.
It is but easy to understand how the daily prayers strengthen the foundations of your Faith prepare you for the observance of a life of virtue and obedience to God, and refresh that belief from which spring courage, sincerity, purposefulness, purity of heart, advancement of the soul, and enrichment of morals.
Now see how this is achieved. You perform ablution and perform it in the way prescribed by the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). You also say your prayers according to the instructions of the Prophet. Why do you do so? Simply because you believe in the prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and deem it our bounden duty to follow him ungrudgingly. Why don't you intentionally miss-recite the Qur'an? Isn't it so because you regard the Books as the Word of God and deem it a sin to deviate from its letter? In the prayers you recite many a thing quietly and if you do not recite them and make any deviation therefrom there is no one to check you. But you never do co intentionally. Why? Because you believe that God is ever watchful and He listens all that you recite and is aware of thing open and hidden. What makes you say your prayers at places where there is not one to ask you to offer them or even to see you offering them? Isn't it so because of your belief that God is ever looking at you? What makes you leave your important business and other occupations and rush to1wards the mosque for prayers? What makes you terminate your sweet sleep in the early hours of the morning to go to the mosque in the heat of the noon and to leave your evening entertainment's for the sake of prayers? Is it anything other than sense of duty-your realisation that you must fulfil your responsibility to the Lord, come what may? And why are you afraid of any mistake in prayer? Because your heart is filled with the fear of God and you know that you have to appear before Him on the Day of Judgment and give an account of your entire life. Now look! can there be a better course of moral and spiritual training than prayers? It is this training which makes a man a perfect Muslim. It remains him of his covenant with God, refreshes his faith in Him, and keeps the belief in the Day of Judgment alive and ever-present before his mind's eye. It makes him follow the Prophet and trains him in the observance of his duties.
This is indeed a strict training for conforming one's practice to one' ideals. Obviously if a man's consciousness of his duties towards his Creator is so acute that he prizes it above all worldly gains and keep it refreshing through prayers he would certainly be in visiting the displeasure of God which he all along striven to avoid. He will abide by the law of God in the entire gamut of life in the same way as he follows it in the five prayers ever day. This man can be relied upon in other fields of activity as well for if the shadows of sin or deceit approach him he will try to avoid them for fear of the Lord which would be ever present in his heart. And if even after such a vital training a man misbehaves himself in other fields of life and disobeys the law of God it can only be because of some intrinsic depravity of his self.
Then again you must say your prayers in congregation and especially so the Friday prayers. This creates among the Muslims a bound of love and mutual understanding. This arouses in them the sense of their collective unity and fosters among them national fraternity. All of them say their prayers in one congregation and this inculcate in them a deep feeling of brotherhood. Prayers are also a symbol of equality for the poor and the rich the low and the high the rulers and the ruled the educated and the unlettered, the black and the white all stand in one row prostrate before their Lord. They also inculcate in them a strong sense of discipline and obedience to the elected leader. In short prayers train them in all those virtues which make possible the development of a rich individual and collective life.
There are a few of the myriads of benefits we can derive from the daily prayers. If we refuse to avail ourselves of them we and only we are the losers. Our shirking the prayers can only mean one of the two things. Either we do not recognise prayers as our duty or we recognise them as our claim to Faith shall be a shameless lie, for if we refuse to take orders we no longer acknowledge the Authority. In the second case if we recognise the Authority and still flout His Commands then we are the most unreliable of the creatures that ever tread the earth. For if we can do this to the highest authority in the universe, what guarantee is there that we shall not do the same in our dealings with other human beings? And if double play overwhelms a society what a hell of discord it is bound to become!
What the prayers seek to serve five times a day fasting in the month of Ramadhan (ninth month of the lunar year) does once a year. During this period from dawn to dusk we eat not a grain of food nor drink a drop of water no matter how delicious the dish or how hungry or thirsty we feel. What is it makes us voluntarily undergo such rigours? It is nothing but faith in God and the fear of Him and of the Day of Judgment. Each and every moment during our fast we suppress our passions and desires and proclaim by our doing so the supremacy of the Law of God. This consciousness of duty and the spirit of patience that incessant fasting for full one month inculcates in us help us Strengthen our faith. Rigour and discipline during this month bring us face to face with the realities of life and help us make our life during the rest of the year a life of true subservience to His Will.
From yet another point of view fasting has an immense impact on society for all the Muslims irrespective of their status must observe fast during the same month. This brings to prominence the essential equality of men and thus goes a long way towards creating in then sentiments of love and brotherhood. During Ramadhan evil conceals itself while good come to the fore and the whole atmosphere is filled with piety and purity. This discipline has been imposed on us to our own advantage. Those who do not fulfil this relied upon in the discharge of their duties. But the worst are those who during this holy month does not hesitate to eat or drink in public. They are the people who by their conduct show that they care not a trifle for the commands of Allah in Whom they profess their belief as their Creator and Sustainer. Not only this, they also show that they are not loyal members of the Muslim Community rather they have nothing to do with it. It is evident that in so far as obedience to law and regard for a trust reposed in them goes, only the worst could be expected of such hypocrites.
The third obligation is Zakat. Every Muslim, whose financial conditions are above a certain specified minimum, must pay annually 21/2% of his cash balance to a deserving fellow being, a new covert to Islam, a traveler, or one involved in debts. This is the minimum. The more you pay the greater the reward that Allah shall bestow on you.
The money that we pay as Zakat is mot something Allah needs or receives. He is above any want and desire. He, in His benign Mercy, promises us rewards manifold if we help our brethren. But there in one basic condition for being thus rewarded. And it is this that when we pay in the name of Allah, we shall not expect nor demand any worldly gains from the beneficiaries nor aim at making our names as philanthropists.
Zakat is as basic to Islam as other forms of 'Ibadat salat (prayers) and saum (fasting). Its fundamental importance lies in the fact that it fosters in us the qualities of sacrifice and rids us of selfishness and plutolatry. Islam accepts within its fold only those who are ready to give away in God's way from their hard earned wealth willingly and without any temporal or personal gain. It has nothing to do with misers. A true Muslim shall, when the call comes, sacrifice al his belongings in the way of Allah, for Zakat has already trained him for such sacrifice.
The Muslim society has immensely to gain from the institution of Zakat. It is the bounden duty of every well to do Muslim to help his lowly placed poor brethren. His wealth is not to be spent solely for his own comfort and luxury there are rightful claimants on his wealth, and they are the nation's widows and orphans, the poor and the invalid those who have ability but lack the means by which they could seek useful employment, those who have the faculties and brilliance but not the money with which they could acquire knowledge and become useful members of the community. He who does not recognize the right on his wealth of such members of his own community is indeed cruel. For there could be no greater cruelty than to fill one's own coffers while thousands die of hunger or suffer the agonies of unemployment. Islam is a sworn enemy of such selfishness, greed and acquisitiveness. Disbelievers, devoid of sentiments of universal love, know only to preserve wealth and to add to it by lending it out on interest. Islam's teachings are the very antithesis of this attitude. Here one shares one's wealth with others and helps them stand on their own legs and become productive members of the society.
Hajj, or the Pilgrimage to Mecca, is fourth basic 'Ibadat. It is obligatory only on those who can afford it and that too only once in a lifetime.
Mecca today stands at site of a small house that the Prophet Abraham (God's blessings be upon him) built for the worship of Allah. Allah rewarded him by calling it His own House and by making it the center towards which all must face when saying prayers. He also made it incumbent on those who can afford to visit is not merely to be a courtesy call. Even this pilgrimage the its rites and conditions to be fulfilled which inculcate in us piety and goodness. When we undertake the pilgrimage, we are required to suppress our passions, refrain from bloodshed, and be pure in word and deed. God promises rewards for our sincerity and submissiveness.
The Pilgrimage is, in a way the biggest of all Ibadat. For unless a man really loves God he would never undertake such a long journey all his near and dear ones behind him. Then this pilgrimage is unlike any other journey. Here his thoughts are concentrated on Allah, his very being vibrates with spirit of intense devotion. When he reaches the holy place, he finds the atmosphere laden with piety and godliness; he visits place which bear witness to the glory of Islam, and all this leaves an indelible impression on his mind, which he carries t o his last breath.
Then there are as in other 'Ibadat many benefits that the Muslims can enjoy from this pilgrimage. Mecca is the center towards which the Muslims must converge once a year meet and discuss topics of common interest and in general create and refresh in then selves the faith that all Muslims are equal and deserve the love and sympathy of others irrespective of their geographical or cultural origin. Thus the pilgrimage unites the Muslims of the world into one international fraternity.
Though the defense of Islam is not a fundamental tenet but its need and importance have been repeatedly emphasised in the Qur'an and the Hadith. It is in essence a test of our sincerity and truthfulness as believers in Islam. If we do not defend one whom we call our friend against intrigues or assaults from his foes, nor care for his interest and are guided solely by selfishness we are indeed false pretenders of friendship. Similarly if we profess belief in Islam we must jealously guard and uphold the prestige of Islam. Our sole guide in our conduct must be the interest of Muslim at large and the service of Islam in the face of which all our personal considerations must sink low.
Jihad is a part of this overall defense of Islam. Jihad means struggle to the utmost of one's capacity. A man who exerts himself physically or mentally or spends his wealth in the way of Allah is indeed engaged in Jihad. But in the language of the Shari'ah this word is used particularly for the war that is waged solely in the name of Allah and against those who perpetrate oppression as enemies of Islam. This supreme sacrifice of lives devolves an all Muslims. If however a section of the Muslims offer themselves for participating in the Jihad the whole community is absolved of its responsibility. But if none comes forward everybody is guilty. This concession vanishes for the citizens of an Islamic State when it is attacked by a non-Muslim power. In that case everybody must come forward for the Jihad. If the country attacked has not strength enough to fight back then it is the religious duty of the neighbouring Muslim countries to help her if even they fail then the Muslims of the whole world must fight the common enemy. In all these cases Jihad is as much a primary duty of the Muslims concerned as are the daily prayers or fasting. One who shirks it is a sinner. He is plainly a hypocrite who fails in the test of sincerity and all his 'Ibadat and prayers are a sham a worthless hollow show of devotion.
MIM: Below is a listing of speakers at the 200 MAS conference.Note that out of 29 speakers, one is non Muslim and 9 are converts to Islam. Among the acheivements listed under the name of Dr. Reda Bashir listed is his having 'done Da'wa in the United States for 25 years'.
Imam Siraj Wahhaj, currently the Imam of Masjid Al-Taqwa in Brookyn, New York, accepted Islam in 1969. He received Imam training at Ummul Qura University of Makkah in 1978 and has gone on to become a national and international speaker on Islam. Imam Wahhaj has been Vice President of ISNA U.S. since 1997 and has served on Majlis Ash-Shura since 1987. He is a past member of ISNA's Planning Committee and has served as a member of the Board of Advisors for NAIT from 1989-1993. He is also a member of the Board of Advisors for the American Muslim Council.
Imam Wahhaj has appeared on several national television talk shows and interviews especially about his anti-drug campaigns. He received high praises from the media and NYPD for initiating anti-drug patrol in Brooklyn, New York in 1988.
Among other achievements, Imam Wahhaj was the first person to give an Islamic invocation to the United States Congress.
Imam Zaid Shakir receieved his Masters degree in Political Science from Rutgers University and eventually become a lecturer at Southern Connecticut State University. He then spent 7 years studying Islamic sciences in Syria. He served as the Imam of Masjid al-Islam in New Haven, CT, before joining Zaytuna Institute in California.
He has lectured extensively on Islam, Middle East Politics, and issues related to African Americas. He has written for numerous Islamic publications, and has appeared on national television for Lou Gosset, Jr.'s "The Story of a People."
In 2003, he moved to Hayward, California with his family to serve as a scholar-in-residence and lecturer at Zaytuna Institute where he now teaches regular courses on Arabic, Islamic Law, History, and Islamic Spirituality. He has since lectured at many of the Bay Area's top universities, including Stanford and U.C. Berkeley, and is a frequent speaker at local Muslim events. He is widely regarded as an articulate voice on Islam and African-American issues and as a visionary leader in the emergence of an Islamic community and tradition and that is indigenous to America.
Dr. Siddiqi received his BA in Islamic & Arabic Studies from the Islamic University of Medina, Saudi Arabia in 1965. He later went on to complete a degree in Comparative Religion at Harvard University in 1978. Currently, Dr. Siddiqui works as an Educator and Religious Director of the Islamic Society of Orange County where he has served since 1981.
Presently, Dr. Siddiqi is serving as a member of the ISNA Majlis Ash-Shura and the Fiqh Council of North America. He has also served as chairman of the Religious Affairs Committee and has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the National American Islamic Trust (NAIT) for the past six years.
Dr. Siddiqi has authored books on Hajj & Umra and Ramadan. He has published many academic papers and articles in encyclopedias and journals as well as his weekly column in Pakistan Link. Since 1982, he has provided Qur'an commentary in a weekly radio program.
Dr. Siddiqi served as the president of ISNA from 1996 - 2000.
Sh. Abdalla Idris Ali, public speaker and fund-raiser, served as ISNA President from 1992-1997. He co-organized the Canadian Islamic Banking Conferences for 1996 and 1997. Ali serves as a member on the Board of Trustees for the Islamic Teaching Center (ITC) and North American Islamic Trust. He also is on the Board of Advisors of the American Muslim Council, and past Board member of the Council of Islamic Schools in North America.
Sh. Abdalla Idris Ali developed and implemented Islamic and Arabic Studies curricula for elementary and junior high students. He has written various articles in Islamic magazines and is a member of the ATP Editorial Board.
Dr. Ingrid Mattson is Professor of Islamic Studies and Director of Islamic Chaplaincy at the Macdonald Center for Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary in Hartford, CT. Presently, she is serving as the Vice President (US) of Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).
Dr. Mattson was born in Canada, where she studied Philosophy at the University of Waterloo, Ontario (B.A. '87). From 1987-1988 she lived in Pakistan where she worked with Afghan refugee women. In 1995 she served as advisor to the Afghan delegation to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
During her graduate studies in Chicago, Dr. Mattson was involved with the local Muslim community, serving on the board of directors of Universal School in Bridgeview and as a member of the Interfaith Committee of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago.
Dr. Mattson earned her Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from the University of Chicago in 1999. Her research is focused on Islamic law and society.
Yahiya Emerick is an American convert to Islam who has been involved in interfaith issues and education since 1990. He has a graduate degree in history, has authored 14 books for adults and children, and has been published in many magazines, including the Journal for Religion and Education.
Some of his books are: What Islam is All About; Learning About Islam; The Complete Idiot's Guide to understanding Islam; How to Tell Others About Islam; and much more!
Dr. Ahmad Sakr, author of more than 50 books and hundreds of articles, was a founding member and president of the Muslim Students' Association of the U.S.A and Canada, currently known as the Islamic Society of North America (or ISNA), an umbrella organization in North America.
Dr. Sakr was also a founding member of the World Council of Mosques whose headquarters is in Makkah. He was the first director and representative of the Muslim World League to the UN. Dr. Sakr's approach is to build a bridge of understanding through commonalties with Muslims and non-Muslims.
Some of his books are: Life, Death and the Life After; Shortening in Food; Family values in Islam; Death and Dying; Matrimonial Education in Islam; Dietary regulations and food habits of Muslims; A handbook of Muslim foods; Social Services and Counseling; and much more!
Dr. Khurshid A Khan is Ameer (president) of Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). An educationist by profession, Dr. Khan has a Ph.D. in International and Development Education from the University of Pittsburg, PA. and double Masters in the same discipline from the University of California at Berkeley and Central Missouri State University.
He is also a veteran interfaith leader. He was vice-chairman of the Clergy Council of Queens, NY, and, for the last five years, he has been the co-chairman of Mid-Atlantic Muslim-Catholic Dialogue.
Dr. Khan is a former consultant of UNESCO and UNDP. He played a pioneering role in establishing and running several full-time Islamic schools in New York. Currently, he is the Principal of Ideal Islamic School, Astoria, NY and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Muslim Center of New York.
Sh. Abdool Rahman Khan is a renowned scholar and speaker. He has a B.A from Islamic University in Madinah, Faculty of Islamic Jurisprudence. He is currently the principal for Al-Rahmah school in Baltimore, MD.
Sheikh Ibrahim Negm was born in early seventies in Egypt in a scholarly family. His father was active with the Islamic movement in Egypt. Sheikh Ibrahim Negm memorized the Quran in his early childhood. After becoming Hafiz of the Quran he joined school and graduated #4 in the nation from al-azhar high school (Egypt). He finished Ijaza in Islamic Studies from Al Azhar in 1995 as class Valedictorian.
He had been visiting scholar and researcher (1996) in Harvard law school Islamic Legal Studies program and served as a visiting researcher at the school of Islamic and social sciences in 1997.
Sheikh Ibrahim Negm completed his PhD in comparative religious studies from the American College of Theology, MN in 1999. After getting his PhD he served Assistant professor of Arabic and Islamic studies @ St. Johns University, Queens, NY. He is a visiting scholar at the Hartford Seminary.
He had been Imam and director of the Islamic Center of South Shore, Long Island, NY for several years and recently joined the Institute of Islamic Studies of ICNA as its full-time Director.
Sh. Muhammad Iqbal Nadvi holds a PhD in Islamic Shariah (law), with specialization in Jurisprudence (Fiqh). He has taught Islamic Shar'iah and Jurisprudence subject in King Saud University, Saudi Arabia, for six years and dealt with various subjects such as principles of jurisprudence (Usool Al-Fiqh), Islamic Culture, Islamic Political Thought, Islamic movements and Fiqh of Organization. He also has M.A. in Islamic law. Ummal Qura University, Makkah, KSA, 1983. He is licensed in Shariah from Islamic university, Madina, Saudi Arabia in 1978.
He is currently the Imam of Masjid Al-Falah in Toronto, Canada, which serves as ICNA headquarters in Canada.
Imam Magid bin Muhammad Hagmagid came to the United States in 1991 and is currently the Imam of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center in Sterling, VA. He was born in Sudan, the son of a leading Islamic Scholar, who was an Azhar graduate and the Mufti of Sudan. Imam Magid studied at the hand of his father and other notable scholars, gaining ijaza in several disciplines, including Ghazali's Ihya-Uloom-al-Deen. His duties, as the Imam and Director of the ADAMS Center, include giving Juma Khutbas and teaching classes in many aspects of the Islamic Sciences. Imam Magid is in great demand for Khutbas and lectures throughout the US. He is a passionate advocate for, and a practitioner of, reaching out to our neighbors and all citizens. Imam Magid is also well known as an effective communicator to our youth and for work with other organizations and interfaith dialogue.
Dr. Mohamed Rida Beshir with his wife has co-authored four best-selling books on family issues and parenting: "Meeting the Challenge of Parenting in the West, an Islamic Perspective", "Muslim Teens, Today's Worry, Tomorrow's Hope, a Practical Islamic Parenting Guide", "Blissful Marriage" and "Parenting Skills based on Qur'an and Sunnah," as well as other parenting books in Arabic.
Some of their parenting books have been translated to the French and German. Dr. Beshir is teaching two courses on the subject of parenting in North American society with the Islamic American University. He is a regular contributor to the family section of The American Muslim Magazine. He has also written articles for Islamic Horizons magazine as well as The Message magazine. He is also an adviser for the Islam online website's family section. Dr. Mohamed Rida Beshir is the recipient of the City of Ottawa Certificate of Appreciation for 2003 for his volunteer work in the area of Education. He is an engineer by profession, with over 25 years of experience in Da'wa work in North America.
Sheikh Ali Sulaiman Ali was born in Accra, the capital city of Ghana. He spent much of his childhood in Ghana with various shuyukh. His curriculum there included Arabic sciences (such as grammar), Tawheed, Fiqh, Zudhiyyat (Ascetism), and Seerah of the Prophet (saw). After many years with his teachers, Dr. Ali completed his curriculum and moved on to Saudi Arabia where he enrolled in Medina's Islamic University. His curriculum included Qur'an,Hadith, Fiqh, Usul al Fiqh, Arabic Rhetoric, Comparative Religions, and many more traditional Islamic sciences. Sheikh Ali graduated with a B.A. in both Islamic Studies and Arabic from Islamic University in the year 1979.
Upon graduation, Sheikh Ali traveled to America where he pursued both an M.A. and a PhD in Islamic Studies at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI). Before receiving his doctorate, Sheikh Ali completed his dissertation on Tafsir bil Ma'thur, specifically dealing with the question of Hujja (the question of authority or binding proof), a question which had been virtually ignored otherwise.
Sheikh Ali is the Director of Muslim Family Services, an ICNA Relief division, in Detroit, Michigan.
clear=left>Covered in a burqa from head to toe, Yvonne Ridley entered Afghanistan illegally "to try and cover the humanitarian crisis and speak to those Afghan people who couldn't or wouldn't leave the country." Less than two weeks after the 9/11 attack, it was a time when traveling to Afghanistan posed great risk. "But journalists do take risks while they're pursuing stories … Journalists will go into hostile areas because by the very nature that is where the news story is," she said in a BBC interview.
She was captured on September 28th by the Taliban and kept in prison for 10 days. "The first six days I was detained in the intelligence headquarters in Jalalabad and I was given a room with air-conditioning. I had access to a flush toilet and shower so I was quite comfortable there under the circumstances. Then I was moved to Kabul prison in the centre of the capital which was very basic. It had no running water - if you wanted water, you had to crank a hand pump in the courtyard outside and that was a real shock to the system."
She was released 10 days later. She had no complaint about how she was treated. "They treated me with the greatest courtesy and respect, and I know that jars with a lot of people."
After 1 year, she surprised everyone by her plan to convert to Islam. In an interview with Newsweek, she mentions how that happened:
"When I was captured, I was visited by an imam who asked me if I'd like to convert. I thought if I just said yes, he'd say I was a fickle woman, and if I said no, then it would be a huge insult to Islam. So I promised that if they released me, I'd study Islam when I got back to London. And what started out as an academic study has now turned into something much more spiritual. I'm very impressed with what I've found."
Altaf Hussain is a doctoral student in the School of Social Work at Howard University. He is focusing on Muslim immigrant and refugee family adaptation in the United States. He is a former two-term President of MSA National. Altaf Hussain is double alumnus of Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), receiving his bachelor's and master's degrees in Biomedical Engineering and Social Work, respectively. He is also a licensed social worker in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Imam Suhaib (William) Webb was born in Oklahoma City, OK and accepted Islam in the early 90's. He memorized the Qur'an and has studied Arabic grammar, morphology and other sciences of the Usool extensively. In addition he holds a degree in Education. He was a research and teaching fellow at the Islamic American University (IAU) in Santa Clara, CA, where he has been teaching different courses including the Jurisprudence of worship. Before joining IAU, he was the Imam of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City. Imam Webb has a strong experience on Muslim youth issues and has been an invited speaker to many conferences in North America and Europe. He is currently tentatively confirmed for the convention.
Imam Mahdi Bray is a long time civil and human rights activist. He is currently the Executive Director of the Muslim American Society (MAS) Freedom Foundation, and the President of the Coordinating Council of Muslim Organizations (CCMO).
Chaplain James Yee is a native of New Jersey, and a graduate of U.S. Military Academy at West Point (1986-1990). He was introduced to the Muslim faith while studying vehicle maintenance during the month of Ramadan alongside four visiting Egyptian army officers stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
After graduating from West Point, James went into the air defense artillery field and served in a Patriot missile batter in the first Gulf War. In 1993, he left the Army Reserve for Syria to study Arabic, convert to Islam and train to be a chaplain. There has yet to be a Muslim chaplain in the U.S. Army at that time, but a sufficient number of men belonging to the Muslim faith. He had ambitions to become the first Muslim chaplain in the U.S. Army. However, by the time James completed his studies in Syria, he became the sixth Muslim chaplain in the Army.
After the September 11th terrorist attacks, James dedicated himself to a new mission of clearing up the misunderstanding of the Islamic faith as a religion of peace, not terror. He would deliver messages and sermons at the base, in churches and mosques, on college campuses and on the streets of Olympia. "An act of terrorism, the taking of civilian lives, is prohibited by Islam, and whoever has done this needs to be brought to justice, whether he is Muslim or not," he stated in one interview.
On September 10, 2003, James Yee was arrested and detained on suspicions of mutiny, sedition, and espionage due to Yee's possession of classified documents. No official charges filed. Later, all charges were dropped. He was released after 76-day solitary confinement in shackles in a maximum-security lockup in South Carolina.
Dr. Zahid H. Bukhari is currently working as Director Pew Project: Muslims in American Public Square, and Fellow, Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, Washington, DC. Dr. Bukhari has a Masters in Economics from the University of Karachi and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Connecticut. His research interests have focused on religion and politics in the United States. He has a vast experience in all aspects of survey research. From 1978-1983, he worked as founding executive director of the Pakistan Institute of Public Opinion (PIPO), Islamabad, a member of Gallup International. He also participated, from 1993-1995, in a national study of the Islamic centers/mosques across North America conducted by the Islamic Resource Institute, Los Angles, CA. He has published and presented papers on Islam and development, Muslim public opinion in the US and other related topics in national and international forums. Dr. Bukhari has an extensive experience of working with various Islamic organizations and also with other religious groups of USA. He was one of the founders of the National Islamic Shura Council, a representative body of the American Muslims consisting of four national Islamic organizations. Dr. Bukhari also worked as Secretary General of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) from 1990 to 1995. Since 1996, he has also been the chairman of ICNA Relief, a not-for-profit relief organization, which operates national and international projects.
Dr. Jerald F. Dirks holds B.A. and M. Divinity from Harvard University and doctorate in Psychology from the University of Denver. He is a former ordained minister (deacon) in the United Methodist Church and is author of The Cross & The Crescent and Abraham - The Friend of God. He published over sixty articles in the field of clinical psychology and over one hundred and fifty articles on Arabian horses. He has traveled extensively in the Middle East and interacted widely with the Muslim communities in the United States.
Some of his books are: The Cross & the Crescent; Abraham: The Friend of God; Understanding Islam: A Guide for the Judaeo-Christian Reader; The Abrahamic Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: Similarities & Contrasts.
Sr. Aminah Assilmi born in Oklahoma, and is a Muslim since 1977. She has three degrees in Communications, broadcasting and Education. An International known lecturer in Islam and the chairperson of International Union of Muslim Women. A writer, mother and a grand mother. Read her story of converting to Islam.