Militant Islam Monitor > Weblog > The United States Institute of Peace promotes radical Islam with Muslim World Initiative and tax payer funding
The United States Institute of Peace promotes radical Islam with Muslim World Initiative and tax payer funding
June 5, 2006
The United States Institute of Peace aka the Ummah Shari'a Islamist Propagation Institute, is working together with radical Islamists promoting fundamentalism under the guise of their new 'Muslim World Initiative'.The USIP's new Saudi backed Islamist affiliates include CAIR, MPAC, ISNA and the CSID. Among the board members are CAIR's Nihad Awad, Ahmed Younes of MPAC, and the CSID's Radwan Masmoudi, as well as Imam Hassan Qazwini of the Islamic Center of America and Democratic Senator Larry Shaw a Muslim who is also a board member of CAIR. http://www.cair-net.org/default.asp?Page=articleView&id=1972&theType=NR
After infilitrating the USIP, Abdelsalem Mahgrouhi, the head of the Muslim World Initiative authored a USIP briefing coyly entitled: "What do Islamists really want? 'An Insiders discussion with Islamist leaders', in which he made the absurd claim that there were moderate Islamists:
The inclusion of Saudi funded terrorist tied groups under the aegis of the USIP, and the premise that there are radical and moderate terrorists, indicates that The United States Institute of Peace has morphed into the Ummah Shar'ia Islamist Propagation Institute. The federal government is now funding the spread of radical Islam. The USIP's Islamist leanings are nothing new, put the new addition of Saudi funded radical Islamist organisations with documented terrorist ties, demands that the public contact their elected officials and demand that they reassess and cut their government funding and political support to the USIP.
In 2004 then board member of the United States Institute of Peace, Dr. Daniel Pipes, wrote an article criticising the USIP's invitation of Islamists to the Institute called "The USIP Stumbles".
Investigative journalist Kenneth Timmerman of Insight magazine further highlighted the dangers of the USIP hosting terror tied groups, and echoed Dr. Pipes concerns in a piece entitled "Pipes Objects to the Fox in the Henhouse"and quoted Dr.Pipes' who told him that:
"I believe that President [George W.] Bush appointed me to the USIP board in part to serve as a watchdog against militant Islamic groups. Unfortunately the management of USIP is not listening to my advice. I cannot be associated with the event today which associates USIP with some of the very worst militant Islamic groups." http://www.danielpipes.org/article/1650 (see complete article below)
Both writers pointed out that the CSID, (The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy) a Saudi funded Wahabbist enterprise, operating under the guise of a think tank, was promoted an Islamist agenda.
Dr.Pipes wrote that:
MIM: The USIP has now gone from '"inadvertently conferring legitmacy " on radical Islamists to actively aiding and abetting them.
MIM: The peridiousness of having radical Islamists operating with the US goverment seal of approval via the taxpayer funded USIP is compounded by the way the Muslim World Initiative is disseminating disinformation about the Arab Israeli conflict using the USIP for legitimacy.
One example of the propaganda on offer is the study by the brother of PIJ head Fathi Shikaki, who was assassinated by the Mossad in 1995 Khalil Shikaki, whose January 2006 pseudo study pre election study entitled "Palestinian Public Opinion and the Peace Process" misled many in the U.S. government into believing Hamas would not stand a chance to win if allowed to participate in the elections.
Shikaki 'con'cluded that :
MIM: Information from the USIP/Muslim World Intiative website
About the Muslim World Initiative
Drawing on USIP's unique combination of capabilities for scholarly research, policy analysis, and practical involvement in peacemaking, the Initiative has two overarching objectives:
In pursuit of these goals, the Muslim World Initiative places particular emphasis on several cross-cutting themes:
Advisory Committee on U.S.-Muslim World Relations Participating Institutions
Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID)
Dr. Radwan Masmoudi, President
The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) was started in 1999 by a group of Muslim and non-Muslim scholars, policy makers, and activists to examine the relationship between Islam and democracy. CSID has held workshops and international conferences in Nigeria, Sudan, Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, Morocco, Iran, Jordan, Turkey, Algeria, Bahrain, and many other countries. Each of these workshops and events featured not only top policy makers but also leading Islamic scholars, secularists, and democracy advocates. CSID believes its success lies in inviting all to the table, including moderate Islamists (who are open to dialogue) and secularists.
As a U.S.-based think tank with strong ties to academics, activists, and institutions in the Muslim world, CSID is extremely well positioned to foster the development of democratic thought and institutions in an Islamic context.
Our outreach demonstrates the fundamental compatibility of democratic and Islamic principles. Our organization has a stellar complement of Muslim and non-Muslim presenters who speak in a cultural vernacular more persuasive to the political and religious leaders of the Muslim world than programs which attempt to export Western democracy in Western terms.
CSID is committed to the long-term project of educating the masses, leaders of the civil society, and government leaders in the Muslim world about democracy, and planting the seeds for a future where all Muslim societies can enjoy the fruits of democracy and good governance. CSID realizes that, by having the majority of the organizers and discussion leaders as Muslims, our program demonstrates the message that there is nothing 'alien' to Islam about democracy, human rights, and rule of law.
Mr. Hady Amr, Founder and Chairman
Mr. Hady Amr is the founder and chairman of The Amr Group. The Amr Group implements innovative solutions for institutional clients such as the World Bank, United Nations agencies, foundations, private sector corporate clients, and government agencies, as well as political candidates and heads of agencies. They write leading reports, manage projects, and implement solutions. The Amr Group has been increasingly called upon to bring their expertise to bear on projects in the Arab World and on U.S.-Arab relations.
Dialogues: Islamic World - U.S. - The West, Remarque Institute, New York University
Dr. Mustapha Tlili, Founder and Director
A program of New York University's Remarque Institute, Dialogues: Islamic World-U.S. - The West was established three years ago at the World Policy Institute of New School University in response to the tragedy of September 11, 2001, which highlighted the urgent need for greater communication among and about the Islamic World, the United States, and the West at large. The failure of the media to explain the roots and background of Islamic political and social movements demonstrated a widespread lack of understanding of the complex world of Islam—especially in the U.S. The program was launched as a structured forum for sustained dialogue involving voices from the various religious, intellectual, economic, and political sectors of Islamic and American/Western societies, including those non-elite Islamic figures with proven credibility in their communities who are too often unheard in the West.
Dialogues is funded by Carnegie Corporation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the State of Qatar. The conference in Granada received additional support from the Spanish foundation El Legado Andalusí, while the Amman workshop on Islam and elections was funded in large part by Majlis El Hassan, the non-governmental organization of His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan.
World Economic Forum, C-100 West-Islamic World Dialogue Initiative, Search for Common Ground
Hady Amr, Senior Advisor
The World Economic Forum convenes senior corporate, political, and civil society leaders on a regular basis and facilitates cross-sectoral cooperation between them aimed at addressing major issues of global concern. The C-100 is one of these initiatives. Idriss sits on the coordinating committee for the C-100 and lead a partnership between the Forum and SFCG that implements the action-oriented projects that develop from those dialogues. SFCG is the world's largest international conflict resolution organization with staff of 375 worldwide and offices in thirteen countries. Idriss served as the organization's Chief Operating Officer prior to his current position.
Idriss meets regularly, both under the auspices of the World Economic Forum and under those of SFCG with senior US officials, but primarily on the funding side - i.e. Assistant Secretaries of State in charge of the Middle East Partnership Initiative or the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor. SFCG publishes a quarterly newsletter that goes out to about 20,000 supporters. The Forum puts out regular publications that reach millions globally - with particular emphasis on the elites to which the organization caters.
The Muslim Public Affairs Council
Ahmed Younis, National Director
The Muslim Public Affairs Council was founded in 1988 as an American Muslim representation and interface with go vernment and the public. As a policy, MPAC has never accepted funding from sources outside of the United States. MPAC believes that there is neither dissonance nor friction between the founding principles of Islam and those of the United States. MPAC is a policy-oriented organization as opposed to a grassroots civil rights one; consequently MPAC works to create opportunities for constructive engagement with the US government. MPACs newsletters and press releases go out to more than 8,000 people as well as all representatives of government in Washington.
Over the years MPAC has met with a large array of government officials including Presidents George HW Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W Bush. MPAC has also worked closely with the departments of State (foreign policy/ public diplomacy), Treasury (terrorist financing), Homeland Security (effective counterterrorism policy) etc. MPAC frequently publishes Policy Papers such as its Counterterrorism Policy: An American Muslim Perspective, and institutes campaigns such as the National Grassroots Campaign to Fight Terrorism. MPAC leadership serves frequently as speakers and guests on most major national media outlets including CNN, FOXNEWS, MSNBC, PBS and others.
Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)
Sayyid Muhammad Syeed, Executive Director
ISNA is an association of Muslim organizations and individuals that provides a common platform for presenting Islam, supporting Muslim communities, developing educational, social and outreach programs and fostering good relations with other religious communities, and civic and service organizations. The goals include: Imam Training and Leadership Development; Involvement of Youth; Interfaith and Coalition Building; and Community; Development.
The Annual ISNA Convention is the largest gathering of Muslims in North America. This Convention brings together more than 40,000 attendees that include individuals, families, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and people of other faiths. Other ISNA conferences encompass issues such as:
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Dr. Nihad Awad, CAIR Director
The Council on American-Islamic Relations is a non-profit, grassroots membership, organization, with headquarters in Washington, D.C. Since its establishment in 1994, CAIR was established to promote a positive image of Islam and Muslims in America. CAIR is dedicated to presenting an Islamic perspective on issues of importance to the American public through media relations, lobbying, education and advocacy. In offering that perspective, the organization seeks to empower the Muslim community in America through political and social activism.
CAIR is active in monitoring legislation and government activities and then responding on behalf of the American Muslim community. CAIR representatives have testified before Congress and have sponsored a number of activities designed to bring Muslim concerns to Capitol Hill. The Civil Rights Department counsels, mediates and advocates on behalf of Muslims and others who have experienced religious discrimination, defamation or hate crimes, while its research division conducts empirical research studies on subjects relevant to the American Muslim community, including gathering and analyzing data for the annual civil rights report.
Muslim World Initiative
Advisory Committee on U.S.-Muslim World Relations: Members
Zahid H. Bukhari
Sherman A. Jackson
Abdeslam M. Maghraoui (Chair of the Committee)
Radwan A. Masmoudi
Sulayman S. Nyang
Senator Larry Shaw
Sayyid Muhammad Syeed
Abdeslam E.M. MaghraouiNorth Africa | Middle East | Muslim Communities in Europe | Islam | Culture and Politics | Human Rights | Democratizatio
Abdeslam Maghraoui joined the Institute as the associate director for the Muslim World Initiative in 2004. His research focuses on political power, authority, and legitimacy in contemporary Muslim societies. Prior to joining the Institute, Maghraoui was visiting lecturer and resident scholar at Princeton University's Department of Politics and the Institute for the Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia. Previously, he was director of Al-Madina, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting accountable governance in the Arab world. As director of Al-Madina, Maghraoui developed research and managed programs on building the capacity of civil society associations in North Africa. He holds a Ph.D. in comparative politics from Princeton University. His publications include: "Ambiguities of Sovereignty: Morocco, The Hague, and the Western Sahara Dispute," Mediterranean Politics, Spring 2003, and "Depoliticization in Morocco," Journal of Democracy, October 2002.
Asma Afsaruddin is Associate Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies in the Department of Classics at the University of Notre Dame. Her fields of research are Islamic political and religious thought, Qur'an and hadith, intellectual history, and gender issues. She is the author and editor of three books, the most recent being Excellence and Precedence: Medieval Islamic Discourse on Legitimate Leadership (Leiden, 2002). She has written numerous articles on Islamic thought and has lectured in the U.S. and abroad. She previously taught at the Johns Hopkins and Harvard Universities and was a visiting scholar at the Centre for Islamic Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, UK, in fall 2003. Afsaruddin serves on the Board of Directors of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy and is a member of the advisory board of Karamah, a women's human rights organization, both based in Washington, DC. She has been a fellow of the American Research Center in Egypt, Cairo and the American Research Institute in Turkey, Istanbul. Her research has won support from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation, among others.
Mr. Hady Amr is the Founder and Chairman of the Amr Group, and the Co-President of the Arab Western Summit of Skills. He is the cofounder and first executive director of World Links Arab Region, which works to integrate technology in the classroom across the Arab World. Hady has been the lead author of several UN reports including UNICEF's State of the Arab Child. He recently participated in UNDP's follow-up planning meeting for the Arab Human Development Report. In 2004, he authored The Need to Communicate: How to Improve US Public Diplomacy with the Islamic World for the Brookings Institution. Previously, he served in the Clinton Administration as an appointee at the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, and as National Director for Ethnic American Outreach for Al Gore's Presidential Campaign. In 2005 he co-presented at Princeton University with Gov. Tom Keane Chair of the 9-11 Commission and Bob Hutchings, Chairman of the US National Intelligence Council on recommendations for US ? Islamic World relations. He serves on the Board of Commissioners of the Virginia Public Schools Authority and on the Virginia Task Force on Business Development with the Near East. He earned his MA in Economics and Development from the Wilson School at Princeton University.
Dr. Sulayman S. Nyang has taught at the Department of African Studies at Howard University since 1972. He served as the Deputy Ambassador of the Republic of Gambia to seven Middle Eastern and North African countries from 1975-1978. In the 1980s, Dr. Nyang served as a board member and Chairman of the Africa and International Committee of the Montgomery County Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He also served as co-director with the late Dr. James C. Moone of the NAACP of a research project on Black Leadership in Montgomery County sponsored by the Maryland Council for the Humanities in the 1980s. In 1986 he was appointed chairman of the Department of African Studies. He served for seven years and then stepped down in 1993 to assume the position of Lead Developer and Senior Consultant of the African Voices Project at the Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution. In 1997, Nyang became the first scholar to be named the Henry Luce Professor for Abrahamic Religions at the University of Hartford and the Hartford Seminary. From 1999 to 2002, he served as a principal investigator and co-director of the Muslims in the American Public Square (MAPS) project. He has written extensively on African, Islamic and Middle Eastern affairs. His most widely known book is Islam, Christianity and African Identity. Nyang has also written chapters in forty-two books and encyclopedias edited by colleagues in the academy as well as scholarly articles in American, African, Asian and European journals and magazines. Professor Nyang served as the first American Muslim president of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, D.C.
Amaney Jamal is an assistant professor of politics at Princeton University. Her current research focuses on democratization and the politics of civic engagement in the Middle East. She extends her research to the study of Muslim and Arab Americans, examining the pathways that structure their patterns of civic engagement in the US. Jamal is currently working on two books. The first explores the role of civic associations in promoting democratic effects in the Middle East. Her second book, an edited volume with Nadine Naber (University of Michigan), looks at the patterns and influences of Arab American racialization processes. Jamal is principal investigator of "Mosques and Civic Incorporation of Muslim Americans," funded by the Muslims in New York Project at Columbia University; and co-PI of the "Detroit Arab American Study," a sister survey to the Detroit Area Study, funded by the Russell Sage Foundation.
Mustapha Tlili is a Senior Fellow at the Remarque Institute of New York University and NYU Research Scholar. Previously, he was Senior Fellow at the World Policy Institute of New School University and Director of its UN Project, as well as Adjunct Professor of International Affairs at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. He is a former senior United Nations official, having served the organization in various capacities over a long career. In particular, he was the director of the UN information center for France, located in Paris, chief of the Namibia, Anti-Apartheid, Palestine and Decolonization programs in the Department of Public Information at UN Headquarters in New York, and principal officer/director in charge of communications policy in the same department. An established novelist, Tlili is a knight of the French Order of Arts and Letters. In addition, he edited and contributed to For Nelson Mandela (Henry Holt, 1987) and published an essay on Machiavelli's Theory of Government in the Sorbonne's Revue de Métaphysique et de la Morale. Mustapha Tlili is a member of the Human Rights Watch Advisory Committee for the Middle East and North Africa. He is also regularly contacted by media outlets seeking his point of view on issues concerning U.S. interaction with the Muslim world, including terrorism, the war in Iraq, and the Bush administration's policies toward the Middle East. He has made television appearances on CNN, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and France's Arte; frequently gives radio interviews to Radio Free Europe, Radio Canada, and Wisconsin Public Radio; and has contributed to the Op-ed section of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Ahmed Younis is a graduate of Washington & Lee School of Law in Lexington Virginia. He is the author of a book entitled American Muslims: Voir Dire (Speak the Truth), a post-September 11 look into the reality of debate surrounding American Muslims and their country. His book was translated into Arabic and widely distributed. Earlier this month, Younis organized an MPAC delegation of American Muslim professionals and activists to attend a U.N. sponsored seminar on "Confronting Islamophobia." His numerous endeavors before joining MPAC include an internship at the Office of the Legal Counsel of the Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations. He was assigned to the Office of the Special Advisor to the Secretary General on Iraq. Ahmed has studied in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Cuba. Ahmed has numerous academic publications and served as Assistant Director of the Commission on the Status of Women for the National Model United Nations, one of the largest global student conferences.
Ghiyath Nakshbendi is the Principal of the Sangamore Group, a real estate asset management company based in the Washington, D.C. area. Throughout his career, Ghiyath has developed expertise in multiple disciplines, including real estate asset management, developmental financing, consulting and teaching. His professional associations includes: The Kuwait Investment Authority (the manager of the State of Kuwait's investments world wide), The Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, Kuwait Real Estate Investment Consortium, Newfield Enterprises International, Public Institution for Social Security (Kuwait), Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Commerce (Kuwait). His professional academic associations include: Montgomery College, George Mason University, King Saud University (Saudi Arabia) and the Washington Center for Internships & Academic Seminars. Ghiyath teaches accounting, management and international business courses and wrote and translated articles in business and finance. He lectures in international conferences in finance, economic development. He received his Ph.D. in Business Administration from American University, earned a Master of Business Administration from Texas A&M University and a Bachelor of Commercial Sciences from Aleppo University. Ghiyath belongs to the Nakshbendis — a Moslem Sufi tariqa spread all over the world, mainly in Asia (17 million according to Al Arabi Magazine of Kuwait in 1978). While a Professor at Montgomery College, he started a Masjid in 1973, where Moslem students prayed on Fridays. This was one of the first in an academic institution in the Washington, DC area. He has practiced religious tolerance in the West since the mid-1960s.
Dr. Zahid H. Bukhari is the Director of American Muslim Studies Program (AMSP) and Fellow at the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (CMCU) at Georgetown University. From 1999-2004, he was Director of Project MAPS: Muslims in American Public Square, which examined the role and contribution of the Muslim community to the American public life. From 1978-1983, he was the executive director of the Pakistan Institute of Public Opinion (PIPO), in Islamabad, a member of Gallup International. 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. He is also editor of two volumes of the Project MAPS: Muslims' Place in the American Public Square: Fears, Hopes and Aspirations and Muslim in America: Engaging Polity and Society in Post 9/11 Era (forthcoming). Bukhari was one of the founders of the National Islamic Shura Council, a representative body of the American Muslims consisting of four national Islamic organizations. Since 1996, he has been a member of Mid-Atlantic Catholic-Muslim Interfaith Dialogue sponsored by the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB). From 1990-1995, he served as Secretary General of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). Dr. Bukhari was also Chairman of the ICNA Relief/Helping Hand, a non-for-profit relief organization, which operates national and international projects. Dr. Bukhari has a Masters in Economics from the University of Karachi and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Connecticut.
Nihad Awad is the Executive Director and co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). In 1997, Mr. Awad served on Vice President Al Gore's Civil Rights Advisory Panel to the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security. In his professional capacity, he has also personally met with Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell to discuss the needs of the American Muslim community. For the 2000 presidential election, Mr. Awad was key figure in the American Muslim Political Coordinating Committee (AMPCC), an umbrella organization of the largest American Muslim organizations, which helped create the first Muslim voting bloc for a presidential election. Mr. Awad is a regular participant in the U.S. Department of State's "International Visitors Program" for foreign dignitaries, journalists and academics who are currently visiting the President of the United States. A few days after 9/11/2001, Mr. Awad was one of the American Muslim leaders invited by the White House to join President Bush in a press conference at the Islamic Center of Washington, the oldest mosque in Washington DC. Mr. Awad has testified before both houses of the U.S. Congress, most recently at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on matters involving Muslims in America. He has spoken at prestigious educational institutions, including Harvard, Stanford and Johns Hopkins Universities. He was a featured speaker at the 2002 Reuters Forum on global cooperation at Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism. He works with local and national interfaith leaders and organizations to promote positive relations among people of diverse faith.
Sumaiya A. Hamdani is an Associate Professor of History at the George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Sumaya received her B.A. at Georgetown University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University in 1995. She is the author of Between Revolution and State: The Construction of Fatimid Legitimacy published in London, England in 2005, and numerous other articles and book reviews on Islamic law, history and women in Islam. She is also the director of Islamic Studies Minor Program at George Mason University, and the book review editor for the journal Hawwa: Journal of Middle East Women's Studies. She is a member of several scholarly organizations, including the Middle East Studies Association, a non-political association that fosters the study of the Middle East and encourages public understanding of the region and its peoples through programs, publications and services that enhance education, and the Middle East Medievalists (MEM), an international professional non-profit association of scholars interested in the study of the Islamic lands of the Middle East during the medieval period.
Alaa Bayoumi is the Director of the Arabic Affairs Department at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest non-profit Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. Mr. Bayoumi is an activist and writer on issues related to the American Muslim community and to the relationship between America and the Muslim world. His English writings have appeared in leading American and international newspapers, such as the International Herald Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Seattle Post Intelligencer. Since 9/11, Mr. Bayoumi has written extensively in the Arabic press calling for more dialogue and understanding between the Arab and Muslim peoples and the American people. He has been interviewed by leading Arabic media outlets, including Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiyah and has contributed to numerous leading Arabic newspapers and publications, including Al-Hayat, Al-Sharqalawsat, Al-Jazeera-Net, and Al-Ahram Al-Arabi. He has a MA degree in conflict resolution and a BA in political Science.
Dr. Ahmad Iravani is Director for Islamic Studies and Dialogue at the Center for the Study of Culture and Values at the Catholic University of America. Prior to that he was Mofid University's Representative to the United Nations (2000-2002) and the Dean of the Philosophy School, Mofid University (1996-2000). He received the first stage of Khareg, (equal to Ph.D.) in Islamic Studies, Islamic University, in Qom, Iran, in 1992. He is currently a PhD Candidate in Philosophy at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC. He received his MA in Philosophy from Allamah tabatabaii University, in Tehran, Iran, in 1998 and his BA in Philosophy from Tehran University in 1995. Iravani has been a Research Associate at the Catholic University of America and has been involved in research on Human rights in Islam, comparative issues between Islam and Christianity, and the clash of civilizations. He has also conducted research on the role of Democracy on Iranian Society, Mofid University, Iran, and has been involved in Seminar on Religion and Hermeneutics, in Mofid University, Iran. His professional affiliations include memberships at the Center for International Social Development, The Catholic University of America, the Center for the Study of Cultures and Values (CSCV), and the American Philosophical Association (APA). His publications include: Ian G. Barbour, Religion in age of Science, translation and commentary by Ahmad Iravani. Tehran: Hamid Publication, 2001; a comparative study between Tomas Aquinas and Avicenna (forthcoming) and Freedom according to Islam (forthcoming).
Qamar-ul Huda is the Program Officer for the Religion and Peacemaking Initiative at United States Institute of Peace. Prior to joining USIP he taught Islamic Studies and Comparative Religion at Boston College's Theology Department and in Religious Studies Department at the College of the Holy Cross. His area focuses on Islamic theology, intellectual history, ethics, mysticism and the history of Qur'anic hermeneutics. He is currently examining comparative ethics, the language of violence, conflict resolution and non-violence in juristic and non-juristic Muslim authorities in contemporary Islam. His earlier work on Islamic mysticism, specifically on political, theological and social history of the Suhrawardi Sufism was published as Striving for Divine Union: Spiritual Exercises for Suhrawardi Sufis (Routledege Curzon Press, 2003). He has written extensively on medieval Islamic texts and mystical treatises. His articles on Islamic theology and mysticism have appeared in appeared in The Journal of the American Academy of Religion, The Muslim World, Theological Studies, The Journal of Islam and Christian-Muslim Affairs, Journal of Islamic Studies and several other journals. In addition to contemporary Islamic ethics and thought, he is translating a number of texts related to Suhrawardi, Chishti, and Naqshbandi Sufism. Dr. Huda earned his doctorate in Islamic intellectual history from UCLA, and his Bachelor of Arts degree from Colgate University in International Relations and Comparative Relations. He has done extensive academic studies and research in the Middle East and South Asia.
By Abdeslam Maghraoui
Throughout the Muslim world, Islamist parties have emerged as major power brokers when allowed to compete in free elections. Yet their positions on many crucial governance issues remain unknown or ambiguous. Most debates on the potential to moderate and integrate Islamists in the democratic process have focused on Islam's compatibility with democracy or on debates over Islamists' normative commitment to democracy separately from the mechanics of achieving political power.
More from usip.org
As part of its "mobilizing the moderates" theme, the Muslim World Initiative of USIP organized an off-the-record roundtable discussion on May 5, 2006, on the viability of democratic politics within an Islamic framework. Specifically, the discussion focused on the Islamists' political strategies while in opposition and their commitment to democratic procedures and principles once in power. The meeting brought together the leaders of three moderate Islamist parties and movements from Arab countries as well as U.S. government officials, scholars, and independent policy analysts.
This USIPeace Briefing highlights the central themes and questions that emerged during the discussions. There is a great diversity among moderate "Islamist parties," and their strategies are the products of local power relations. Caution is thus in order in applying these general comments to various Islamist parties.
For the purposes of this paper:
The three Islamist leaders made the following points during the short presentations and responses to questions during the meeting and in substantive discussions before and afterwards. They represent Islamists' views of themselves, or at least their self-representations before a critical, Western audience. In some instances, interviews, articles, and speeches by one or more Islamist panelists were consulted to have a better sense of their positions on key issues.
During the meeting, a number of participants raised questions about the Islamist commitment to democracy and noted a number of tensions between what Islamist leaders say and what they actually do or might do if they achieve power. Some participants sent follow-up questions and comments after the meeting. What follows covers the range of issues raised during and after the meeting.
Among the questions these skeptics had about Islamist parties, a number focused on their apparent inconsistencies regarding democratic norms.
On the basis of these discussions it becomes clear that moderate Islamists need to sort out several tensions and make some hard choices. A key concern, their professed commitment to modernize and democratize Muslim polities within the context of their religious identity, may take some time to resolve. Yet, the Islamists' ultimate objective of ousting ruling autocrats through free and transparent elections is real and cannot be dismissed as a political ploy. This is also, ironically, a major U.S. objective but in the consensus opinion of the participants, the United States has as yet no clear policy on engaging Islamists.
In the final part of the meeting, participants offered their thoughts on how the United States should proceed.
November 16-18 2005 | Brussels, Belgium
As part an ongoing effort to engage Muslim communities in Europe, USIP's Muslim World Initiative (MWI) co-sponsored a conference entitled "Muslim Communities Participating in Society: A Belgian - U.S. Dialogue," from November 16-18, 2005, in Brussels. The event was organized and convened by Tom Korologos, the U.S. Ambassador to Belgium. In addition to USIP and the U.S. Embassy in Belgium, the co-sponsors included Belgium's Royal Institute for International Relations and the Daimler-Chrysler Corporation.
The MWI contributed financial support; provided the organizers with its U.S.-Muslim World Advisory Committee list; participated in small workshop discussions; and made concrete proposals for the concluding session. USIP was also featured in an on camera interview with Abdeslam Maghraoui for a documentary on the Brussels conference. Ambassador Korologos testified at a hearing before the Committee on Foreign Relations on April 5, 2006.
The conference brought together some 100 American and Belgian Muslim community leaders, imams, educators, media experts, artists, educators, social workers, and elected officials to exchange views and concerns about Muslims' integration and political participation in Belgium and the United States. U.S. official participants included: Dan Fried (Assistant Secretary, DOS), Michael Guido (Mayor, City of Dearborn, MI), Colleen Graffy (Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy), Farah Pandith (White House/NSC), and Larry Shaw (Senator, North Carolina).
The conference concluded with a series of initiatives to illustrate the participants' commitment to continuous dialogue and concrete cooperation. The following programs were announced at the end of the conference:
USIP's support of the Brussels meeting is part of a series of activities on "Muslim Communities in Europe" that the Muslim World Initiative launched in February 2005. Read about a conference on "Muslim Youth in Europe: Addressing Alienation and Extremism," held in Wilton Park, United Kingdom, from February 7-10, 2005.
U N I T E D S T A T E S I N S T I T U T E O F P E A C E
The U.S. Institute of Peace Stumbles
by Daniel Pipes
New York Sun
March 23, 2004
Last week, I became a whistleblower. (According to Merriam-Webster, a whistleblower is someone "who reveals wrongdoing within an organization to the public or to those in positions of authority.")
This is not a role I expected or sought, but I felt compelled to go public when the U.S. Institute of Peace, in Washington, D.C., the taxpayer-funded organization to whose board President Bush appointed me, insisted on co-hosting an event with a group closely associated with radical Islam.
That group is the Washington-based Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy; the event was a workshop that took place — over my strenuous objections — on March 19.
Most of CSID's Muslim personnel are radicals. I brought one such person in particular, Kamran Bokhari, to the attention of USIP's leadership. Mr. Bokhari is a fellow at CSID; as such, he is someone CSID's board of directors deems an expert "with high integrity and a good reputation." As a fellow, Mr. Bokhari may participate in the election of CSID's board of directors. He is, in short, integral to the CSID.
Mr. Bokhari also happens to have served for years as the North American spokesman for Al-Muhajiroun, perhaps the most extreme Islamist group operating in the West. For example, it celebrated the first anniversary of 9/11 with a conference titled," Towering Day in History." It celebrated the second anniversary by hailing "The Magnificent 19." Its Web site currently features a picture of the U.S. Capitol building exploding. (If the site changes, an archived copy is available.)
Nor is Al-Muhajiroun's evil restricted to words and pictures. Its London-based leader, Omar bin Bakri Muhammad, has acknowledged recruiting jihadists to fight in such hotspots as Kashmir, Afghanistan, and Chechnya. At least one Al-Muhajiroun member went to Israel to engage in suicide terrorism. Al-Muhajiroun appears to be connected to one of the 9/11 hijackers, Hani Hanjour.
USIP's indirect association with Al-Muhajiroun has many pernicious consequences. Perhaps the most consequential of these is the legitimacy USIP inadvertently confers on Mr. Bokhari and CSID, permitting radicals to pass themselves off as moderates.
That legitimation follows an assumption that USIP carefully vetted CSID before working with it. But USIP did nothing of the sort.
When its leadership insisted on working with CSID, it explained its reasons: "The CSID is assessed by relevant government organizations and credible NGOs supported by the Administration to be an appropriate organization for involvement in publicly funded projects organized by both the government and NGOs, including the Institute."
Translated from bureaucratese, this says: "Others have worked with CSID, so why not us?"
But such buck-passing means that in fact no one does due diligence — each organization relies on those that came before. Once in the door, a disreputable organization like CSID acquires a mainstream aura.
Or it does until its true identity becomes clear. Over and over again, branches of the American government have been embarrassed by their blindness to jihadist Islam.
In all these cases, no one was minding the store. The lesson is simple but burdensome: each governmental institution must do its own research.
In the war on terror, it is not enough to deploy the police and the military; it is just as necessary to recognize and reject those who develop the ideas that eventually lead to violence. The American government needs to wake up to those elements in its midst whose allegiance in the war on terror is on the other side.
Subject: Center for Islam and Democracy
From: Kay King
Sent: Wednesday, March 31, 2004
Dr. Richard Solomon asked me to respond to your e-mail regarding the Institute's March 19 workshop on "Ijtihad: Reinterpreting Islamic Principles for the 21st Century," which we co-sponsored with the Center for Islam and Democracy (CSID).
The purpose of the workshop was to provide an occasion for Muslim scholars committed to the reform of Islam and the advancement of a moderate Islamic agenda to address some of the most troublesome obstacles to adapting Islam for life in the 21st century, with implications for the status of women, the role of democracy in the Muslim world, and the nature of interfaith relations. The panelists, who are well established and highly regarded moderate Muslim scholars, presented very thoughtful and reformist positions. We invite you to view the event on our website at http://www.usip.org/events/2004/0319wksislam.html.
The Institute was aware of and took seriously the accusations made against CSID and some of the speakers at the event. These allegations were investigated carefully with credible private individuals and U.S. government agencies and found to be without merit. The public criticism of CSID and the speakers was found to be based on quotes taken out of context, guilt by association, errors of fact, and innuendo.
The speakers invited to the event have well-established records of promoting moderate Islamic perspectives, advocating democracy within the Muslim world, and opposing terrorism. One speaker, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, was invited by President Bush to lead a Muslim prayer at the Interfaith Prayer Service at the Washington National Cathedral after 9/11. He is also the leading Muslim participant in the Catholic/Muslim dialogue with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and has been very actively involved in other interfaith projects.
CSID, which co-sponsored the event, is judged by senior officials at the State Department and the National Endowment for Democracy, who have spoken from CSID's platform, to be a moderate organization dedicated to promoting Islamic reform and the establishment of democracy in Muslim countries. It strongly opposes dictatorship everywhere in the Arab and Muslim worlds.
With regard to the concern about Kamran Bokhari, this individual was not involved in the March 19 workshop in any way. He severed his ties to the al-Muhajiroun organization five years ago, prior to joining CSID, and has publicly denounced terrorism and political violence.
The Institute, in accordance with its Congressional mandate, and as requested by the Administration, is focusing on the full range of issues associated with relations between the United States on the one hand, and the varied countries of the Muslim world on the other hand. Institute programming does not represent endorsement of particular views. Our events intentionally bring together those of differing perspectives to highlight critical issues and provide guidance to policymakers. That said, there are clear limits regarding whom we will allow to use the Institute's podium. Advocates of violence are among those we would refuse to provide a platform.
Again, we appreciate your having taken the time to contact us with your concerns.
Director, Congressional and Public Affairs
U.S. Institute of Peace
MIM: Dr. Pipes response to the USIP critique points out the inaccuracies of their claims and set the record straight.
"The USIP responds to my critique"
I wrote an article last week in protest of the U.S. Institute of Peace's "co-hosting an event with a group closely associated with radical Islam," that being the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy. In addition, Kenneth Timmerman wrote a critique of this event, based in part on information from me.
Today the USIP has sent out a form letter in reply, signed by Kay King, its director of Congressional and Public Affairs. She writes that "The public criticism of CSID and the speakers was found to be based on quotes taken out of context, guilt by association, errors of fact, and innuendo."
This withering repudiation prompted me to reread my New York Sun article, and though I may be biased, I don't quite see how Ms King's statement stands up to scrutiny. Here are my replies to her:
More broadly, I regret that the USIP leadership remains in denial of its mistake on March 19 and even feels compelled to lash out against a board member interested in protecting both its reputation and the country at large from the scourge of militant Islam. (March 31, 2004)
May 14, 2004 update: My critique of USIP jointly sponsoring the event with CSID on March 19 focused on CSID's ties to one Kamran Bokhari, the North American spokesman for Al-Muhajiroun, which I characterized as "perhaps the most extreme Islamist group operating in the West." Today CSID sent out invitations to its 5th annual conference on May 28-29 and announced a talk then by that very same Kamran Bokhari, on "Justice and Political Legitimacy in Islamic Political Thought." Had the USIP done the right thing in March, this radical would probably not be invited in May.
Pipes Objects to Fox in the Henhouse
by Kenneth R. Timmerman
March 19, 2004
The congressionally funded United States Institute of Peace will host an event today in Washington on reforming Islam, with a guest panelist who has threatened the United States and openly supported terrorist groups, Insight has learned.
Among the guests in this afternoon's panel discussion is Muzammil Siddiqi, who until November 2001 was president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), a leading Wahhabi front organization in the United States. Wahhabism is a radical form of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia and advocated by al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and his terrorist leaders.
Siddiqi has accompanied visiting Saudi officials from the Muslim World League on fund-raising tours across America, and is listed on its Website as the organization's official representative in the United States. Offices of the Muslim World League in Herndon, Va., were raided by a federal antiterrorism task force in March 2002 because of suspected ties to al-Qaeda.
During an anti-Israel rally outside the White House on Oct. 28, 2000, Siddiqi openly threatened the United States with violence if it continued its support of Israel. "America has to learn ... if you remain on the side of injustice, the wrath of God will come. Please, all Americans. Do you remember that? ... If you continue doing injustice, and tolerate injustice, the wrath of God will come." By "injustice," he meant U.S. support for Israel.
Siddiqi also has called for a wider application of sharia law in the United States, and in a 1995 speech praised suicide bombers. "Those who die on the part of justice are alive, and their place is with the Lord, and they receive the highest position, because this is the highest honor," he was quoted as saying by the Kansas City Star on Jan. 28, 1995.
A Bush appointee to the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) says he must distance himself from today's event because it associates the USIP with groups "on the wrong side in the war on terrorism." USIP board member Daniel Pipes tells Insight that, in addition to his objection to Siddiqi, he has warned the USIP about the presence of the U.S. spokesman of al-Muhajiroun, a London-based group that claims to be recruiting jihadis for a worldwide "Mohammed's army" faithful to bin Laden.
Pipes tells Insight: "I believe that President [George W.] Bush appointed me to the USIP board in part to serve as a watchdog against militant Islamic groups. Unfortunately the management of USIP is not listening to my advice. I cannot be associated with the event today which associates USIP with some of the very worst militant Islamic groups."
Kay King, a spokesperson for USIP Chairman Richard Solomon, said USIP was "not aware of the allegations about Siddiqi, and we will look into them." However, she pointed out that Siddiqi "has attended Bush administration events with the president, and was invited to lead a prayer" at the national prayer breakfast following the September 11 attacks.
The March 19 event is cohosted by USIP and the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID), a U.S.-based group that was created by board members and former staff of the American Muslim Council (AMC), a radical pro-Saudi group that largely ceased operations after its former chairman, Abdulrahman Alamoudi, was jailed last October on terrorist-related charges.
Pipes raised his concerns with USIP Chairman Chester Crocker and President Richard Solomon over the "extremist nature of CSID itself" starting last November. In addition to board members and an executive director who shifted over to the new group from AMC, Pipes pointed out that CSID fellow Kamran Bokhari has ties to al-Muhajiroun, an al-Qaeda support group. Until last year, Bokhari was the self-acknowledged North American spokesman for al-Muhajiroun.
Insight reported on the group's first anniversary "celebration" of the 9/11 attacks, held at the radical Finsbury mosque in London, where al-Muhajiroun showed off a poster that portrayed a burning World Trade Center under attack and called September 11 "a towering day in history."
At the group's second anniversary 9/11 "celebration," its members distributed a poster with photographs of all 19 hijackers, calling them "the magnificent 19."
CSID "fellows" are not research assistants, but integral members of the leadership of the organization. According to a copy of the CSID bylaws Insight has obtained, CSID fellows are responsible for electing the group's board of directors. All board members must first be fellows.
Bokhari has issued a statement denouncing political violence and al-Qaeda, and referred to himself as a "former Islamist activist." But given his leadership role with al-Muhajiroun, Pipes says, such statements were "deeply insufficient to rehabilitate him ... or make him someone suitable to be associated with USIP."
Pipes first raised concerns over the planned event in November, when the USIP initially had invited Taha Jaber Al-Alwani to speak on a panel to discuss reforming Islam. Al-Alwani was publicly identified in an affidavit by U.S. Customs special agent David Kane, unsealed just weeks earlier, as a director of "Safa Group companies including International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), FIQH council of North America, Graduate School of Islamic & Social Sciences ... and Heritage Education Trust."
The IIIT offices were raided in March 2002 as part of Operation Greenquest, a joint federal antiterrorism task force. IIIT has received money and sponsorship from the government of Saudi Arabia, and according to the affidavit had sponsored Basheer Nafi, "an active directing member of [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] front organizations" in the United States.
Following Pipes' objection, the USIP postponed the initial event and canceled its invitation to Al-Alwani to join the panel discussion, but continued to work with CSID despite Pipes' claims that the group included among its leadership individuals who were on the "wrong side" in the war on terror.
USIP spokesperson Kay King says the institute has "done due diligence" on CSID and found the group to be "moderate" and "responsible."
"We know that CSID has gotten grants form the State Department and from the National Endowment for Democracy," she said. "They are an organization that has been found appropriate by U.S. government agencies."
CSID showcases moderate Muslim thinkers such as professor Abdulaziz Sachedina of the University of Virginia. However, many board members have either led or worked for groups that were targets of a federal antiterrorist task force raid in March 2002.
CSID founding board member Jamal Barzinji headed the "500 Grove Street" charities in Herndon, Va., that were the target of the Greenquest task force. He left the CSID board in April 2003.
Another CSID founding board member, Louay M. Safi , is director of research at IIIT, according to the biography posted on the CSID Website. He is reported previously to have worked at an IIIT offshoot in Malaysia.
The CSID board also includes Muslim leaders who are former or current board members of the American Muslim Council, starting with CSID chairman Ali A. Mazrui. "CSID is part of the militant Islamist lobby," Pipes tells Insight. "It is well-disguised, and has brought in all the Islamist trends, giving them a patent of respectability."
The group's executive director in 2002 was Abdulwahab Alkebsi, a former AMC staff member. Alkebsi also is reported to have worked for the Islamic Institute in Washington, and now runs democracy programs in Iraq for the National Endowment for Democracy that have promoted, among others, the Iraqi Communist Party.
Kenneth R. Timmerman is a senior writer for Insight.
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1200 17th Street NW • Washington, DC 20036 • 202.457.1700 • fax 202.429.6063
UNiteD StateS iNStitUte of PeaCe
• There are approximately 6 to 7.5 million Muslims in the United States who identify
themselves as Americans. The community consists of a combination of immigrants
and second- and third-generation Arab, Latino, Asian, European, African, and African-
• The growth of the American Muslim community has fostered the development of a
variety of religious, civic, political, cultural, economic, social, ethnic, feminist, artis-
tic, and professional organizations.
• The diversity of American Muslim organizations provides a vast number of voices
addressing such issues as terrorism, democracy, peacemaking, and human rights.
• American Muslims do not see contradictions between Islam and such ideals as democ-
racy, pluralism, or political activism; rather, in recent years several national groups
have made it their primary mission to reconcile all three with Islamic values.
• Some leaders see the blending of Islamic values with the American experience as
a solid bridge to mutual understanding between the United States and the Muslim
• American Muslim advocacy organizations often collaborate with the White House and
law enforcement authorities to devise strategies on public policy, civil rights, the war
against terrorism, and other related issues.
• Many organizations emphasize the importance of self-scrutiny and education in rela-
tion to the larger Islamic heritage.
• Interfaith dialogue has taken the forefront on the agendas of many American Muslim
organizations, demonstrating a belief that building trust, peace, and reconciliation
will ultimately lead to harmonious interfaith relations in the United States.
• American Muslim scholars advocate greater involvement by Muslims in the political,
social, economic, and cultural spheres of American society.
The United States Institute of Peace is an inde-
pendent, nonpartisan federal institution created
by Congress to promote the prevention, manage-
ment, and peaceful resolution of international
conflicts. Established in 1984, the Institute meets
its congressional mandate through an array of
programs, including research grants, fellowships,
professional training, education programs from
high school through graduate school, conferences
and workshops, library services, and publications.
The Institute's Board of Directors is appointed by
the President of the United States and confirmed
by the Senate.
J. Robinson West (Chair), Chairman, PFC Energy, Wash-
ington, D.C. • María otero (Vice Chair), President, ACCION
International, Boston, Mass. • Betty f. Bumpers, Founder
and former President, Peace Links, Washington, D.C. •
Holly J. Burkhalter, Director of U.S. Policy, Physicians
for Human Rights, Washington, D.C. • Chester a.
Crocker, James R. Schlesinger Professor of Strategic
Studies, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
• laurie S. fulton, Partner, Williams and Connolly,
Washington, D.C. • Charles Horner, Senior Fellow, Hudson
Institute, Washington, D.C. • Seymour Martin lipset,
Hazel Professor of Public Policy, George Mason University
• Mora l. Mclean, President, Africa-America Institute,
New York, N.Y. • Barbara W. Snelling, former State
Senator and former Lieutenant Governor, Shelburne, Vt.
eMbers ex officio
Michael M. Dunn, Lieutenant General, U.S.
Air Force; President, National Defense University •
Barry f. lowenkron, Assistant Secretary of State for
Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor • Peter W. Rodman,
Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security
Affairs • Richard H. Solomon, President, United States
Institute of Peace (nonvoting)
• American Muslim scholars believe Muslims have an enormous responsibility and talent
for resolving conflict and being agents for peace.
With recent attention on European Muslims in France, Belgium, Germany as well as with
the London bombings of July 7, 2005, there is a focus on how Western Muslims integrate,
assimilate, and contribute to society. This Special Report examines how American Muslims
have expressed themselves as Americans in a post 9/11 world of suspicion. In doing
so, this study analyzes different, major American Muslim organizations' activities and
their distinguishing views on violence, terrorism, and conflict resolution. The objective
of this Special Report is to identify key trends in American Muslim organizations; their
major religious and secular activities, as well as understand the ways in which American
Muslims are carving out a distinct American identity as citizens. This report demonstrates
that unlike Muslims in Europe, American Muslims do not feel marginalized, isolated, or
locked out of political participation. Social-economic mobility is far more obtainable. For
the most part, American Muslims have successfully created professional, cultural, human
rights, civil rights, educational, and political organizations as an expression of feeling
included in the larger spectrum of American society and liberal democracy. The analysis
presented here illustrates that American Muslims' contribution to the United States is a
product not only of their own diversity, but also of the diversity of views in understanding
themselves as Americans.
American Muslims face a range of challenges to which Muslim organizations are
responding. After 9/11, American Muslims have had to confront widespread suspicion,
challenges to civil liberties, a Muslim-specific response to Muslim radicalism (domestically
and internationally), and the war on terrorism. In doing so, Muslim and Arab Americans
have created a variety of new organizations and invigorated existing ones. The material
in this report describes and analyzes the programmatic responses of key American Muslim
organizations to these challenges. In addressing these challenges, these organizations
walk a fine line between reassuring the American public about Muslims and Islam, while
not alienating their constituents on issues important to them.
The American Muslim community consists of a wide range of ethnic, racial, cultural, and
professional groups, all of which contribute immensely diverse opinions on contemporary
issues, such as conflict and peacemaking. With the war in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as
the implementation of the Patriot Act, American Muslims no longer play an undefined role
in American policy; rather, many political analysts and congressional representatives are
seeking them out as sources of information. In the aftermath of 9/11, American Muslim
organizations became critical consultants for U.S. foreign policies toward Afghanistan
and Iraq. In addition to offering policy analysis, several American Muslim organizations
have made it a priority to work with law enforcement agencies in identifying intolerant
attitudes within the Muslim community. Some American Muslim organizations created in
the wake of 9/11 have a stated mission to support the armed forces unconditionally in
order to defeat the global threat of terrorism. Other organizations have devised alternative
strategies, such as fostering interfaith dialogue and examining ways to reconcile Islam
with democracy in Muslim societies as a means of dealing with violence and promoting
The rich diversity of the American Muslim community illustrates that there is no single
—both Sunni and Shia—dedicated to the spiritual development and religious life of
American Muslims. Some prominent national civil rights groups based in Washington, D.C.
are committed to the protection of American Muslim civil rights and interests. Several
American Muslim legal organizations are also working toward increasing Muslims' legal
knowledge and expertise to help them develop greater awareness of the American judicial
system and the opportunities with democratic institutions. There are human rights and
feminist organizations devoted to improving the lives of women by battling domestic
violence in the United States and abroad. Several, new American Muslim organizations are
devoted to combining education and activism in order to foster identity, promote social
justice, achieve gender equality, and create a more meaningful interpretation of their
Islamic beliefs. Some recently formed groups believe that interfaith dialogue with Chris-
tians and Jews on both local and national levels is critical to understanding their religion
within a monotheistic tradition. Some organizations believe that for Muslims to be truly
Americans, they must be active partners in U.S. efforts to eliminate global terrorism and
radicalism, including anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and all forms of bigotry.
The Pew Research Center for the People conducted a survey immediately following the
London bombings that indicated that 55 percent of Americans had favorable opinions of
American Muslims, an increase from 45 percent in March 2001. The report showed that
there was considerably less hostility toward Muslims in the United States and Europe than
four years previously. Simultaneously, the survey showed that in predominantly Muslim
societies, support for acts of terrorism in defense of Islam had vastly declined.
Shortly after the London bombings, the National Fiqh Council of North America, an
American Muslim group concerned with Islamic jurisprudence, issued an extraordinary
fatwa (a nonbinding legal opinion) condemning all forms of extremism, terrorism, and any
destruction of property or human life, and it specifically called the perpetrators "crimi-
nals." The fatwa stated that it is forbidden for any Muslim to cooperate with individuals
or groups involved with violence, and it is Muslims' civic and religious duty to support law
enforcement efforts to protect the lives of all civilians.
The American Muslim community faces a complex set of challenges and debates after
the 9/11 attacks. Even during a climate of Muslim suspicion, most American Muslims favor
political involvement and are open to being involved in civil society institutions. While
the community cannot be categorized as conservative or liberal, there is increasing par-
ticipation in local activities, such as school boards, parent-teacher associations, interfaith
programs, city councils, and chambers of commerce, compared to a decade ago. Also with
the Patriot Act, stricter immigration regulations, greater surveillance over their religious
and charitable institutions, and the Christian religious right discriminatory statements
against Islam created instant challenges for American Muslims to develop coalitions and
partnerships with law enforcement, politicians, and other organizations.
A decade ago, most studies on American Muslims simplistically categorized American
Muslims into two groups: immigrants and converts. It was common for these studies to
classify the American Muslims as a community in "diaspora"—referring to their non-
indigenous and foreign origins. However, American Muslims are far more complex than
the essential ethnic categories of Arab-American, African-American, or Turkish-American.
These ethnic categories may capture a certain aspect of ethnic origins, but they miss
the trend of American Muslims using alternative identities to express themselves. Over
the past decade, or more, the emergence of Islamic centers, Islamic schools, community-
based groups, social service and charitable organizations, public advocacy associations,
political parties, professional associations, and research organizations have all contrib-
uted to multiple identities that go beyond a one-dimensional ethnic identity. American
Muslims, like many Americans, have an amalgamation of identities—some have religious
meaning; while others are linked to the variety of activities in which they are involved.
The diversity of American Muslim organizations demonstrates an interesting mosaic
of perspectives on, opinions about, and approaches to being an American and the roles
The analysis presented here
illustrates that American Muslims'
contribution to the United States
is a product not only of their own
diversity, but also of the diversity
of views in understanding
themselves as Americans.
The Pew Research Center for the
People conducted a survey
immediately following the London
bombings that indicated that 55
percent of Americans had favorable
opinions of American Muslims, an
increase from 45 percent in
While the community cannot
be categorized as conservative
or liberal, there is increasing
participation in local activities,
such as school boards, parent-
teacher associations, interfaith
programs, city councils, and
chambers of commerce, com-
pared to a decade ago.
of Muslims in conflict prevention and resolution. National umbrella organizations have
endeavored to integrate all the ethnic and racial Muslim communities as a way to bring
all groups together based on common issues. There is an overwhelming consensus within
American Muslim organizations to promote mutual understanding through interfaith dia-
logue, political participation, education, activism, charity, public diplomacy, and an aware-
ness of civil rights. American Muslim organizations, both religious and secular, contribute a
distinctive voice to the national conversation on conflict prevention and terrorism.
Conducted between July 7, 2005 (the day of the first terrorist attacks in London) and
July 17, 2005, the Pew Research Center for the People survey, Islamic Extremism: Com-
mon Concern for Muslim and Western Publics, reported that the number of Americans who
believe Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence fell noticeably, from
44 percent in 2003 to 36 percent in 2005. A majority of Americans (55 percent) said they
have a favorable opinion of American Muslims. That figure is significantly higher than the
45 percent holding favorable views in March 2001, prior to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The Pew Global Attitudes Project, a seventeen-nation, 17,000-respondent global atti-
tudes survey, found that the majority of Muslims believe radicalism poses a threat to the
stability of their respective countries. There is very little agreement among Muslims on the
causes of extremism; however, 38 percent of survey participants in Pakistan and 39 percent
in Morocco pointed to poverty, severe economic disparities, and joblessness; 35 percent in
Indonesia thought immorality was the primary cause; and 34 percent in Turkey attributed
extremism to lack of education. However, in the more pluralistic nations of Jordan and
Lebanon, respectively 38 percent and 40 percent cited U.S. policies as the primary cause
of Islamic extremism.
The most important part of the Pew study shows that support for acts of terrorism in
defense of Islam has declined immensely among Muslims overseas. In the past three years,
support for terrorism fell in Lebanon from 73 percent to 39 percent, in Indonesia from 27
percent to 15 percent, and in Pakistan from 33 percent to 25 percent. In just the past year
in Morocco, it declined from 40 percent to 13 percent.
Even in a post 9/11 world and with the uncertainties in the war against terrorism, there
are favorable views of Muslims in most countries in Europe and North America. Hostility
toward Muslims is actually much lower in the United States and in Canada than in Great
Britain and other Western countries surveyed. Some have argued that rather than being
isolated, both Sunni and Shia American Muslim organizations have facilitated an under-
standing with other Americans through active participation in the political arena with a
coalition of grassroots community organizations.
The Fiqh Council of North America: U.S. Muslim Religious Council Fatwa Against
Terrorism (religious/Islamic law)
As noted, on July 27, 2005, the Fiqh Council of North America, an American Muslim group
concerned with Islamic jurisprudence, issued an historic fatwa, a nonbinding legal opin-
ion, that condemned terrorism and religious extremism. The fatwa stated:
"Islam strictly condemns religious extremism and the use of violence against
innocent lives. There is no justification in Islam for extremism or terrorism.
Targeting civilians' life and property through suicide bombings or any other
method of attack is forbidden—and those who commit these barbaric acts are
criminals, not martyrs."
There is an overwhelming con-
sensus within American Muslim
organizations to promote mutual
understanding through interfaith
dialogue, political participation,
education, activism, charity, public
diplomacy, and an awareness of
"Targeting civilians' life and prop-
erty through suicide bombings
or any other method of attack is
forbidden—and those who commit
these barbaric acts are criminals,
—Fiqh Council of North
The sixteen-member panel of the Fiqh Council is composed of mainly Sunni scholars
who traditionally comment on religious and secular life. The fatwa quoted the famous
Koranic passage 5:32, which states, "Whoever kills a person unjustly, it is as though he
has killed all of humanity. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he has saved all of
Almost two weeks after the London bombings of July 7, 2005, and an astonishing
number of suicide bombings around the same time in Iraq, the U.S. fatwa asserted con-
cisely that (1) all acts of terrorism targeting civilians are forbidden in Islam; (2) it is
forbidden for a Muslim to cooperate with any individual or group involved in any act of
terrorism or violence; and (3) it is the civic and religious duty of Muslims to cooperate
with law enforcement authorities to protect the lives of all civilians.
A scholar of jurisprudence usually writes and issues a fatwa to respond to contempo-
rary disputed issues and the related legal challenges. The scholar must be grounded in
the classical legal systems of thinking and be cognizant of the legal histories surrounding
the issues. Unlike papal edicts from the Roman Catholic Church, a fatwa does not commit
Muslims to the scholar's legal opinion; rather, it can be viewed as a dialogue between the
scholar and the American Muslim community at large. The social and political function
of the American fatwa means these legal-religious and societal issues are not only critical
for the community, but in this instance leading American Muslim scholars are asserting
their authority on the topic of conflict and terrorism. This articulated declaration is a
demonstration that American Muslims are defining and affirming an unambiguous posi-
tion on conflict prevention and terrorism—a position carefully constructed in a post 9/11
atmosphere. Two hundred American Muslim organizations and mosques supported the
historic fatwa of July 2005, the first of its kind to assemble a consensus on such a grand
scale. It concluded by affirming,
Although the fatwa urged the importance of the illegality and nontraditional nature
of terrorism and extremism in Islam, some American Muslim critics felt it did not go far
enough in identifying Osama bin Laden and his associates as terrorists. Muslim critics
argued the fatwa was merely a symbol to demonstrate publicly the Fiqh Council's positions
on the issues of violence and terrorism. Further, they wished the fatwa had used fewer
scriptural references and shown a more contemporary global understanding of terrorism
and the sociopolitical context of violence. Instead of issuing such statements as "God
mandates moderation in faith and in all aspects of life," many American Muslim critics
said the Fiqh Council needed to address specifically issues of discrimination, injustice, and
social and political inequality, and to express ideas that actually touch people's daily lives.
This fatwa, like all legal opinions, was written to respond to a particular concern, but it
also produced a vibrant debate within the American Muslim community.
Islamic Society of North America (religious)
The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is the national Sunni association of Muslim
organizations that provides a common platform for presenting Islam, supporting Muslim
communities, and developing educational, social, and outreach programs, such as inter-
faith dialogue. ISNA's headquarters is located in Plainfield, Indiana, where they feel a
"We issue this fatwa following the guidance of our scripture, the Qur'an, and the
teachings of our Prophet Muhammad—peace be upon him. We urge all people
to resolve all conflicts in just and peaceful manners. We pray for the defeat of
extremism and terrorism. We pray for the safety and security of our country, the
United States, and its people. We pray for the safety and security of all inhabitants
of our planet. We pray that interfaith harmony and cooperation prevail both in the
United States and all around the globe."
comfortable fit in rural America. The combination of interfaith activities and charitable
activities has made ISNA successful in integrating Muslims in the heart of the American
social fabric. A major supporter of the fatwa issued in late July 2005 and one of the pri-
mary religious Islamic organizations in the United States, ISNA objectives include provid-
ing leadership and religious training to religious leaders (imams), developing community
programs, educating young Muslims in religion, and expanding interfaith programs.
The annual ISNA Convention, convened during Labor Day weekend, is the largest
gathering of Muslims in North America. This convention brings together more than 40,000
attendees, including individuals, families, businesses, scholars, nonprofit organizations,
dignitaries, and people of other faiths. The attendee demographics encompass a wide
spectrum of professions and backgrounds. The convention provides an opportunity to lis-
ten to and interact with eminent Muslim scholars and leaders and to meet and exchange
views with Muslims and people of other faiths. In addition, ISNA holds regional confer-
ences in different cities throughout the United States and Canada on subjects such as
"The Islamic Education Forum," "Muslims Against Domestic Violence," "Muslims on the
Information-Highway," and "Islam in America."
Viewed as the mainstream Sunni Islam group, ISNA was one of the leading American
Muslim groups to voice criticism against Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney when he
suggested in September 2005 that there be a national surveillance program of mosques
instituted in the United States. American Muslim critics have repeatedly stated that
ISNA's focus on religious and interreligious programs isolates them from critical issues
like civil rights, public policy, immigration enforcement, and the war on terrorism. ISNA's
deliberate refusal to engage in these areas has led to serious criticisms of their overall
leadership role in the American Muslim community.
Shiite Islam in America
Overall, the American Shia community is a minority within the Muslim community, and
it has experienced major transformations over the past two decades. Often faced with
religious stereotypes and misunderstanding of Shiite Islam, the American Muslim Shia
community consists of a diverse group from East Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and
Europe. Shia Muslim Americans form small centers called jamaats where religious services
and educational programs are conducted.
The North American Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities (religious)
The largest umbrella group for Shia Muslims is called the North American Shia Ithna-
Asheri Muslim Communities (NASIMCO) and is an example of creating a central authority.
NASIMCO formed the Islamic Education Board in order to have standardized books for
religious schools. They also publish resources on Shia history and theology. The organiza-
tion's website provides a database for research and maintains a calendar for Shia events.
In 1994, the Council of Shia Muslim Scholars in North America was created as a central
body of Shia American Muslim religious leaders, also known as imams.
Another important American Shia Muslim institution is the Imam Al-Khoei Foundation
in New York, named after the famous Iraqi Shia philanthropist and scholar. In the United
States, the Al-Khoei Foundation is a leading Shia Muslim institution that has a full-time
accredited school from kindergarten through twelfth grades, and it conducts all religious
rituals relating to Shiism in Urdu, Persian, Arabic, and English.
Both NASIMCO and the Al-Khoei Foundation maintain that violence, terrorism against
noncombatants, and all types of extremist attitudes are illegal in Islamic law. With a
hierarchical clerical class, trained jurists can only decide legal reinterpretations of war.
NASIMCO, the Al-Khoei Foundation, and other Shia organizations feel that there is a gross
misunderstanding of Shia Islamic beliefs and practices, and global politics more often
eschew the essential teachings of their faith.
The combination of interfaith
activities and charitable activi-
ties has made ISNA successful in
integrating Muslims in the heart
of the American social fabric.
Zaytuna Institute (religious/Islamic law)
Zaytuna Institute was founded in 1996 by Hamza Yusuf and Hesham Alalusi and incor-
porated in 1998 in Hayward, California. Zaytuna Institute is an educational organization
established to revive classical training in Islamic jurisprudence and in Koranic studies in
order create a new generation of American Muslims to build upon the intellectual history
of Islam. Zaytuna Institute adheres to the idea that American Muslims need to reconnect
with the heritage of Islam in order to gain a holistic and comprehensive understanding of
the world. The Institute believes that Muslims will become enlightened citizens through
engagement with and critical study of Islamic texts. According to Zaytuna Institute's
beliefs, one of the many illnesses in American society is disillusionment with the relativ-
ism, nihilism, and materialism of modern life that have created spiritually empty lives for
many people. The Institute hopes education will fulfill the lives of American Muslims.
Hamza Yusuf was one of the many American Muslim leaders the White House consulted
after 9/11 as a way of fostering tolerance and dispelling the fears of American Muslims
about the rising backlash. Zaytuna Institute has aggressively condemned terrorism and
sectarian violence in the Middle East and around the globe. It believes terrorism arises
from individuals who have very little or no knowledge of Islamic ethics and religious prin-
ciples and are misusing the religion for their own political agendas.
Zaytuna Institute believes the appropriate way for American Muslims to combat extrem-
ist ideologies is to recognize the level of ignorance that dominates their understanding
of faith and the world. For the Zaytuna Institute, the struggle is to study, to examine
oneself, and to connect with the diversity of religious ethics as guidance. Knowledge in
itself is not the goal; instead, the purpose is to obtain wisdom from sacred scriptures and
to learn from past and present eminent scholars. Their understanding of terrorism differs
from typical political, social, economical, and ideological analysis; whereby, they view ter-
rorism as a belief of ignorant nihilism as better than life. For them the best way to counter
terrorism is to restore order with enlightened, broad-based, pluralistic, and tolerant educa-
tion in order to cultivate values of citizenship. Major issues, such as economic injustice,
racism, the oppression of women, classism, totalitarianism, and the lack of freedom of
expression are all part of manipulating the natural order. The Institute believes human
illnesses can be treated only through healing the hearts of humanity with spiritual truths
and an understanding of the true purpose of existence. Zaytuna Institute's mission is to
establish a leading educational institution for the cultivation of intelligent, open-minded
individuals who are grounded in the Islamic tradition in their response to terrorism and
all types of injustice.
American Society for Muslim Advancement (religious/interfaith)
ASMA's mission is to build bridges with the Muslim and non-Muslim community through
workshops, conferences, interfaith dialogues, and the arts. ASMA believes that American
Muslim youth need to be empowered with a faith that is tolerant, forward-thinking, and
develops a distinct American Muslim identity. Feisal Abdul Rauf, a prominent New York
City imam, is the founder of the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA) and
author of What's Right with Islam: A New Vision for Muslims and The West (San Francisco:
Harper San Francisco 2004). He has worked in the area of interfaith dialogue not only
nationally but also with interreligious organizations in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and
Australia. According to Imam Feisal: "Dialogue between the religions offers the opportu-
nity for uncovering the common ground of shared values and goals that resonate in each
of our faiths, even as we clarify real differences. Dialogue within a religion offers the
opportunity for its adherents to be amazed at real differences that can arise from shared
theology and ritual."
Since 9/11, Imam Feisal has been one of the most visible American Muslim leaders
in speaking against terrorism and the misuse of religion to defend extremist ideologies.
Zaytuna Institute adheres to the
idea that American Muslims need
to reconnect with the heritage of
Islam in order to gain a holistic
and comprehensive understanding
of the world.
According to Imam Feisal: "Dia-
logue between the religions offers
the opportunity for uncovering
the common ground of shared
values and goals that resonate
in each of our faiths, even as we
clarify real differences. Dialogue
within a religion offers the oppor-
tunity for its adherents to be
amazed at real differences that
can arise from shared theology
He called the London terrorist attacks "crimes against humanity" and said, "We cry out
against such violence and seek to console those who have suffered from it."
In December 2004, Imam Feisal spoke at a seminar entitled "Confronting Islamophobia:
Education for Tolerance and Understanding" hosted by Shashi Tharoor, under secretary-
general for communications and public information of the United Nations. Imam Feisal
reiterated a famous hadith, or saying of the Prophet Muhammad, that the diversity of
opinions is a blessing in his community, and explained how this saying not only advocates
tolerance, but also mandates that Muslims understand traditions other than their own. He
added that there need to be interlocutors in the American Muslim community to work with
other religious traditions to communicate Muslims' fears, hopes, and aspirations in order
to engage each other in peaceful ways. Imam Feisal said that Islamophobia is an awful
experience to live with; however, there is an opportunity to learn from Jewish and Catholic
communities that have handled severe prejudices in the last century.
Cordoba Initiative (religious/interfaith)
The Cordoba Initiative is a unique multifaith organization and an affiliate of ASMA that
strives toward healing the relationship between the Islamic World and the United States.
Named after the great medieval Spanish city known for its pluralism and religious toler-
ance, members of the Cordoba Initiative believe intercultural understanding and sincere
educational programs will stimulate creative thinking on peace in the Middle East. The Cor-
doba Initiative has cooperated with Christian and Jewish religious leaders to examine the
underlying roots of cultural intolerance and violence. Moving beyond descriptive analysis of
political violence, the Initiative aspires to make an impact on religious self-understanding,
identity, and the treatment of others.
Daisy Khan of the Cordoba Initiative stated that there is a real need for Muslims in
America to accept their enormous responsibility to forge new creative thinking about
religion, peace, and violence. She asserted that the freedom of thought and expres-
sion lacking in most predominantly Muslim cultures means there is a greater burden on
American Muslims to work toward reforming these oppressive societies. In a short time,
the Cordoba Initiative has been successful in bringing together younger Muslim scholars,
activists, businesspersons, artists, physicians, and others from around the world to engage
in serious scrutiny of their Islamic identity and tradition. Khan believes that freedom of
expression allows American Muslims an incredible amount of space in which to be creative
with their religious self-understanding, and this process is connected to helping Muslims
self-discover their own meaning.
International Islamic Conference on True Islam and Its Role in Modern Society
In July 2005, both Imam Feisal's and Khan's groups attended the historic "International
Islamic Conference on True Islam and Its Role in Modern Society" in Amman, Jordan, held
by His Majesty King Abdullah II. The conference produced a final declaration of more than
180 scholars representing forty-five countries—supported by fatwas garnered beforehand
from seventeen of the world's major Islamic scholars, including Shaykh Al-Azhar, Grand
Ayatollah al-Sistani, and Sheikh Yusef Al-Qaradawi. The scholars unanimously condemned
the practice known as takfir, calling others "apostates," which extremists use to justify
violence. The Amman meeting also recognized the legitimacy of all eight of the traditional
schools of Islamic religious law from the Sunni, Shiite and Ibadi branches of Islam, and
identified their common theologies, ethics, principles, and beliefs. It defined the necessary
qualifications and conditions for issuing fatwas, thereby exposing the illegitimacy of the
so-called ones that justify terrorism and are in clear violation of Islam's core principles.
The Amman conference was successful in bringing both Sunni and Shiite leaders from
around the globe to cooperate against the rising tide of extremism. The King of Jordan
will sponsor a subsequent conference titled "The Iraqi Islamic Reconciliation Summit,"
which will engage Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani and major Iraqi Sunni scholars in discuss-
ing sectarian violence and intrafaith dialogue in Islam. This is an example of American
Muslim leaders' gradual involvement with the affairs of the larger Muslim world and view
that their work can go beyond local and national issues. The significance of American
Muslims engaging in the religious, political, and social affairs of global Muslim politics
demonstrates aspirations to contribute to global affairs and to express a distinct position
and identity from the global Muslim community.
American Muslims Intent on Learning and Activism (religious, social activism)
American Muslims Intent on Learning and Activism (AMILA, which means "to work" or
"to act" in Arabic) is a well-known, California-based organization that builds commu-
nity through activism, Islamic education, spirituality, and networking with other groups.
AMILA's goals are to develop a community that helps each member to grow spiritually,
to foster brotherhood and sisterhood, and to cultivate a greater divine consciousness.
Recognized by many American Muslim leaders as one of the nation's most dynamic Muslim
organizations, AMILA is entering its second decade as an influential voice among young
Founded by second-generation American Muslims born and raised in the San Francisco
Bay Area of northern California, AMILA has an introspective and undogmatic approach
to religion. AMILA provides its members an array of events and groups, such as inviting
Muslim and non-Muslim intellectuals to their lecture series, study groups, book clubs, and
annual Ramadan spiritual retreats. AMILA has remarkably cultivated over five new cycles
of elected leaders, both men and women. AMILA's inclusive message has bridged the dif-
ferences between Muslims of different ethnic and ideological backgrounds by including
Sunnis, Shiites, Sufis, African-Americans, and converts.
The organization stands adamantly against any and all acts of terrorism and any use of
violence. AMILA views the outer conflict of terrorism as a mirror reflection of the complex
social and political inequities that exist in Muslim societies. One critical response to elimi-
nating terrorism is to focus on education and activism that will aid in bringing spiritual
awareness and harmony to others. The lifelong process of learning and activism binds the
members to one another, thereby helping them develop a strong sense of community.
Relying on the skills of its members with computer expertise, AMILA uses cyberspace
and the media for coalition building with non-Muslim organizations, both secular and
religious. AMILA has collaborated with groups on a "Walk for Remembrance and Peace,"
promoted a cultural and philanthropic program regarding Islamic art fairs, sponsored a
multi-faith event called "Eid Festival for Everyone," and sponsored a biannual gift drive for
hundreds of children in the Bay Area for the Muslim holidays. AMILA is at the forefront of
forging an American Muslim identity that begins with communal faith building and fosters
respect for the diversity of beliefs both within Islam and from other traditions. Increasing
spirituality and Islamic knowledge has been a major emphasis in AMILA. Besides inviting
speakers for monthly meetings, AMILA has sponsored intensive study groups on topics
such as "The Science of the Qur'an" and "The Concept of Worship in Islam."
Muslim Public Affairs Council (civic/political)
One of the supporters of the fatwa was the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), which,
since 1988, has been working for the civil rights of American Muslims and a constructive
relationship between American Muslims and their political representatives. MPAC promotes
an American Muslim identity by fostering grassroots activities and by training a future
generation of Muslim activists in the political process. MPAC is committed to the under-
standing that empowering the community requires educating individuals with the skills
The significance of American
Muslims engaging in the religious,
political, and social affairs of
global Muslim politics demonstrates
aspirations to contribute to global
affairs and to express a distinct
position and identity from the
global Muslim community.
necessary for them to be effective American citizens. In addition, MPAC tries to encour-
age an accurate portrayal of Muslims and of Islam in mass media and popular culture by
educating the American public about diversity within the tradition.
MPAC initiated a "National Grassroots Campaign to Fight Terrorism" that consists of
the endorsement and participation of over 600 mosques and Muslim institutions across
the country. MPAC's "National Grassroots Campaign to Fight Terrorism" has three essential
components: (1) enlighten religious awareness and education within the American Muslim
community, stressing a zero-tolerance policy on terrorism or the suicidal destruction of
human life or property; (2) protect mosques and Muslim institutions from external forces
that wish to exploit them; and (3) train community members on the necessary skills to
detect potential criminal activities and work with local and federal law enforcement agen-
cies. The campaign training manual states, "It is our duty as American Muslims to protect
our country and to contribute to its betterment . . . Muslims should be at the forefront of
preventing [terrorist] attacks from happening." MPAC has seen a visible change with its
"Campaign to Fight Terrorism," particularly by holding regular town meetings and training
sessions in American Muslim communities.
In November 2002, MPAC testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on "An
Assessment of Tools Needed to Fight the Financing of Terrorism." As part of its ongoing
efforts to protect the civil liberties of American Muslims, MPAC sponsored a variety of
forums on topics that included the following:
• "America's Image in the Muslim World,"
• "Religious Freedom in the Muslim World,"
• "Nuclear Disarmament," and
• "The Islamic Stand Against Terrorism."
In the aftermath of 9/11, MPAC was flooded with reports of hate crimes and discrimina-
tion, which prompted creating a department specializing in victim assistance. By Decem-
ber 2001, MPAC had officially established its Hate Crimes Prevention Department and had
partnered with Los Angeles County's Hate Crime Victim Assistance and Advocacy Initiative
to aid in victim assistance and hate crime prevention.
MPAC's unambiguous position on terrorism, suicide bombings, and other illegal attacks
on civilians and noncombatants has been its primary message to community leaders, the
media, policymakers, and law enforcement officials. The organization aims to elucidate
that global terrorism repulses American Muslims and that they could be active players in
preventing attacks. As an important integral group in American pluralism and democracy,
MPAC believes American Muslims must take on more civic duties to increase their presence
in local and national discussions.
In March 2005, MPAC held a "Muslim Policy Forum to Enhance Government-Muslim
Dialogue" with members from national Muslim organizations and the Justice Depart-
ment, including the assistant attorney general—Division for Civil Rights, and the Treasury
Department. Stressing the need for Muslim charitable institutions to become more diligent
in identifying funding sources, Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of MPAC, said, "The
creation of [a] National Council is a historic step in the coordination of activities and
responsibilities within the American Muslim nonprofit sector." In response to the London
attacks that year, MPAC organized young Muslim leaders across the country, including
members of the national Muslim Students Association, to announce that they "condemn
all acts of terrorism and the ideology of hatred that fuels them."
Council on American Islamic Relations (civic/political)
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is the nation's largest Muslim civil
rights and advocacy group, with regional offices nationwide and in Canada. The national
headquarters, established in 1994, is located on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. After the
The Muslim Public Affairs
Council aims to enlighten religious
awareness and education within
the American Muslim community,
stressing a zero-tolerance policy on
terrorism or the suicidal destruc-
tion of human life or property as
a part of its "National Grassroots
Campaign to Fight Terrorism."
1991 Persian Gulf War and before CAIR became a formalized organization, the founding
members met informally to promote a positive image of Islam and Muslims in America
by providing the media with accurate information on Islamic beliefs, practices, and cul-
tures. It naturally progressed to work toward education and advocacy on behalf of the
American Muslim community. In addition to promoting Muslim representation in politics,
the media, and domestic policymaking groups, CAIR encourages American Muslims to be
politically active and to take their civic duties seriously in American society.
Since its inception, CAIR has been aggressive in condemning all acts of violence
against civilians by any individual, group, or state. After the 9/11 attacks, CAIR was one
of the leading American Muslim organizations to collaborate with the White House on
issues of safety and foreign policy. CAIR devised a plan on domestic policies that stud-
ied the problems of limiting civil rights, permitting racial, ethnic, or religious profiling,
infringing on due process, and preventing American Muslims and others from participat-
ing fully in American civic life. For over three years, CAIR has been running a public
service announcement called "Not in the Name of Islam," which explicitly denounces
Muslim extremism and advocates dialogue between faith communities both in America
and worldwide. In response to the London bombings, CAIR's urgent announcement
stated, "We condemned the barbaric bombings and (we) join Americans of all faiths, and
all people of conscience worldwide, in condemning these barbaric crimes that can never
be justified or excused."
CAIR has been a critical player in asking Congress to conduct civil liberties oversight
hearings on the implementation of the Patriot Act and to ensure that activities truly
target terrorism—not civil liberties. In December 2001, CAIR appeared before the U.S.
Commission on Civil Rights to testify on 115 cases of employment discrimination fol-
lowing the 9/11 attacks. In January 2002, CAIR went before the Judiciary Committee in
the House of Representatives to testify on the serious problems of racial and religious
profiling faced by American Muslims, and it reported nearly 1,700 complaints from com-
Mohamed Nimer, the research director for CAIR and author of The North American
Muslim Resource Guide, published a policy bulletin entitled "Islam, Democracy and Ameri-
can Muslims" that discusses the diversity of the American Muslim community in terms
of ethnicity, religious observance, race, and socioeconomic class. The report noted that
democratic practices in Muslim institutions are evident in their formal membership, the
inclusion of women in leadership, the election of a board, the terms of leadership, the
thoroughness of their constitutions, and their visionary statement for the community. The
policy bulletin highlights how American Muslims have established faith-based and ethnic-
based organizations; some promote educational and social organizations and businesses,
while others, namely Islamic centers across the country, function on a multidimensional
level. According to Nimer, "American Muslims embrace democratic change and value plu-
ralism as principles consistent with Islamic teachings," which are crucial ideas because
"the blending of Islamic values with the American democratic experience can provide a
solid bridge of understanding between America and the Muslim world."
CAIR's work in defending the civil rights of American Muslims has not come without
criticism. Some advocacy groups believe CAIR's criticism of American foreign policy,
particularly on the Israel/Palestine conflict, is excessively one-sided. CAIR has been
criticized as being too soft on Palestinian suicide bombers or hypercritical of Israel. Some
critics are American Muslims themselves who disagree with CAIR's positions on domestic
and foreign policy issues and advocate an open exchange of ideas in the American Muslim
community. Within academia, several American Muslim scholars have asserted that CAIR's
vision of Islam is essentialist, and their statements on Islamic beliefs are presented often
as simplistic and dogmatic. In the midst of all types of criticism, CAIR maintains that
their primary mission is to protect the civil rights of American Muslims and to provide
accurate information on Islam.
For over three years, CAIR has
been running a public service
announcement called "Not in the
Name of Islam," which explicitly
denounces Muslim extremism and
advocates dialogue between faith
communities both in America and
American Muslim Alliance (civic/political)
The American Muslim Alliance (AMA) is a national civic organization determined to trans-
form the American Muslim community by training and supporting Muslims in the U.S.
political system. The organization is working toward three goals: (1) identifying Muslims
who are capable of running for office in the U.S. Congress or a state's legislature; (2)
supporting qualified American Muslims elected as delegates to the Democratic and Repub-
lican state and national conventions; and (3) producing leaders for American mainstream
politics. AMA views itself as taking active responsibility for U.S. homeland security, while
simultaneously building coalitions with fellow Americans on a wide variety of social,
political, economic, and moral issues. AMA is committed to the idea that political power
is a result of a community's efforts in areas of initiative, innovation, and determination.
AMA believes the frustration of some American Muslims concerning U.S. foreign
and domestic policy can be resolved in meaningful ways, such as by participating in a
grassroots political process that relies on its citizens to articulate policy concerns. AMA
supports workshops on volunteering with the office of a local representative, city council
member, or state senator. AMA concentrates on political education, leadership training,
campaign and issue analysis, developing political strategies, and gaining insight on poli-
cymaking decisions. As an organization, AMA issues endorsements and election advisories
to educate Muslims about the candidates and the issues of concern.
On the topics of terrorism and senseless violence, AMA has consistently condemned
these actions as baseless and horrific. AMA believes transforming present frustration and
anger into constructive and meaningful action will empower the American Muslim com-
munity and will ultimately encourage its members to be more responsible citizens. One
way of achieving this goal is to move beyond attempting to influence candidates and
elected officials by actively participating in the American political system. At this time,
AMA has ninety-eight chapters in thirty-one states and aspires to organize chapters in all
fifty states and in each of the 435 congressional districts.
Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (political/research)
The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) is a nonprofit organization, based
in Washington, D.C., dedicated to studying Islamic and democratic political thought and
to merging these two streams into a modern Islamic democratic discourse. Founded in
1999, CSID consists of a diverse group of academics, professionals, and activists from
all around the world who examine how democratic reform and liberal democracy can be
institutionalized in the Muslim world.
CSID's primary objective is to conduct rigorous research on the principles of Western
democracy and on Islamic principles of governance and law. CSID sponsors conferences,
workshops, and training sessions in the Muslim world and holds its annual meeting in
Washington, D.C. In 2005, the sixth annual conference had distinguished keynote speak-
ers, such as Andrew Natsios, administrator of the United States Agency for International
Development; Carl Gershman at the National Endowment for Democracy; Lorne Craner at
the International Republican Institute; Michael Kozak at the Department of State; and
Anwar Ibrahim, former prime minister of Malaysia and named CSID's Muslim Democrat of
CSID has been proactive in denouncing all forms of terrorism and acts of violence. In
response to the London bombings, CSID's statement said, "These senseless acts are in
complete violation of the basic moral and ethical principles of Islam and of other faith
traditions, we maintain that there is absolutely no justification for them on any grounds."
Asma Afsaruddin, chair of CSID's board and associate professor of Arabic and Islamic
Studies at Notre Dame University, said, "CSID's primary mission is to promote democratic,
pluralistic societies in the Islamic world based on the teachings and intellectual heritage
of Islam itself. It is absolutely crucial that we continue to investigate nonviolent means
"CSID's primary mission is to promote
democratic, pluralistic societies in the
Islamic world based on the teachings
and intellectual heritage of Islam
itself. It is absolutely crucial that we
continue to investigate nonviolent
means of neutralizing the rhetoric of
the militants and seek solutions to
some of the festering political
problems that breed extremism."
Chair of CSID
of neutralizing the rhetoric of the militants and seek solutions to some of the festering
political problems that breed extremism."
Through its special reports and newsletter, titled The Muslim Democrat, CSID is active
in conducting seminars and conferences in Muslim countries on the topics of human
rights, democratic governance, Islamic law and democracy, women's rights, and citizen-
ship. CSID believes the best response to global terrorism is to transform authoritarian,
closed societies—where there is no or very little freedom of expression, assembly, or
representation—into open, mature, democratic, pluralistic institutions.
Free Muslims Coalition (political)
The Free Muslims Coalition (FMC) consists of American Muslims and Arab Americans who
agree that the Muslim community needs to reject religious violence and terrorism. FMC
was created after 9/11 to promote secular democratic institutions in the Middle East
and in the Muslim world by supporting Islamic reformation efforts. For FMC, reformation
entails a modern secular interpretation of religion that encourages peace, democracy, and
the acceptance of other faith traditions, and in particular, an agreement that no single
religious tradition should dominate the judicial, executive, and legislature branches of
FMC clearly states that terrorism is a global threat and countering terrorism commit-
ted by Muslims is an ideological battle that cannot be won without the help of Muslims.
According to FMC, "fundamentalist Islamic terror represents one of the most lethal threats
to the stability of the civilized world. The existence of Islamic terrorists is the existence
of threats to democracy. There is no room for terrorism in the modern world and the U.S.
should take a no-tolerance stance on terrorism to avoid another tragedy."
Kamal Nawash, the president of FMC, has publicly supported the U.S. government's
efforts in fighting global terror, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nawash said,
"Our goal is to defeat and discredit the ideology that leads to extremism and support for
FMC has been severely criticized by other American Muslim organizations as aligning
itself too closely with the U.S. administration and their aims in fighting global terrorism.
FMC repudiates these criticisms and stands firm on eliminating what its members under-
stand to be the global terrorist threat. In addition to its fervent antiterrorism message,
FMC's open statements call for an elimination of anti-Semitism. The organization feels it
is the responsibility of all to speak out against intolerance and hatred.
Muslims Against Terrorism (civic)
Immediately after 9/11, young American Muslim professionals formed Muslims Against
Terrorism (MAT) in New York City. Horrified by the terrorist attacks and unimpressed by
the attempts of local religious institutions to respond, MAT members initially focused their
energies on working with the media with respect to American Muslim perspectives on
violence, conflict, terrorism, and peacemaking. Their niche was in strengthening interfaith
dialogues among New York City churches, synagogues, and temples. MAT's outreach efforts
extended to the New York City Public School system, major corporations on Wall Street,
and local activist groups.
MAT contends that any and all terrorism, whether conducted by individuals or state
actors, is immoral, and that there is no place for it in a civilized world. MAT members felt
it was necessary to go beyond condemnations of terrorism to working with local, national,
and international Muslim organizations on the complete intolerance of terrorism. As a
relatively young and professional organization, MAT's strength lay in highlighting the
humanistic aspirations of all people and the need to understand the commonalities that
unite all people. They wanted to counteract the fear that the 9/11 terrorist attacks had
implicated all American Muslims and the Islamic religion in the heinous crimes, and, even
worse, that there was scriptural evidence for legitimizing violence. In response to such
"Our goal is to defeat and discredit
the ideology that leads to extremism
and support for terrorism."
—Kamal Nawash, president of Free
attitudes, MAT worked toward outreach activities by talking about common American
MAT's primary mission was initially fundraising to provide assistance to the victims
of terrorism. Its high-profile presence after 9/11 was intended to demonstrate its civic
commitment to the United States and to play an active part in healing and reconciliation.
The organization is interested in ensuring that younger American Muslims continue to be
active in fighting terrorism.
American Islamic Forum for Democracy (political)
A physician, Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, and several Muslim professionals in the Phoenix Valley
of Arizona formed the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) in March of 2003.
With the increased attention on the Muslim world and on the war against terrorism, Dr.
Jasser felt American Muslims needed to act aggressively in fighting terrorism by building
an anti-terror ethos in the Muslim community and by publicly denouncing religious lead-
ers who preach intolerance. AIFD's principal goals are to cultivate moderate, mainstream
American Muslim voices on topics such as the separation of religion and state, which
it believes is not contradictory to the ideals of Islam. Dr. Jasser is a former U.S. Navy
Lieutenant Commander who served as a medical officer from 1988 to 1999.
Dr. Jasser believes that Muslims around the globe need to have a public debate on
hate, violence, terrorism, radicalism, and such fundamentalist ideologies as Wahhabism.
Identifying Muslim terrorists as Islamo-fascists, AIFD believes at the "core of terror is
simply a barbaric evil tactic in a war of ideologies and it is only the Muslims who hold
the keys to the floodgates that can drown the militants."
As Americans, AIFD members unconditionally support the armed forces. As citizens,
they support their absolute pledge to the nation and to all of its national interests
domestically and overseas. AIFD is committed to educating the public on the special
relationship among Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
AIFD's central goal is to defeat radicals who exploit the Muslim religion through
militancy. AIFD views its goals as serving as a bridge between the West and the Muslim
world by fighting terrorism and preventing the growth of radicalism. For many American
Muslim critics, AIFD is too closely aligned with current foreign policies on fighting ter-
rorism, and the organization has not seriously differentiated between the complexities
of post-colonial Muslim societies and their various histories and economies that generate
Islamic political activities. American Muslim critics believe AIFD is using the post 9/11
climate of Muslim suspicion as an entry into politics and positioning itself with the Bush
The Muslim Peace Fellowship (peace and justice)
The Muslim Peace Fellowship (MPF) has existed for more than twelve years and is based
in Nyack, New York. MPF is committed to cultivating peace and justice in American soci-
ety. MPF was founded on religious principles of resolving conflict by nonviolence, a focus
it believes is grounded in Islamic ethics and scripture. MPF's main concern is to teach
the values of integrity and kindness that are based on Islamic teachings, a message it
believes reveals the presence of the divine in all things.
In resolving conflict and establishing peace, MPF's position is that there are no
quick fixes that have lasting results; rather, the focus should be on the long-term goals
of transforming the inner chaos of the individual toward true peace. MPF believes that
both pious and nonobservant Muslims are obligated to address violence and terrorism on
the individual level by asking, "What can I do to establish peace?" According to MPF,
the work of building peace and preventing conflict should not be left up to experts or
nongovernmental organizations. Instead, individuals need to reflect upon their personal
responsibilities for creating a harmonious society. This demands concrete steps in one's
family and local community.
AIFD views its goals as serving as
a bridge between the West and the
Muslim world by fighting terrorism
and preventing the growth of
MPF's goals in combating violence extend from the personal to the larger human
family; ultimately, the injustice in each person and in their relationships tears apart
communities around the globe. MPF believes that a deeper understanding of nonviolence
teachings and ethics in Islam will enrich the lives of Muslims and their communities.
Eradicating global terrorism is part of a larger struggle to eliminate the daily violence
existing in each person. Violence and terrorism are manifestations of several inner layers
of discontent, and it is these myriad levels of hostility that need to be understood before
an earnest effort at reconciliation can begin. MPF believes its efforts to work on these
issues with the American Muslim community and the larger American society will enhance
mutual understanding and respect.
National Association of Muslim Lawyers (secular, professional, legal)
The aim of the National Association of Muslim Lawyers (NAML) is to serve American Mus-
lims, the general public, and the legal profession by promoting justice for all peoples as
well as improvements in American laws and the American system of justice.
NAML believes a sustained involvement in American executive, legislative, and judicial
decision-making processes is essential to the long-term prosperity and assimilation of
Muslims into American society. The organization affirms that the community's interests
are best protected by those with an understanding of and respect for the law, legal
processes, and the role of the legal profession in developing, enforcing, and changing
the law. NAML promotes legal representation for Muslims and thereby promotes Muslims'
full, fair, and equal participation in American society overall. NAML also disseminates
information on employment discrimination, harassment, gender, and civil rights, as well
as religious, ethnic, and racial biases in the workplace.
Since 9/11, NAML has been overextended with discrimination cases and racial inci-
dents. In addition, the organization has created the "Transparency Project," an initiative
to encourage Muslim charitable institutions to implement operational guidelines and
procedures that ensure compliance with law and increased transparency. The "Transpar-
ency Project" also assures donors that charitable institutions are in fact abiding by the
law and adhering to their missions as charitable organizations. NAML believes expanding
legal knowledge and expertise will increase civic responsibility in the United States. The
opportunity for people to participate in politics, and in their own destiny, will diminish
any extremist tendency.
KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights (feminist, legal, advocacy)
Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights (KARAMAH) works to protect the human rights
of Muslims in the United States and in Muslim societies. KARAMAH, meaning "dignity"
in Arabic, aims to provide support through education, grassroots advocacy, and activ-
ism. Since 1993, the organization has been committed to dialogue, peaceful conflict
resolution, and democratic institutions. The organization's objectives are to transform
misconceived ideas about women's status within Islamic communities. KARAMAH works
to improve the treatment of women and to ensure that Muslim women take an active part
in governing their lives and seeking leadership positions. It believes active involvement
can counter the destructive effects of ignorance, silence, and prejudices against women.
KARAMAH is one of the few American Muslim organizations that openly proposes an
Islamic perspective on issues of human rights, and members of the organization regularly
publish their work in international law journals. KARAMAH's board of directors includes
American Muslim women lawyers, experts in mediation and conflict resolution, and
experts in Islamic jurisprudence. KARAMAH has worked vigorously to educate the general
public about the role of human rights in Islam. In September 1995 the organization
KARAMAH works to improve the
treatment of women and to ensure
that Muslim women take an active
part in governing their lives and
seeking leadership positions.
participated at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China.
KARAMAH spoke against the Taliban's edict on religious minorities and published papers
on educational rights of Muslim schoolgirls in France. KARAMAH views its activities as a
way to bridge American Muslim women with women in the Muslim world and to simultane-
ously build coalitions with Muslim women nongovernmental organizations.
The organization has developed new programs, such as confronting domestic vio-
lence and advancing Muslim women's human rights globally. KARAMAH is an important
resource for American Muslim women who seek advice on civil rights, spousal abuse, and
employment accommodation on religious practices. KARAMAH members see themselves as
partners with other civil rights groups advocating the protection of civil liberties in the
Particularly since 9/11, KARAMAH has provided legal services and sponsored edu-
cational programs to women's groups, both nationally and internationally. It strives to
educate a new generation of American Muslim women who can serve as experts in both
American and Islamic law. KARAMAH's board member Amr Abdalla, a George Washington
University professor, currently directs KARAMAH's "Conflict Resolution Project" with the
goal of creating new thinking and awareness about conflict prevention and nonviolent
measures to resolving conflicts.
Efforts to avert violence and promote conflict resolution and peacemaking have developed
into a richly diverse and intellectual field among American Muslim scholars with different
methodologies and perspectives. Ingrid Matson, vice president of ISNA and professor of
Islamic Studies at Hartford Seminary, stated that American Muslims have a special obliga-
tion to stop violence: "Who has the greatest duty to stop violence committed by Muslims
against innocent non-Muslims in the name of Islam? The answer, obviously, is Muslims."
For other scholars, the primary issue lies in the narrow fundamentalist interpretations of
Islam and in the way fundamentalists project themselves as the sole guardians of the
religion. Professor Ali Minai, of the University of Cincinnati, remarked, "the interpretation
of Islam can no longer be left to the most regressive segment of Muslim society. Muslims
who believe that their faith is compatible with progressive humanist ideals will express
themselves—not as apologists of Islam to the West but as proponents of new possibilities
One leading scholar who has examined the juristic history of war and violence in Islam
is Professor Khaled Abou El Fadl, law professor at UCLA and author of Islam and the Chal-
lenge of Democracy, The Place of Tolerance in Islam, and Rebellion and Violence in Islamic
Law. According to El Fadl, the world of the terrorists is tied to a puritanical theology that
is responding to powerlessness and a crisis of identities. The major issues are that "there
are profound feelings of defeatism, alienation, frustration, and arrogance. It is a theology
that is alienated not only from the institutions of power in the modern world, but also
from its own heritage and [Islamic] tradition." Contrary to many analogies of terrorism to
an infectious disease, El Fadl believes, "terrorism is an aberration, an extreme manifesta-
tion of underlying social and ideological currents in a particular culture. Terrorism is not a
virus that suddenly infects the brain of a person; rather, it is the result of long-standing
and cumulative cultural and rhetorical dynamics. In Islamic law terrorism (hirabah) is
considered cowardly, predatory, and a grand sin punishable by death."
Professor Muqtedar Khan, assistant professor in the Department of Political Science
and International Relations at the University of Delaware and author of American Muslims:
Bridging Faith and Freedom, operates an online column and website titled, Ijtihad, to help
Muslims rationally reflect on their faith and contemporary issues. Critical of U.S. foreign
policy and of the erosion of civil rights domestically, Khan believes that American Muslims
Ingrid Matson, vice president of
ISNA and professor of Islamic
Studies at Hartford Seminary, stated
that American Muslims have a
special obligation to stop violence:
"Who has the greatest duty to stop
violence committed by Muslims
against innocent non-Muslims in the
name of Islam? The answer,
obviously, is Muslims."
Contrary to many analogies of
terrorism to an infectious disease,
El Fadl believes, "terrorism is an
aberration, an extreme manifes-
tation of underlying social and
ideological currents in a particular
culture. Terrorism is not a virus
that suddenly infects the brain of
a person; rather, it is the result of
long-standing and cumulative
cultural and rhetorical dynamics.
need to move from their difficult positions and be active in democratic processes. Khan
Professor Khan thinks it is vitally important that every American Muslim contribute to
the interpretative process of the Islamic tradition. According to Khan, when each person's
interpretation is viewed as an equal voice among experts, democracy has a greater role
in Muslim lives.
Professor Asma Afsaruddin of Notre Dame University recalls the historical lessons
of early Islam. Even though dynastic rule became the norm, accountable, consultative
government remained the ideal; despotism was denounced as un-Islamic and unjust. She
said, "modern democracies are fully consonant with Islamic values and in fact, principles
of good governance were developed and practiced in early Islam. Democratic governments
in vibrant civil societies are able to mediate internal conflicts and are answerable to their
peoples through regular elections." Afsaruddin believes that the existence of autocratic
governments in the Muslim world and the lack of basic political and civic freedoms for
most of the citizenry are the real root causes of violence. The most effective way of reduc-
ing conflict and terrorism is to work toward democratic reform and the strengthening of
The American Muslim community is diverse in every conceivable way. There are numerous
national and regional organizations dedicated to important civic, religious, cultural, edu-
cational, political, and social issues. On the subject of terrorism and conflict resolution,
clearly all American Muslim groups have denounced it emphatically, while some have gone
beyond words by becoming involved with foreign policy, lobbying efforts, and mobilizing
grassroots campaigns in the community.
The Fiqh Council of North American fatwa is an example of American Muslims taking
proactive positions on global terrorism, while practicing zero tolerance of violence and
religious extremism. Their positions have examined conflict and peacemaking in Islam and
have advocated the explicit need for American Muslims to cooperate with law enforce-
National American Muslim organizations like MPAC, CAIR, ISNA, and AMA have focused
on violence and religious extremism as critical issues with local and international strate-
gies. MPAC's "National Grassroots Campaign to Fight Terrorism" and CAIR's "Not in the
Name of Islam" efforts are examples of American Muslims' innovative programs to raise
awareness on issues of radical ideologies. The coordination of their efforts with those of
law enforcement agencies demonstrates mutual recognition of the roles each group plays
in conflict prevention.
Organizations like CSID, FMC, MAT, and AIFD exhibit new types of thinking in the
American Muslim community by fostering, cultivating, and institutionalizing democratic
reform in the Muslim world as the primary answer to extremism. Their own experiences
in the United States confirm that Islamic values and democracy are compatible, and it
is vitally important to institutionalize democracy in order to reform despotic totalitarian
societies. Their activities display a conscious effort to make for themselves in American
society, while contributing as bridge builders to the Muslim world. Their activities have
already established a definite American Muslim model of inclusion and participation that
"Democracy is not a function of numbers, but of participation. The [American
Muslim] community needs to find a new way of thinking about its future in
America. They have to transcend the Islam vs. the West, which still shapes their
leaders' politics. They need to listen more to the intellectuals and scholars who
are seeking to chart a new path for the community.
On the subject of terrorism and
conflict resolution, clearly all
American Muslim groups have
denounced it emphatically, while
some have gone beyond words by
becoming involved with foreign
policy, lobbying efforts, and
mobilizing grassroots campaigns in
differs from Muslim communities in Europe where Muslim communities are less involved
in law enforcement and civic participation.
The participation of American Muslims in mainstream politics is to empower the com-
munity in many different levels of public life. American Muslim advocacy groups have
tackled stereotyping of Muslims as a matter of public debate, and they have aggres-
sively worked toward resolving incidents of discrimination and civil rights abuses. These
achievements have shifted political attitudes that have enabled American Muslims to
integrate in American political institutions.
Another strategy in the American Muslim community is to focus on human rights,
gender inequality, and interfaith dialogue, and to increase the Muslim presence in the
American legal system. KARAMAH, NAML, and ASMA represent specialized groups whose
members believe that injustices can be overcome by addressing the various legal, socio-
economic, political, and religious systems involved. ASMA's interfaith dialogue programs
in the United States and around the world reflect the desire for reconciliation and human-
izing of all people. Each of these groups recognizes that mutual respect is tied to taking
real steps toward tolerance and is part of alleviating suffering.
Some organizations are concerned with improving the condition of all human beings
through education and spiritual awareness, not terrorism. Other groups believe their
particular expertise is not conflict resolution, but rather a focus on cultural, social, profes-
sional, artistic, democratic, and human rights issues. With such immense diversity in the
American Muslim community, it is difficult to reduce it to a single voice. Instead, there
needs to be greater appreciation for the efforts and contributions of Muslims in areas
of conflict resolution, interfaith dialogue, peace building, education, political activities,
civic work, human rights and women's rights advocacy, legal expertise, and humanitarian
efforts. The immense contributions and growing involvement of American Muslims in the
public square clearly reflects that Muslims in the United States are situating themselves
within civic, governmental, and political structures of the nation. Each organization has
its own vision for its members as Americans and for their contributions to contemporary
issues of conflict and peacemaking.
• Carl S. Dudley and David A. Roozen, Faith Communities Today: A Report on Religion in the United States
Today (Hartford Seminary, 2001)
• Khaled Abou El Fadl, Islam and The Challenge of Democracy (Princeton University Press, 2004)
• Yvonne Haddad, ed., Muslims in the West: From Sojourners to Citizens (Oxford; New York: Oxford University
• Yvonne Haddad and Jane Smith, eds. Muslim Communities in North America (Albany: State University of New
York Press, 1994)
• Muqtedar Khan, American Muslims: Bridging Faith and Freedom (Beltsville: Amana Publications, 2002)
• Kathleen M. Moore, Al-Mughtaribun: American Law and the Transformation of Muslim Life in the United States
(Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995)
• Muslim Public Affairs Council, "MPAC Offers Ten Tips to Enhance Partnership Against Terrorism," press release,
May 28, 2003.
• Mohamed Nimer, The North American Muslim Resource Guide: Muslim Community Life in the United States and
Canada (New York: Routledge, 2002)
• Sulayman Nyang, Islam in the United States of America (Chicago: ABC International Group, Inc., 1999)
• Mustafa al-Qazwini, Inquiries about Shia Islam (Islamic Educational Center of Orange County, CA, n.d.)
• Fariyal Ross-Sheriff, "Immigrant Muslim Women in the United States: Adaptation to American Society,"
Journal of Social Work Research (2001), pp. 283-294.
• Jane Smith, Islam in America (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999)
• Zogby International and Project MAPS: Muslims in the American Public Square, "American Muslim Poll (Nov/
Dec 2001)" December 19, 2001
1. Fiqh Council of North America
2. Muslim Public Affairs Council
3. Council on American Islamic Relations
4. Islamic Society of North America
5. The North American Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities
6. American Muslim Alliance
7. Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy
8. Free Muslims Coalition Against Terrorism
9. Muslims Against Terrorism
10. American Islamic Forum for Democracy
11. The Muslim Peace Fellowship
12. American Muslims Intent on Learning and Activism
13. Zaytuna Institute
14. National Association of Muslim Lawyers
15. Karamah: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights
16. American Society for Muslim Advancement
A number of other publications from the United States Institute of Peace examine issues
related to Islam and interreligious dialogue.
Recent Institute reports include
• Teaching About the Religious Other (Special Report 143, July 2005)
• What Works? Evaluating Interfaith Dialogue Programs (Special Report 123, July
• Healing the Holy Land: Interreligious Peacebuilding in Israel/Palestine by Yehezkel
Landau (Peaceworks 51, August 2003)
• Building Interreligious Trust in a Climate of Fear: An Abrahamic Trialogue
(Special Report 99, February 2003)
• Islam and Democracy (Special Report 93, September 2002)
• Islamic Perspectives on Peace and Violence (Special Report 86, April 2002)
• Faith-Based NGOs and International Peacebuilding (Special Report 76, October 2001)
Recent books from USIP Press include
• Interfaith Dialogue and Peacemaking by David R. Smock (2002)
• Religious Perspectives on War: Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Attitudes toward Force by
David R. Smock (Revised Edition, 2002)
• Perspective on Pacifism: Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Views by David R. Smock
For book sales and order information, call (800) 868-8064 (U.S. toll-free only) or (703)
661-1590, or fax (703) 661-1501.
institute of Peace
1200 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
An online edition of this and related
reports can be found at our website
(www.usip.org), together with additional
information on the subject.