ANALYSIS: Muslim Scholar Tacitly Endorses Control of U.S. Islam By Muslim Brotherhood


The Muslim Brotherhood website has posted an article written by M.A. Muqtedar Khan entitled “Two Theories of Ijtihad” that appears to endorse the control exerted by the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood over Islam in the U.S. The bulk of the article centers on a comparison of what Dr. Khan calls the “narrow, legalistic notion” of Ijtihad, interpretation and reasoning based on the sacred texts) with his idea of a “modern” view based on “some form of Islamic modernism and liberalism.” Following this discussion, Dr. Khan argues that American Muslims are already putting such principles into practice:

Without holding fast to revelation, Muslims will lose their connection with the divine, which would cause life to lose meaning and purpose for many. The challenge for Muslims today is to latch on to the currents of democracy, modernity and globalisation without cutting the umbilical cord to the heavens. I believe that we can do it. American Muslims are demonstrating this in their lives. When it comes to the modern practice of ijtihad, American Muslims are miles ahead of other Muslim communities. Not only are there a large number of scholars pushing for ijtihad in the US, but there are also national organisations and prominent Islamic centres that are, in principle, willing to put initiatives advanced by ijtihad into practice. An excellent practical example of this is the adoption of guidelines for women-friendly mosques by many Islamic centres. An outstanding theoretical example is the now widespread acceptance in the US, and to some extent in Europe, of the idea of Fiqh al Aqliyaat (minority jurisprudence), which is the idea that Muslims who live as minorities need to revisit and rearticulate Islamic legal positions, keeping in mind their minority status. We can see the product of American ijtihad in the progressive role that women play in the American-Muslim community and in Islamic scholarship. Another important indicator is the absence of embedded radicalism in American Islam and the enormous appetite that American Muslims and their organisations express for democracy, civil rights, pluralism and civic engagement.

It should be noted that Fiqh al Aqliyaat (minority jurisprudence) is a concept associated in the U.S with Taha Al-Alwani and the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA), both strongly associated with the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. Also, while Dr. Khan does not identify the “U.S. scholars, national organisations and prominent Islamic centers” that exemplify his view of reformist Islam, presumably the list includes the Association of Muslim Social Scientists, (AMSS) where he has served as President, Vice President and General Secretary. The AMSS is headquartered at the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) and both organizations have long been important parts of the Muslim Brotherhood network in the U.S. Dr. Khan is also associated with the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) many of whose leaders are also associated with the U.S. Brotherhood. By praising the state of Islam in the U.S. and claiming the absence of “embedded radicalism”, Dr. Khan appears to be tacitly endorsing the control exerted over Islam in the U.S. exerted by the same individuals and organizations he praises.

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