RECOMMENDED READING: Sheikh Alwani And The Ideologue Of American Islam


Israeli Scholar Shammai Fishman has published a short but useful biography of U.S. Muslim Brotherhood leader Taha J. Al-Alwani whom he describes as “the most senior Muslim Cleric in America:

Alwani is not only a man of great deeds, but also an ideologue. The question is why Alwani is worthy of the title of the most senior Muslim cleric in America? The answer is that there are not many al-Azhar graduates in America on the level of Alwani. Alwani perhaps is the only figure of his stature to immigrate to America. The fact that he is the founder of the Fiqh Council of North America makes him effectively the “Mufti” of North America. His acting as a president of an Islamic university adds a lot to his status and his being a pioneer of ideology for Muslim minority jurisprudence. Truly, there are many original elements in Alwani’s activity.

As Fishman notes, Al-Alwani has been a leader in some of the most important U.S. Muslim Brotherhood organizations, specifically the International Institute of Islamic Thought , the Fiqh Council of North America and the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences. However, Al-Alwani has also been a past director of the Center for Study of Islam and Democracy as well as a featured speaker at meetings of the Islamic Committee for Palestine, generally regarded as a Hamas front. In addition to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Alwani has also been associated with important global Muslim Brotherhood organizations including being director of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), an “international advisor” to the Gesellschaft Muslimischer Sozial und und Geisteswissenschaftler, a German organization of Muslim social scientists, and probably a member of European Council on Fatwa And Research headed by Youssef Qaradawi, the leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood.

Fishman notes that Al-Alwani is known for his espousal of the doctrine of “Muslim minority jurisprudence”, also associated with Youssef Qaradawi:

Besides his intensive educational and public activities, Alwani developed the doctrine of “Muslim minority jurisprudence” (fiqh al-aqalliyyat). This is meant to be a framework which would answer the needs of the Muslim minorities in the West for fatawa which take in mind their unique circumstances, but at the same time a political tool for uniting the Muslim communities vis-à-vis the general public.

Fishman concludes by chiding the U.S. for neglecting the ideological dimension of the struggle against terrorism:

As for Sheikh Alwani, he will be remembered for his unique contribution in bringing Islam to America, and for the ideology he created. The question is what does the United States do to face a Sheikh who compares America to al-Andalus? The answer is that the United States is a country with a very strong level of freedom of speech, and at this time law enforcement authorities are busy acting against Islamic terrorism while neglecting the ideological front. Therefore, it is highly probable that Islamic influence on American policy will increase. The ideological framework was created by Alwani, and the footmen are the Islamic organizations in the United States.

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