Writing in a Southern California Islamic magazine, U.S. convert Ihsan Bagby provides an insight into the thinking behind a new organization based in the black community and tied to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood known as the Muslim Alliance of North America (MANA). The MANA website describes the organization as:
…a national network of masjids, Muslim organizations and individuals committed to work together to address certain urgent needs within the Muslim community. These needs include the great social and economic problems that are challenging Muslim communities especially in the inner city; the need for the involvement of masjids and Muslims in community service projects which are aimed at improving society as a whole; the need for systematic and effective dawah programs to help bring more non-Muslims into Islam; the need for new Muslim programs that will help them to grow in Islam. MANA is therefore an open organization that is agenda driven.
In the article, MANA Secretary-General explains his thinking about the organization:
I focused my academic work on the study of the Muslim community in America. The ultimate purpose is to conduct the research to develop better answers that are solutions to how we might grow and thrive in this country. Well, one is financial support. Just now, getting off the ground we need that seed money, but our immediate goal is to establish in many cities what we call Share Centers, or advocacy centers to be a vehicle for the Muslim community to provide those necessary social services. We have already 11 cities interested. There will be great need for volunteers and cooperation for these centers.It was a modest response. There are many people who support our efforts. All of the national organizations have come in support of MANA. We appreciate that very much. They realized the need for MANA and view it as a complement for what they do. I think some are still not attuned to setting an urban agenda. Therefore, the support is there, but it’s not overwhelming as of yet. I see nothing wrong with having an identity. There is nothing wrong with having an African American identity or a Palestinian identity or a Pakistani or Hispanic identity. It’s when you place your ethnic identity over your Islamic identity that you have a problem. MANA is saying let’s focus on the urban issues but let’s do it all together. It’s like focusing on women’s issues and having mostly women involved in the movement. It is an agenda that impacts the African Americans. It is not saying that African Americans are different from any other Muslims. It is simply addressing their problems. It focuses on an agenda, which focuses on the communities that are indigenous, like the African Americans. It does not focus on them exclusively. The agenda will include other communities.
According to various sources, MANA’s General-Secretary Ihsan Bagby is a black Islamic convert and Professor of Islamic Studies who is a member of several U.S. Muslim Brotherhood organizations including the Fiqh Council of North America, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). Other members of the MANA Executive Committee and/or Shura Council include Siraj Wahhaj, a black Islamic convert who was an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and has been active in the American Muslim Council, ISNA (former V.P.) and CAIR and Johari Abdul Malik; head of the National Association of Muslim Chaplains in Higher Education, director of community outreach for the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center and President of the Muslim Society of Washington. A previous post reported on MANA’s first conference held in Philadelphia last November.