IIIT Reports on ISNA Conference Activities


The International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) has issued a summary of its activities during last weekend’s national convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). According to the report:

The International Institute of Islamic Thought, in its continued efforts to reach out to community leaders and scholars, added new features to its activities during this year’s ISNA annual convention at the Convention Center in Washington DC on July 3 – 5, 2009. On Saturday, July 4th, IIIT organized a well-attended session entitled “A Call for Unity: Addressing the Shia Sunni Divide”. The session – that attracted large numbers of convention attendees – included prominent experts such as Professor Mahmoud Ayoub, Professor, Muzammil Siddiqi, and Dr. Jamal barzinji and was moderated by Dr. Hisham Altalib. The purpose of the session was to educate the Muslim community about the common grounds in beliefs, rituals and jurisprudence between the Shia and Sunni schools and explain the current challenges facing the Umma , particularly as far as the Shia Sunni divide is concerned. and discuss how to immunize the Muslim community against sectarian divisions….Beside the panel on Shia Sunni divide, IIIT organized a hospitality suite that attracted dozens of scholars, community leaders and other conference attendees and provided them with an opportunity to meet top IIIT leaders, learn about IIIT, its history, its vision, its current activities and future plans. In addition to a newly produced video about IIIT, the suite featured a display of IIIT books and other publications. Several meetings with prominent Muslim community leaders were held, including a meeting with Dr. Ingrid Mattson, current ISNA President. In addition to these new features, IIIT continued its tradition of the book sale booth that provided convention visitors with opportunity of getting acquainted with the most recent IIIT publications.

According to a recent Hudson Institute report, ISNA itself was founded during the late 1970’s as by Muslim Brotherhood figures such as Jamal Barzinji and Hisham Altalib who had been leaders in the Muslim Student Association (MSA).

The Hudson report also indicates that IIIT, in turn, was founded in the U.S. in 1980 by U.S. Muslim Brotherhood leaders including Barzinji and Altalib who wished to promote the “Islamization of Knowledge.” IIIT was associated with the now defunct SAAR Foundation, a network of Islamic organizations located in Northern Virginia that was raided by the Federal government in 2003 in connection with the financing of terrorism. The organization appeared to withdrawn from public view following the 2003 raids, but seems to be enjoying a renaissance of late. IIIT has a network of affiliates located in Europe, Africa, the MIddle East, and Asia. Although little is known about the activities of these IIIT affiliates, recent posts have discussed plans by IIIT to construct colleges in Bosnia and Lebanon. A report in the Washington Post from June 2007 indicated that IIIT and the SAAR Foundation were still under investigation by the Justice Department.

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