The Boston Globe has published a profile of William Suhaib Webb, the new imam of the Islamic Society of Boston but failing to mention his longtime involvement with the Muslim American Society (MAS). The report begins:
He grew up as a preacher’s grandson in Oklahoma, attending Church of Christ services twice a week, until the pull of Christianity started to weaken. His teen years were spent spinning hip-hop music as a DJ, but that world came to feel hollow.Then he found the Koran, and William Suhaib Webb was transfixed. Now Webb, a year shy of 40, finds himself in Roxbury as the new spiritual leader of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, the biggest mosque in New England. He started this week, and yesterday led his first jummah, the weekly congregational prayer Muslims hold on Fridays. Webb’s unusual path to his new role is at the heart of his plan to make the mosque more inclusive, and reflects a broad desire by Islamic leaders nationally to dispel the perception of a rigid faith presided over by stern imams. That desire is evident, too, in the pop culture references Webb sprinkles into his sermons, from “Monday Night Football’’ to the Twilight vampire romance series. “He’s ushering in a new era in the Muslim community of young imams who have knowledge of classical Islamic scholarship, but who are born in America and familiar with American life, and who are able to connect with the youth,’’ said Safaa Zarzour, secretary general of the Islamic Society of North America. The mosque had been seeking an imam for three years. Board members were familiar with Webb – and with his life story. That narrative appealed to them. “There’s a huge dearth of qualified imams in this country,’’ said Nancy Khalil, a board member at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center. “We wanted somebody who could relate to a diverse congregation.’’ Webb, who converted to Islam at age 20, said he comes to Boston eager to introduce his big tent philosophy to an ethnically diverse community in a city with a history rich in interfaith work. But he is also aware that he inherits a mosque with critics who accuse it of radical affiliations. Webb himself has confronted similar criticisms, with some suggesting he is a dangerous fundamentalist who harbors discriminatory views, while others from inside his faith excoriate him for being too accepting, too liberal.
Read the rest here.
In 2008, Egyptian media reported that Imam Webb’s training at Al-Azhar was sponsored by the MAS and that upon his return to the U.S., he and the MAS planned to start “a foreign version of Al-Azhar.” In addition the website of the Radical Middle Way organization, itself tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood, says that Imam Webb was a former lecturer the Islamic American University (IAU) in California, a project of the MAS.
Imam Webb’s ties to the MAS, identified in a recent Hudson Institute report as a part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and closely tied to the Egyptian organization, are not surprising given that the Islamic Society of Boston has historic ties to the Global Muslim Brotherhood. In 2003, other local media reported on ties between the ISB and Global Muslim Brotherhood leaders Youssef Qaradawi and Abdurahman Alamoudi:
…public records indicate Al-Qaradawi and Alamoudi have both held leadership positions with the Islamic Society of Boston. Alamoudi, of Falls Church, Va., founded the Islamic Society of Boston in Massachusetts in 1982 and was the group’s first president, according to incorporation records in the Secretary of State’s office. Al-Qaradawi, who is based in Doha, Qatar, was listed as a member of the Islamic Society of Boston’s board of directors from at least 1998 until sometime in 2001. In 1993, when the Islamic Society of Boston set up a real estate trust, it identified al-Qaradawi as a “proposed additional trustee,” records show. The cleric never became a trustee of that real estate trust, which now holds title to the land on Malcolm X Boulevard where the new Islamic center is to be built. The Islamic Society of Boston identified al-Qaradawi as one of its four directors in its income tax return filed two months before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In July 2002, when the group filed its 2001 income tax return, however, al-Qaradawi’s name no longer appeared on the list of directors. (see Note 1)
Other local media reports detailed extensive connections between ISB Chairman Osama Kandil and the global Muslim Brotherhood. The ISB subsequently brought a defamation lawsuit against the newspaper which reported on these connections as well against other parties but the suit appears to have been dropped. In 2008, the Boston Phoenix also published a long investigative report on the Roxbury Mosque which was turned over to the MAS by the ISB.
An earlier post reported on a forum at the ISB hosted by Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick that was organized by elements of the US Muslim Brotherhood.
(NOTE: 1 “RADICAL ISLAM; Outspoken cleric, jailed activist tied to new Hub mosque” The Boston Herald October 28, 2003 Tuesday ALL EDITIONS)