U.S. media is reporting that 15,000 Muslims are expected at this weekend’s annual convention of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) with the theme “Defending Religious Freedom: Understanding Shariah.” According to the Washington Post report, the convention is cosponsored by the Muslim American Society (MAS:
Some 15,000 Muslims are expected at this weekend’s 37th annual convention of the Islamic Circle of North America in Hartford, where the theme of ‘Defending Religious Freedom: Understanding Shariah’ reflects the worry that anti-Muslim activists are fanning fear of Islamic law to marginalize U.S. Muslims. The May 26-28 gathering, which is also sponsored by the Muslim American Society, is the second-largest Muslim convention in the U.S., behind only the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America, which draws between 30,000 and 40,000 people. Earlier this month, the Kansas House and Senate joined Arizona, Oklahoma, Missouri, South Dakota, and Tennessee in approving legislation to prohibit state judges from considering foreign laws, including Shariah, in their decisions. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, has not yet signed the bill. ‘It’s a deep-down hatred of Muslims that motivates’ the anti-Shariah movement, said Naeem Baig, ICNA’s vice president of public affairs. ‘They don’t want to see Muslims in America.’ Many of the convention programs focus on educating Muslims about Shariah, such as myths about Shariah used to demonize Muslims, as well as its role in their day-to-day lives. ‘Muslims need to be educated about Shariah. There’s a need for the community to better understand what Shariah means to us, and how to apply Shariah in a society where most people are not of the same faith,’ Baig said. The convention is open to non-Muslims. About 100 or 150 non-Muslims have come in recent years. Some of the best-known Muslims in America will be speaking, including Rep. Andre Carson, a Democratic Muslim from Indiana; Islamic Society of North America President Imam Mohamed Magid; and Imam Siraj Wahaj of Brooklyn, who in 1991 became the first Muslim to give an Islamic invocation to the U.S. House of Representatives.
IPT News April 25, 2012 The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) is leading a pro-Sharia public relations campaign, aimed at persuading Americans that these beliefs aren’t something to fear or leading to domination. As it does this, however, it continues to guide followers toward texts that go in a starkly contrasting direction. It has pushed underground a series of curricula detailing its adult radicalization program, but more extremist materials pop up in youth events, the group’s bookstore, and elsewhere. ICNA has long been involved in the radicalization of its members, with an indoctrination process into South Asian and Muslim Brotherhood extremist texts. Many of those titles disappeared from ICNA and the ICNA Sisters’ web pages after a series of articles by the Investigative Project on Terrorism. That doesn’t mean that ICNA has changed its tune. A recent investigation by the Toronto Sun revealed that the organization has marketed pro-violence and pro-Islamist texts, particularly by South Asian extremist Sayyid Abu ‘Ala Maududi, through its Canadian bookstore. These texts, according to Canadian Muslim moderate Tarek Fatah, have a profound effect on the Muslim youth. ‘This sort of literature lays the seeds into their minds that the West is the enemy, and they are the troopers who have to fight that enemy,’ Fatah told the Sun. ‘Maududi, in his books, is asking for young Muslim men to wage war.’ Required reading of some of Maududi’s books is also still part of ICNA’s membership process, especially for youth. This year’s annual ‘Quiz Competition on Islamic Knowledge and Skills’ tested 11th and 12th graders throughout the country on their knowledge of one of his masterpieces, Towards Understanding Islam.
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A post from March reported on a new ICNA educational campaign on Shari’ah (Islamic Law) . A post from August 2011 discussed a personal appeal for donations from the founder and former president of ICNA to support ICNA’s “Understanding Shari’ah” campaign.
The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) is a less well-known part of the Muslim Brotherhood network in the U.S., generally thought to be closely tied to the Jamaat-e-Islami organization of Southeast Asia, itself known to be allied with the Muslim Brotherhood. ICNA is particularly close to the Muslim American Society, a part of the US Muslim Brotherhood and tied to the Egyptian organization, and the two organizations have been holding joint annual conventions for many years. Previous posts have discussed ICNA ad campaigns intended to present Islam to the U.S. public. The New York campaign drew national media attention when it was reported that Siraj Wahajj, an American Islamic convert associated with the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, was behind the New York campaign.
The MAS was identified in a Hudson Institute report as a part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and closely tied to the Egyptian organization and In March, a post discussed a report that imprisoned U.S. Muslim Brotherhood leader Abdurrahman Alamoudi had testified that the MAS is, in fact, a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. In June of 2011, the MAS closed its political action wing, known as the Freedom Foundation (MAS Freedom), due to lack of “resources”, presumably meaning funding. MAS Freedom had been headed by MAS leader Mahdi Bray who, as reported in a post from January, was recovering from a cerebral stroke. Numerous posts have discussed the activities of Mr. Bray who according to a 2009 Investigative Project investigation had an undisclosed criminal background.