RECOMMENDED READING: “Memorial Day With Muslims”


Academic Peter Skerry has written an article based on his observations of the recent joint conference held by the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and the Muslim American Society (MAS). The article begins:

Clearly, a new generation of American-raised Muslims is emerging to take over from their decidedly less-effective immigrant elders. Over the recent Memorial Day weekend, several thousand Muslims gathered in Hartford for the annual convention of the Islamic Circle of North America. ICNA was founded almost 40 years ago by Indian and Pakistani university students intending to return home. Most of them never did, but their organization still has ties to Pakistan’s Jama’at-I Islami, the Islamist party founded by Sayyid Mawdudi, one of the twentieth century’s most notorious Muslim intellectuals. So this event featured much that would alarm or offend many Americans. Yet it also revealed how even Islamists here are adapting in ways that many of us would find encouraging, even gratifying. Nevertheless, these Islamists have yet to address the political realities of life in America. ICNA’s Islamist lineage explains why its convention has been cosponsored by the Muslim American Society, or MAS, an affiliate of the Arab-oriented Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s more visible Islamist movement. But visibility was hardly the problem on Hartford’s deserted weekend streets. Among the many bearded men in conventional American garb were others in ankle-length thobes and kufi caps. Still more visible were the women, virtually all of whom were ‘covered’ — most with head-scarfs (hijabs) and not a few in niqab, a veil covering the face, leaving only the eyes exposed. Inside the convention center, there were several ‘sisters only’ sessions. But most events were open to men and women, though the 2,200 seats in the main auditorium were divided by a barrier of large potted plants that shielded women choosing not to sit with their male relatives on ‘the brothers’ side.’ The conference theme was: ‘Defending Religious Freedom, Understanding Shariah.’ All the more surprising, then, was the well-attended session on business start-ups. Another panel featured a Muslim-American academic arguing that mosques here are ‘failing to make a connection to our young people.’ And in response to complaints from women in the audience that they had been discouraged from praying at their local mosque, the researcher agreed that ‘many of our mosques don’t make sisters feel comfortable.’

Read the rest here.

An earlier post reported that 15,000 Muslims were expected at the annual convention.

The Investigative Project recently published a new report titled “ICNA’s Radicalization Continues.” The report begins:

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.

Read the rest here.

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.

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