IPT News August 1, 2012 Yasir Qadhi, billed by the New York Times as ‘one of the most influential conservative clerics in American Islam,’ recently told one of the nation’s largest Islamic conferences that the Quran ‘destroys’ American capitalism. ‘Who amongst us would have predicted five years ago that this nation would despise and hate the very [economic]system that they used to claim was the reason for their success?’ he asked hundreds at a session of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA)’s national conference in late May. ‘Now the system has been destroyed and demolished. Now 99 percent of America is saying Occupy Wall Street.’ ‘This is a Pharonic society that we enjoy the pyramids, but you cannot enjoy pyramids without millions of slaves. And this is what this society has become,’ Qadhi said, repeating a classic Muslim metaphor for a society filled with corruption. Although his speech was intended to introduce a Somali charity worker, Qadhi used his time to call for converting America and radically altering its culture. Qadhi’s invitation to speak at the ICNA conference is puzzling, given the group’s campaign to cast itself as a moderate religious group whose values are fully compatible with life in America, and given Qadhi’s record of espousing a diametrically opposed viewpoint. The convention’s theme, ‘Defending Religious Freedom, Understanding Shariah,’ mirrors a national public relations campaign ICNA is waging. Qadhi didn’t limit his comments to attacking America’s economic system. He argued that had the Muslims engaged OWS protesters, they might have taken control of the movement and made huge gains in converts. ‘Brothers and sisters, where were we at the height of the Occupy Wall Street movement to simply tell them, ‘Oh fellow Americans, our lord has told us in the Quran that this system is not a good system, that this system will collapse?’ he said. ‘This Ayah [Quranic verse] is the strongest Ayah criticizing the capitalist system as it exists in America. In five words, Allah demolishes this version of capitalism.’ His calls were greeted with shouts of ‘Allahu Akbar’ and excitement by the crowd.
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In April, The Investigative Project published a report on ICNA titled “ICNA’s Radicalization Continues.” 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.