US media reported earlier this month that Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, religious director of the Islamic Society of Orange County, told a press conference on the occasion of the San Bernardino attacks that “we have condemned all violence, everywhere.” According to a Newsweek report:
Speaking at a press conference organized by CAIR on Wednesday, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, religious director of the Islamic Society of Orange County, spoke of his organization’s ‘sadness and sorrow at what happened in San Bernardino’ and asked the public not to implicate Islam or Muslims in the attack.
‘I want to condemn this action, this action of violence,’ said Siddiqi. ‘We have condemned all violence, everywhere, because human life is precious, and we respect and honor the human life.’
He added, ‘Our faith is against this type of behavior.’ “
This is a difficult political and social climate in which to evaluate a figure such as Muzammil Siddiqi, given the recent animosity toward Muslims expressed in certain quarters of the US. Nevertheless, it would be negligent of us not to point out the apparent contradictions in accepting at face value Dr. Siddiqi’s comments above. Far from having “condemned all violence, everywhere”, the GMBDW was unable to find a single example of Dr. Siddiqi ever having condemned any terrorist violence by Hamas or Hezbollah directed at Israeli civilians for example. On the contrary, in July 1995, Dr. Siddiqi made the following comments following an early suicide bombing in Tel Aviv:
In order to eliminate an injustice, [a Muslim]should not do a greater injustice….Islam teaches the use of non-violent methods, such as speaking out and demonstrating. Islam says you have the right to defend yourself, and if you die, this is a blessed death….But not in aggression. This is not very different from other communities, where you are considered a hero if you die defending your country. In religious terminology, you have eternal life, a blessed life. Those who die on the part of justice are alive, and their place is with the Lord, and they receive the highest position because this is the highest honor. But it does not apply to those who die for unrighteousness.
In fact, a comprehensive examination of Dr. Siddiqi’s statements over the years reveals an often problematic stance towards terrorism. For example, national media reported in October 2000 that Dr. Siddiqi spoke at a rally at which marchers chanted praises for Hezbollah. At the rally, Dr. Siddiqi was reported to have said to the crowd in reference to the US policy on Israel:
America has to learn… “If you remain on the side of injustice, the wrath of God will come. Please, all Americans. Do you remember that? Allah is watching everyone. God is watching everyone. If you continue doing injustice, and tolerate injustice, the wrath of God will come. (Note 1 below)
Although he later claimed his remarks were taken out of context, this was not the first time that Dr. Siddiqi appears to have justified or rationalized acts of terrorism. In September 1998, for example, Dr. Siddiqi made remarks that appear to provide a form of justification for the terrorism of Osama Bin Laden:
The identification of his groups and other terrorist organizations with conservative Islam probably attracts support from some Muslims who are frustrated at what they perceive as the impotence of more moderate Muslim institutions, says Siddiqi. ‘Many people might say, ‘The Muslim government is not doing anything. The Israelis are attacking the people and taking over the land. There is somebody who is speaking up,’’ he says. “And they are speaking up, although they are doing it in the wrong way.
It is not only Dr. Siddiqi’s statements which give reasons for concern. As we noted in 2007, Dr. Siddiqi has a long history of involvement with Saudi Arabian fundamentalist organizations. According to an older biography, Dr. Siddiqi graduated with a BA in Islamic & Arabic Studies in 1965 from the University of Medina, founded in 1961 and known to have been staffed by Saudi fundamentalist clerics and members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood who had sought asylum in the Kingdom. While completing a doctorate in theology at Harvard, Dr. Siddiqi served as Chairman of the Department of Religious Affairs at the Muslim World League (MWL) Office to the United Nations and the US and US government officials have testified that MWL has been linked to supporting Islamic terrorist organizations globally. (Dr. Siddiqi’s current biography states additionally that he is a member of the Supreme Council of Mosques in Makkah, Saudi Arabia and a member of the Executive Board of the International Assembly of the Council of Ulama’ in Makkah.)
None of the above is terribly surprising given Dr. Siddiqi’s role as one of the most important leaders of the US Muslim Brotherhood. For example, he is the long time chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America, an organization comprised of Islamic scholars, most if not all of whom are associated with the global Muslim Brotherhood including Jamal Badawi, identified in a Hudson Institute report as having been a member of the Shura Council of the US Muslim Brotherhood. FCNA grew out of the activities of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and later became affiliated with the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), itself an outgrowth of MSA and where Dr. Siddiqi once served as President. FCNA maintains a relationship with other similar bodies in the global Muslim Brotherhood including the European Council for Fatwa and Research, headed by Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi as well as the Islamic Fiqh Academy in Saudi Arabia.
As a leader in the US Muslim Brotherhood, the GMBDW judges that Dr. Siddiqi true position on terrorism is based on the doctrine of “defensive jihad” as expounded by his FCNA colleague Jamal Badawi and which asserts that Jihad is justified when Muslims, “Muslim land”, or Muslim honor is under attack. Accordingly, we should also note that we have reported that in 1992, Dr. Siddiqi was one of twelve members of the Florida-based Muslim Education Foundation. As we described:
Most of the names, most prominently Badawi and Adlouni who are most likely members of the Brotherhood Shura Council in the U.S., show up in the various documents which have been released making it probably that the MEF project was, in fact, a project of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. The fact that Akram (Adlouni) and Jamal Said show up in a phone list of members of the Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee in the U.S raises the further possibility that the project was somehow intended as a mechanism for the covert financing of Hamas.
For a more exhaustive examination of Dr. Siddiqi’s extremist record, go here.
(Note: The Dallas Morning News August 29, 1998, Saturday “BEHIND THE FACE OF TERRORISM How bin Laden is using religion to justify murder”)