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Muslim American Society: Expanded Profile

By John Perazzo
Discover The Networks

Founded in 1992, the Muslim American Society (MAS) describes itself as "a charitable, religious, social, cultural and educational, not-for-profit … Islamic organization.” MAS's mission is to promote "Islam as a total way of life"; to “encourage the participation of Muslims in building a virtuous and moral society”; to “offer a viable Islamic alternative to many of our society’s prevailing problems”; to “promote family values in accordance with Islamic teaching”; to “promote the human values that Islam emphasizes: brotherhood, equality, justice, mercy, compassion, and peace”; and to “foster unity among Muslims and Muslim organizations and encourage cooperation and coordination amongst them.” MAS identifies the Muslim Students Association and the Islamic Society of North America as Muslim organizations that are rooted in the same “Islamic revival movement” as MAS.

In May 2005, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross reported in The Weekly Standard that MAS is a U.S. front group for the Muslim Brotherhood and, as such, wishes to see the United States governed by sharia, or Islamic law. "The message that all countries should be ruled by Islamic law," writes Gartenstein-Ross, "is echoed throughout MAS's membership curriculum. For example, MAS requires all its adjunct members to read Fathi Yakun's book To Be a Muslim. In that volume, Yakun spells out his expansive agenda: 'Until the nations of the world have functionally Islamic governments, every individual who is careless or lazy in working for Islam is sinful.'"

In a September 19, 2004 investigative report by the Chicago Tribune, entitled "A rare look at secretive Brotherhood in America," it is stated: "[T]he U.S. [Muslim] Brotherhood operated under the name Muslim American Society, according to documents and interviews. One of the nation's major Islamic groups, it was incorporated in Illinois in 1993 after a contentious debate among Brotherhood members. Some wanted the Brotherhood to remain underground, while others thought a more public face would make the group more influential. ... When the leaders voted, it was decided that Brotherhood members would call themselves the Muslim American Society, or MAS, according to documents and interviews. An undated internal memo instructed MAS leaders on how to deal with inquiries about the new organization. If asked, 'Are you the Muslim Brothers?' leaders should respond that they are an independent group called the Muslim American Society. 'It is a self-explanatory name that does not need further explanation.' And if the topic of terrorism were raised, leaders were told to say that they were against terrorism but that jihad was among a Muslim's 'divine legal rights' to be used to defend himself and his people and to spread Islam."

MAS is described by Stephen Schwartz, author of The Two Faces of Islam, as "a major component" of the "Wahhabi Lobby" that channels money from and advances the policies of Muslim-fundamentalist Saudi Arabia.

MAS publishes The American Muslim magazine. In a July 2003 article titled "Reaching the Roots of Terrorism," author Omer bin Abdullah blames America's "forceful" foreign policy for having provoked the 9/11 attacks. "Terrorism enables the weak to confront the strong,” he writes, “and thus has an enduring appeal to those who are dissatisfied with the status quo. … Its causes usually can be traced to political oppression, cultural domination, economic exploitation, ethnic discrimination, and religious persecution. … The U.S. has placed itself in a corner: It insists that other governments stop, prevent, and even help it to fight terrorism, and yet arms such practitioners of state terrorism as Tel Aviv. Today, terrorism refers to those whom the U.S. dislikes, especially Muslims.”

In 2002 Randall Royer was the Communications Director of MAS. The following year, federal agents arrested Royer and charged him with conspiring with a Pakistani Wahhabist group -- Lashkar-I-Taibi, or "Army of the Righteous" -- to commit terrorism in Kashmir, Chechnya and elsewhere.

Closely linked to MAS is the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, whose Executive Director is Mahdi Bray, a former Students for a Democratic Society activist now affiliated with International ANSWER, an anti-war front group for the Communist World Workers Party. "Our mission," Bray has written, "is to build an integrated empowerment process for the American Muslim community."  Toward this end, Bray and MAS have been involved in a voter-registration drive and an effort to train 1,000 "activists" in the "skills necessary for effective activism." 

MAS also has close ties to Islamic American University, an unaccredited university in the Detroit suburb of Southfield, which teaches Islamic law and other subjects. "At IAU, you can earn your degree any way you want to; by correspondence, or on campus," says the school’s website. "IAU has grown from a project of the Muslim American Society, the nation's largest grass root [sic] for Islamic work." One IAU faculty member is Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, who until at least June 2003 was also the Chairman (in abstentia) of the university's Board of Trustees. 

In addition, MAS operates programs for educating the young, providing fellowship for Muslim youth, creating its own network of Islamic schools, and sustaining a nationwide Council of Imams.

MAS was a signatory to a February 20, 2002 document, composed by the radical group Refuse & Resist, condemning military tribunals and the detention of immigrants apprehended in connection with post-9/11 terrorism investigations. The document read, in part, "[T]hey [the U.S. government] are coming for the Arab, Muslim and South Asian immigrants. Based on their racial profile, over 1500 have been rounded up and the government refuses to say who they are, where they are jailed and what the charges are!!! … The recent 'disappearances' … have chilling similarities to a police state. … We are clear that being an immigrant is not a crime; Muslims, Arabs and South Asians are not terrorists."

MAS strongly opposes the Patriot Act, which it says “strips away the fundamental checks and balances that safeguard many of our basic civil liberties,” and has “drastically infringed upon every American's rights by giving the government expanded powers to invade privacy, imprison and deport people without due process, and punish political dissent.”

MAS elected not to endorse or participate in the May 14, 2005 "Free Muslims March Against Terror." The group that organized the march, Free Muslims Against Terrorism, describes itself as an organization of “American Muslims and American Arabs of all backgrounds who feel that religious violence and terrorism have not been fully rejected by the Muslim community in the post 9-11 era; … [who seek to] eliminate broad base support for Islamic extremism and terrorism and to strengthen secular democratic institutions in the Middle East and the Muslim World by supporting Islamic reformation efforts.”

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