The Michigan-based Al-Maghrib Institute is a college-level religious education program whose mission is to help its students “gain a deeper understanding of Islam”; to “build sincere, dedicated and brilliant students … who will go on to become leaders, bringing their communities to new heights”; and to “make people better Muslims and bring people closer to Allah.” The Institute seeks to achieve these objectives by offering “trademark double-weekend [six-day] university-style seminars carrying students toward a bachelor's degree in the Islamic Studies.”
Al-Maghrib's classes are given at mosques in at least thirteen North American cities: College Park, Maryland; Fairfax, Virginia; Houston, Texas; New Brunswick, New Jersey; San Francisco Bay area, California; Seattle, Washington; Memphis, Tennessee; Sacramento, California; Detroit, Michigan; Chicago, Illinois; Ottawa, Canada; Montreal, Canada; and Toronto, Canada. Al-Maghrib also ran onsite seminars in Columbus, Ohio during 2006.
Characterized by Wahhabi-influenced extremism, rabid anti-Semitism, Holocaust denials, and the preaching of militaristic jihad, Al-Maghrib’s courses are accredited by American Open University (AOU), which in turn is accredited by Al-Azhar University in Cairo -- the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood, the oldest and largest radical Islamic organization in the world.
A review of the course summary for Al-Maghrib’s Islamic Studies degree program shows that the required reading list is dominated by the works of Muslim Brotherhood and Wahhabi theologians and theorists. In particular, the program requires students to read Sayyid Qutb’s In the Shade of the Quran. Qutb, the Muslim Brotherhood thinker who was executed by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser in the 1960s, was influential in justifying terrorism and jihad, and in laying down the theoretical principles upon which al Qaeda was built.
Another Muslim Brotherhood theorist prominent in the Al-Maghrib curriculum is Sayyid Sabiq, who wrote his book Fiqh-us-Sunnah at the request of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna. The two volumes of Sabiq’s work are the only texts for Al-Maghrib's “Fiqh of Worship” course.
The Al-Maghrib reading list also features the works of Bilal Phillips, who in January 2007 gained notoriety as one of the radical preachers secretly videotaped for the Undercover Mosque investigative program aired on Britain’s Channel Four. In that program, Phillips was shown lecturing in favor of forced Islamic marriages for prepubescent girls.
The justification of jihad and a call for Islamic dominance are promoted in the Al-Maghrib course titled "Islam Invulnerable: The Making of the Modern Muslim World." Tracing the rise of Islam as a global force from the initial Islamic invasions and occupations of the Near East, North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula, this class glories in the triumphs of the Ottoman, Safavid, Qajar and Mughal Empires. The Crusades are denounced, as are European “imperialist” and “colonialist” efforts in recent centuries, while Islamic conquests undergo “narrative reinterpretation” to explain how they differ from Western exploits. Moreover, the present-day Arab-Israeli conflict is blamed entirely on the "Zionists."
Other Al-Maghrib’s courses rely on commentaries by 13th Century theologian Ibn Taymiyyah and Wahhabi sect founder Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab.
All six of Al-Maghrib’s instructors hold degrees from Saudi institutions controlled by Wahhabi extremism:
Apart from their teaching duties, Al-Maghrib instructors appear regularly on a number of Islamic satellite television networks, and are in high demand as motivational speakers at Muslim organization events all over the world. The Institute is also active amongst the 150-plus campus chapters of the Muslim Students’ Association of the U.S. and Canada, located at universities all over North America.
In addition to the courses it offers, the Institute sponsors the EmanRush Audio website, which sells Al-Maghrib audio and video course lectures, and the Khutbah.com website, which provides the texts of sermons and articles delivered by Al-Maghrib instructors and staff.
In February 2006, Al-Maghrib's media arm, Ilmquest Productions (which not only publishes and markets DVDs and CDs of Al-Maghrib “scholars,” but also the works of numerous other extremist speakers, including Bilal Philips, Khalid Yasin, and Yemeni al-Qaeda cleric Anwar Al-Aulaqi) co-sponsored a “Leaders of Tomorrow” conference held by the Muslim Students Association of Ohio State University. Fellow co-sponsors included:
(a) Kindhearts (an organization that was raided immediately thereafter by federal law enforcement and was closed by order of the Treasury Department for financing terrorism).
(b) Kindhearts' local parent organization, Masjid Omar Ibn El-Khattab, the mosque (near the OSU campus) which was home to the largest known al-Qaeda cell in the U.S. since 9/11, with two former members -- Iyman Faris and Nuradin Abdi -- already convicted and serving prison terms for their participation, and another cell member -- Christopher Paul -- awaiting trial at the time.
In September 2006, Dr. Ashraf Ismail of the Al-Maghrib Institute said the following at the NYU Islamic Center: "Allah sent his prophet with the guidance and religion of truth. And what is the ultimate destiny of Islam? It is quite clear ... that Allah will make His religion victorious; not only victorious but it will be the preeminent way of life in the entire world.
Most of this profile is adapted from the article "Jihad U," written by Patrick Poole and published by FrontPageMagazine.com on February 14, 2007.