Aminah Beverly McCloud is the Director of the Islamic World Studies Program at DePaul University. Launched in September 2004, this program offers both a major and minor in the subject of Islamic religion and culture. A member of the Nation of Islam and a disciple of its leader Louis Farrakhan, McCloud helped DePaul develop the program in response to what she considers Americans’ widespread ignorance about the Islamic world.
Professor McCloud teaches the courses “Islam in the United States” and “Islam in Global Contexts.” One of the texts she requires students to read in both classes is Seyyed Hossein Nasr’s The Heart Of Islam: Enduring Values for Humanity. This text turns a blind eye toward the darker sides of fundamentalist Islam and likens Muslim terrorists to the American founders who fought for independence from Britain. Nasr writes, “When some people attack Islam for inciting struggle in the name of justice, they forget the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution.”
Another required text is the novel Nisanit by Fadia Faqir, which tracks a Palestinian terrorist, his girlfriend, and his Israeli interrogator. The book portrays Israelis as sadists, and the protagonist of the story, a terrorist named Shadeed, ponders the prospect of peace, observing: “It would never spread over their country until these aggressors [the Israelis] stopped polluting their air.”
As a Black Muslim, Professor McCloud has often found herself at odds with Middle Eastern Muslim immigrants. “In their pursuit of the American dream and whiteness,” she says, “the new arrivals have largely ignored African-American Muslims, and have assumed that they can impose their own understanding of Islam on African-Americans.” In a 2000 interview with the house organ of Farrakhan’s movement on the 70th anniversary of the organization, McCloud said “The Nation of Islam must define what Islam is within the American Culture.”
Despite her misgivings about foreign-born Muslims, McCloud has, on occasion, extended her support to them. In 2004 she was a signatory to a document denouncing the Patriot Act and imploring U.S. authorities to grant Tariq Ramadan permission to teach at Notre Dame University. Ramadan — the grandson of Hasan al-Banna, who founded the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood — had been denied a visa because of his connections to al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
In addition to her teaching career, Professor McCloud has been a consultant to the Ford Foundation’s “Civil Rights and Muslims in America” project, and a consultant and affiliate to Harvard University’s Pluralism Project. McCloud is also a speaker with the Muslim Students Association.
This profile is adapted from the article “Teaching and Terror at DePaul,” written by Tom Ryan and published by FrontPageMagazine.com on May 12, 2005.