Established in 2002 by Muhammad Alshareef, the Michigan-based Al-Maghrib Institute offers a college-level religious education program whose mission is to help its students “gain a deeper understanding of Islam” and become “better Muslims” by moving their hearts “closer to Allah.” In addition to its Bachelor’s Degree Program in Islamic Studies, Al-Maghrib also confers certificates in Islamic Theology and Ethics; Islamic Law and Legal Theory; Qur’ânic and Ḥadîth Sciences; and Islamic History and Homiletics. The Institute has taught over 80,000 students since its inception and currently has chapters in more than 40 cities across North America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Australia.
Al-Maghrib’s Islamic Studies courses are accredited by American Open University, under the authority of Al-Azhar University in Cairo—the world’s largest Sunni institution of higher learning. The required reading lists for the Al-Maghrib program have been dominated by the works of Muslim Brotherhood and Wahhabi theorists like Sayyid Qutb and Sayyid Sabiq. Also prominent have been the writings of Bilal Philips, a radical preacher who condones suicide bombings and forced Islamic marriages for pre-pubescent girls. Other Al-Maghrib courses rely heavily on commentaries by the thirteenth-century theologian Ibn Taymiyyah and the eighteenth-century Wahhabi sect founder Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab. According to national-security and terrorism expert Patrick Poole, Al-Maghrib is well known for its “Wahhabi-influenced extremism, rabid anti-Semitism and Holocaust denials, and militaristic preaching of jihad.”
As of August 2015, Al-Maghrib’s faculty consisted of 19 instructors, many of whom had earned degrees from Saudi Wahhabi institutions. Some examples:
A noteworthy former instructor at Al-Maghrib was Ashraf Ismail, who believes that “Allah will make His religion victorious … [and] the preeminent way of life in the entire world,” and that Hamas and Hezbollah are agents of “grassroots rebellions” rather than terrorist organizations.
Apart from their teaching duties, a number of Al-Maghrib instructors appear regularly on Islamic television networks and are in high demand as motivational speakers at Muslim events all over the world. The Institute is also actively engaged with many campus chapters of the Muslim Students’ Association of the U.S. and Canada.
During 2006-08, Al-Maghrib had a media arm called Ilmquest Productions, which published and marketed DVDs and CDs featuring not only Institute-affiliated scholars, but also many other extremists such as Bilal Philips, Khalid Yasin, and the Yemeni al Qaeda cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki. In February 2006, Al-Maghrib and Ilmquest co-sponsored a “Leaders of Tomorrow” conference hosted by the Muslim Students Association of Ohio State University. Additional co-sponsors included Kindhearts and its local parent organization, Masjid Omar Ibn El-Khattab, a mosque that was home to the largest known, post-9/11 al Qaeda cell in the U.S.
For additional information on the Al-Maghrib Institute, click here.