Founded in the early 1990s at Masjid Al Islam mosque in Philadelphia by Imam Abdul Alim Musa, As-Sabiqun (whose name means “The Vanguard” in Arabic) is a Sunni endeavor that seeks, through “an organized Islamic movement,” to establish Islam “as a complete way of life in America” — “in total, complete, and uncompromised service of Allah.”
On July 4, 1994, As-Sabiqun enumerated its major organizational objectives in a document that stated, most notably:
Believing that “Islam is fully capable of producing a working and just social, political, economic order,” As-Sabiqun “does not advocate participation in the American political process as an ideal method for advancing Islamic issues in the U.S.” Instead, it calls for “a strong and active outreach to the people of the U.S.” — an effort aimed at persuading Americans to embrace Islamic beliefs, customs, and institutions. The movement endorses “cooperation on domestic social issues with like-minded non-Muslim groups,” but only “as long as Islamic ethics and morality are not compromised.”
As-Sabiqun’s major ideological influences include the writings and crusades of Malcolm X, Maulana Mawdudi, Shaikh ‘Uthman dan Fodio, Sayyid Qutb, Kalim Siddiqui, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna.
Though As-Sabiqun is a Sunni entity, it has publicly voiced support for such Shi’a movements and organizations as the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran and the Lebanon-based terrorist group Hezbollah. According to Abdul Alim Musa, Muslims today ought not engage in the “counter-productive” habit of focusing on the differences between Sunni and Shi’a Islam; rather, they should aim to unite in their struggle against non-Muslims.
As a roadmap for the achievement of its goals, As-Sabiqun has outlined a plan of action that includes the following:
In an As-Sabiqun newsletter article titled “To Do List 2007,” violent jihad was emphasized as a vital pursuit for Muslims worldwide: “Always cherish the intention of jihâd and the desire for martyrdom in the way of Allah and actually prepare yourself for that.”
As-Sabiqun mosques across the U.S. offer daily Islamic studies classes on a variety of topics, including basic Muslim beliefs and practices, the meanings of Koranic verses and their practical significance, principles of Islamic jurisprudence, and analysis of contemporary political events. New members of the group are encouraged not only to attend these classes, but also to familiarize themselves with the works of Islamic thinkers such as Maulana Mawdudi, Hasan al-Banna, Sayyid Qutb, Kalim Siddiqui, Shaikh ‘Uthman dan Fodio, and others.
One of As-Sabiqun’s major ongoing projects is its effort to win the freedom of Jamil Al-Amin, the former Black Panther Party (BPP) member currently serving a life sentence in prison for the March 16, 2000 murder of a police officer.
In addition to Abdul Alim Musa, another key leader of As-Sabiqun is Amir Abdel Malik Ali.
As-Sabiqun is headquartered in Washington, DC, and has additional branches in Philadelphia (where Abdul Alim Musa first established it), Oakland, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Sacramento.