Established in 1972 by Temple University professor Ismail Raji al-Faruqi and University of Pennsylvania graduate student Abdulhamid AbuSulayman, the Association of Muslim Social Scientists of North America (AMSS) is a constituent organization of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and a sister organization of the International Institute of Islamic Thought.
AMSS describes itself as “an independent membership-based organization that encompasses the United States and Canada.” It has no corporate, legal or financial relationship with any organization bearing the name of AMSS in any other country. Its mission is “to provide a forum through which Islamic positions on various academic disciplines can be promoted, with an emphasis on the social sciences and humanities”; to further “the continuity of the Islamic intellectual heritage”; and “to serve the interests of the larger Muslim community by bringing together Muslim and non-Muslim scholars in an academic setting to examine and define Islamic perspectives on issues of global concern that contribute to the prosperity of Muslims around the globe and the betterment of humanity.”
AMSS collaborates with the International Institute of Islamic Thought to publish the American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences (AJISS), which is distributed in more than 50 countries around the world. Launched in 1984, AJISS is an interdisciplinary publication of scholarly research on all facets of Islam and the Muslim world: politics, history, economic philosophy, metaphysics, psychology, religious law, and Islamic thought.
The AJISS advisory board includes, among others, Sayyid M. Syeed, Secretary General of the Islamic Society of North America; professor John Esposito of Georgetown University; professor Clovis Maksoud of American University; and professor Ali al Mazrui of the State University of New York at Binghamton. Mazrui also serves as president of AMSS.
AJISS proudly identifies Dr. Jamal Barzinji — who is affiliated with the Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy, the International Institute for Islamic Thought, and the World Assembly of Muslim Youth — as one of its “strongest supporters.”
AMSS was named in a May 1991 Muslim Brotherhood document — titled “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America” — as one of the Brotherhood’s 29 likeminded “organizations of our friends” that shared the common goal of destroying America and turning it into a Muslim nation. These “friends” were identified by the Brotherhood as groups that could help teach Muslims “that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands … so that … God’s religion [Islam] is made victorious over all other religions.”
Also named in the Muslim Brotherhood document were:
See also: Muslim Brotherhood
The Islamic Information Center of America (IICA) was founded in 1983 by Dr. Musa Qutub, a professor of geography at Northeastern University. The organization’s primary objective is to “deliver the message of Islam in its totality and purity to the American people, to inform non-Muslims about Islam, and to aid Americans who embrace Islam in delivering the Message to others.” IICA pursues these goals by hosting seminars; delivering lectures; distributing newsletters; writing newspaper articles and op-ed pieces; giving media interviews; participating in radio and television forums; taking part in interfaith dialogs; reviewing books about Islam for publishers; and conducting visits to mosques for middle-school, high-school, and college students.
Through the use of da’wah (preaching or proselytizing), IICA’s ultimate objective is to “invite” Muslims and non-Muslims alike to join “the cause of Allah” and convert to the Islamic faith. Indeed, the IICA website features a section titled “How to Become a Muslim,” which encourages “those who wish to fill the void in your life or have any questions or comments about Islam” to contact IICA, “and we will be happy to inform you about Islam.” According to Garbi Schmidt’s 2004 book Islam in Urban America:
“Dr. Qutub took pride in the number of people who had converted to Islam as a result of [IICA’s] outreach. That ‘many now accept Islam over the phone,’ he [Qutub] said, proved to him that Islam was ‘a religion of proof’ appealing to the human intellect.”
In a piece titled “The First and Final Message,” Qutub has written that Islam is the only “true religion,” and that “it will prevail over all religions that were fabricated by mankind.”
In addition to its proselytizing efforts, IICA also helps American Muslims navigate their way through the process of obtaining a marriage certificate, getting marriage counseling if they need it, and initiating divorce proceedings when necessary. Moreover, IICA’s Islamic Reconciliation Council seeks to resolve disputes between Muslims generally, and between Muslim business partners particularly.
IICA also seeks to counter what it views as the Western media’s overwhelmingly negative portrayal of Islam. Says IICA: “… Islam is being tarnished by the press … because they fear what it has to offer humanity. Islam is a way of life. Islam gave the woman more rights than any other religion even though the west keeps attacking the misconceptions about women’s rights in Islam….”
IICA was named in a May 1991 Muslim Brotherhood document — titled “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America” — as one of the Brotherhood’s 29 likeminded “organizations of our friends” that shared the common goal of destroying America and turning it into a Muslim nation. These “friends” were identified by the Brotherhood as groups that could help teach Muslims “that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands … so that … God’s religion [Islam] is made victorious over all other religions.”
Also named in the Muslim Brotherhood document were:
Two days after 9/11, AMSS issued a press release “condemning the heinous terrorist attacks on America” and urging “law enforcement agencies to bring the perpetrators to justice.” After expressing sympathy for the “unyielding anger, shock, and deep sorrow felt by all Americans,” AMSS noted that “Muslims share with their fellow Americans the psychological anguish for the loss of loved ones, as Muslims were among the victims in [the] unsparing and vicious attacks.” The organization also exhorted Americans “not to prejudge their Muslim neighbors and make them targets of hate crimes.”
On September 9, 2002, another AMSS press release condemned the Reverend Jerry Falwell for having “once again targeted Islam and Muslims by calling the Prophet of Islam a ‘terrorist,’ on the CBS program, 60 Minutes, that aired on … October 6, 2002.” Added AMSS:
“This appalling reference to the most revered figure of Islam … is extremely offensive, disturbing, and alarming. We denounce Falwell’s offensive attack on Prophet Muhammad and call on him to cease and desist from instigating [sic] one religious community against the other, and from further fostering bigotry and hatred…. Mr. Falwell is entitled to his opinion on Islam, or any other subject. His abominable attack on the Prophet of Islam, however, is not a question of freedom of speech but rather of hate speech. We demand that Mr. Falwell apologize to Muslims in America and the rest of the world for his offensive remarks.”
AMSS president Dr. Louay Safi lamented “the extent to which irresponsible leaders of the Christian Right can go to promote inter-religious hatred.”
At AMSS’s 33rd Annual Conference in September 2004, the keynote speaker was Tariq Ramadan, grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna. Ramadan is suspected by U.S. intelligence agencies of maintaining ties with the terrorist group al Qaeda.
At AMSS’s Third Canadian Regional Conference, held at Wilfrid Laurier University in November 2007, keynote speaker Regina Lewis (a professor of fashion studies at the London College of Fashion) defended the role of the veil in the lives of Muslim women. In an address titled “Consumption and Cosmopolitanism: The Veil, The Body, The Law,” she took exception to British Labour Party Member Jack Straw’s assertion that women entering his chamber in “niqabs” — the traditional covering that is worn over the face — should be required to remove them because they hamper communication. “Yet that makes me wonder,” said Lewis, “how David Blunkett of the Labour Party, a blind politician, would be fair. Would his communication with others be obstructed?” “The hijab [a veil that covers the head],” added Lewis, “is not inimical to fashion. It can be an individuating form of self-expression.”
Other featured speakers at the Canadian Regional Conference included Duke University professor Miriam Cooke and AMSS board member Jasmin Zine. The latter gave voice to her organization’s deep-seated belief that Muslims in the West are subject to constant prejudice and discrimination, when she said: “Following the tragic events of 9/11, Muslim identities and the religion of Islam have been under siege.”
In December 2006, AMSS and the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding co-sponsored a conference at the Brookings Institution, the theme of which was the allegedly pervasive presence of “Islamophobia” — or irrational, anti-Muslim sentiment — in the non-Muslim West. One of the featured speakers at this event was Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who claimed that hate crimes against Muslims had risen by 29 percent during the preceding year, and that the incidence of such crimes had shown a steady upward trend since at least 1995. Another guest speaker, Muslim American Society executive director Mahdi Bray, lamented that Islamophobia was the result of Westerners’ overriding ignorance about Islamic tenets, and that the U.S. government’s anti-terror efforts had undermined the civil rights of Muslims nationwide.