Formerly known as the ISNA Fiqh Committee, the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization consisting of Islamic scholars from the U.S. and Canada whose mission is “to provide guidance to the Muslims of North America in all matters related to Sharia by answering constituent questions, writing research policy papers, and holding conferences and seminars related to Islamic legal principles in North America.” Toward that end, FCNA closely monitors “outside Islamic legal opinions of other Muslim juristic bodies” and “attempts to harmonize varying jurisprudential points of views, scholarly opinions and exegetical interpretations in efforts to unify Muslim legal voices and issue mainstream collective decrees in matters of concern to Muslim life in North America.”
FCNA’s historical roots date back to the Religious Affairs Committee (RAC) of the Muslim Students Association of the U.S. and Canada in the early 1960s. Two decades later, in the early 1980s, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) took control of the RAC and renamed it the ISNA Fiqh Committee. (Fiqh is a concept that deals with the proper interpretation of, and adherence to, Islamic law.) In 1986 the organization was again reconstituted, this time as the Fiqh Council of North America; it remains affiliated with ISNA to this day.
In 2002, FCNA’s offices were searched by federal agents as part of Operation Green Quest (OGQ), a task force created to track and disrupt terrorist-financing networks based in the United States. OGQ resulted in no arrests of FCNA members but did lead to the convictions of two people, including Abdurahman Alamoudi, founder and executive director of the American Muslim Council.
In July 2005, FCNA issued a fatwa [a legal pronouncement in Islam, issued by a religious law specialist on a specific issue] forbidding terrorism against civilian targets. However, this fatwa did not specifically address terrorism against military targets in a conflict such as the Iraq War. Nor did it define the terms “terrorism” or “civilians.” This omission is significant because many Muslim scholars justify the murder of certain noncombatants by pronouncing them collectively guilty of some offense against Islam, and thereby refusing to designate them as civilians. For example, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi has asserted that Palestinian suicide bombings in Israeli population centers “are not in any way included in the framework of prohibited terrorism, even if the victims include some civilians.” This, he explains, is because Israel is “a society of invaders” whose “nature” is “colonialist, occupational, [and] racist.”
FCNA depicts Islam as a religion that tolerates and respects people of all faiths and racial or ethnic backgrounds. The organization’s website features an article by the Muslim Brotherhood figure Taha Al-Alwani, who writes: _“_The Qur’an asserts that differences in race, color, and language exist and must be a vehicle for friendship and harmony, so that all may cooperate to establish God’s message on earth, and build civilization, and utilize the world’s resources for the betterment of the whole human family.”[
Another article](http://www.fiqhcouncil.org/Articles/GeneralFiqhIssues/tabid/170/ctl/Detail/mid/569/xmid/4/xmfid/1/Default.aspx%20) featured on the FCNA website, penned by law professor Azizah Y. al-Hibri, praises Islamic Law for ensuring that capital punishment “is not imposed unless due process has been observed in a fair trial, and extenuating circumstances were fully considered.” By contrast, al-Hibri does not view the American justice system as being similarly fair-minded. Thus she joins FCNA in its call for a moratorium on capital punishment in the United States, on grounds that it has been applied “disproportionately” against “minorities.” “[A]ll measures,” says al-Hibri, “must be taken to … remov[e]” the death penalty’s “inequities and biases.”
FCNA’s Executive Committee includes such notables as Muzammil Siddiqi (chairman), Muhammad Nur Abdullah (vice chairman), Zulfiqar Ali Shah (executive director), and Jamal Badawi (executive member). Other prominent Council members include Ihsan Bagby, Muhammad Qatanani , and Hassan Qazwini.
FCNA 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: