With its membership open to all full-time undergraduate and graduate students, the Johns Hopkins University Muslim Association (JHUMA) defines its “aims and purposes” as follows: “to create a stronger bond among Muslims in and around the Baltimore Area”; “to provide correct and authentic information, for both Muslims and non-Muslims, regarding true Islamic theology and the Fundamentals of our Faith”; “to dispel any false and derogatory ideas towards Muslims and Islam”; “to spread the True word and preach the Grace and Mercy of Allah”; “conducting social, religious and other activities in the best traditions of Islam”; “arranging and holding congregational prayers and Islamic religious festivals at appropriate times”; “promoting friendly relations between Muslims and non-Muslims”; “endeavoring to make Islamic teachings known to interested non-Muslims”; and “upholding Islamic values.”
JHUMA each year sponsors what it terms “Islam Awareness Days,” whose purpose is “to promote diversity and dispel misconceptions about Islam.” “A lot of times people who aren’t Muslim learn the lies about Islam and attribute [sic] them to be the truth,” said JHUMA Vice President Sameer Ahmed in 2005. “There is always a need for awareness, because Islam is one of the misunderstood religions.”
In February 2005, JHUMA’s Islam Awareness Days featured a presentation by then-National MSA President Hadia Mubarak titled “Liberation and Incarceration? Women in Islam.” Mubarak, a graduate student in Women’s and Gender Studies at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, addressed the topic of women’s status in Muslim societies. She claimed that Americans — based on their superficial impressions of Muslim extremists, suicide bombers, and the “circumcised women on Oprah” — had developed many misconceptions about the treatment of women in the Islamic world. According to Mubarak, the violent oppression of women in Muslim nations results from a misinterpretation of, rather than an allegiance to, the Koran’s actual teachings. Islam, she said, historically held a reputation for respecting women’s rights and granting them equal status in the eyes of the law.
But Miss Mubarak’s assertions are inaccurate. As Robert Spencer points out in his book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam, the Koran itself states that “[m]en have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other” (Qur’an 4:34); that a woman is like a field (tilth) to be used by a man as he wills (2:223); that a woman’s testimony is worth only half that of a man (2:282); that a son’s inheritance should be twice the size of a daughter’s (4:11); that a man may marry up to four wives and may have sex with slave girls also (4:3); and that husbands may beat disobedient wives (4:34).
Each year since 2003, JHUMA has participated in MSA National’s “Ramadan Fast-a-Thon” along with as many as 280 fellow chapters of MSA. The purpose of this event is to raise, through temporary fasting, public awareness of hunger and homelessness in Muslim communities. Recent endorsers of the Fast-a-Thon include:
JHUMA maintains close ties to Dr. Ashraf Ismail, an instructor with the AlMaghrib Institute, which offers seminars on Islamic topics in fourteen U.S. and Canadian cities. Ismail displayed his antipathy for Israel and the United States in July 2006 when he wrote that Hamas and Hezbollah were not terrorist organizations, but agents of “grassroots rebellions”; that Israel “and its American patron” had no “clearly defined objective” in Israel’s then-raging war against Hamas and Hezbollah; that “Israel’s accusations against Iran” (charges that Iran was arming Hezbollah) were “largely baseless”; that “America has lost a great deal of global power over the last three years”; and that “the disenfranchised peoples of the world are developing the ability to affect the lives of the more privileged members of humanity, which means that anything that Israel does to the Palestinians or Lebanese will have effects upon Israel that are more direct and more negative than ever before.”
In November 2007, JHUMA and the Jimmy Carter-supported organization Habitat for Humanity (HFH) collaborated to sponsor an event titled “Healing a Fractured World” — as a reaction to the Terrorism Awareness Project’s October 2007 Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week (IFAW), whose purpose had been to educate American college students about the nature of the fanatical religious movement aiming to create a global Muslim empire.
Falsely depicting IFAW as an exercise in anti-Muslim bigotry, the sponsors of “Healing a Fractured World” claimed that their own event was meant to create a “commitment to a better tomorrow through community service based on understanding and coexistence” — the implication being that IFAW’s objectives were malevolent by comparison. Centered around “a day of service in which all the campus religious groups would be invited to build a house in Baltimore one afternoon,” the JHUMA-HFH campaign billed itself as “common action for the common good.”
One of the “Healing a Fractured World” organizers, Farah Qureshi, said: “The purpose is to shift talk of religion today from a debate between two polarizing camps … to a discussion in which we can come together on the basis of our shared values, and in the process, learn about the differences that make us unique and respect each other for those differences.” She viewed expressions of concern about the threat posed by Islamo-fascism as “stigmatizing and maligning one religious group based on stereotypes rather than truths.” This, she explained, “doesn’t just hurt that one faith, it calls into question the very basis of America: the idea that this is a land where a religiously diverse people can live in freedom, harmony and most of all, respect.”