Established in 1995, the Muslim Students Association of Princeton University (MSA-PU) is an undergraduate organization that seeks “to serve the needs of the Princeton Muslim community” by “establish[ing] and maintain[ing] the Friday (Juma’a) prayers throughout the year, prayers and celebrations for both Eids, and iftaar (fast-break) meals during Ramadan.” In addition, the organization pledges to “make sure that there is a space on campus” where Muslim students can “pray their daily prayers,” and to “increase unity within the Muslim community on campus through social events like study breaks, discussions, and dinners.” A “secondary goal” of MSA-PU is to “serve the campus community” by “educating our peers about the religion of Islam through lectures, events, dialogues, and … interfaith events.”
MSA-PU strongly opposed the Terrorism Awareness Project‘s October 2007 Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week (IFAW) activities, whose purpose was to educate American college students about the nature of the fanatical religious movement aiming to create a global Muslim empire. MSA-PU’s then-president, Sarah Dajani, said that IFAW “equates terrorism with the religion” and thus was “extremely offensive to the Muslim Students Association as an organization.”
MSA-PU has participated several times — along with more than 250 fellow Muslim organizations (mostly chapters of the MSA) — in the annual “Ramadan Fast-a-Thon,” where students eat nothing from sunrise to sundown on one designated day each year. The purpose of this event — which was initiated shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks — is twofold: to “raise money for the hungry and poor,” and to help Americans “increase” their “understanding” of Muslims’ good intentions. Such notables as Sheikh Muhammad Nur Abdullah, Sheikh Abdullah Idris Ali, Imam Zaid Shakir, and Sheikh Hamza Yusuf have endorsed the Fast-a-Thon.
The MSA-PU website features a section whose purpose is to inform readers about Islam. This section deals in a disingenuous fashion with the issue of women’s rights in the Muslim faith: “Islam teaches that women must be respected and protected. Islam does not condone oppression of women but to the contrary provides many rights to women. In some Middle Eastern countries women may be limited in certain rights. This is not due to Islam but due to the culture of that area.” But these assertions are wholly untrue.
The MSA-PU website also addresses the topic of jihad in a deceptive way, minimizing the militaristic implications of the term and wrongly characterizing it as a tradition with direct parallels in other faiths: “Like Christianity, Islam permits fighting in self-defense, in defense of religion, or on the part of those who have been expelled forcibly from their homes.” Moreover:
“Jihad does not mean ‘holy war.’ Jihad in Arabic means to strive, struggle and exert effort. It is a central and broad Islamic concept that includes struggle against evil inclinations within oneself, struggle to improve the quality of life in society, for self-defense or fighting against tyranny or oppression.”
But Islam scholars such as Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer, and Bat Ye’or have explained that, contrary to the foregoing assertions, the form of jihad most central to Muslim life manifests itself as a boldly offensive, permanent war of conquest whose ultimate aim is to achieve Islam’s dominion over the entire world.