The Temple University Muslim Students Association (TU-MSA) seeks “to contribute in [sic] providing a better environment for Muslims to grow in their deen” (an Arabic word meaning “faith” or “path”); to provide “a place [for Muslim students] to meet new friends, learn more about Islam, and ultimately become a better individual”; and to provide “a vehicle on campus where we educate the campus community about true Islam.”
TU-MSA 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 TU-MSA 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 views women as equal to but different from men. 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 TU-MSA website also addresses the topic of jihad in a deceptive way, minimizing the militaristic implications of the term:
“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.”
Contrary to the foregoing claims, however, Islam scholars such as Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer, and Bat Ye’or have explained that 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.
On the weekend of March 29-31, 2002, TU-MSA hosted the MSA East Zone’s Annual Conference, which featured a presentation by Imam Zaid Shakir. A former Muslim chaplain at Yale University, Shakir has expressed unequivocally his desire to see the United States eventually “become a Muslim country.” Moreover, he has asserted that true Muslims could never accept the legitimacy of the existing American socio-political system because it “is against the orders and ordainments of Allah” and the Quran, which “pushes us in the exact opposite direction.”
The aforementioned conference also featured a presentation by Shaikh Ibrahim Memon, a Buffalo, New York-based imam affiliated with a secretive Islamic training facility (in Buffalo) probably owned by the Islamic Society of North America. According to a Buffalo Common Council member, the people at the training facility were “armed and dangerous” and were “holding paramilitary exercises there.”
In recent years the Muslim Students Association of the U.S. and Canada has led a movement to push for the installation — in the restrooms of universities and colleges nationwide — of foot baths for Muslim students who wish to practice the ritual washing of their feet before praying on campus. TU-MSA has supported the national MSA’s efforts in this regard. As of July 2007, at least 17 universities — including Temple — already had installed, or were in the process of installing, such foot baths.
In October 2009, TU-MSA objected to the fact that the Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders was scheduled to deliver an on-campus speech as part of Temple’s upcoming Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week presentations. Most notably, the student group deplored Fitna, a fifteen-minute film that Wilders had produced examining why so many atrocities had been committed worldwide in the name of Islam. In an October 14 statement demanding that “his invitation be rescinded immediately,” TU-MSA characterized Wilders as “a far-right Dutch MP who is infamous for his anti-Islamic rhetoric and extreme hatred towards Muslims”; complained that “the presence” of Wilders and his “hate-driven opinions” on the Temple campus would cause the university’s Muslim population to feel “attacked, threatened, and ultimately unsafe”; asserted that “the decision to allow Mr. Wilders to share his viewpoints is a danger not only for the public safety of Muslims and the honor of the core principles of Islam, but also for academic integrity and objectivity on campus”; and claimed that “free speech” rights did not extend to opinions “based on hatred and discrimination.”
Ultimately, Wilders did deliver his scheduled address at Temple. During a question-and-answer period, however, he was heckled and berated by student agitators so vocally and relentlessly, that he was unable to finish his remarks.