The Muslim Students Association of Virginia Commonwealth University (MSA VCU) states that its mission is to: “promote unity and joint action among the Muslims”; “conduct social, cultural, religious and other activities in the best traditions of Islam”; “arrange and hold congregational prayers and Islamic religious festivals at appropriate time[s]”; “promote friendly relations between Muslims and non-Muslims”; “endeavor to make Islamic teachings known to interested non-Muslims”; “encourage and enable Muslims with basic knowledge and competence in Islam to contribute individually and collectively toward meeting human needs in conformity with Islamic doctrines and belief”; and “avoid any wrong practices which are contrary to Islam.”
Among the many activities which MSA VCU sponsors and oversees are: Friday and daily prayers; taraweeh prayers and iftar meals during Ramadan; educational programs; halaqas (religious gatherings designed to teach theology); Islam Awareness Month; intramural sports; and a variety of inter-faith and inter-club events.
MSA VCU reports that as a result of its efforts “to attain a place for Muslims to pray on the Virginia Commonwealth campus,” an “Interfaith Meditation Room” was constructed in the basement of the Student Commons.
According to the MSA VCU website, Islam “safeguarded” women’s rights “1,400 years ago when the rest of the world was in total darkness about emancipation” — an assertion that stands in stark contradiction to the voluminous evidence of Islam’s ongoing, violent oppression of women all over the world.
On April 8, 2002, MSA VCU was the principal sponsor of a presentation titled “Struggling for Truth and Justice: The Legacy of Malcolm X.” The featured speaker at this event was Siraj Wahhaj, described by MSA VCU as: “the Imam of Masjid Al-Taqwa in Brookyn, New York” who “has appeared on several national television talk shows and interviews especially about his anti-drug campaigns”; “has received high praises from the media and NYPD for initiating [an] anti-drug patrol in Brooklyn”; “was the first person to give an Islamic invocation to the United States Congress”; and “continues to be one of the most well known Muslim speakers in America who is dynamic, eloquent, and passionate in his speaking style.”
But MSA VCU made no mention of the fact that Wahhaj (an Advisory Board member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations) had been named by U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White as a possible co-conspirator in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center; had testified as a character witness for convicted terror mastermind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman; had called Operation Desert Storm (the 1991 U.S.-led military mission to drive Saddam Hussein’s invading forces out of Kuwait) “one of the most diabolical plots ever in the annals of history”; had predicted that America would fall unless it “accepts the Islamic agenda”; and had openly expressed his desire to see the U.S. government replaced with a Muslim caliphate.
In November 2002, MSA VCU launched its “Unveiling Ignorance” lecture series, whose decidedly anti-war theme was made explicit in the opening lecture, titled “War Beyond Saddam: Reality Beyond the Rhetoric.”
In March 2003, a number of MSA VCU students skipped their classes for one day, in a show of solidarity with a nationwide strike (dubbed “Books Not Bombs”) protesting America’s then-imminent invasion of Iraq. “There seems to be a growing consensus on campuses that war is not the only answer,” said MSA VCU president Sohaib Mohiuddin. “We need to think about the repercussions, approach this sensibly and listen to the world consensus.”
In February 2005, MSA VCU presented a Black History Month event titled “The Pilgrimmage of Malcolm X.” The featured guest speaker was Jihad Abdul-Mumit, a former Black Panther whom MSA VCU described as a “civil rights activist.” A supporter of the convicted cop-killer and leftist icon Mumia Abu Jamal, Abdul-Mumit is an actor best known for his performance in a play titled “The Shootout,” described by the Massachusetts Statewide Harm Reduction Coalition as “a two-man dramatization” depicting the “spiritual and psychological” struggles faced by “marginalized and disenfranchised” blacks whose ancestors were “snatched so violently and decisively from Mother Africa.”
During the same MSA VCU event, the organization screened a documentary film showcasing the ideas of Zaid Shakir and Hamza Yusuf. Shakir is known for having expressed his desire to see the United States eventually become a Muslim country ruled by Islamic law. Yusuf, too, has given evidence that he is a Muslim extremist.
In November 2007, MSA VCU promoted an event by the Muslim Students Association of the U.S. and Canada, titled “Maintaining Spirituality: Key Lessons for MSA Workers — A Nationwide Conference Call with Imam [Mohamed] Magid.” According to the Militant Islam Monitor, Magid (vice president of the Islamic Society of North America) was affiliated with the All Dulles Area Muslims Society (ADAMS), whose chairman, Ahmed Tontonji, was named as a defendant in a $1 trillion lawsuit filed by more than 600 relatives of people who had died in the 9/11 attacks. Tontonji also served as vice president of the International Institute of Islamic Thought, which U.S. officials have linked to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. In March 2002, federal agents raided ADAMS’s facility in Herndon, Virginia, as part of an investigation into financial support for terrorism. Magid himself was present when the agents first arrived.
MSA VCU has participated regularly — 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.