Describing itself as “a self-managed program of the Islamic Society of North America” (ISNA), Muslim Youth of North America (MYNA) is a charitable organization whose constituents and leaders alike are all between the ages of 12 and 18. The group’s mission is to “attain the pleasure of Allah” by: “providing a platform for youth expression; fostering an engaging North American Muslim Culture; promoting Islamic principles grounded in Qur’an and Sunnah; sparking youth involvement in community development and dialogue; [and] establishing a diverse, supportive network of youth in the greater community.” Since its inception, MYNA has utilized a variety of strategies designed to spark curiosity about Islam in non-Muslim junior-high and high-school students—e.g., sponsoring soccer teams, offering scholarships, and marketing a line of clothing.
MYNA was the brainchild of ISNA’s Youth Committee, which in the summer of 1985 proposed the creation of a continental organization for young Muslims. The ISNA policy-making body endorsed the idea, and as a result MYNA was formally approved and introduced at the First Annual Muslim Youth Winter Conference in December 1985. The initial programs sponsored by MYNA were held at ISNA conferences and conventions.
All of MYNA’s financial and operational activities are owned exclusively by ISNA. MYNA’s national advisor, Riyad Shamma, is a member of the Majlis Youth Committee that oversees the operations of ISNA’s Youth Programming and Services Department. MYNA chairman Omar J. Siddiqui also serves as an ISNA board of directors member. And, according to a report in the Asia Times, MYNA and ISNA have both been closely associated with Tablighi Jamaat, a jihadist organization that serves as a recruiting ground for al Qaeda.
Like ISNA, MYNA is connected in a significant way to the Muslim Brotherhood. Ahmed Elkadi, an Egyptian-born surgeon who headed the U.S. Brotherhood from 1984 to 1994, helped create MYNA in 1985. Moreover, MYNA 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:
After a number of years of relative stagnation and inactivity, MYNA experienced a noteworthy revival in 2007. That July, the group held its first National Retreat in Akron, Ohio. Since then, it has cycled through several Executive Committees; drafted its own constitution and charter; organized and held dozens of regional and national camps across the United States and Canada; and held annual conventions in concurrence with the yearly conventions of ISNA and Muslim Students Association.