Fiqh Council of North America

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The Fiqh Council of North America (originally known as ISNA Fiqh Committee) is an association of Muslims who interpret Islamic law on the North American continent.

According to its website, the Fiqh Council traces its origins back to the Religious Affairs Committee of the then Muslim Student Association of the United States and Canada established in the 1960s.[1] In 1980, after the founding of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Religious Affairs Committee evolved into the Fiqh Committee of the Islamic Society of North America, and was eventually transformed into the Fiqh Council of North America in 1986.[1]

Its 18 members issue religious rulings, resolve disputes, and answer questions relating to the Islamic faith. As outlined in its by-laws, the Council's primary objectives include: "To consider, from a Shari'ah perspective, and offer advice on specific undertakings, transactions, contracts, projects, or proposals, guaranteeing thereby that the dealings of North American Muslims fall within the parameters of what is permitted by the Shari'ah." The Council's opinions are not binding.[2]

Ties to the Muslim Brotherhood[edit]

A document from May 1991 issued by the Muslim Brotherhood and titled “An Explanatory memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America” listed the Fiqh Council of North America among the 29 like-minded organizations which the Muslim Brotherhood hoped to reach out to and coordinate amongst.[3]

The Memorandum offers a strategic vision for the Brotherhood, which consists of: "Establishing an effective and a stable Islamic Movement led by the Muslim Brotherhood. Adopting Muslims’ causes domestically and globally. Expanding the observant Muslim base. Unifying and directing Muslims’ efforts. Presenting Islam as a civilization alternative. Supporting the global Islamic State wherever it is.”[3]

Towards these goals, the authors of the document listed 29 organizations that were identified as existing in America and possibly able to be coordinated under the Muslim Brotherhood. The list is preceded with the following description: "A list of our organizations and the organizations of our friends [Imagine if they all march according to one plan!!!]" The Fiqh Council of North America appears on that document as “ISNA Fiqh Committee,” a historic moniker for the group.[3]

The other organizations listed in the manuscript included:

  • Association of Muslim Scientists and Engineers (AMSE)
  • Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)
  • Muslim Students Association (MSA)
  • Muslim Communities Association (MCA)
  • Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS)
  • Association of Muslim Scientists and Engineers (AMSE)
  • Islamic Medical Association (IMA)
  • Islamic teaching Center (ITC)
  • North American Islamic Trust (NAIT)
  • Foundation for International Development (FID)
  • Islamic Housing Cooperative (IHC)
  • Islamic Centers Division (ICD)
  • American Trust Publications (ATP)
  • Audio-Visual Center (AVC)
  • Islamic Book Service (IBS)
  • Muslim Businessmen Association (MBA)
  • Muslim Youth of North America (MYNA)
  • ISNA Political Awareness Committee (IPAC)
  • Islamic Education Department (IED)
  • Muslim Arab Youth Asociaation (MAYA)
  • Malaysian Islamic Study Group (MISG)
  • Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP)
  • United Association for Studies and Research (UASR)
  • Occupied Land Fund (later known as Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development)
  • Mercy International Association (MIA)
  • Islamic Circle of North America (ISNA)
  • Baitul Mal Inc. (BMI)
  • International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT)
  • Islamic Information Center (IIC)

Operation Green Quest[edit]

In 2002 the Council was searched by federal agents as part of Operation Green Quest, a task force created to track and disrupt terrorist financing.[4] No arrests were made, and the Council denies any links to terror financiers, and has no official links to charities (the search was because a few board members publicly contributed to numerous Islamic charities in America and abroad).

Fatwa[edit]

  • Terrorism: In July 2005, the Council issued a fatwa stating Islam's condemnation of certain terrorism and religious extremism.[5]
  • Capital Punishment: The Council has issued a fatwa calling for a moratorium on Capital Punishment in the United States, based on the fact that several of the presupposed requirements for the carrying out of the law, according to Sharia, are not being met in most cases.[6]
  • Apostasy: The Council issued a fatwa which declared that apostasy could not, on its own, be the grounds for any fixed punishment, especially capital punishment. The fatwa states: "The preponderance of evidence from both the Qur’an and Sunnah indicates that there is no firm ground for the claim that apostasy is in itself a mandatory fixed punishment [Hadd], namely capital punishment"[7]

Criticism[edit]

Professor Khaled Abou El Fadl, a University of California law professor, said in 2001 that the Council lacked authority among Muslims in the US, in part because it was known for analyzing Islamic law for the American military and media and other non-Muslim organizations rather than responding to the needs of Muslims. Then chairman of the council, Dr. Taha Jabir Alalwani, agreed to some extent about these criticisms saying that the Council had a limited budget and thus could not tackle all the kinds of problems faced by American Muslims.[2]

Executive Committee and members[edit]

Executive Committee:[1]

Members:

Most of the Fiqh Council members have strong Islamist records, and are or were affiliated to one or more organizations listed in the May 1991 Memorandum.[citation needed]

Muzammil Siddiqi was a founding member of ISNA who once served as President of the organization.[8] During a Live Dialogue on IslamOnline.net on May 31, 2001, he was asked about the possibility of implementing Sharia law in the U.S. He declared, “The criminal law of the shariah is not practiced here and it is not even required for Muslims to practice the criminal law in a non-Islamic state…Once more people accept Islam, insha’allah, this will lead to the implementation of sharia in all areas.”[8]

Once affiliated to the Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood (1973-1977), Mohammed Adam El-Sheikh was a founding member of the Muslim American Society (MAS), which, in his words, was started by ex-Muslim Brotherhood members who felt that "we should cut relations with the [Brotherhood] abroad and regard ourselves as Americans...[who] don't receive an order from any organization abroad".[9] As of 2004, El-Sheikh was serving as the imam of Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center, the same Mosque where Anwar al-Awlaki was once an imam. El-Sheikh stated that the mosque's sermons never promote terrorism, and that suicide bombings are never legitimate.[10] He was also the regional director for the Islamic American Relief Agency, which the U.S. Treasury sanctioned on October 13, 2004 as an entity supporting terrorism.[citation needed] Jamal Badawi, who used to be listed as a member of the Board of Directors of ISNA,[citation needed] was mentioned among the unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development trial, the largest case of terror financing trial in U.S. history.[11] Over the years Badawi has consistently supported Palestinian terrorists and justified Palestinian combative jihad as well as the killing of Israelis in the Gaza strip.[citation needed]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "History of the Fiqh Council | Fiqh Council Of North America". www.fiqhcouncil.org. Retrieved 2016-02-10. 
  2. ^ a b Glaberson, William (October 21, 2001). "Interpreting Islamic Law for American Muslims". NYTimes.com. Retrieved April 14, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c An Explanatory memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America, May 22, 1991. In Arabic.
  4. ^ "FT.com – Special Reports / Attack on Terrorism". Specials.ft.com. Retrieved April 14, 2010. 
  5. ^ Heard on All Things Considered (July 28, 2005). "U.S. Muslim Scholars Issue Edict Against Terrorism". NPR. Retrieved April 14, 2010. 
  6. ^ "General Fiqh Issues Articles". Fiqhcouncil.org. June 14, 2008. Retrieved April 14, 2010. [permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "Is Apostasy a Capital Crime in Islam?". Fiqhcouncil.org. Retrieved March 21, 2017. 
  8. ^ a b "CAIR Spokesman Condemned Cali. Attack, But DIRTY Secret Was Just Exposed". Tea Party, Inc. Retrieved 10 February 2016. 
  9. ^ "Facing New Realities as Islamic Americans (washingtonpost.com)". www.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2016-02-10. 
  10. ^ "Facing New Realities as Islamic Americans (washingtonpost.com)". www.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2016-02-10. 
  11. ^ List of Unindicted Co-conspirators and/or Joint Venturers, Attachment A, United States of America v. Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development et al.