Islamic Center of New England

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The Islamic Center of New England (ICNE), Arabic: المركز الاسلامي بنيو انجلند; is an Islamic organization incorporated in the state of Massachusetts in the early 1960s.

History[edit]

The Islamic Center of New England grew out of "the long-range dream of seven Lebanese Muslim families who immigrated in the 1900s from different regions of Lebanon to Quincy," Massachusetts.[1] In 1934, Muslim families in Quincy founded the Arab American Banner Club "a social club and charitable organization... with other Arabic-speaking Muslims in Boston, Sunni and Shi'i." The organization promoted Islamic unity and cohesion while promoting American ideals.[2]

During the 1950s, the Arab American Banner Club decided to build a mosque, both to help their community fit into American patterns of religion "in the same way a church symbolized the Christian community in America," and to provide a place to socialize, pray together, and educate their children in Muslim religion and practices.[3] The mosque opened in 1962 the Quincy Mosque as part of the Islamic Center of New England.[2]

The mosque generally relied on elders and recent immigrants for religious guidance. In 1982, Talal Eid became the first imam of the mosque.[2] In 1993, the ICNE opened a sister location in Sharon, Massachusetts, called the Sharon Mosque.

The primary function of ICNE is to oversee the operation of the two mosques it owns, located in Quincy and Sharon, Massachusetts.[4] ICNE has about 3,000 members, many from various nations, and including Sunnis and Shias.[5][6]

Leadership controversies[edit]

A former board director (1982-2005) and imam, Talal Eid, says that in 2005 the ICNE board forced him from his leadership position because of his moderate Islamic teachings. Some news reports accuse several board members who forced him out of having connections to Islamic extremists, including then board president Dr. Abdul-badi Abousamra, a prominent endocrinologist at Massachusetts General Hospital who was also vice president of the Muslim American Society of Boston, which ran the Islamic Society of Boston, a Cambridge mosque. Dr. Abousamra's son, Ahmad Abousamra, is on the FBI Most Wanted Terrorists list.[2] The ICNE responded that it was an employment disagreement and that their "teachings fully respect the rule of American law and the sanctity of human life, and we have always unequivocally condemned all acts of terrorism."[5]

Eid's replacement was Imam Hafiz Masood, an assistant imam who "had been forced on him in 1998 by Abousamra and who was known for fiery sermons easily interpreted as promoting violence."[5] The non-profit organization Americans for Peace and Tolerance claims many of Masood's supporters remain in leadership roles in the Boston Muslim community, and some news reports claim that these radical doctrines at ICNE (and another mosque run by the Islamic Society of Boston) had a motivating influence on several well known local jihadists, including several below.[5] However, Eid later clarified that although "he believed the city’s mosques should operate more democratically... he said the ideological tensions had no relationship to violence. 'Muslims all over are very good people, working hard, living their lives,' he said. 'In Boston, when you talk about terrorists, you can count them on the fingers of one hand. It’s not even one in 10,000.'"[7]

Imam Hafiz Masood later left ICNE after volunteering for deportation in 2008 after being arrested on criminal visa fraud charges by the United States U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.[8] After returning to his hometown of Lahore, Pakistan, he became spokesman for the Pakistani terrorist organization Jamaat-ud-Dawah, a group founded by his brother, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed.[9]

Recent Events[edit]

In 2015, with new leadership, the ICNE in Sharon began offering a youth curriculum designed to counter foreign social-media-based enticements to violent extremism, written by a father, optometrist and member of the local Massachusetts Muslim community named Nabeel Khudairi. He explained, "'We want to protect young people from making bad decisions.'" The program "examines video games and substance abuse, social media, and the sea of misinformation on the Web." The year before, the Center's high schoolers participated in a winter camp called “Moderation.”[10]

Leadership[edit]

Mosque leaders[edit]

The current imams of the two mosques:
Quincy Mosque: Imam Khalid Nasr
Sharon Mosque: Imam Abdul Rahman Ahmad

See also[edit]

Islam in the United States

References[edit]

  1. ^ Haddad, Yvonne; Smith, Jane (1994). Muslim Communities in North America. State University of New York Press. p. 293. ISBN 9780791420201.
  2. ^ a b c Curtis, Edward E. (2010-01-01). Encyclopedia of Muslim-American History. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 9781438130408.
  3. ^ Haddad, Yvonne; Smith, Jane (1994). Muslim Communities in North America. State University of New York Press. p. 298. ISBN 9780791420201.
  4. ^ ICNE. "About Us". Islamic Center of New England.
  5. ^ a b c d "Moderate imam reveals how radicals won battle for soul of Boston mosques". FoxNews. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
  6. ^ "Pakistani brothers reflect their country's contradictions". WashPost.com. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  7. ^ Shane, Scott (June 15, 2015). "Boston Muslims Struggle to Wrest Image of Islam From Terrorists". The New York Times. Retrieved November 25, 2015.
  8. ^ Lambert, Lane. "Deported imam expects to be 'a stranger in my own country'". The Patriot Ledger, Quincy, MA. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  9. ^ "Page Not Found - The Washington Post". 2012-04-30. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  10. ^ "Fighting the lure of the galaxy of jihad". The Boston Globe. May 3, 2015. Retrieved November 25, 2015.

External links[edit]