Islamic Circle of North America

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Islamic Circle of North America
Logo of the Islamic Circle of North America
Abbreviation ICNA
Formation 1971
Type Islamic North American grassroots umbrella organization
Purpose To seek the pleasure of Allah through the struggle of Iqamat-ud-Deen [establishment of the Islamic system of life] as spelled out in the Qur'an and the Sunnah of [Muhammad]
Headquarters 166-26 89th Avenue, Queens, New York, United States
Region served
North America
Naeem Baig

Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), formally chartered in 1971 but active since 1968, is an Islamic North American grassroots umbrella organization.[1][2]

It is an offshoot of the Muslim Students' Association (MSA), was founded by immigrants from the Indian subcontinent, and its members are primarily of South Asian descent, primarily Pakistanis and Indians.[3]

It is smaller and more conservative than the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), holding separate sessions at its national conventions for women.[4][5] In 2002 it allowed a woman to address its annual convention for the first time.[6] Its headquarters are in Jamaica, New York, and includes classrooms, a reading room, and a small mosque, and it has offices in Detroit, Michigan, and Oakville, Ontario.[7]


In 1971, a number of South Asian MSA members who had been involved in Islamic movements in their home countries developed an Islamic study circle (halaqa), in Montreal which became the predecessor of ICNA.[8][9][10] The "Sisters Wing," its women's group, was established in 1979.


According to ICNA, its goal "shall be to seek the pleasure of Allah through the struggle of Iqamat-ud-Deen establishment of the Islamic system of life as spelled out in the Qur'an and the Sunnah of Muhammad."



  1. invite mankind to the understanding of the Creator by using all means of communications.
  2. motivate Muslims to perform their duty of being witnesses unto mankind by their words and deeds.
  3. organize those who agree to work for this cause in the discipline of ICNA.
  4. offer educational and training opportunities to increase Islamic knowledge, to enhance character, and to develop skills for all those who are associated with ICNA.
  5. oppose immorality and oppression in all forms, and support efforts for civil liberties and socio-economic justice in the society.
  6. strengthen the bond of humanity by serving all those in need with special focus on neighborhood across North America.
  7. cooperate with other organizations for the implementation of this program and unity in the ummah.


The Message International (formerly "Tahreek"), begun in 1989, is ICNA's bi-monthly publication.

Its major Dawah activities include a toll-free number for non-Muslims (1-877-WhyIslam), and dawah: field trips, distribution of Islamic literature, through mosques, by mail, through media, in prisons, campus support, flyers online, and through email. is an ICNA program. Since Why Islam? was launched in April 2000, its website has been used to propagate a better understanding of Islam for the general public.

When the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy broke, ICNA condemned the depiction of any prophet, from Adam to Moses to Jesus to Mohammed.[11]

As of 2002, a dozen mosques were affiliated with ICNA.[12]

Annual convention[edit]

ICNA's annual convention is one of the largest gatherings of American Muslims in the United States, drawing thousands of people .The 33rd annual convention is being currently held at Renaissance Waverly Atlanta Hotel, Georgia and[13] It is co-sponsored by the Muslim American Society. The 2007 ICNA-MAS convention, the 32nd annual convention, was reportedly attended by over 13,000 people. The 38th Annual ICNA-MAS Convention was attended by 18,000 people in attendance at the Hartford Convention Center, which was themed “Islam: The Pursuit of Happiness”, broke all previous records.[14]


ICNA has participated in interfaith dialogue with the U.S. Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.


As of January 2013, current ICNA's president is Naeem Baig.


ICNA seeks to promote Islam and the Islamic way of life in the United States.[15] They are active on the issues of War in Afghanistan and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Initially ICNA was composed of Muslim Americans of Indo-Pakistani descent who had split from ISNA.[16]

According to Hossein Nasr, ICNA has been influenced by the ideals of Mawdudi of Pakistan, and is structured similar to the Jamaat-e-Islami, which Mawdudi founded. However, he states that it is a separate entity from Jamaat-e-Islami.[17] John Esposito wrote in 2004 that it had links to Jamaat-e-Islami.[15][18][page needed]

ICNA strongly condemned the 2010 Times Square car bombing attempt and immediately called for punishment to the fullest extext of the law for anyone who engages in terrorism.[19] In 2011, ICNA welcomed President Barack Obama's counter-terrorism initiatives.[20]


In July 2002 Anwar al-Awlaki, believed to be a senior talent recruiter and motivator for al-Qaeda who had contact with three of the 9/11 hijackers, the Fort Hood shooter, and the Christmas Day bombing suspect (Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab), spoke at a joint ICNA/MAS convention in Baltimore with Siraj Wahhaj.[citation needed] In fact, ICNA maintains that until 2007, many American Muslims enthusiastically listened to lectures by al-Awlaki. It also maintains that at that time al-Awlaki was "level headed."[21]

Anwar al-Awlaki was not accused at the time of having any links to extremism, terrorism, or violence. After evidence was brought against al-Awlaki in 2010, the ICNA Shariah Council strongly denounced al-Awlaki's views, actions, and connections to terrorism, repudiating his ideology as a "call of hate" and called upon American Muslims to reject al-Awlaki's views.[21]

In 2007, Joe Kaufman pointed out that ICNA Relief in the U.S. and Canada were the top donating institutions to the Jamaat-e-Islami charity located in Karachi, Pakistan called the Al-Khidmat Foundation (AKF). In 2006 the AKF issued a check for $99K to Khaled Mashaal, the head of Hamas.[22]

According to Yehudit Barsky, an expert on terrorism at the American Jewish Committee, the Islamic Circle of North America, "is composed of members of Jamaat e-Islami, a Pakistani Islamic radical organization similar to the Muslim Brotherhood that helped to establish the Taliban".[23]

In 2009 and 2010, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) accused the ICNA of inviting extremist and anti-Semitic speakers to its conferences that serve as platforms for extremist views.[24][25] ICNA responded to ADL's allegations by saying that its conferences have always been held under the objective of rejecting extremism. ICNA's statement also supported the defense of human rights for Jewish and Israeli people, but demanded the defense of human rights for Palestinians as well.[26]

In 2013, the Dhaka-based International War Crimes Tribunal found Ashrafuz Zaman Khan, former president of the group's New York chapter, together with Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin in absentia, guilty of abducting, torturing and murdering nine Dhaka University teachers, six journalists and three doctors during the liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971. The presiding judge of the tribunal said the prosecution proved all the 11 charges against the two 'beyond reasonable doubt' and ordered that both Ashraf and Mueen-Uddin be 'hanged by the neck till they are dead'.[27] His name was removed from the ICNA-New York web page on October, 2013 but he remains listed as the northeastern contact for the North American Imam's Federation.[28]

In 2014, ICNA published an article in support of Ghulam Azam,[29] who was convicted by Bangladeshi special tribunal for war crimes during Bangladesh Liberation War.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ van Nieuwkerk, Karin (2006). Women embracing Islam: gender and conversion in the West. University of Texas Press. ISBN 0292713029. Retrieved January 31, 2010. 
  2. ^ Cornell, Drucilla (2004). Defending ideals: war, democracy, and political struggles. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-94882-1. Retrieved 2014-06-02. 
  3. ^ Complete idiot's guide to understanding Islam, Yahiya Emerick, Penguin Group, 2004, ISBN 1-59257-272-3, accessed January 31, 2010
  4. ^ Islam in America, Jane I. Smith, Columbia University Press, 1999, ISBN 0-231-10966-0, accessed January 31, 2010
  5. ^ Erwin Fahlbusch, Geoffrey William Bromiley, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2000, ISBN 90-04-11695-8, accessed January 31, 2010. The encyclopedia of Christianity. 2. Retrieved 2014-06-02. 
  6. ^ Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, Jane I. Smith, Kathleen M. Moore, Oxford University Press US, 2006, ISBN 0-19-517783-5, accessed January 31, 2010. Muslim women in America: the challenge of Islamic identity today. Retrieved 2014-06-02. 
  7. ^ Madhulika Shankar Khandelwal (2002). Becoming American, being Indian: an immigrant community in New York City. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-8807-9. Retrieved January 31, 2010. 
  8. ^ The South Asian religious diaspora in Britain, Canada, and the United States, Harold G. Coward, John R. Hinnells, Raymond Brady Williams, SUNY Press, 2000, ISBN 0-7914-4509-7, accessed January 31, 2010
  9. ^ Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad; Jane I. Smith; Rowman Altamira (2002). Muslim minorities in the West: visible and invisible. ISBN 0-7591-0218-X. Retrieved 2014-06-02. 
  10. ^ Afsaneh Najmabadi (2003). Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures: Family, law, and politics. 2. BRILL. ISBN 90-04-12818-2. Retrieved 2014-06-02. 
  11. ^ Muhammad Tariq Ghazi (2006). The Cartoons Cry. AuthorHouse. ISBN 1-4259-4764-6. Retrieved 2014-06-02. 
  12. ^ Mohamed Nimer (2002). The North American Muslim resource guide: Muslim community life in the United States and Canada. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0-415-93728-0. Retrieved January 31, 2010. 
  13. ^ Cyril Glassé (2008). The new encyclopedia of Islam. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9780742562967. Retrieved 2014-06-02. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ a b The Oxford dictionary of Islam, John L. Esposito, Oxford University Press, 2004, ISBN 0-19-512559-2, accessed January 31, 2010
  16. ^ The Muslims of America, Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, Oxford University Press US, 1993, ISBN 0-19-508559-0, January 31, 2010
  17. ^ The vanguard of the Islamic revolution: the Jamaʻat-i Islami of Pakistan, Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr, University of California Press, 1994, ISBN 0-520-08369-5, accessed January 31, 2010
  18. ^ The idea of Pakistan, Stephen P. Cohen, Brookings Institution Press, 2004, ISBN 0-8157-1502-1, accessed January 31, 2010
  19. ^ "Condemns Times Square Bomb Plot | Islamic Circle of North America". ICNA. Retrieved 2014-06-02. 
  20. ^ "ICNA Welcomes Obama's Counter Terror Strategy". 2011-08-09. 
  21. ^ a b "ICNA Shariah Council Responds to Al Awlaki". Retrieved 2014-06-02. 
  22. ^ Kaufmann, Joe (15 May 2007). "Helping Hand to Hamas". Front Page. Retrieved 30 December 2015. 
  23. ^ "Saudi Radicalization of US Mosques". Retrieved 30 December 2015. 
  24. ^ Backgrounder: Islamic Circle of North America, Anti-Defamation League, July 17, 2009 (Updated: January 18, 2011).
  25. ^ Muslim-American Organizations' Anti-Radicalization Effort 'A Sham', Anti-Defamation League, Press Release, January 11, 2010.
  26. ^ "Response to ADL Statement on Chicago Convention '09". ICNA. 2010-01-12. 
  27. ^ "Ashraf, Mueen to hang for intellectuals murder". Retrieved 2014-06-02. 
  28. ^ "ICNA Leader Convicted in 1971 Bangladesh Massacres". The Investigative Project on Terrorism. November 3, 2013. Retrieved 2014-06-02. 
  29. ^ "World Renowned Scholar Dies During State Persecution". ICNA. Retrieved 2014-10-27. 

External links[edit]