Johari Abdul-Malik

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Johari Abdul-Malik
ibn Winslow Seale
Winslow Seale

EducationB.S.; M.S.; Ph.D. course work
Alma materHoward University; Georgetown University Kennedy Center for Ethics
OccupationDirector of Outreach
EmployerDar Al Hijrah Islamic Center
Known forfirst officially recognized Muslim chaplain in higher education in the U.S.

Johari Abdul-Malik Ibn Winslow Seale (born in Brooklyn, New York City) is a convert to Islam,[1] and has been the Director of Outreach for the Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center in Northern Virginia since June 2002.[2]

He is also the former Chair of the Coordinating Council of Muslim Organizations,[3] the former head of the National Association of Muslim Chaplains in Higher Education, President of the Muslim Society of Washington, Inc., and a founding member of the Muslim Advocacy Commission of Washington, DC.[1] In addition, he serves as the chair of government relations of the Muslim Alliance in North America.[4]

Early life[edit]

His mother is from northern Louisiana, and his father is from Barbados. Abdul-Malik was raised as an Anglican by his African American parents in Brooklyn, New York, until "at confirmation the teachings of the Ten Commandments exposed the inherent contradiction of western Christianity." He explored Taoism and "Asian spirituality" in high school.

While attending Howard University in Washington, DC, where he began in 1974 and received a BS in Chemistry and an MS in Genetics and Human Genetics, he became a self-described Black activist, musician, and vegetarian, learning Transcendental Meditation. In graduate school he converted to Islam, and became President of the Muslim Student Association chapter at Howard. He completed his clinical post-graduate training program in Bioethics at the Georgetown University Kennedy Center for Ethics, completing his Ph.D. course work in Bioethics and Genetics.[1]

Abdul-Malik performed Hajj in 1994.[1]

Muslim chaplain of Howard University[edit]

In November 1998 Abdul-Malik was named chaplain of Howard University.[5] He served as the first officially recognized Muslim chaplain in higher education in the United States. Abdul-Malik resigned at the end of the spring 2004 semester.[6]

Criticism of Israel[edit]

On March 8, 2002, American Muslims for Global Peace and Justice held a press conference at the National Press Club.[4] Abdul-Malik was a panelist, and began by saying that he did not speak for Howard University, mentioning that Sami Al-Arian, who was convicted of conspiring to aid the terrorist organization Palestinian Islamic Jihad, was fired from the University of South Florida allegedly for not making such a disclaimer, and the dean of Howard University insisted on the pre-speech statement. He claimed Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon started the Israeli–Palestinian conflict because it was in Sharon's political interests to have "a police insecurity state," making people "rally 'round the flag before fanning the flames." Abdul-Malik compared the Israeli separation barrier to South African apartheid and advocated divestiture from Israel and a moratorium on entertainers who perform in Israel. He accused the Israeli government of engaging in a scorched earth policy. However, he ended his speech by quoting the Qur'anic aphorism, "Do not let your hatred of a people cause you to be unjust."[4]

Support for Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin[edit]

H. Rap Brown in 1967

Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (aka H. Rap Brown), former chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and later the militant Justice Minister of the Black Panther Party, was convicted on March 9, 2002, of murdering Ricky Leon Kinchen, a Fulton County, Georgia, sheriff's deputy, and wounding another officer in a gunbattle at his store.[7] Abdul-Malik said he suspected Al-Amin was framed, and that "Somebody has a vendetta against people like H. Rap Brown, because he stood up during a period of great repression in this country and said it mattered to him."[8]

"Witch hunt"[edit]

When on March 20, 2002, the U.S. government raided 14 homes and offices of northern Virginia Muslims, in part to find evidence against Sami Al-Arian, Abdul-Malik said: "Now the witch hunt has expanded into homes and families."[9] In 2006, Al-Arian pleaded guilty to conspiracy to help a "specially designated terrorist" organization, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.[10] He was sentenced to 57 months in prison.[11]

Dar al-Hijrah[edit]

In June 2002 Abdul-Malik joined the Dar al-Hijrah mosque as its Director of Outreach, and spokesman.[12] The mosque uses a "team approach". He said: "It's important that there's an American at the mosque to speak with media, to defend Islam who can talk about the rights of Muslims. It would be difficult for us if we had an imam who didn't understand the process here."[13]

Abdul-Malik denied claims that Dar al-Hijrah is a center of Islamic fundamentalism and a center for the promotion of extremist Salafism.[2]

Abdul-Malik and Reverend Graylan Hagler created the Ramadan Feed-the-Needy Program in Washington, DC, an organization that gives food to 100 homeless every night during Ramadan.[1]

Reaction to charges against Ahmed Omar Abu Ali[edit]

When Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, who worshiped at Dar al-Hijrah and had been a camp counselor for and taught Islamic studies at the mosque, was charged by American prosecutors with plotting with members of Al Qaeda to assassinate President George W. Bush, Abdul-Malik said in February 2005: "Our whole community is under siege. They don't see this as a case of criminality. They see it as a civil rights case. As a frontal attack on their community." He added: "The feeling I get here on a daily basis must be what it was like to be a member of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s church following the case of Rosa Parks. People always ask, 'What is the latest from the courthouse?'"[14] Abu Ali was convicted in 2005 of providing material support to the al Qaeda terrorist network, and conspiracy to assassinate President Bush, and is serving a life sentence.[15][16]

Reaction to Ali al-Timimi conviction[edit]

When in April 2005 Ali al-Timimi of Fairfax, Virginia, an American-born Muslim cleric, was convicted of inciting followers to wage war against the US just days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and for recruiting for the Pakistani terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Toiba, and the paintball terrorist cell, Abdul-Malik said: "There is a view many Muslims have when they come to America that you could not be arrested for something you say. But now they have discovered they are not free to speak their minds. And if our opinions are out of vogue in the current climate, we feel we are all at risk."[2][17] Al-Timimi was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Support for Shaker Elsayed[edit]

Abdul-Malik defended the June 2005 choice of Shaker Elsayed as the new Imam at Dar al-Hijrah, saying that "Elsayed is a good choice to lead Dar al-Hijrah because of his pre-eminence as a scholar and his ability to relate to both the immigrant and the native-born communities. Elsayed is an established religious authority who has previously served as imam at the Islamic Center of Washington." He said political sermons had "to address the issues facing our community or else our faith will be irrelevant. That includes politics, education, health care ... the whole panoply of human issues."

TV spot against terrorism[edit]

After the July 2005 London bombings that killed 55 people, a 30-second public service TV spot was run called "Not in the Name of Islam," featuring Abdul-Malik and two American Muslim women. In the spot they said:

We often hear claims Muslims don't condemn terrorism and that Islam condones violence. As Muslims, we want to state clearly that those who commit acts of terror in the name of Islam are betraying the teachings of the Koran and the Prophet Mohammed. We reject anyone – of any faith – who commits such brutal acts and will not allow our faith to be hijacked by criminals. Islam is not about hatred and violence. It's about peace and justice.[18]

Anti-terrorism press conference[edit]

In a press conference on July 25, 2005, Abdul-Malik said, "People who would go out and kill anyone, of any religion, from any country, of any age, for no reason other than the fact they are angry, isolated and upset is against God by whatever name you call [him]." He told reporters that the weekend before, when he attended his mosque, a young person told him someone had tried to "recruit" him, but Abdul-Malik said he had never heard of al Qaeda recruiting in his community. He said he told the youth, "You need to alienate yourself from those people. They're saying to you that they're your friend, and that you'll be their confidant, when in reality, they're going to sell you out."[3]

Effort against domestic violence[edit]

In January 2008, Abdul-Malik was trying to establish a nationwide movement of Muslim men to lobby for the new interpretation of Chapter 4, Verse 34 of the Koran.[19] The verse has long interpreted as giving husbands the right to beat their wives as the final step in an escalating series of punishments for being rebellious (following admonishing their wives, and then abandoning them in bed).[20] "That is the linchpin, the fulcrum that justifies domestic violence in the Muslim context," he said. The new interpretation would interpret the verse as calling for women to be obedient to God.[19]

Response to reactions to Fort Hood shooter[edit]

Anwar al-Awlaki

In November 2009 Abdul-Malik responded to former Dar al-Hijrah Imam Anwar al-Awlaki's support of the Fort Hood shooter by saying:

Al-Awlaqi ... supported the crime that Hasan committed and said that the US Muslims who opposed the crime have betrayed the Muslim ummah (the community of Muslims worldwide) and are hypocrites. I answer him by saying that he has thus separated himself from the Muslim community in the United States. The holy Koran teaches us that we as US Muslims should enrich the society we live in with humanitarian services, wisdom, teaching God's beautiful verses about love, mercy, and compassion to all mankind.

Abdul-Malik went on to say that of those who worshiped at the mosque,

Many of the immigrants focused on the conspiracy theory. Some said that Hasan did not commit the crime but that it was committed by other US military personnel who then killed him and said that he was the one who did it. They are like those who said that the 11 September attacks were not committed by those who committed them and that it too was a "conspiracy." I am one of those whose ancestors came here hundreds of years ago. I am a black American, and I know that "denial" is the explanation of those who cannot explain what they see or hear, especially if they belong to a minority group and are not used to the US way of life. But we black Americans have passed these stages. We became involved in political action and the President of the United States is now one of us. Perhaps I am saying what I am saying because I was a Christian and became Muslim. But I believe that this issue is a temporary one, and we ask God to raise us from one stage to another.[21]

Reaction to Anwar al-Awlaki[edit]

Former colleague Abdul-Malik said in May 2010 that al-Awlaki "is a terrorist, in my book".[22]

Personal life[edit]

Abdul-Malik resides in the DC area with his wife and has 3 children.[23]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Biography of Imam Johari Abdul-Malik
  2. ^ a b c For use in Friday PMs newspapers of July 29 and thereafter MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base
  3. ^ a b Muslim groups target youths in anti-terror campaign CNN
  4. ^ a b c AMGPJ Press Conference on Middle East Crisis Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs
  5. ^ "Metro in Brief," The Washington Post, November 2, 1998, accessed December 7, 2009
  6. ^ "Howard University Muslim Chaplain Resigns After Two Decades Of Service," Muslim American Society, April 28, 2005, accessed December 9, 2009
  7. ^ End of Watch Southern Poverty Law Center
  8. ^ Ex-Black Militant Awaits Trial Black News
  9. ^ Jacoby, Mary, "Muslims denounce raids linked to Al-Arian; A group calls the government's hunt for financial and immigration records 'a war on Muslim institutions'," St. Petersburg Times, March 22, 2002, accessed December 8, 2009
  10. ^ "Plea Agreement; U.S. v. Al-Arian" (PDF). February 28, 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 1, 2012. Retrieved March 8, 2010.
  11. ^ MegLaughlin, In his plea deal, what did Sami Al-Arian admit to?, St. Petersburg Times, April 23, 2006.
  12. ^ Infiltration: how Muslim spies and subversives have penetrated Washington, Paul E. Sperry, pp. 113-14, Thomas Nelson Inc, 2005, ISBN 1-59555-003-8, ISBN 978-1-59555-003-3, accessed December 8, 2009
  13. ^ "Thousands of Muslims Celebrate Eid Al-Adha in US". Arab News. January 22, 2005. Retrieved November 14, 2009.
  14. ^ Dao, James, and Lichtblau, Eric, "Case Adds to Outrage for Muslims in Northern Virginia", The New York Times, February 27, 2005, accessed December 7, 2009
  15. ^ Jury Finds Abu Ali Guilty on Terrorism Charges, NPR, Nov. 22, 2005.
  16. ^ US man guilty of Bush death plot, BBC, November 22, 2005.
  17. ^ Dao, James, "Muslim Cleric Found Guilty In the 'Virginia Jihad' Case", The New York Times, April 27, 2005, accessed December 7, 2009
  18. ^ "US Muslims launch ad campaign against terror," The Daily Times of Pakistan, July 17, 2005, accessed December 7, 2009
  19. ^ a b MacFarquhar, Neil, "Abused Muslim Women in U.S. Gain Advocates", The New York Times, January 6, 2008, accessed December 8, 2009
  20. ^ MacFarquhar, Neil, "Verse in Koran on beating wife gets a new translation", The New York Times, March 25, 2007, accessed December 8, 2009
  21. ^ Salah, Mohammed Ali, "Imam Johari Abdul Malik Talks to Asharq Al-Awsat," Asharq Al-Awsat, November 19, 2009, accessed December 5, 2009
  22. ^ Shane, Scott (May 8, 2010). "Anwar al-Awlaki - From Condemning Terror to Preaching Jihad". Retrieved July 19, 2015.
  23. ^