North American Islamic Trust
|Private; not-for-profit; tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code|
|Founded||Plainfield, Indiana, US (1973 )|
|Founder||Muslim Students Association|
Oak Brook, IL,
|Parent||Islamic Society of North America|
|Subsidiaries||Allied Asset Advisors; American Trust Publications; Islamic Book Service|
The North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) is based in Plainfield, Indiana, owns Islamic properties and promotes waqf (Islamic endowments) in North America. Many Muslim institutions founded by immigrants who arrived in the USA during the 1960s have roots in the Muslim Students Association where they were college activists. In the 1970s and thereafter, NAIT helped provide college students with a place to provide worship services. NAIT does not provide any financial or other monetary support to the Muslim Student Association. NAIT serves as the trustee of about 200 Islamic centers, mosques and schools. The properties of those mosques are estimated to be worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
NAIT finances and holds titles to mosques, Islamic schools, and other real estate to safeguard and pool the assets of the American Muslim community, develops financial vehicles and financial products that are compatible with both Shari'ah and American law, publishes and distributes Islamic literature, provides legal advice to Muslim organizations, and facilitates and coordinates Islamic community projects.
On October 20, 2010, Judges Garza, Benavides, and Crone of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the U.S. Department of Justice violated the Fifth Amendment rights of the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), and by implication the rights of more than 300 similarly-named Muslim organizations and individuals, such as CAIR, when it included them on the publicly-filed unindicted co-conspirator list in 2007. The court also ruled that inclusion on the list was the result of "simply an untested allegation of the Government made in anticipation of a possible evidentiary dispute that never came to pass." The listing is simply part of tactical pre-trial maneuvering and not an indicator of guilt. In 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder indicated that Department of Justice officials determined after "looking at the facts and the law, a prosecution would not be appropriate." This conclusion was reached after two reviews conducted under both the Bush and Obama administrations.
NAIT is a not-for-profit entity that qualifies as a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. NAIT was established in 1973 in Indiana by the Muslim Students Association (MSA) of the United States and Canada, the predecessor of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), by some of the same Muslim Brotherhood members who started the MSA. ISNA's President, Dr. Ingrid Mattson, is a former member of the NAIT board of directors. A sister organization under the same name registered a few years later in the Canadian province of Ontario.
NAIT supports and provides services to ISNA, MSA, their affiliates, and other Islamic centers and institutions.
Financing mosques and Islamic schools
NAIT offers waqf protection to properties of mosques, safeguards these community assets, and ensures their conformity to Islamic purposes. According to a report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), in 2000 NAIT funded an estimated 27% of the 1,209 mosques in the US. NAIT held title to over 320 properties as of June 2003. Title to about one in four mosques in the US are held by NAIT. NAIT does not monitor, manage, or supervise any mosque, community center, school, or place of worship.
NAIT facilitates the establishment of mosques (such as the Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center, the grounds of which were purchased on June 19, 1983, by NAIT) and Islamic schools by extending limited interest-free loans to needy communities from its investment venture called the Islamic Centers Cooperative Fund (ICCF). About 8% of this fund goes annually to support local communities acquiring and improving mosques. The remainder is placed in real estate and other investments.
Financial products and services
NAIT develops Islamic financial products that comply with Shari'ah while addressing the investment and financial needs of Muslim organizations, individuals, and their businesses. Over the last two decades, NAIT has established and sponsored mutual funds that invest in companies which meet the universal ethical principles of Islam.
The Dow Jones Islamic Fund
The Dow Jones Islamic Fund (IMANX) is a no-load mutual fund launched in June 2000 and offered by Allied Asset Advisors, a subsidiary of NAIT, which in 2003 had over $35 million ($46,637,120 today) in assets. NAIT invests in Shari'ah-compliant companies. It includes, among others, shares of stocks from the Dow Jones Islamic Market Indexes, which consist solely of common stocks that meet universal Islamic principles, as advised by a Shari'ah Supervisory Board of six Islamic scholars from six countries.
NAIT says that the ever-increasing Muslim population in the US demands a variety of Islamic literature. Some publishers of certain Islamic literature believe, it maintains, that the media and others misrepresent Islam and Muslims. NAIT says these publishers believe that this alleged misrepresentation necessitates the development of authentic Islamic literature. NAIT believes it meets this need by publishing and distributing what it views as credible Islamic literature.
American Trust Publications
Islamic Book Service
Islamic Book Service (IBS), established in 1965, offers a comprehensive stock of books by Muslim scholars, titles for children, and multi-media products. IBS sells over 2,500 book titles (primarily in English and Arabic), CDs, DVDs, and audio and video tapes about Islam, and is one of the largest distributors of Islamic books in the West.
NAIT acts as a Mosque Title Holder for more than several hundred Mosques in the United States. Since its inception in 1973, several incidents have taken place.
The Islamic Academy of Florida in Hillsborough County, Florida, and founded in 1992 by Sami Al-Arian, was described in a 2003 federal indictment as a base of operations and support for a terrorist cell of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a group said to be responsible for the murders of more than 100 people. The indictment said the Academy's offices were used to communicate with Islamic Jihad operatives, and a woman seeking to support the Palestinian cause was told simply to write a check to the Academy. On March 2, 2006, Al-Arian entered a guilty plea to a charge of conspiracy to help the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a "specially designated terrorist" organization. Al-Arian was sentenced to 57 months in prison, and ordered deported following his prison term.
In August 2004 Mohammed M. Hossain and Yassin M. Aref, two leaders of a mosque in Albany, were arrested in a sting operation on charges that they took part in what they thought was a plot to import a shoulder-fired missile and assassinate a Pakistani diplomat in New York City. They were convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2007.
In 2007, federal prosecutors brought charges against Holy Land Foundation for allegedly funding terrorist activities of Hamas and other Islamic terrorist organizations. NAIT was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case, along with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and ISNA. The Al Ahram Weekly said "Muslims are witnessing a smear campaign", and said "these groups represent the viewpoints and interests of the mainstream American Muslim community.". In 2009, U.S. District Court Judge Jorge Solis found that the Justice Department violated the Fifth Amendment rights of the NAIT and CAIR in 2007 by including them on the co-conspirator list.
Other terrorism-connected mosques controlled by NAIT include: the Islamic Society of Boston, where a dozen terrorists have worshipped, including the 2013 Boston Marathon bombers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev; Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, where worshippers included two ISIS-inspired terrorists who attacked a Dallas-area event in 2015; and Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center, where some of the 9/11 hijackers worshipped and got help obtaining IDs and housing, followed by the 2009 Fort Hood shooter and several other terrorists who have attended the mosque just outside Washington.
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