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A dossier on the AlMaghrib Institute

The AlMaghrib Institute got a mention in this recent post detailing the dubious views of supposed moderate Omar Suleiman. Here’s an enthusiastic explanation of AlMaghrib’s mission and scope:

AlMaghrib Institute is the largest academic institute in the Western world dedicated to teaching classical Islamic sciences. With over thirty-five thousand students and counting, and over thirty locations, it is ideally situated to launch an initiative of this nature.

Additionally, many of the Instructors of AlMaghrib Institute are renowned for their grasp of the classical sciences of Islam and their excellence in teaching. They regularly appear on Islamic satellite channels around the world, have a significant internet presence, and have authored many works on Islam.

The same site deplores what it sees as ‘extremist’ interpretations of Islam, with particular reference to the concept of jihad.  But ‘extremist’ is a contested term.  At an iERA event in London earlier this year a hostile audience member insisted that ISIS was following the true doctrines of Islam.  Tellingly the first response from an iERA speaker was to invoke the fact they used the unislamic punishment of burning to death in order to refute this allegation.  The speaker, from their ‘normative’ perspective, would have found it hard to condemn unequivocally a great many other of ISIS’s practices which most (including many Muslims) would regard as utterly extreme.

So where does the AlMaghrib Institute stand on this spectrum?  Here’s a handy compendium of the publically stated views of some of its key speakers and instructors: Muhammad Alshareef, Yasir Qadhi, Abdullah Hakim Quick, Kamal El Mekki, Said Rageah, Yahya Ibrahim and Abu Eesa Niamatullah.

Here Shareef bemoans the fact that the hearts of Muslim youth may be softened towards the Jews through watching Seinfeld, in direct contradiction of what he thinks is the true message of Islam.

And so because the Muslim youth are growing up on the aqeedah, and the most beloved people to them are becoming actors and actresses, Jewish actresses, Christian actresses, that when they hear a speech about how Allah (SWT) condemned the Jews, they say ‘What’s wrong with Seinfeld?” (p. 3)

Here he warns against parents against letting their children take the kuffar – atheletes for example – as role models.

And when he wakes up in the morning he’s looking up to a kafir on his wall. And in fact, listen carefully, that boy is telling you ‘I want to be a kafir basketball player when I grow up. I want to be similar to this kafir person.’ (p. 6)

Here Quick warns of an unholy alliance between homosexuals and Zionists:

Member of audience​: “Is it true that the Yahud [Jews] and the Zionists (are) behind this…?”

Hakim​: “It goes with Zionism. And really it seems like, Allah-hu alim, if we went to Dajal’s army it’s gonna be mostly Yahud. There will probably be homosexuals with them too.”  (p. 13, Dajal is an evil figure from Islamic eschatology.)

And here he inveighs against evil Jewish baseball caps:

So it’s time for salat, and he turned the baseball cap around to make salat and the name was Levis. Levis is Levi, a Jewish tribe, a family of the Yahud [Jews] in New York City who made millions of dollars making pants. So now he’s got Yahudi on the top and then the rest of him is Arabic from here down. And so they attack you right through your head using that tube in the television, sending the message into the control part of the brain. (p. 12)

I’m guessing his own preferred headwear is tinfoil.

You can find examples of AlMaghrib’s instructors telling women they shouldn’t work, refuse sex or ape liberal ways. Here Said Rageah warns women against leaving the house:

Islam and Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) is telling us in the Quran: stay home because otherwise you’re gonna cause fitnah to a lot of people…Allah created women for beauty…so women are like this they must understand. They should stay at home and not come out of the house unless it’s a necessity​, otherwise Shaytan will take advantage of that and leave the people being tested and tried. (p. 40)

Yasir Qadhi presents himself as a moderate but how ‘moderate’ is someone whose ideal state would carry out the most extreme punishments?

“To make fun of Allah and his Messenger, the punishment is death. If you ridicule, you curse Allah and his Messenger, the punishment for that is death. And the scholars said he who curses Allah’s Messenger, the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), it doesn’t matter, obviously when we are in an Islamic state, we’re not talking about America or England, when we are in an Islamic state it doesn’t matter what he does after that …

So, for example, Salman Rushdie, he clearly makes fun of Allah and his Messenger in his book, he clearly ridicules Allah’s Messenger, he clearly ridicules the Prophet’s wives, he compares them to prostitutes in his book, he clearly ridicules Allah’s messengers more than Muhammad, he ridicules Ibrahim, he calls him the bastard Ibrahim, he says the bastard he left his wife and kid, it’s exactly what he said, I read it with my own two eyes, this type of person, if he was in an Islamic state his punishment is death. No repentance is accepted from him. (p. 28)

“When you’re gonna pray, and fast, and give zakat, and go for hajj but you think that Islam has nothing to do with politics, that the political system and the economic system is outside the fold of Islam, that how you judge the thief and the adulterer and the fornicator is outside the fold of Islam, you are a kafir. (p. 32)

”…to kill, by the way, the homosexual – this is also our religion. The fiqh rulings say that the homosexual be killed, OK? (inaudible comment from audience) I don’t know about this one, I’ve heard this but I haven’t studied this in detail but I know that his punishment is death. This is all a part of our religion. This doesn’t mean we go and do this in America but I’m saying if we had an Islamic state we would do this.” (p. 18)

This article on Yasir Qadri exemplifies some of the problems with the way in which Islamism is dealt with by the liberal media.

He is presented as a comparatively moderate figure, and someone whose views have moderated over the years. But three years later he put his name to a document – a letter to ISIS condemning their methods – which takes an unambiguous line on hudud punishments.

Here’s an account of this part of the letter from a counterjihadist site:

3-5. Stoning for adultery, amputation for theft, execution of apostates

Hudud refers in Islamic law to the punishments fixed by Allah himself for serious crimes, including the stoning of adulterers, the amputation of thieves’ hands, and the execution of apostates from Islam. While Islamic apologists in the U.S. routinely claim that these punishments are not really part of Sharia or Islam at all, these scholars say: “Hudud punishments are fixed in the Qur’an and Hadith and are unquestionably obligatory in Islamic Law.” Their only quibble with the Islamic State is that they have been cruel and merciless in applying these punishments.

This counterjihadist blogger, Dr Swier, and the leading lights of the AlMaghrib Institute are in firm agreement as to the true nature of Islam.  They also have a shared irritation for liberal, progressive Muslims. For Swier they are ‘apologists’ dishonestly or naively trying to gloss over problems.  For AlMaghrib’s Abu Eesa Niamatullah they are a kind of fifth column:

We are more opposed to these people in our times than ever before. We want to warn our community that these secularists, that these liberal people who call themselves Muslims are the biggest danger within our community at the moment. And we have nothing to do with them. (p. 44)

Yasir Qadhi (p. 41) terms liberal Muslims ‘kuffar’ and says he despises them more than apostates.  Many of his counterjihadist opponents would echo his view that progressives are not true Muslims.

I can only hope that Abu Eesa Niamatullah is correct when he describes liberal Muslims as the ‘biggest danger’ facing (his version of) Islam.

AlMaghrib will be visiting London and Glasgow next month.