Just weeks after an exposé appeared here at FrontPage (“Jihad U”) uncovering the extremist agenda of the largest independent Islamic studies program in North America, the Al-Maghrib Institute, and detailing the groups extensive connections to the Saudi Wahhabi religious establishment and the Muslim Brotherhood, a laudatory article appeared in the Arab News praising the program for its “state-of-the-art advertising, graphics, and 21st century vernacular,” characterizing the wildfire growth of Al-Maghrib as a “phenomena” (“Al-Maghrib Institute: Motivating People to Learn More About Islam”).
With the Arab News as the official English-language mouthpiece for the Saudi royal family (the parent company, Saudi Research and Publishing Co., is chaired by Prince Faisal bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz), it isn’t surprising that Al-Maghrib would receive such preferential treatment, especially since four of the six instructors are graduates of the University of Medina, and the other two holding degrees from King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah and Al-Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh – all devout propagators of the Wahhabi faith favored by the Saudi regime.
But the glowing media review Al-Maghrib received is all the more understandable when considering that the article’s author, New York-based “freelance journalist” Susan Smith, is in fact a student of the Institute, a fact revealed by the group’s founder, Muhammad Alshreef, and Smith herself on Al-Maghrib’s own online forum. Smith’s article, which first appeared in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs two weeks after the initial FrontPage exposé, makes no mention of her connection to the organization.
As revealed here previously at FrontPage, Al-Maghrib’s for-college-credit program is accredited by the Muslim Brotherhood-linked American Open University (AOU), and features an extensive curriculum in Muslim Brotherhood authors and theorists (Hassan al-Banna, Sayyid Qutb, et. al), as well as past and present Wahhabi theologians and preachers, including sect founder, Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab.
In fact, a recent Washington Post article (“For Conservative Muslims, Goal of Isolation a Challenge”) on the radical Salafist ideology, which advocates for a return to the “true” Islam of Mohammad and his 7th Century companions, features an interview with Al-Maghrib instructor Yasir Qadhi as representative of this virulent strain of Islam, and notes that the Al-Maghrib Institute itself was launched in the College Park, Maryland Dar-us-Salaam Mosque known as one of the most extremist groups in the Washington D.C. area, and where Institute founder Muhammad Alshreef previously served as prayer leader.
And according to his DiscovertheNetwork.org profile, another Al-Maghrib instructor, Waleed Basyouni, studied under Saudi Sheik Abdelaziz bin Baz, who is described by French Islamic expert Gilles Kepel (in Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam) as “the principal Wahhabite ideologist” committed to ensuring that Saudi Arabia “remained true to Wahhabite norms, resisting the pernicious influence of Jews and Christians.”
This Wahhabi/Salafi strain of Islam is exhibited in Al-Maghrib’s double-weekend seminars, as well as their instructors’ many sermons and articles, which denounce more moderate forms of Islam as takfir (apostate), openly advocate for jihad and the re-establishment of the Caliphate (the stated goal of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hizb-ut-Tahrir), and indulge in anti-Jewish sentiments:
- The curriculum areas taught by Qadhi, particularly the Light of Guidance and Light upon Light courses, are dedicated to pronouncing as heretical the non-Wahhabi Sunni schools of theology, particularly the Sufi movement. These are some of the most popular seminars taught by the Institute.
- The teaching of aggressive militaristic jihad is also a common theme in Al-Maghrib’s courses, which rely on commentaries by 13th Century theologian Ibn Taymiyyah and Wahhab. One seminar taught by Muhammad Alshareef is his review of the jihadist exploits and military campaigns of the first four “rightly guided” caliphs, Conquest: History of the Khulafaa’. The militaristic themes for this course are evident in the one minute video trailer for the seminar.
- The triumphalist vision of Islam as the inevitable sole world power and the justification of militaristic conquests under the banner of jihad are also repeated in the Al-Maghrib course, Islam Invulnerable: The Making of the Modern Muslim World. Tracing the rise of Islam as a global power from the initial Islamic invasions and occupations of the Near East, North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula, it glories in the triumphs of the Ottoman, Safavid, Qajar and Mughal Empires and provides its unique spin of the present Israeli (“Zionist”)-Arab conflict. The Crusades and European “imperialist” and “colonialist” efforts in recent centuries are denounced, while Islamic conquests undergo “narrative reinterpretation” to explain the difference between the two.
- Muhammad Alshareef expressed his thoughts on Muslim-Jewish relations in an article he published entitled, “Why the Jews are Cursed”, where he expounds on the anti-Semitic canard that the international media is owned and controlled by Jews, and thus, biased against Muslims.
- According to a May 2006 report by David Ouellette, in a detailed exposition of the Quran’s Surah Yusuf [complete audio mp3 file] by Yasir Qadhi, he draws from the anti-Semitic tract, Protocols of the Elders of Zion, to explain that Jews are not racially Semitic, and therefore, do not have any right to make a claim on their Holy Land. He also cites a Holocaust-denying book, claiming that “Hitler never intended to mass-destroy the Jews”.
- Al-Maghrib’s website notes that all of these “student tribes” compete against each other on the basis of their collective examination scores in each city, with the annual winner receiving a trophy and a replica of the white flag of the Islamic Caliphate, the Al-Liwaa’, that bears the Islamic shahada and was recently used as the flag of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
The Arab News article notes that Al-Maghrib is now operating in sixteen different cities in North America (up from thirteen at the time of the original FrontPage report in February). According to the Al-Mahgrib website those sites are:
- College Park, MD
- Chicago, IL
- Atlanta, GA
- New York City
- Columbus, OH
- New Brunswick, NJ
- Fairfax, VA/Washington D.C.
- Houston, TX
- Sacramento, CA
- Memphis, TN
- Bay Area, CA
- Seattle, WA
- Detroit, MI/Windsor, Ontario
- Ottawa, Ontario
- Toronto, Ontario
- Montreal, Quebec
The Al-Maghrib Institute is active amongst the 150 chapters of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) located at universities all over the US and Canada. The MSA is one of the North American front groups operated by the international Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Maghrib staff are also regular fixtures on several Islamic satellite television networks, including Yasir Qadhi’s weekly Islam Q&A program on the Islam Channel.
The Arab News reports that Al-Maghrib now claims 7,000 members in North America, which, if accurate, would make it the largest Islamic Studies program on the continent, with the program extending internationally to Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom in the near future.
Jihad U, coming soon to a city near you!
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