ICNA does not, nor has it ever, supported organizations that use violence, intimidation, threats, harassment or any other harmful behavior to further their objectives. To the contrary, ICNA sees each of these traits as anathema to the core message of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Terrorism is not Islam and any so-called “Islamic” organizations that promote violence as the solution to political, social, or religious conflict have nothing in common with our faith. Al Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, the Taliban and other such groups dishonor our religion, culture and values every time they invoke the name of Allah (SWT). Whatever they claim to be, members of these organizations are not true Muslims and have no place in religious or secular society, period.
ICNA has never supported Jemaah Islamiyah (AKA Jemaah Islamiah), a Southeast Asian terrorist organization with ties to ISIS and Al Qaeda. Sometimes confused with Jemaah Islamiyah is Jamaat-e-Islami, a group of independent political, legal and social movements that operate throughout the Indian subcontinent. While the former appears on the US State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, the latter does not. Regardless, ICNA has no structural, collaborative, organizational or any other ties with any of the aforementioned organizations.
Over the years, ICNA and its affiliates such as Helping Hand USA have funded the disaster relief efforts in Pakistan often through Al-Khidmat Foundation which is considered the largest humanitarian organization in that country. All donations to Al-Khidmat are and always have been restricted to fully legal charitable causes within Pakistan’s borders. Regardless, it is worth noting that ICNA and its affiliates share no material, financial, leadership, or other type of connection to any organizations outside of North America. Our relationship with Al-Khidmat Foundation is project by project basis.
Hamas is a Palestinian group classified as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the US State Department in 1997. We have never been made aware by US or Pakistani Governments, any agency, reputable body or any media outlet that it has received funds from Al-Khidmat. Rumors to this end were fabricated and spread by a radical American blogger known for his extremist, Islamophobic views. Furthermore, this person is particularly notable for supporting the JDL, an organization designated as a right-wing terrorist group by the FBI and hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In any case since our relationship with Al-Khidmat Foundation is on project by project basis, we have no say nor do we have any legal or moral responsibility on how Al-Khidmat raises and spends its funds. See “Al-Khidmat and ICNA”.
In 2013, the Center for Security Policy, an influential American think-tank that routinely promotes far-right and Islamophobic views, published An Explanatory Memorandum: From the Archives of the Muslim Brotherhood in America. The 36-page document centers on an “Exploratory Memorandum” seized by the FBI in a 2004 raid on the home of a person with suspected ties to Hamas fundraising. The memorandum, dated 1991, outlines a mission statement and strategic plan for the United States allegedly written by representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood. In it, ICNA is listed among 29 American Islamic groups considered by the Muslim Brotherhood to be “our organizations and the organizations of our friends (imagine if they all march according to one plan!!!)”.
Despite the fervent wishes of the memorandum’s author(s), ICNA remains unaffiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood in any way, shape, or form. Moreover, we will never march according to any plan other than that of our faith, which emphasizes peace above all else. Any proposal for “eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within” runs counter to our values and beliefs. See The infamous “Brotherhood Memo”.
A dark and horrific chapter of the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, more than 1,000 professors, artists, journalists, politicians and other public intellectuals were systematically murdered over a nine-month period. Among the numerous military and paramilitary groups that fought in the war, Al-Badr has been accused of perpetrating some of these executions. In 2013, Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) tried and convicted (in absentia) Ashrafuz Zaman Khan for his alleged role as Al-Badr’s “chief executor” and the deaths of 18 Bangladesh intellectuals. Before this trial, Khan did indeed serve as president of ICNA New York. The case, however, presents a host of problems, beginning with the ICT itself.
Assembled in 2009, the ICT was established by current Bangladesh ruling party, the Awami League (AL), to investigate and prosecute suspected perpetrators of genocide from the Bangladesh Liberation War. While initially supported by the international community, the ICT was quickly denounced by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, The Economist, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and other organizations. The criticism ranges from rampant corruption and conflicts of interest within the Bangladesh government to blatant violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Even a leaked US State Department cable noted: “hard-line elements within the ruling party [AL] believe that the time is right to crush Jamaat and other Islamic parties.” In addition, none of those indicted by the ICT appears on the original 1973 list of alleged war criminals and their collaborators, raising further suspicion that the ICT is simply removing opposition leaders from power. The ICT’s reputation for integrity, due process and justice holds very little credence on the world stage.
As a member and, later, president of ICNA New York, Khan met all criteria for affiliation with ICNA, including legal residency in the United States, an unblemished criminal record and a long history of community service. And although no government or law enforcement agency requested information from ICNA regarding Khan, ICNA will always cooperate with US authorities on criminal investigations. On his own accord, Khan severed his membership with ICNA and no longer takes part in any activities of the organization or its affiliates. See “The Bangladeshi Witch Hunt”.
Sometimes the concept of jihad is misconstrued as “holy war”, or, more perniciously, a violent conflict in which armies massacre those who refuse to convert to Islam. In truth, jihad is far deeper in meaning and open to broad interpretation by all those who study and/or practice the Muslim faith. Put simply, jihad means “struggle” and it signifies the constantly evolving relationships all Muslims have with their faith. Whether it’s a desire to live according to strict principles of Islam or build a peaceful society for Muslims and non-Muslims alike, jihad is what you make of it. Just like the vast majority of Muslims around the world, ICNA members pursue nonviolent jihads.
Like jihad, sharia is frequently mistaken for a set of excessively cruel Islamist laws, with harsh, outsized punishments for any infraction. To the contrary, sharia constitutes a moral and religious code that helps Muslims understand their faith and live in harmony with others, both in a spiritual and secular context. By comparison with the codes of ethics proscribed in the Christian Canon Law or Jewish Halacha law, sharia is no more severe and no less dynamic. And sharia varies greatly around the world. Like all citizen and residents of our great nation members of ICNA and its affiliates accept the laws of the United States as law of the land. We do not see a conflict between being a good citizen and being a good Muslim.
To any practising Muslim Sharia is a moral compass to guide their actions ranging from personal hygiene to performing prayers to managing interpersonal relationships.
ICNA and its affiliates have never invited and do not allow individuals with terrorist ties or sympathies to join our organizations, let alone speak at our conventions. All invited speakers are thoroughly vetted for these criteria, as well as considered for their exceptional records of service to the community. They included congressmen, religious leaders from all faiths, city officials, law enforcement leadership, senior media persons, writers, and many others. Moreover, the viewpoints of these speakers do not necessarily reflect those of ICNA. For a better idea of our conventions, please see the following list of our themes from the past 10 years:
2005: “Family: The Foundation of Our Society”
2006: “Living Islam, Loving Humanity”
2007: “Muhammad (PBUH): Mercy to Humanity and Beyond…”
2008: “Islam, Key to Peace and Happiness”
2009: “Global Crisis – Islamic Solution”
2010: “Save Family-Save Society”,
2011: “Quran: Guidance Towards a Just and Balanced Way”
2012: “Defending Religious Freedom, Understanding Shariah”
2013: “Islam: the Pursuit of Happiness”
2014: “Islam: Faith, Submission, Service”
2015: “Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings be upon him)”
2016: “Quran: Divine Guidance”
2017: “Quest for True Success: Divine Message of Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them)”
2018: “50 years of Sharing Islam Serving Humanity”
ICNA Relief USA in the past and its successor Helping Hand USA have a documented memorandum of understanding with various foreign charities who work on the ground in disaster stricken areas. ICNA Relief USA and any of ICNA’s divisions have absolutely no contact, link, or ties to Hamas or any other militant party or organization. Any funds provided for relief work during the flood of 2006, or during any other time to Al-Khidmat were restricted to usage within Pakistan borders to help disaster victims in the wake of the 2006 Earthquake which ravaged Northern Pakistan. This is a commitment ICNA Relief USA or Helping Hand USA make to its donor base and strictly adhere to. Their funding of local charities fully complies with both US and Pakistani laws and regulations.
Al-Khidmat is Pakistan’s largest social service organization complying with all the laws and regulations of the land. In 2006, Al-Khidmat had listed 20 donor charities from USA, Europe and elsewhere apart from ICNA Relief and Helping Hand, who were partnering with it in helping the victims of the major floods of that time. This listing was used to fabricate ICNA’s alleged ties to Hamas by a freshman “investigative journalist” who later became known as an ardent Islamophobe: Mr. Joe Kaufman.
Every organization considered for funding from ICNA and its affiliates receives a thorough internal investigation beforehand. In addition, ICNA follows all safeguards, rules and regulations specified by US governmental agencies. As a testament to its positive impact on the community and outstanding history of fiscal transparency, ICNA affiliate Helping Hand holds a four-star rating from Charity Navigator.