Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), formally chartered in 1971 but active since 1968, is an Islamic North American grassroots umbrella organization.
It is an offshoot of the Muslim Students' Association (MSA), was founded by immigrants from the Indian subcontinent, and its members are primarily of South Asian descent, primarily Pakistanis and Indians.
It is smaller and more conservative than the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), holding separate sessions at its national conventions for women. In 2002 it allowed a woman to address its annual convention for the first time. Its headquarters are in Jamaica, New York, and includes classrooms, a reading room, and a small mosque, and it has offices in Detroit, Michigan, and Oakville, Ontario.
In 1971, a number of South Asian MSA members who had been involved in Islamic movements in their home countries developed an Islamic study circle (halaqa), in Montreal which became the predecessor of ICNA. The "Sisters Wing," its women's group, was established in 1979.
IdeologyICNA seeks to promote Islam and the Islamic way of life in the United States. They are active on the issues of War in Afghanistan and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Initially ICNA was composed of Muslim Americans of Indo-Pakistani descent who had split from ISNA.
According to Hossein Nasr, ICNA has been influenced by the ideals of Mawdudi of Pakistan, and is structured similar to the Jamaat-e-Islami, which Mawdudi founded. However, he states that it is a separate entity from Jamaat-e-Islami. John Esposito wrote in 2004 that it had links to Jamaat-e-Islami.[page needed]
ICNA strongly condemned the 2010 Times Square car bombing attempt and immediately called for punishment to the fullest extext of the law for anyone who engages in terrorism. In 2011, ICNA welcomed President Barack Obama's counter-terrorism initiatives.
ControversyIn July 2002 Anwar al-Awlaki, believed to be a senior talent recruiter and motivator for al-Qaeda who had contact with three of the 9/11 hijackers, the Fort Hood shooter, and the Christmas Day bombing suspect (Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab), spoke at a joint ICNA/MAS convention in Baltimore with Siraj Wahhaj. In fact, ICNA maintains that until 2007, many American Muslims enthusiastically listened to lectures by al-Awlaki. It also maintains that at that time al-Awlaki was "level headed."
Anwar al-Awlaki was not accused at the time of having any links to extremism, terrorism, or violence. After evidence was brought against al-Awlaki in 2010, the ICNA Shariah Council strongly denounced al-Awlaki's views, actions, and connections to terrorism, repudiating his ideology as a "call of hate" and called upon American Muslims to reject al-Awlaki's views.
Steven Emerson and his Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) have accused ICNA of militant Islamic fundamentalism, and of supporting terrorist attacks. Training guides advocate waging jihad to establish sharia in the West.
In 2009 and 2010, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) accused the ICNA of inviting extremist and anti-semitic speakers to its conferences that serve as platforms for extremist views. ICNA responded to ADL's allegations by saying that its conferences have always been held under the objective of rejecting extremism. ICNA's statement also supported the defence of human rights for Jewish and Israeli people, but demanded the defence of human rights for Palestinians as well.
In 2013, the Dhaka-based International War Crimes Tribunal found Ashrafuz Zaman Khan, former president of the group's New York chapter, together with Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin in absentia, guilty of abducting, torturing and murdering nine Dhaka University teachers, six journalists and three doctors during the liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971. The presiding judge of the tribunal said the prosecution proved all the 11 charges against the two 'beyond reasonable doubt' and ordered that both Ashraf and Mueen-Uddin be 'hanged by the neck till they are dead'. His name was removed from the ICNA-New York web page on October, 2013 but he remains listed as the northeastern contact for the North American Imam's Federation.
In 2014, ICNA published an article in support of Ghulam Azam, who was convicted by Bangladeshi special tribunal for war crimes during Bangladesh Liberation War.
Denis James Madden (born March 8, 1940) is an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church, who currently serves as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Maryland.
Jamia Hafsa (جامعة حفصة) is a madrassa adjacent to the Lal Masjid complex in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. Known for getting involved in publicity stunts like burning CDs and kidnapping Chinese nationals and accusing them of running an undercover brothel. The mosque and its seminaries are overseen by cleric Abdul Aziz Ghazi.
The seminary, and the adjoining Lal Mosque, was owned by two brothers and clerics, Maulana Abdul Aziz and Abdul Rashid Ghazi, until the Lal Masjid operation started and in the ensuing struggle, older brother Abdul Aziz was arrested and younger one Rashid Ghazi was killed.
HistoryJamia Hafsa is the largest school in the Islamic world educating female students. Although they are taught subjects like mathematics and geography, they are not tested on them. Their exams are only on matters relating to Islam.
In 2014, the madrassa renamed its women's library to honor Osama bin Laden, whom it calls a martyr.
VigilantismOn February 21, 2007, the Hafsa students occupied an Islamabad children's public library. The occupation was said to be due to the demolition of mosques in the capital by the CDA (capital development authority) due to their illegal construction and alleged security risk.
On March 28, 2007, an alleged brothel house in the locality was raided by female students from the madrassa. The owner of the house, her daughter and her daughter-in-law were abducted by the students and held hostage at the madrassa. Two policemen were also abducted after two female madrassa teachers were arrested in connection with the raid; the policemen were later released in return for the teachers.
ControversyIn April 2007, Maulana Abdul Aziz announced that a Qazi court composed of ten Lal Masjid Muftis (judges) would henceforth enforce sharia law over the area under its control, and threatened suicide attacks by his followers in the country in the event of a government intervention against the madrassa.
The majority ulema of Pakistan viewed cleric Qari Hanif Jalandhri as an agent of the government due to his support of Ijaz-ul-Haq.
Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa students raided a Chinese massage center in Sector F-8/3 and took hostage five Chinese nationals, including three women and two men, Two vehicles full of armed seminary students raided the massage center, abducted staff and brought them to the mosque.Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) officials reached the seminary and were trying to secure the release of the abducted Chinese through dialogue. Earlier, the students had abducted the alleged brothel owner and released her after a couple of days. They had also abducted and later released two police personnel.
In May 2007, baton-wielding students from a mosque associated with the movement took four Pakistan police as hostages, demanding the release of ten associates who had been arrested by intelligence officers. This kind of controversy finally led to the siege of the Jamia Hafsa and Lal Masjid started on July 3, 2007.
None of the notable Muslim scholars or pro-Taliban/Al-Qaeda lobbies associated themselves with the Jamia Hafsa administration, many raised questions about the motives of the administration behind certain acts.