Meforum: Within the United States, the cases of American Taliban John Lindh, the “Lackawanna Six,” and the Oregon cell that conspired to bomb a synagogue and sought to link up with Al-Qaeda, all involve Tablighi missionaries. Other indicted terrorists, such as “shoe bomber” Richard Reid, “dirty bomber” Jose Padilla, and Lyman Harris, who sought to bomb the Brooklyn Bridge, were all members of Tablighi Jamaat at one time or another. According to Robert Blitzer, head of the FBI’s first Islamic counterterrorism unit, between 1,000 and 2,000 Americans left to join the jihad in the 1990s alone. Pakistani intelligence sources report that 400 American Tablighi recruits received training in Pakistani or Afghan terrorist camps since 1989.
The Tablighi Jamaat has made inroads among two very different segments of the American Muslim population. Because many American Muslims are immigrants, and a large subsection of these are from South Asia, Deobandi influences have been able to penetrate deeply. Many Tablighi Jamaat missionaries speak Urdu as a first language and so can communicate easily with American Muslims of South Asian origin. The Tablighi headquarters in the United States for the past decade appears to be in the Al-Falah mosque in Queens, New York. Its missionaries—predominantly from South Asia—regularly visit Sunni mosques and Islamic centers across the country. The willingness of Saudi-controlled front organizations and charities, such as the World Muslim League, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), the Haramain Foundation, the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) and others, to spend large amounts of money to co-opt the religious establishment has helped catalyze recruitment. As a result Wahhabi and Deobandi influence dominate American Islam. Full reading with citations here.
Take a hard look of the U.K. what happens there comes to America under the visa waiver system.
The activities of Tablighi Jamaat are gradually increasing in United States, and according to recent statistics disclosed during last year’s largest Tablighi congregations in Bangladesh, more than four hundred Tablighi groups are actively working in various so-called community mosques or in disguise mostly targeting young Americans with the goal of converting them initially to Islam and later giving them Jihadist provocations.
Tablighi Jamaat [Conveying Group] is a Muslim missionary and revival movement. Their activities are not limited to the Deobandi community. Leaders of Tablighi Jamaat claim that the movement is strictly non-political in nature, with the main aim of the participants being to work at the grass roots level and reaching out to all Muslims of the world for spiritual development.
Tablighi Jamat seeks to revitalize Muslims around the world. It is claimed that their ideology and practices are in strict accordance with Qur’an and Sunnah. Despite its affiliation and influence of the prominent scholars of Deoband, it does not focus any particular sect or community. It gathers its members and aids in community activities such as mosque building and education.
When it comes to freely traveling into the United States a deep look at visa requests of through the visa waiver countries, those that are alleged to be scholars of Deobandi frequently appear at mosques throughout the country with particular emphasis on the Riverside Islamic Center. This is one of the mosques attended by Syed Farook and his circle of sympathizers. Further reading here.
by Stephen Schwartz and Irfan Al-Alawi
Millat Times [India]
March 11, 2013
The fundamentalist Deobandi Muslim sect, widely represented in the Indian subcontinent and among South Asian Muslims abroad, resembles its ally, the Saudi Wahhabi clergy, in many ways. Both claim to “reform” the religion. Like the Wahhabis, the Deobandis preach a distorted utopia of “pure” Islam disrespectful of other faiths and condemning Islamic interpretations with which they differ. Deobandism, like Wahhabism, is harshly restrictive of women’s rights.
There are distinctions separating Deobandis and Wahhabis, aside from those between the idiom, food, dress, and other cultural aspects of South Asia, whence the Deobandis emerged, and Nejd, the remote zone of the Arabian peninsula that produced Wahhabism. Deobandism began in the 19th century in India as a nonviolent, purificationist movement. The failure of the 1857 Indian rebellion against the British convinced the clerics who established Deobandism that peaceful revivalism would better unite the Indian Muslims for resistance against the colonial rulers.
By contrast, Wahhabism emerged in Nejd three quarters of a century earlier, as a violent phenomenon. Wahhabis claimed that the Sunni Islam of the time, centered on the Ottoman caliphate, as well as Shia Islam and spiritual Sufism, represented a return to pre-Muslim polytheism and must be fought to the death.
Deobandism had no command over any government until the mid-1990s, when Deobandi students (“Taliban,” the plural form of the Arabic-Pashto word “talib,” meaning “student”) from Afghanistan took over that devastated country. Until then, many Taliban were medresa pupils in Pakistan, and Islamabad is widely acknowledged to have organized and backed the Afghan takeover by the faction. Wahhabism, however, has been the sole Saudi religion since the formation of the first, unsuccessful 18th and 19th century Saudi-Wahhabi “states” in Arabia. The official standing of Wahhabism was confirmed with the establishment of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932.
Their installation as rulers of Afghanistan, originally with Saudi financing, led the Taliban – i.e. the Pakistani-trained Deobandis – to abandon their nonviolent past. They imposed a brutal, repressive regime, originally in Kandahar, that claimed a basis in Islamic law. Deobandi depredations against other Muslims had a precedent in the 1971 Bangladesh independence war, when the Deobandis and their jihadist allies committed widespread human rights violations in the former “East Pakistan.” Early in February 2013, the Bangladesh High Court found one such figure, Abdul Quader Mollah, guilty of murder and rape, as crimes against humanity in that conflict. He was sentenced to life in prison. A.Q. Mollah was a member of the youth organization in the Bangladesh branch of Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI), the most influential South Asian jihadist party. JEI is accused of the main responsibility for depraved actions during the Bangladesh struggle.
Some moderate Muslims perceived in this verdict a victory for non-sectarian justice in Bangladesh. But almost immediately, Bangladeshis came out in the streets in large numbers. They expressed their discontent with the outcome and called for the execution of A.Q. Mollah and a ban on JEI. In January, Abdul Kalam Azad, another Islamist charged with crimes against humanity in Bangladesh, had been sentenced to death – in absentia, since he has apparently fled to Pakistan. More radicals facing trial in Bangladesh for crimes against humanity include, as described by BBC News, Ghulam Azam, the head of the Bangladesh wing of JEI; Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, Bangladesh JEI secretary-general; Motiur Rahman Nizami, originally a Bangladesh JEI youth leader, and Delwar Hossein Sayeedi, a former Bangladesh JEI parliamentarian. [Update: On February 28, Delwar Hossein Sayeedi was sentenced to death. JEI responded with further disorders, resulting in an unconfirmed number of injuries and fatalities.] Although a minor party in Bangladesh, JEI reflects the continuing intrusion of Islamist ideology from Pakistan.
During two weeks of anti-JEI protests in Shahbag Square, Dhaka, after the A.Q. Mollah decision, an anti-JEI blogger, Ahmed Rajib Haider, was stabbed and hacked to death in his house. This intensified the demands of the Shahbag participants for suppression of the JEI.
JEI had demonstrated against the trial before it began and as it proceeded. The Islamist party reacted to the Shahbag Square protests by rioting against the government and journalists, with at least four people killed during an outburst after Friday prayers on February 22. JEI followers accused the Shahbag participants of insulting Muhammad and Islam.
In response to the anti-JEI anger of the Bangladeshi public, Dhaka adopted an amended law that permits the state to appeal the Mollah verdict and hold a new trial. Under the revised legislation, prosecutors may call for the death penalty for those previously convicted and given lesser sentences. The Bangladeshi government will now have the power to indict, try, and punish – even prohibit – political parties like JEI, for crimes against humanity in the 1971 liberation of the land.
The horrors in Bangladesh were perpetrated by Deobandis from then-“West” Pakistan. The center of the Deobandi movement remained at Darul Uloom Deoband in India’s Uttar Pradesh state. Until the second recent Afghan war began in 2001, the Indian Deobandis adhered mainly to their past quietist attitude. The Afghan Taliban and Pakistani Deobandis then radicalized the Indian Deobandis, leading members of the latter element to adopt rhetoric justifying terrorism.
The impact of the Indian Deobandi transformation has been predictable: a series of atrocities in India. Deobandis also founded the preaching movement Tabligh-i-Jamaat (Call of the Community or TJ), which pledges nonviolence though holding to extremist Deobandi doctrines. TJ has had significant success in Bangladesh and in the Bengali diaspora in the West.
Both Deobandis and Wahhabis despise Shia Muslims and have been involved in or have incited violence against the Shias. Unlike the Wahhabis, the Deobandis do not denounce Sufism outright. Yet the Deobandis share Wahhabi prohibitions on some of the practices commonest and most beloved among Sufis, such as milad–an–nabi (celebration of the birthday of Muhammad) and musical performances. Deobandis have further been implicated in the devastation of Sufi shrines in Pakistan and India. Additionally, Saudi Wahhabism wiped out the four recognized schools of Sunni jurisprudence (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanbali), replacing them with an arbitrary form of Islamic law derived supposedly (and spuriously) from Hanbalism. The Deobandis disagree discreetly with this posture, alleging their loyalty to the Hanafi school, which is traditional for Sunnis in India and, paradoxically, the most open to controversy.
Unlike Saudi Wahhabis, who reject parliamentary institutions and participation in them, and leave governance ostensibly to the monarchy, the Deobandis are involved in Islamist political parties, exemplified by JEI, from Afghanistan to Bangladesh and in Britain, the U.S., and South Africa. Indian Sufi Muslims have complained bitterly and extensively against a bias toward relations with the Deobandis, as representatives of Indian Islam, on the part of the secular Indian government.
In the UK, Deobandis are active in seeking ascendancy over Sunni believers. They pursue this aim through the establishment of Deobandi mosques, the takeover of mosques erected previously by the moderate, conservative Barelvi sect, which supports Sufism actively, and the missionary activities of TJ. In Britain, Barelvi and other conventional Muslims resist the Deobandi invasion. Statistics enumerating Deobandi vs. Barelvi and other South Asian Sunni Muslims in Britain are unreliable; they typically count the number of mosques administered by the two groups, rather than the creed of the believers. Since the Deobandis will declare any prayer space a mosque, they can exaggerate their influence.
In the United States, where people of South Asian origin form a plurality of about 35 percent among Muslims, Deobandism dominates Pakistani-American Sunni mosques. Unlike in Britain, Barelvis in the U.S., although numerous, have been unable to organize their own community institutions. As noted by Marcia Hermansen of Loyola University in Chicago, “most [South Asian Muslim] community organizations were already controlled by anti-Sufi Islamists.”
Wahhabism is more notorious for some of its retrograde and bizarre doctrines, which have produced such limitations on Saudi women’s rights as forbidding their operation of motor vehicles. Thousands of cars and trucks are owned by Saudi females, and while they cannot drive them openly in cities and on highways, it is well-known that Saudi women drive in rural areas. Wahhabism founded the infamous Saudi “morals patrols” or mutawiyin, often miscalled a religious police. The Taliban have created similar “religious enforcement” groups in Afghanistan and Pakistani Deobandis have appealed for their importation into the latter country.
Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, since he succeeded to the throne in 2005, has taken measures, small but significant, to expand women’s rights and curb the excesses of the Wahhabi clerics and the “morals patrols.” Still, the South Asian Deobandis, as noted, have grown more nihilistic in their outlook and practices.
Deobandis and Wahhabis are dissonant on other matters of little significance. Nevertheless, Wahhabi-Deobandi linkages persist. In 2011, Abdurrahman Al-Sudais, a prominent Wahhabi fanatic and Friday preacher at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, was allowed by India to visit Darul Uloom Deoband in U.P., as well as Delhi and Old Delhi. His mission was to reinforce amity between the sects and demonstrate that together, Deobandism and Wahhabism are expanding their influence in India. His journey to India was permitted although Al-Sudais is barred from Canada and has been criticized in Saudi Arabia for hateful declamations.
According to the American Muslim academic Ebrahim Moosa, who studied at Darul Ulum Nadwatul ‘Ulama, a Deobandi medresa at Lucknow, U.P., the international spread of the ideology, lacking the financial resources of the Saudi Wahhabis, depends on donations by British and South African Muslims.
If there is a single feature the Wahhabis and Deobandis have in common, it is their dedication to the gratuitous issuance of weird and illogical fatwas, or religious opinions. Some of the more ludicrous Saudi Wahhabi fatwas have held, for example, that Wahhabi strictures against gender mixing between unrelated men and women may be evaded if the man drinks the breast milk of the woman, making them, allegedly, members of the same family. A fatwa issued in February called for imposition of the face veil (niqab) on female infants as a supposed protection against sexual abuse.
The proliferation of fatwa websites in Saudi Arabia has been criticized by King Abdullah and senior Saudi clerics, who have sought to regulate such activities. The king and the religious authorities warn that many are directed by self-designated Islamic jurists without credentials, and announce their opinions on whim and a desire for publicity. Unlike Christianity, Islam – except for Wahhabism – does not encourage free-lance preaching by unschooled, “inspired” individuals usurping clerical titles. Even the Deobandis stress a rigorous Islamic education, however deviant their beliefs.
A similarly eccentric spirit of fatwa composition has, withal, overtaken Darul Uloom Deoband. The chief Deobandi medresa has recently promulgated contradictory fatwas that leave Indian Muslims confused, in the words of commentator Shuriah Niazi. In 2010, the Deobandi center released a fatwa forbidding gender mixing in the workplace, an effective bar on any female employment, preventing women from supporting their families. The fatwa against women working alongside men exceeded the bounds of Wahhabism, and was previously unknown in Islamic jurisprudence. Repudiation of the fatwa by Indian Muslim women, Islamic scholars, and media commentators led Darul Uloom Deoband to qualify it by stating that work outside the home is permissible for women if they are covered completely when interacting with men. Even this amelioration reflected a discrimination against women previously absent from Islamic law.
Darul Uloom Deoband emitted more fatwas in 2012, of the same kind. One attempted to bar Muslims and others from submitting to body scans. A leading anti-Wahhabi Indian Sufi, General Secretary of the All India Ulema and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB) Maulana Syed Muhammad Ashraf Kichowchhwi, rejected the fatwa, declaring, “If a scan is necessary for security reasons or to detect or treat a disease then it is not haram [forbidden] or un-Islamic.” Soon, Darul Uloom Deoband caused a new uproar with a fatwa against Shia Muslims. The Deobandis praised Yezid Ibn Muawiya, responsible for the murder of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Muhammad and son of Imam Ali, at the battle of Karbala in 680 CE. This was among the worst insults that could be crafted against the Shias. A later fatwa from Darul Uloom Deoband banned Muslim women from working as receptionists, because the job would require them to forego total body covering.
The Deobandi center ended the year with fatwas against multimedia smartphones and the practice of showing prospective husbands photographs of girls seeking to be married.
Indian Muslims view the fatwa antics of Darul Uloom Deoband much as Saudis have come to regard the similar behavior of Wahhabi “callers to religion.” That is, sensational fatwas are created to gain media attention for the “scholars” that improvise them.
Muslims and non-Muslims in South Asia and elsewhere in the world should understand the identical motive behind the activities of Deobandi and Wahhabi “fatwa factories,” whether originating in medresas or websites. The Deobandis and Wahhabis seek absolute direction over the lives of Sunni Muslims, and, by extension, over all Muslim relations with their non-Muslim neighbors. The aim of “fatwa fanatics” is not religious; it is political and totalitarian.
In a normal world, U.S. and British law enforcement would aggressively investigate the “Wahhabi lobby” of radical Islamist organizations that, in the main English-speaking countries, provide pseudo-religious cover for the terrorist assault on civilization. U.S. and British investigators would not be deterred by the unfortunate fact that the “Wahhabi lobby” constitutes the “Muslim establishment” in both lands.
But we do not live in a normal world. We live in a perverse environment where U.S. and British law enforcement frequently appear more concerned about their reputation for political correctness and more afraid of accusations that they might violate someone’s civil liberties, than about the death and destruction they are supposed to prevent.
Thus we see the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), one of the most hypocritical and suspect Muslim organizations in America, preening itself on having met, on August 14 in Los Angeles, with the Consul General of the United Kingdom as well as with representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the federal Department of Homeland Security, and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. The point of the meeting? Apparently, nothing more than an opportunity for Salam al-Marayati, MPAC founder, to claim credit for a decision by a Muslim individual in Britain to tip off British authorities about the alleged transatlantic airline terror conspiracy.
Al-Marayati said, “I want to acknowledge the crucial tip that came from a worried member of the British Muslim community and was the primary reason that this alleged plot was disrupted. It is that unknown hero that we want to acknowledge today as well as those Muslims in America, Europe and throughout the world who are stepping forward out of their Islamic obligation to protect their communities and their societies… These are people who are serving [sic] their patriotic duty in the United States and elsewhere.”
There are two lessons to be derived from this maudlin performance.
First, al-Marayati and those like him are so desperate to show that Muslims of their stripe will participate on the right side of the battle to defend civilization that he will try to associate himself with the action of an obscure individual living thousands of miles away.
Second, the British consul general and American law enforcement, although approaching the fifth anniversary of September 11, 2001, seem to have learned nothing about al-Marayati and his cohort.
While British diplomats, the FBI, DHS and assorted other agencies assigned to guard the peace may not be clear on what al-Marayati represents, five years ago al-Marayati himself was quite precise about such matters. Speaking on radio within hours of the 9/11 atrocities, according to The New York Times of October 22, 2001, al-Marayati told L.A. station KCRW, “If we’re going to look at suspects we should look to the groups that benefit the most from these kinds of incidents, and I think we should put the state of Israel on the suspect list because I think this diverts attention from what’s happening in the Palestinian territories so that they can go on with their aggression and occupation and apartheid policies.”
The spectacle of official British and American representatives cozying up to Salam al-Marayati should be disgusting to any loyal citizen of either country, regardless of religion, and should be especially repellent to moderate Muslims, who do not want or need al-Marayati to speak for them. The more al-Marayati and Co. are permitted to represent American Islam, the fewer opportunities moderate Muslims will have to rescue their religion from the common enemy: extremism.
It appears that neither British nor American authorities, no matter their anti-terrorist will, have changed much since 9/11; but neither has Salam al-Marayati. Since then, MPAC has conducted a consistent campaign of “profiling” against anti-terrorist figures such as Steven Emerson of The Investigative Project. I documented MPAC’s hate spree against Emerson and others back in 2004.
MPAC has not changed its spots. But neither have the U.S. or British authorities changed their method of dealing publicly with those who promote defiance, exaggerated grievances, claims of victimization, and general political confrontation by Muslims in the English-speaking nations. It is past time for democratic governments to cease appeasing these domestic agitators for radical Islam; to dispense with political correctness, and to bring all such extremist activities, and those of their backers, wherever they may be, to an end.
It is also past time for Salam al-Marayati and his ilk to realize that honeyed words and photo-ops with cops will not eradicate from the public record the memory of their past incitement – exemplified by the infamous statement quoted above. MPAC and groups like it have no role to play in the struggle for democracy unless they turn over all the information they possess to law enforcement, warn American and British Muslims in no uncertain terms against radical rhetoric, and then shut down their operations. They have no hope of saving their reputations, at least in the short run of events. They should get out of the way and let those intent on protecting democracy and rescuing Islam – and who have nothing to hide, explain away, or apologize for – carry on the struggle. They should go home, read their Qur’an, and ponder how their addiction to ideology and publicity, and their ambitions and dishonesty, have harmed their community. They have succeeded for too long in imposing silence on the majority of American Muslims. Better that MPAC and the rest now be silent, than that they continue their charade of moderation, enabled by naïve Western public officials.