The e-mails are flying: "Suhaib is coming! Suhaib is coming!" Suhaib Webb, that is.
Rather reminds one of "The British are coming! The British are coming!" Allow me to be the modern-day Paul Revere for a moment. One if by land, two if by sea! Three if by MAS dawah? How did the MAS (founded by the Muslim Brotherhood) come to be the predominant, public face for area Muslims? Do our prestigious local colleges (Harvard, MIT, Simmons, Wellesley, Northeastern, Tufts) even know who's coming on to their campuses to shape the minds of their students? Do the parents know how their children are being pressured at these colleges?
There's been a flurry of e-mails going out to all the area Islamic organizations - especially college student groups - promoting a series of lectures this weekend by Suhaib Webb. This weekend marks the end of Ramadan, and is a time of celebration, prayer, family gatherings and feasting for Muslims. Mr. Webb is a convert to Islam, originally from Oklahoma. You can read more about him here. According to Wiki:
"In 2004, he moved with his wife and children to Cairo, where he studied at the prestigious Al-Azhar Islamic University. Besides studying, he often gives lectures in the USA and elsewhere, and records commercial Islamic lecture series, such as on the Wives of the Prophet Muhammad. During his time off he stays in the Silicon Valley and is employed by Muslim American Society."
Wiki goes on to say, "It is no exaggeration to say that he would be the next Siraj Wahhaj or Hamza Yusuf." Yippee. Wiki further tells us that the MAS originally paid for Webb to study in Egypt, in this cryptically-worded sentence:
"It is through the Muslim American Societies scholarship program that he was sent to Egypt to study and increase efforts to create a much needed climate based on local religious scholarship."
Much needed climate?? Wiki notes that Webb is a frequent contributor to The Translators, which is aimed at Western Muslims, and provides translations of Islamic writings. It's part of the so-called Islamic revival going on, bringing Muslims back to their roots. One of the first things I come across there is the statement " ...the work towards the establishment of an Islamic state is the central issue for the Muslims." They're talking about this country, mind you. There's an admonition for young people in the West to "leave off unproductive and divisive discussions of involved theological issues that are the proper domain of trained specialists." Don't ask questions, just do as we say! Hmmm, I don't think that's gonna fly in the West, we train our students to question authority!
Back to Webb's local appearance. He's got a packed schedule. According to the ISB/MAS e-mails, on Friday evening, Webb is speaking at Harvard Musala (Lowell lecture hall). He's giving the Eid Khutbah lecture at the Islamic Society of Boston's new mosque in Roxbury on Saturday morning. At 5 PM on Saturday, he's speaking at an Eid celebration for MIT students.
Here's what I observe, and some questions about Suhaib Webb coming to Boston:
1. The MAS is bringing him to the ISB and to two local colleges, Harvard and MIT. E-mails about his appearances were sent to selected students at Harvard, Wellesley, Northeastern, Simmons, MIT and Tufts. Nancy Khalil, employed by Harvard and a Muslim Student advisor at Wellesley and BC, sent the e-mails to selected students at the colleges.
2. While this event is being held at MIT, there is no notice of the event at the two notice boards allotted by MIT. Oddly enough, there's not even a notice of this event at MIT mentioned at the MIT Muslim Student Association website or their calendar. Flying under the radar?
3. The Muslim Student Association of MIT would be the one holding the Eid Party under normal circumstances. My understanding is that the MIT MSA did not vote on this event or give notice about it. Can the MAS just go into any college they want and bring in their speakers?
4. My understanding is that on Eid, the only contact for Muslims is at the Eid prayer, which is conducted in the morning with an Eid sermon. The rest of the day or weekend is spent in celebration with friends and relatives. At MIT, there was a system where students from out of state or other countries were invited by local Muslim families to celebrate Eid with them. This arrangement has been systematically undone.
5. There are vulnerable students, lonely on Eid day, away from their families, perhaps this is their first Eid away from home. And the MAS brings them to this event. Some students are reportedly secretly given money as stipends by the MAS, and they are more or less required to attend this event. Are students supposed to reveal to their colleges any financial aid they are receiving from the MAS?
6. The event at MIT is very benign on the surface, it's just a Eid celebration. Who can object? But it is likely being used to "fish" for students who are impressionable and prone to Islamic fundamentalism. More students for MAS to send to Al-Azhar.
7. The MIT event is being held in MIT Room 6-120. Who reserved the room, and for what purpose? Did the student body sanction this event? Did MAS get the room at MIT for free? MAS is an overly political organization. Is it acceptable for outside political organizations to use a room at MIT for free?
8. Is this event being video-taped and broadcast? If so, it is probably going to end up being webcast with an announcement that it's from MIT, with the appearance of being sanctioned by MIT. This has been done in the past for MAS events held at Harvard that had nothing to do with Harvard, where only space was rented, but the event was later publicized with a Harvard logo.
9. The event starts at 5:00 P.M. but no end time is given. From MIT, the students will be no doubt be taken to the ISB center at Prospect Street,Camvridge or to MAS Boston at Garfield Street, Somerville. And this event will continue till late in the night, and then the students will be asked to stay overnight, for lectures that last all night. These are the ISB/MAS "Tarbiya" sessions.
10. I'd really like to know the denomination of Suhaib Webb, of the ISB and MAS Boston. Sunni, Hanafi, Shia, Whahabi, Salafi, Akhwan, Ahmadiya, Deobandi, Ismaili? Why don't they reveal their affiliation?
There are many learned people in Boston in positions of authority who think that ISB/MAS Boston are connected to Harvard and MIT, and are therefore wonderful representatives of the Muslim community. They think that interaction of students with the ISB and MAS is of great value. Unfortunately, they are not seeing the threads of Islamic fundamentalism running through ISB/MAS events. But I hear about it from Muslims on a regular basis, Muslims who object to the rigid ideology of the ISB/MAS, and their takeover of area organizations. A local college student recently wrote to me: "I am a MAS member and was starting to be active through the MSA but it a long story, and if you do not act exactly like they want (a robot) you are pushed to the side....They are trying to take over all Muslim groups in Boston without doing any grassroots work on their own, just putting their brand on every thing."
Yup, that MAS logo is showing up everywhere, and only their imams and speakers are showing up at local colleges.
Who brought Suhaib Webb here for Eid?
UPDATE (10-17-07) - I really touched a nerve here for Reader and Mr. Green (in the Conservatory?). Reader gave a link to Web's lecture at the ISBCC last Friday, where Web states:
"And we want everyone to know that:
1. We are not here to establish a theocracy in our homeland. But we are here, and more than happy to live according to the law of the land.
2. We denounce all forms of violence and intimidation carried out against the innocent anywhere on the globe and reject terrorism as a valid means of expressing dissent or frustration."
Nice try. MAS always mixes up appearances and reality. In October 2001, MAS founder Jamal Badawi (latest ISB trustee) encouraged Sheik Qaradawi to forbid American Muslims to fight for their country in Afghanistan. The MAS is simply not to be trusted, their leadership is frankly treasonous.
Does Webb denounce murdering Iraqui civilians who work for the U.S. troops? The Boston MAS distributed an e-mail with a fatwa supporting that about three years ago. Does Webb condemn Hamas and Lashkar-e-Toiba for indoctrinating children to strap bombs on their little bodies and blow themselves up? Maybe he does, but I rather doubt it.