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ICNA Shariah Council Responds to Al Awlaki

03 18 10



Imam Omar Ahmad Suleiman, member of ICNA’s Shariah Council appeals to the Muslim youth in response to Anwar Al Awlaki’s audio message:


“In the name of Allah, the most Compassionate, the most Merciful.


May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His final messenger Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

First and foremost, everything that is written is in assumption that the messages from Imam Anwar that have recently surfaced are indeed from him and no one else.


As American Muslims, many of us used to wonder at how Allah has blessed Imam Anwar with such a degree of eloquence, and the gift of storytelling if you will, that he could move you to tears within 5 minutes of his lecturing. The news that he was detained a few years ago in Yemen brought many of us into a state of shock and depression. We invoked Allah (SWT) to free our beloved Imam nightly until we heard the wonderful news that he had been freed on December 12, 2007. I remember all the text messages, emails, and blog posts with ecstatic Muslims around the country praising Allah for his release.


Then something happened. Slowly, we began to see the post-prison Anwar Al Awlaki express strange radical views. Lectures that were as fiery as ever were being published on various websites that called on Muslims to join the “global jihad.” Out of our blind love for him, most American Muslims simply dismissed his new lectures and writings as tainted by his frustration with what had happened to him in prison. As a community, we were willing to forgive him for his new bitter and pessimistic attitude towards the world because of the ordeal he had faced.


On November 7, 2009, 2 days after the Fort Hood shooting, the love affair between conscience American Muslims and Imam Anwar suffered a huge blow. Although Imam Al Awlaki was sounding increasingly radical in his lectures, he never once before condoned terrorism. In fact, he very clearly denounced the attacks of 9/11 in various interviews and sermons both within public and private circles. This time was different. He not only condoned the Fort Hood shootings but even went so far to say that Muslim organizations and scholars in the United States were guilty of cowardice, treason, and hypocrisy for condemning the shootings. As American Muslims who loved the old Anwar Al Awlaki so much, most of us immediately declared that these words were probably forged in his name to create dissension amongst the community. Then as the interviews started to come out, we couldn’t believe what was happening. Some of us probably questioned our own faith and principles because of our attachment to Imam Anwar. We watched Imam Johari of Dar Al Hijra, where Imam Anwar once delivered a powerful condemnation of 9/11, as he had to stand and denounce one of his former closest friends and a man who captured our hearts for so many years.


Then came Imam Anwar’s praise of the failed Christmas day terrorist plot of Umar Farouk AbdulMuttalib. This left us even more baffled since this was an attack intended to kill 278 innocent airline passengers, many of whom were Muslims. How could an Imam who once seemed so level-headed now be a proponent of such a clear transgression of Islamic law?


Our search for answers and excuses for Anwar Al Awlaki have run out. Today we are hearing the words of hate and violence in the voice of the very same Imam which used to bring us so much good through the stories of our prophets and the remembrance of the hereafter. His call today for us as American Muslims to take up arms against our own country serves no other purpose but to wreak havoc and destruction. It is the same call of the kharijites that has been repeated so many times that feasts on the frustration and uncontrolled emotions of vulnerable youth that do not have the foundation or knowledge to recognize its illegitimacy.


In the next few days, I sincerely hope that American Muslim scholars will repudiate this call of hate using the injunctions of the Quran and the authentic Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). In the long run however, as Muslim communities and organizations we must seek to offer avenues of positive energy, in accordance with the Quran and Sunnah, for our zealous youth. We also should not shy away from repudiating calls of violence and hate that recklessly ignore the manhaj (methodology) of our pious predecessors. It is only through the dissemination of authentic knowledge of our religion that such calls can be drowned.


To our dear young brothers and sisters who grew up listening to the lectures of Imam Anwar and are overcome by emotion, I can only advise you with the words of the late Imam Al Ghazali (ra): “Islam is a commitment to principles, not people.” Think about the repercussions of this call to the religion of Allah. Will yielding to this pessimistic view of world destruction bring about any good to the ummah? Will it really end the occupation of Palestine or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Or will it simply make matters worse than they already are. Allah desires from you that you bring about a positive change in your society, not chaos and destruction that will only further jeopardize an already delicate situation.


As for the Imam Anwar of today who spreads messages filled with hate and violence, perhaps no one could refute you more effectively than the Imam Anwar that was so beloved to our community who once said in a sermon back in October, 2001: “We as Muslims… we want to bring an end to terrorism more than anyone else. Our position needs to be reiterated and needs to be very clear. The fact the US has administered the death and homicide of over 1 million civilians in Iraq, the fact that the US is supporting the deaths and killing of thousands of Palestinians, does not justify the killing of 1 US civilian in New York City or Washington DC.”


I sincerely ask Allah to guide Imam Anwar back to the path of moderation, and enlighten him to renounce this new methodology which stands contrary to the Quran and Sunnah. May Allah protect our community and allow us to be amongst those who call to guidance and are guided, and not amongst those who call to misguidance and are astray. Ameen.”


Imam Omar Ahmad Suleiman, New Orleans, LA
Member of ICNA’s Shariah Council


ICNA Scholar’s Committee was renamed as Shariah Council in 2009. Among it’s various responsibilities, the council plays a key role in advising the organization on matters of religion.


  • History Repeats Itself

    One thing I would like to draw your attention to, is Anwar al Awlaki’s comment regarding the situation of Muslims in America. He compared it to the situation of Muslims after the Fall of Granada in 1492. He said:

    “The Muslim Community in America has been witnessing a gradual erosion and decline in core Islamic principles, so today many of your scholars and Islamic Organisations are openly approving of Muslims serving in the US army to kill Muslims, joining the FBI to spy against Muslims and are standing between you and your duty of Jihad. Slowly but surely your situation is becoming similar to the embattled Muslim Community of Spain AFTER THE FALL OF GRANADA. Muslims of the West, take heed and learn from the lessons of history.”

    We may disagree with what he has to say, but what you cannot disagree with is history. When something is documented time and time again, it has been set in stone. So please, if you are sincere and honest and truly searching for the truth then at least read your own history.

    I’ve found a book which is SPECIFICALLY dedicated to the situation of the Muslims Post Fall of Granada, written by a Muslim author himself. This is the first time I’ve seen a Muslim perspective on the situation of Muslims post 1492. You can access it here-

    By 1492CE, the Muslims who used to control the whole of Andalus (Islamic Spain), were forced to give up whatever remaining and superficial control they had over it i.e. Granada. This was the last stronghold of the Muslims. When Abu AbdAllāh Muhammad the 12th handed over the Keys of Granada to the Spanish Crown of Castille, the Muslims were given many false promises, such as the Capitulations of Granada which “allowed the Muslims that remained in the Emirate, full freedom of worship and protected their rights, (going as far as even promising to punish anyone who peers into a Muslim household). The agreement seemed to be made binding upon the Spanish Crown of Castille but as we shall see, it was broken within ten years after the agreement was put into effect.”

    Read more about the Muslims of Andalus post 1492 here:

  • This is indeed a time of confusion and deception amongst the people of the world. May Allah guide us down the straight path and shine the light of truth upon us. Ameen. As for Anwar, our brother in faith, I cannot say anything against him. May Allah bless him for his service and guide him down the straight path.

    We have not been through what Anwar has been through or seen what he has seen. All we do know, is that he probably knows the Qur’an and Sunnah better than most of us and has made his decisions with that knowledge in mind.

    America is waging a war on the world, to spread democracy and preserve the American way of life at the cost of any who stand in their way. If he is calling the people to do what they can to stop the American War Machine, then we should heed his call.

    The Muslims living in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Palestine and the rest of the “Muslim” world have a right and obligation to defend themselves and their fellow man against the aggression they are facing. Would you not defend your country if an aggressor invaded, trying to force their government upon you?

    The Jihad of the Muslims here in America is much more difficult than a physical Jihad. We must fight the war for hearts and minds of the American people. We must actively call the people of America to Islam. If we are not participating in Dawah then it is incumbent that we leave this country for “Muslim” lands.

    We must also devote our lives and our wealth to re-establish Khilafah on the Earth so that it can once again be a source for the propagation of true Islamic knowledge and values. The governments currently ruling the Muslim lands are tyrannical, and must be replaced with Khilafah.

    May Allah have mercy upon us and grant us Jannat al Firdaws. May Allah free us from the shackles of our own Nafs, and from the tyranny of oppressors. May Allah make our feet firm against our enemies and guide us down the path of righteousness. Ameen.

  • Soulafa

    Masha Allah, this is well written. May Allah (swt) reward ICNA.

  • Mujahid

    Have we become so weak as to actually think that aggression against Muslims can be stopped by words or writing letters to drunken politicians?

    Muslims do want terrorism to stop, but I think our “scholars” fail to truly realize that we are the nation that is being terrorized. It is the right of every human being to defend his/her rights and there is nothing sinister about it.

    Shame on all those scholars who are afraid to speak the truth. We look up to you for leadership, but the vast lot of you are leading us to the slaughterhouse. I thank God that the vast majority of our youth see through your charades and weakness.

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  • trutheseeker

    I’ve yet to see such a substantive repudiation of the egregious policies and acts of some of the developed nations towards the Muslim populace. Frankly speaking, ICNA’s Sharia body is a sham, a mere council of indo-paks seeking not to disrupt their attempts at obtaining the American dream. Thus, their focus is problematizing the misunderstandings of Muslims, while prodding ordinary Muslims to become as docile and subdued as they are.

  • Uthman

    This article is no more than an emotional appeal for us to not be emotional!

    All this old awlaki v the new awlaki, messages of hate, radical, kharijites…is just emotional points, using politcally-charged subjective words, which are irrelevant.

    What is relevant, and missing, is for whoever disagrees with the opinion of another scholar to bring forth their evidence for their position and show why the evidences used by that scholar are incorrect.

    Further, we don’t ‘assume’ that someone says or believes something and then attack them on the basis of that assumption. If we know that a person holds X and then hear unsubstantiated claims that he nows holds Y, our job is first to establish this, not to start warning people of this person on the assumption that he holds Y.

    If one wants to warn about certain ideas, go ahead and do so, but that doesn’t require attacking the person.

    Furthermore, even if we make the unjustified assumption made in the article, the result is that a brother of ours, a scholar at that, espouses wrong views. In this case as the Prophet (saw) said we have to support him by stopping him, advising him etc, not by labelling him, speaking of him as he is ‘the other’ – a radical, a kharijite – and in sum selling him short.

    The saddest part is that orgs like ICNA and ISNA don’t address the vital issues of the Ummah like Khilafah and Jihad,removing invasion, implementing the Shari’ah, etc. and when someone else does, all they can do is pick on the parts they got wrong.

  • Amantullah

    As salaamu alaykum:

    What do you expect ISNA & ICNA organizations to do when they are groups owned,growned and controlled by the ZIONIST who want to pacify and neutralize ISLAM as was done to CHRISTIANITY AND JUDAISM! They too will be removed like all other MUNAAFIQOON ( Hypocrites)!

  • Kamran Hosain

    These are verily times of great confusion and deception. We ask Allah to guide us to the straight path and allow us to see the Truth as the Truth and Falsehood as Falsehood.

    I think the fundamental question that us American Muslims have to face is: are we Americans first, then Muslim or Muslim first, then American? The prophet(sws) said “The believers are like one body, if the eyes are in pain, the whole body is in pain and if the head is in pain, the whole body is in pain.”

  • what we need to ask ourselves here is why he thinks the way he does or what changed his thinking about the u.s a place he was born and grew up?it is very sad but i think it comes from seeing the u.s being in every country political workings or involved in some way in the whole world goings and a american i believe our goverment needs to worry about our people and problems not everyone elses if we did that i think terroist would for the most part leave us alone and destroy theirselves in fighting amongst themselves for what power they can grab so this is what i think about his mind set

  • Asadullah

    I recommend you watch Shaykh Anwar’s latest interviews where he exposes the ICNA councils motives. They have put America above Allaah and His Religion.

  • Ahmed

    Where are those “latest interviews”? Please provide a link.









  • wandering exile

    Let us use logic:

    You accuse and allege Anwar Awlaki of speaking in support of violence against civilians and you are asking Muslims to turn their back on him and to not even listen to him, much less support him or associate with him.

    You acknowledge and report some, just a few, of the well known actually committed crimes of the U.S. government.

    But do you encourage Muslims to leave the U.S.? To stop paying taxes and supporting or listening to U.S. politicians or laws?

    Why propose such severe dissociation from Mr. Awlaki and yet no problem with flag waving the bloody stars and stripes?

    I can’t believe, I even have to say this, but I do not support killing of innocent civilians, and that is why I won’t pay taxes or support the U.S. Federal Government.

    Quoting Niaz below
    “I don’t agree with his alleged support of the Christmas Day bomber, but I am yet to hear anything about that other than thru US intelligent officials who spoke on “condition of anonymity?”. Also, Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., the ranking Republican on the House intelligence committee, said he had been told by credible sources that the U.S. government knew Abdulmutallab – the Christmas day bomber was “involved with al Qaeda” for at least a couple of months (he have diluted his statements since then too) And he was also in the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment database since couple of months before the incident. so I wont be surprised if this is another staged attack for obvious purposes to bring back focus to Al Qaeeda.”

  • word of thought

    knowing Imam awlaki one knows he’s not dumb enough to make sucit h statements – willfully. Something must have happened to him will he was detained that turned him like this or could be a conspiracy against him – since demise of the prophet(s) measures have been taken to infiltrate islam- and continue to to be taken.

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  • Javid

    Assalamu Alaikum,

    I love Imam Anwar. Whatever changed him i don’t know. But i sincierly ask Allah to grant him Jannah and make him of the martyrs. And ask Allh to bless him people. We had many good from him.

  • Abu Yahya

    I personally don’t see anything wrong with his statement, nor do I see anything wrong with the actions of our brother Nidal Hassan. However what I see as the major issue here is that we live among the disbelievers, and thefore start to show them the sympathy that they are not deserving of.
    Allah (swt) says:
    “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves. _” (Quran; 48:29). PLEASE READ TAFSIR IBN KATHIR.
    I ask you all, by ALLAH, if this verse is not reffering to those American soldiers that wage war on our brothers, sisters, and children, and openly show their anamosity toward’s our Deen, in their media, government foreign and domestic policy (such as their bias anti terror legislation which targets Muslim’s and destroy’s families), and how can we forget their detention centers those known to us like; Guantanamo Bay, Bagram, and Abu Graib, and their many black sites they have scattered around the globe, in which they violate the honor of Muslim’s, young and old, male and female, innocent or “guilty”. Within these prisons honors are violated, mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters, men and women are bothe subject to rape and sexual humiliation, idiological and mental torture, the list of treatment that our fellow Muslim’s have been made to endure is to numerous to go into in detail. (You can research that yourselves).
    After all this, are you in any doubt about whether or not the above mentioned verse is reffering to these american soldiers?

    “_for persecution is worse than killing. And they will not cease fighting with you until they turn you back from your religion, if they can; and whoever of you turns back from his religion, then he dies while an unbeliever– these it is whose works shall go for nothing in this world and the hereafter, and they are the inmates of the fire; therein they shall abide.” (Quran; 2:217).

    “_those who disbelieve desire that you may be careless of your arms and your luggage, so that they may then turn upon you with a sudden united attack_.” (Quran; 4:102).

    “O ye who believe! Take not into your intimacy those outside your ranks: They will not fail to corrupt you. They only desire your ruin: Rank hatred has already appeared from their mouths: What their hearts conceal is far worse. We have made plain to you the Signs, if you will understand.” (Quran; 3:118).

    “If they were to get the better of you, they would behave to you as enemies, and stretch forth their hands and their tongues against you for evil, and they ardently desire that you may disbelieve. (Quran; 60:2).

    “Many of the followers of the Book wish that they could turn you back into unbelievers after your faith, out of envy from themselves, (even) after the truth has become manifest to them; but pardon and forgive, so that Allah should bring about His command; surely Allah has power over all things.” (Quran; 2:109).

    “Allah does not forbid you respecting those who have not made war against you on account of (your) religion, and have not driven you forth from your homes, that you show them kindness and deal with them justly; surely Allah loves the doers of justice.”
    “Allah only forbids you respecting those who made war upon you on account of (your) religion, and drove you forth from your homes and backed up (others) in your expulsion, that you make friends with them, and whoever makes friends with them, these are the unjust.” (Quran; 60:8-9).

    “And if they break their oaths after their agreement and (openly) revile your religion, then fight the leaders of unbelief– surely their oaths are nothing– so that they may desist.”
    “What! will you not fight a people who broke their oaths and aimed at the expulsion of the Messenger, and they attacked you first; do you fear them? But Allah is most deserving that you should fear Him, if you are believers.”
    “Fight them, Allah will punish them by your hands and bring them to disgrace, and assist you against them and heal the hearts of a believing people.”
    (Quran; 9:12-14).

    “Those who believe fight in the way of Allah, and those who disbelieve fight in the way of the false gods. Fight therefore against the friends of the Shaitan; surely the strategy of the Shaitan is weak.” (Quran; 4:76).

    And if the words of our Lord were not sufficient for you;
    Countless american spokesmen, and even an Ex-Guantanamo Bay guard has openly declared that we are faced with a war on Islam, (not terrorism, as they might like to have you think).

    So, Oh servant of Allah (swt), weep not, nor be sad regarding those who went foward in anamosity towards your religion, rather rejoice and be happy that maybe a great evil has been prevented.

    P.s. I’m sure many deluded Muslim’s will differ with me, and argue that not every soldier shares this anamosity towards Islam, and I will respond to them by telling them that numerous times have the Mujahideen attemted to reach out to these individuals through their media outlets, and has been urging them constantly not to support the Masonic, pro Zionist agenda of their governments.
    Here is one of them occassions:

    Most importantly, in the time of our Prophet (saw) who said that every disbeliever in the army of Quraish were anti-Islam?
    But did that prevent the Muslim’s from waging war against them?

    “O you who believe! if any from among you turn back from his Faith, soon will Allah produce a people whom He will love as they will love Him,- lowly with the believers, mighty against the disbelievers, fighting in the way of Allah, and fearing not the blame of any blamer. That is the grace of Allah, which He will bestow on whom He pleaseth. And Allah encompasseth all, and He knoweth all things.” (Quran; 5:54).

    As-Salam-Ylakum Wa-Rahmatullahi Wa-Barakatuh.

    Your brother, Abu Yahya.

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  • Indeed he died but left behind brain washed youth who will just bring sorrow to Muslim Ummah, who are Muftee by birth.

  • Waseem Kazi

    Assalam wa laikum brothers.,

    I feel sorry for Imam Anwar,I am not educated enough in deen to make any comments what so ever, but I know one thing for sure, when hard ships fall on us muslims we become more sincere towards Allah, or get our motions mixed with Shariah and take a completely different path altogether. This is all easier said than done.

    I pray that Allah does not put us into the test which Imam Awlaki was put through, and I pray that Allah forgives his sins, and give him the reward for all the detailed work he had done on seerah and other works.

    Last but not the least I pray that Allah subhana wa tallah opens the eyes of hate mongers to see that you cannot fight violence with violence, rather patience and understanding, once again its all easier said than done.May Allah grant all mankind the patience and understanding to live with peace with each other.

    Jazakalla khairun

  • Abu Waleed

    What i dont understand here is your wala for the country which has killed millions of Muslims, and comparing the call of Imam Anwar with that of Kharijites, when indeed the real kharijjites are you, who love the kuffar, and turn a blind eye towards what they are doing to the Muslims… Not surprised though, your hearts have eaten the calf, and you got a lot of dunya staff to loose in America, and dare you condemn what it is doing to Muslims you go to Guantanamo. It is amazing to see the Sufis of America nad Salafis together, Allahu Akbar, but not united on Qur’an and Sunnah, but united under the pressure of Obama… If you were not cowards, you would order the Muslims to go and kill those kaffirs in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Chechnya, Yemen, Saudi Arabia etc… Where did you get your Aqidah from???

  • syed

    Asalamualaikum my sincere brothers n sisters in islam….may Allah(s.w.t)give our beloved Shaheed anwar al-awlaki Rahimahullah Highest level in Jannah.. .Ameen….It doesent make any difference with this baseless Icna article,with no evidence… I living in India see d fan following of sheikh.. Especially d youth.. Yes, we were saddened for his death, but alhamdullilah we were happy for his martyrdom n did salathul Janaza.. Alhamdullilah,we do hav his dozens of lectures…
    May allah strengthen our Scholars n put d fear of Allah alone n remove d fear of “Insaan”…
    Our Lands r one.our Ummah is one,our Quran is one n our Creator iS one ALLAH(swt)…The Victory(KHILAFAH) is very soon..Inshallah..Bidhnillah…

  • Dan

    I think this guy was certainly radicalised by torture in prison. The CIA has quite a history of mind-control techniques, using electro-magnetic devices, drugs, and other methods. This cannot be ruled out. This turnaround about killing civilians also happened with another convenient enemy of the US – Bin Laden, who in earlier interviews condemned violence against civilians too.

  • Seenma

    Why don’t you watch this Youtube video before issuing a Fatwa!

  • Abu Waleed

    Its not the first time we see such statements from the munafiqeen of the time… Many of them have even apostated from ISLAM and have become Murtadeen… These are the same guys giving fatwa to American Muslims to fight against their brothers in Afghanistan, and previously in Iraq, so that their patriotism to America would not be questioned. And sadly, all those guys dying there die like kaffirs and go to hell… They were the ones who “assured” the American Army that the case of Nidal Hassan was an isolated one, and Muslims reject al-Qaeda… Basically, their wala is for America, and those that do it by knowing it, they know their positions, while the majority are ignorants who follow role model Shuyukh… “Whoever rejects taghoot AND believes in Allah, indeed have created a bond that does not break…”. And as Ibn Katheer has stated (who was not a wahhabi: i say it cause nowadays if you talk for Jihad, the murjis and Sufis label you a Wahhabi) said in his famous tafsir, that “rejecting the Taghoot is a prerequisite to faith”… Dear Shuyukh, if you were real men, you would be at the front lines in Afghanistan, and directing those “kharijites”in the right path when they were mistaken, but its a shme that this glorious Ummah is represented by low people like you…. Think about the day when you will be questioned about your kniwledge and position, and there will be no Obama or those other Kuffar to protect you

  • Barry Monette

    Religious freedom also means that all persons have the right to be free from the constraints, dictates, laws, norms, rules, and any other principles of religion, including any specific religion. Tolerance towards any religion, or religious freedom includes an aspect where every individual has the right to “step outside” and “reject” the demands of any religion, including a religion to which they otherwise belong, provided they remain in compliance with the laws of the state. This freedom is a basic human and constitutional right of all persons.

  • Mostafa Habib

    This following statement is correct, but it’s missing something VERY important ….
    “We as Muslims… we want to bring an end to terrorism more than anyone else. Our position needs to be reiterated and needs to be very clear. The fact the US has administered the death and homicide of over 1 million civilians in Iraq, the fact that the US is supporting the deaths and killing of thousands of Palestinians, does not justify the killing of 1 US civilian in New York City or Washington DC.” …. but it DOES justify fighting and killing American armies/forces/allies in occupied lands of Muslims worldwide.

    I don’t agree with Awlaki (or anyone else for that matter) saying that civilians of ANY side should be killed, but at the same time, when one says what should be condemned they should also mention what should be done in the name of Islam. Perhaps this is the “hidden” silence in western Muslim communities that frustrated Awlaki and others. Although, it does NOT justify killing or advocating killing of civilians.

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