Minaret of Freedom Institute Press Releases.


(Washington, D.C., 2/11/07) The Minaret of Freedom Institute and the American University
Muslim Student Association announced today plans to host an event on “Sunni-Shi’a
Differences: Realities, Myths, and Challenges” at American University on February 22nd, 2007.
The event will bring together the Washington area Muslim community in a constructive dialogue
on the real and perceived differences among Sunni and Shi’a Muslims. Speakers at the event will
include Imam Abo Fazel Nahidian of the Manassas Mosque, a Shi’a mosque in Virginia and
renowned Sunni academic from Howard University, Prof. Sulayman Nyang.
Dr. Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, President of the Minaret of Freedom Institute explains the impetus
behind the event: "The well-being of the Muslim community in both the East and the West is
severely threatened by the depths of misunderstanding between the Sunni and Shi’a schools of
thought. In many Muslim nations it is manifested in overt hatred and in Iraq it has exploded
violently. In America, the problem is not overt, but it is very real, manifested by silent contempt
and a divided, and therefore weak, community.”
Dr. Ahmad continues, “Just as interfaith dialogue leads to greater understanding between
different religions, we at the Minaret of Freedom Institute firmly believe that intra-faith dialogue
can also lead to better understanding. We are eager to use our intellectual and educational
resources in service to the Qur'anic admonition: 'As for those who divide their religion and break
up into sects thou hast no part in them in the least: their affair is with Allah: He will in the end
tell them the truth of all that they did' (6:159).”
The event, which is free and open to the public, will give Sunnis and Shi’as an opportunity to
tackle stereotypes, myths, and real differences between the two groups.
“This will be a great opportunity to hear religious leaders approach something that has been
pushed under the table for far too long, says Nafiza Shepherd, the president of the Muslim
Student Association at American University. “This is also an opportunity for young Muslims to
learn about our brothers and sisters and continue to have open healthy dialogue on our
campuses. The greatest benefit that can come from the event is just the simple improvement of
our knowledge of one another as we will be the future leaders of our community and contributing
citizens to our countries.”
The event will be held from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm on Thursday, February 22, 2007 in the
McDowell Formal Lounge at American University. Facilities will be available for prayers before
and after the event.
The Minaret of Freedom Institute is an Islamic think-tank based in Bethesda, MD that promotes
liberty and free market as well as being dedicated to countering distortions and misconceptions
about Islamic beliefs and practice.


Washington, DC (July 28, 2005).  Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, president of the Minaret of Freedom Institute (MFI), a Washington, DC area Islamic policy research institute, today hailed the fatwa against terrorism and extremist violence issued by the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA). “For years we have been explaining the reasons that Islam opposes violence against civilians and bemoaning the lack of coverage of the official denunciations of such acts of violence as the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center issued by countless Muslim organizations,” Dr. Ahmad stated. “We can only pray that this fatwa issued by a body of recognized scholars in the West will make it clear that Islam is opposed to terrorism,” he added.
            Dr. Ahmad criticized both inflammatory demagogues who have asserted that Islam promotes violence and Muslim apologists whose defense of Islam as a peaceful religion has given the impression that Muslims try to pretend their religion is pacifist. “The overwhelming concern of the holy book of Islam, the Qur’an,” Dr. Ahmad said, “is justice. Killing is prohibited in Islam except as punishment for murder or for terrorism (called hirâbah in Arabic). Even in a state of war, non-combatants are not to be targeted. Islam had a theory of just war before it was developed in the Western world. It is our hope that this denunciation will prevent the seduction of our youth into unIslamic responses to injustices against Muslims.”
            The Minaret of Freedom Institute (MFI) is dedicated to research and educational efforts regarding Islamic law and Muslim history. 


Washington, DC (January 4, 2002).  Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, president of the Minaret of Freedom Institute (MFI), a Washington, DC area Islamic policy research institute, today joined eight other Muslim and Christian speakers at a press conference calling for a fair trial for Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin who has been indicted on thirteen counts for alleged involvement in a gun fight with two Fulton County sheriff’s deputies on the night of March 16, 2000 that resulted in the death of one of the deputies.  Al-Amin has consistently professed his innocence and another man at one time confessed to the crime.
    Dr. Ahmad expressed his concern that Al-Amin is just one of many Muslim critics of American policy who have been targeted by neoconservative columnists and commentators.  In recent weeks Palestinian professor Mazen al-Najjar has been incarcerated on secret evidence despite a judge’s order that previously secured his release after over three years of unexplained detention without charge and University of South Florida professor Sami al-Arian was fired from his tenured faculty position after having been assaulted with a list of long-refuted allegations on the O’Reilly Factor television program.  While each case is different (Al-Amin earned a reputation as a fiery activist during the civil rights movement as H. “Rap” Brown, before his conversion to Islam; al-Arian is an intellectual who has been an effective advocate for the Palestinian cause; and Al-Najjar is quiet man whose only claim to fame is that he is Al-Arian’s brother-in-law), there is a pattern in the efforts of neoconservatives to de-legitimize Muslims who believe that political activism is a necessary part of being a good religious person.

    The events leading to Jamil Al-Amin’s arrest took place roughly one month after a National Review article appeared including him in a list of American converts to Islam whom the author, Daniel Pipes, felt had turned against their country.  While William O’Reilly, host of the television program that precipitated the firing of Prof. Al-Arian has objected to the firing of Al-Arian, Dr. Pipes has challenged the suggestion that there is a connection between his mention of Jamil Al-Amin and the events that followed.  In an e-mail clarification to Dr. Ahmad, he stated that he thought it was “self-evident” that he was discussing a philosophical challenge to the American way of life rather than a security issue.  “Be that as it may,” concludes Dr. Ahmad, “such rhetoric creates a climate of hate and fear and facilitates persecution.”
    “I have always respectfully disagreed with Imam Jamil’s claim that injustice is an inherent part of the American system of government,” Dr. Ahmad said.  “I earnestly pray that this trial will be conducted in a manner that shows that I am right and he is wrong.  In particular, I pray that all the exculpatory facts will be admitted into evidence.”  The exculpatory evidence includes the fact that another man had confessed to the crime, the fact that the deputy’s description of the assailant’s eye color does not match Al-Amin’s, the fact that the police had originally claimed to have wounded the assailant while Al-Amin was discovered unwounded, and the fact that the vehicle shot-up in the incident had been repaired, with all the bullet holes removed, despite a judge’s orders to preserve the evidence.


Washington, DC (December 11, 2001).  Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, president of the Minaret of Freedom Institute (MFI), a Washington, DC area Islamic policy research institute, today joined Rabbi Yisrael Dovid Weiss of Neturei Karta International and Dr. Robert Paul Younas at the National Press Club to share ideas from their respective perspectives (Muslim, Jewish and Christian) as to why the “peace process” has failed.  The following is an abstract of Dr. Ahmad’s remarks:
    Since 1993 the American–brokered attempts to promote a peaceful resolution to the dispute between Israel and the Palestinian people has been centered on the foundations of the Oslo agreement signed between the principals to the dispute.  It is generally agreed that this process has failed spectacularly, and that failure is attested to by the current violence in which many Israelis and many more Palestinians have died.  
    The failure of this process was inevitable because it relied on an agreement that made no mention of any expectation that both sides should abide by international law.  Instead, the agreement gave the impression that somehow peace would naturally follow from an interim agreement to establish certain confidence-building measures, while the actual root of the problem, the failure of Israel to abide by international law would be deferred to the final stages of the negotiations.  
    In this failure, the United States must take its share of the blame.  It explicitly declared U.N. resolutions requiring Israeli cession of land occupied in 1967 (U. N. Res. 242 and 338) to be obsolete, has attempted to scuttle attempts to hold Israeli to the Geneva conventions against torture and illegal settlement policies, and has blatantly ignored the right of displaced Palestinians to return to their homes (U. N. Res. 194 “that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.”)  While the spin-doctors have focused on the innocents murdered on their own preferred sides, the simple fact that the justice of funding the Israel’s violence, apartheid, and occupation policies with $3 billion dollars of aid each year to Israel has never been questioned even as the cutting off of the much smaller amount of aid to the Palestinians was discussed as a potential tool to punish the Palestinian Authority failing to fulfill its role as the subcontractors to the Israeli occupation.
    The failure of the process was thus predictable and its continued failure is also predictable until and unless certain facts are faced.  First, that the international community’s demand that Israel abide by International Law is not an unrealistic demand for “absolute justice” but a highly pragmatic requirement for a minimum level of decency.  Absolute justice would require that all of land expropriated by the colonists be returned to the indigenous Muslims, Christians and Jews.  At Oslo the Palestinians made the enormous compromise of agreeing to settle not for what absolute justice declares to be theirs, but for what the United Nations left them after establishing the state of Israel.  Not all Palestinians agreed with that compromise, but the majority accepted it because they thought that peace was worth the price. The Israelis are not being asked to abandon anything that is theirs, but to only concede to the Palestinians that which International Law has left them.  They are being asked to give up nothing except injustice, apartheid, death and destruction, and to receive sovereignty over most of a land to which Jews had legal title to only 6% of at the time Israel was established.
    The real reason why Israel does not want to accept this generous bargain is because of the demographic fact that if they recognize the Palestinian right of return, they must confront the terrifying question with which the late Rabbi Meir Kahane used to embarrass them: “How, logically, can you have a Jewish State, that is a democracy, in which most people are not Jewish?”  Of course we must reject Mr. Kahane’s answer to that question, i.e. to expel all Palestinians.  But how far removed is the continued exclusion of the previously dispossessed from the expulsion of the not-yet dispossessed?  Further, does not the denial of the right of return set a precedent for future dispossession, since this denial does not resolve the fundamental threat, but only postpones it?  Since the Palestinians have a higher birth rate than the immigrant population it is only a question of time until the Israelis will be forced to create yet another generation of dispossessed in order to maintain the Apartheid State.
    It is my earnest hope that sincerely religious people of all three branches of the Abrahamic tradition, with our shared concerns for Justice, Mercy and Brotherhood, will continue to speak plainly about these issues until a just peace is attained.


Bethesda, MD (September 11, 2001).  The Minaret of Freedom Institute (MFI), a Washington, DC area Islamic policy research institute today announced that a group of Washington area D.C. Muslim women have spontaneously organized a prayer vigil to remember the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and to show solidarity with all other Americans.  The vigil will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, September 16 at the Courthouse Square Park in Rockville, Maryland.  
    Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, President of the MFI said that although the women had approached the MFI and other D.C. area Muslim organization for support and assistance, the work of organizing was mainly done by an ad-hoc group headed by Tasnim Ahmad of Prince William County, Virginia, of Silver Spring, Nellie Hassan of Fairfax County, Virginia, and Jahanara Ali,  Ilhan Cagri and  Sharmin Ahmad of Montgomery County, Maryland.  “Women are healers; we want to heal,” said Tasnim Ahmad, an attorney-at-law who conceived the idea. Ms. Ahmad expressed the hope that non-Muslims would join the vigil, and volunteers have been contacting groups like Community Ministries encouraging them to send representatives.  
    In addition to Sharmin Ahmad and Dr.Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, participants will include Abdullah Shamim of the Islamic Society of Maryland, Shaikh Hassan of the Islamic Society of the Washington Area, Mrs. Nurjahan Bosc, from Samhati Bangladesh Women’s Organization, Habib Ghanim of the Arab Chamber of Commerce and Joshua Salam of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.


Bethesda, MD (September 11, 2001).  The Minaret of Freedom Institute, a Washington, DC area Islamic policy research institute today condemned the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, President of the organization, denounced the attacks and expressed condolences for the victims and their families.  “For American Muslims the unprecedented coordinated attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon is a triple tragedy,” Ahmad said.  “As Americans, our country is under attack.  As Muslims, the tragedy of attacks on noncombatants is anathema to us.  Finally, as the ‘usual suspects’ in a situation of this type we must be concerned with a new acceleration of persecution against us and our families.”
    Ahmad noted that a number of Muslim organizations have already stepped forward to serve as good neighbors.  Both the Islamic-American Zakat Foundation, a Bethesda, Maryland charitable organization and the American Muslim Foundation in Alexandria, Virginia NGO are organizing blood drives to help out with the crisis caused by the violence.
    Ahmad also acknowledged the care being given by local law enforcement agencies to protect all citizens from violent acts that might be sparked by frustration over this morning’s attacks.  In particular he noted special efforts by the Montgomery County police in Maryland to contact Muslim organizations.  Ahmad expressed concern that amid recent vilification of the American Muslim community by commentators Daniel Pipes and Steven Emerson, the FBI has recently devoted resources to shutting down Islamic web sites when such resources might have been better allocated to protect against problems like today’s attacks.  “I hope the authorities will be able to identify the planners and perpetrators of these crimes and bring them to justice,” Ahmad said.


    Washington, DC (March 22, 1999).  At a press conference held in the nation's Capital, an Islamic think tank issued a statement denouncing the Supreme Court's decision in the case of Reno v. Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee to be "a mockery of the rule of law."  In that case the Court ruled that immigrants may be selectively targeted for deportation in retaliation for otherwise lawful activities.
    "The specter of people being deported for lawful activities is frightening, in and of itself," said Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, President of the Minaret of Freedom Institute, "but we are shocked that the Court issued such a decision after instructing the attorneys for the immigrants that they would not decide the issue of whether such discrimination is permissible.  The immigrants in this case have not only been denied freedom of speech, they have been denied due process as well."
    "The Minaret of Freedom Institute is trying to promote ideas like the rule of law in the Muslim world," Ahmad stated, but complained that "decisions like this from the highest court in America detract from the credibility of American Muslims in the eyes of our co-religionists around the world."  Ahmad expressed hope that the Supreme Court would understand the wisdom of allowing a re-hearing in the matter.
    The case arose out of a long-standing effort by the Justice Department to deport eight immigrants in Los Angeles for engaging in legal pro-Palestinian activities.  Government documents obtained by attorneys for the "LA 8" demonstrate that the defendants engaged in no criminal or violent activity, but that they have been selected for prosecution because they are "intelligent, aggressive and effective" leaders critical of certain policies of the American and some foreign governments.

    Bethesda, MD (Nov. 9, 1998).  A statement issued today by an Islamic think tank which is part of a coalition campaigning to initiate public interest in the Israeli use of "mild torture" to extract confessions cites the case of such torture against American citizen Hashem Mufleh as evidence of the problems of the Oslo and Wye agreements. "Israeli contempt for the International Law has long been seen in policies which violate the Geneva Conventions such as illegal settlements, building demolitions, and deportations of the indigenous population," said Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad President of the Minaret of Freedom Institute. The rest of the statement reads as follows:
    "The willingness of the American government to tolerate such atrocities, committeed even against our own citizens feeds perceptions in the Muslim world that America is hypocritical in its response to uncivilized behavior elsewhere.  There is a widespread view that the purpose of Oslo, reinforced by Wye, is to insure that the Palestinian Authority serve as a subcontractor for such Israeli repugnant policies in the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, in the name of 'Israeli security.'  When the Palestinian authority engages in such practices, supporters of Israel can have it both ways.  They can condemn 'Arab savagery' and benefit from it at the same time.  The American administration may claim that "quiet diplomacy" is the best way to deal with such torture in the case of 'good friend' like Israel, but  how can the American media, which thrives on front page coverage of such cases anywhere else in the world credibly explain their silence at this time?  What conclusions do they think Muslims will draw?"

Bethesda, MD (Aug. 24, 1998).  A policy statement issued today by an Islamic think tank cites contempt of the rule of law by both Saudi dissident Osama Bin Laden and American President William Clinton.  The statement warns that both Bin Laden's disregard of the distinction in Islamic law between combatants and civilians and Clinton's bypassing of the United Nations and the U.S. Congress threaten a "plunge into the law of the jungle."
    Here is the full text of the policy statement by Minaret of Freedom Institute President Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad: "The statement attributed to Osama Bin Laden that Islamic law makes no distinction between civilians and soldiers in war is in flagrant contradiction to generally held Islamic jurisprudence. The bombers of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania are wrong if they think that Islamic law permits the killing of civilian envoys in a third country as a means of war against foreign soldiers on their home territory.  Similarly, Mr. Clinton shows tragically clouded judgement in thinking that bypassing international law to bomb a factory in a country against which we have never declared war is an effective means of deterring terrorism.  American engagement in such extraterritorial violence may legitimize it in the eyes of those who would hitherto have found the views of Osama Bin Laden too extreme. We risk a plunge into the law of the jungle.
    "The U.S. government's policy of isolating Bin Laden after the two cooperated in the expulsion of Soviet troops from Afghanistan has not had the intended effect of diffusing his opposition to American policies in the Middle East.  On the contrary, stripping him of his Saudi citizenship and provoking his expulsion from Sudan has distanced him from knowledgeable scholars of Islamic law leaving him to produce spurious fatwas (which are legal opinions, not, as incorrectly referred to in the press, "orders"), apparently with tragic results for Americans.
    "Bin Laden's distance from Islamic law is paralleled by President Clinton's disregard for the proper institutions which American law and international law have established for dealing with aggression and war.  The President has declared a protracted war against terrorism, although only Congress has the power to declare war.  Instead of asking the United Nations to investigate his allegations that a pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum is producing ingredients for use in chemical weapons, he bombed it unilaterally.  He denied the Sudanese government even the courtesy he has shown to Saddam Hussein.  The message this sends to the Sudanese, who, in response to American pressure expelled Bin Laden is that cooperation with American strategy to combat terrorism will be rewarded with destruction of private property, human casualties, and extraterritorial violations of national sovereignty. This is an effective way to legitimize and accelerate terrorism, not to fight it."
    The Minaret of Freedom Institute (MFI) is located in the Washington, DC area and is dedicated to research and educational efforts regarding Islamic law and Muslim history.  MFI’s purposes are summarized in their brochure as to "counter distortions and misconceptions about Islamic law and practice; demonstrate the Islamic origins of [certain] modern values ...; expose both American and Islamic world Muslims to free market thought; [and] advance the status of Muslim peoples maligned by a hostile environment in the West and oppressed by repressive political regimes in the East."  Dr. Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad is co-editor with Ahmed Yousef of  Islam and the West: A Dialog (Springfield, VA: UASR, 1998).

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