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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Direct Aid Interational - African Muslim Assocation's Role in Jihad

E-Prism Just wrote an excellent Occasional Paper on slamist NGOs. In it, they use the African Muslim Association as an example of theWhat Follows are the highlights:
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..It should be noted that the term Jihad encompasses a wider range of meanings than just militant holy war. Its relevance to the subject of relief and development stems from its general meaning of "striving" or "struggling". According to this worldview, the Zakat—a duty every Muslim must pay—can be rightfully spent on some kinds of Jihad including: military preparedness or defense; propagation of Islam; payment of salaries to religious teachers and to others, who impart other knowledge on which the people's progress and prosperity depends; and, for bringing about improvements in matters of faith and state.

  • Islamic community development projects go hand in hand with Da'wah and Islamization projects.
  • Rural poor in Africa are the main target for Da'wah and Islamization projects.
  • The primary missionary feature of the Da'wah in Africa has been the training of Muslim teachers, leaders, imams, and legal experts, alongside building of mosques and of schools attached to them.
  • Since the 1970s, future imams and youth leaders have become increasingly involved with the Islamic NGOs after an initial training in Africa.
  • Then, they have been sent by these NGOs for further education abroad in Islamic institutions, universities, and advanced seminaries.
  • Finally, they bring back to their countriesa version of Islam that has been emphasized by these NGOs-Which leads to local African radicalization.
  • The Countires most involved in Funding these activitiues are Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates

Kuwait-based African Muslim Agency (AMA), which is one of the most active Islamic NGOs in the whole of the African continent, and probably the only Arab NGO whose activities have been exclusively devoted to sub-Saharan Africa.

  • Founded in 1981 as the Malawi Muslim Agency (Lajnat Muslimi Malawi), focusing its activity in Malawi.
  • Later, when it expanded its scope of activity throughout sub-Saharan Africa, it changed its name to the African Muslim Agency
  • It change its name again in 1999 to Direct Aid International (Jami’ayyat al-'Awn al-Mubashir). As for now, it is still called the African Muslim Agency and in some cases it is presented as a branch of the Direct Aid International.
  • AMA has three general websites: http://www.direct-aid.org/ http://www.labaik-africa.org/index.php and the website of the AMA branch in the Republic of South Africa: http://www.africamuslimsagency.co.za/.

The founder and head of the AMA is Abd al-Rahman Hamoud al-Sumait, who was born in Kuwait in 1947.

  • His Education and acocmplishiments are many. An analysis of his Boaard memberships and founding member organizations over the years demonstrate that he is a pioneer of the Islmic NOG movement.
  • What seemed to ignite his passion was AMA's ground research, which discovered that millions of Sub-Saharan African Muslims do not know much about Islam, and worse still, their children tend to convert to Christianity.
  • Al-Sumait regarded the phenomenon of the conversion to Christianity as the greatest challenge confronting the Muslims in general and Africans in particular.
  • Thus, his main aim was to do his best to struggle against this conversion, especially by aiding the local population with relief projects, hoping that these might cause the local population to convert to Islam, and by propagation of “true Islam,” i.e., Salafism or Wahhabism, among the local population.
  • Al-Sumait underlined the strategy that must be taken by AMA in its activity in Africa in an article titled "The Relief Propagation Organizations (Direct Aid International – African Muslim Agency)" ("al-Mu’asasat al-Khayriyyah al-Da’wiyyah": Jam'iyyat al-'Awn al-Mubashir – Lajnat Muslimi Ifriqya"),

When AMA began its relief and Da'wah work in Malawi, the work was limited to building some mosque, digging some wells, and giving some aid to the local population.

  • Later on, when AMA widened its scope of activities to other countries in Africa, al-Sumait became aware of the challenges confronting the Muslims in Africa.
  • He came then, to the conclusion that in order to strengthen the Islamic identity of the African Muslims and societies, the Da'wah needed here should be much more comprehensive than its literal meaning and should include first of all development projects—such as building schools, orphanages, center for women's training, computer centers—in order to raise their standard of living.
  • These projects, in turn, will support the propagation of Islam in a specific area, "saving" its peoples from "entry into hell", if they happen to convert to Christianity.
  • Therefore, AMA's Da'wah programs have targeted entire tribes and groups and not individuals.
  • However, the Da'wah strategy in use has been different from area to area and thus, had to be adjusted to the special conditions prevailing among the Muslims or the local African tribes dwelling in specific areas.

This strategy is based on three basic assumptions.

  1. In the African countries with Muslim majority the aim is to support and strengthen the Islamic religious life of these people.
  2. In African countries with Muslim minorities the aim of the Da'wah is the same, in addition to the provision of Islamic high school and academic education in those countries or abroad.
  3. Yet, in pagan or Christian African societies, the Da'wah strategy is somewhat different and its aim is to convert these people to Islam through launching relief and Da'wah projects.

One strategys is the instigation of civil wars, in which each party has a foreign ally. These civil wars have been prevalent throughout Africa. In order to resolve these conflicts and to strengthen the Muslims.

The AMA is active in 33 African Countries. Here are some highlights:

  • In Niger, which is ranked by the UN as the second poorest nation in the world, AMA is also active, especially following the premature end of the rainy season and the big locust invasion that hit the country in 2004.
  • As a result, the fields of sorghum and millet were decimated and the sparse pasture which the nomads rely on to feed their cattle disappeared, triggering a major food crisis affecting millions of people.
  • AMA has organized an annual Free Eye Care Week. It has also bought and distributed food to the rural population, accompanied by active preaching. It has provided loans for traders and scholarships for students.
  • Thousands of copies of the Qur’an have been distributed free of charge in primary schools and the headmasters have even been asked to encourage their pupils to attend Islamic classes on the days when they do not have to go to school.
  • AMA, just like other Islamic NGOs active in the country, does not aid Christians. If Christians wish to receive help, they would have to convert to Islam.
  • Thus, a number of Christians have converted to Islam. For example, two church officials went on pilgrimage to Mecca since they had been promised material help from Muslims.
  • In Zimbabwe, only an estimated one percent of the population is Muslim, according to the International Religious Freedom Report from 2005. Yet, this number is expected to grow since AMA has had increased success in preaching the word of Islam among the majority Black indigenous population, in part because of its relief projects in rural areas, where the government has difficulty to reach.
  • Some chiefs and elders in the rural areas have converted from Christianity to Islam.
  • In Mozambique, Muslims number between 17.8% and 20% of the population, or around four million people, although some Muslim clerics claim that a much larger number of the population is Muslim. Whatever the truth is, Islam is growing in the country. This growth is mainly due to the intensive activity of AMA.
  • As a result of the AMA activities, dozens and even hundreds of people have converted to Islam in Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Zambia (where it has been involved in building and running of schools, hospitals, orphanages and mosques),
  • They haved active Projets in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, the Central African Republic, Togo, Rwanda, Senegal, Ethiopia, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Madagascar, Malawi, and other African countries

    See the excellent full 12 page report at the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center THE PROJECT FOR THE RESEARCH OF ISLAMIST MOVEMENTS (PRISM) AFRICAN OCCASIONAL PAPERS. GLORIA is part of the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, ISRAEL Volume 1 (2007), Number 2 (July 2007)

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