AlMaghrib Institute and the Prohibition of Music
– Raphael Levy – Stand for Peace Fellow
The AlMaghrib Institute is a not-for profit organisation set up in 2002 by Muhammad Alshareef, which claims to teach Islam in a way that is “…fun, social, spiritual and, oh yeah, academic.” Based in Texas, it now runs seminars throughout the UK, the USA, and Canada and also in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Ireland and the UAE.
Among its instructors, Muhammad Alshareef, Yasir Qadhi (Dean of Academic Affairs) and Abdullah Hakim Quick are all known to have made both anti-Semitic and homophobic comments.
Alshareef has written paper entitled, “Why the Jews Were Cursed”  in which he suggests that the Jews own the press, a popular anti-Semitic, conspiracy theory; claims that Jews kill prophets; and goes on to advise that Muslims should not “take Jews as our close allies.” Alshareef also calls for Christians to “join the [Muslim] ranks and start to stand up and speak against things like this [homosexuality].”  He goes on to claim that being called homophobic is an good trait and suggests that one should “praise to God that you are homophobic.”
Qadhi admits saying that “Jews used the guilt of the Holocaust to extract from the UN the promise of a Jewish state”  and that “Hitler never intended to massacre the Jews.” He also claims that Jews want to destroy Islam. Qadhi also claims that western society has “regressed” since the 1980’s when he remembers, “how homosexuals were looked down upon…and how disgusted the average masses were with that segment of society,”  and now it is not possible to criticise homosexuality without being called a homophobe.
Quick has denounced the “filth” of the Jews. He also has stated that he is not “going to change this religion” in reference to the Islamic position on homosexuality that is punishment by death. A complaint was upheld against Triangle Television of New Zealand against comments. Quick has expressed, on their ‘Voice of Islam’ programme which was broadcast on 29th September 2003, that:
- “AIDS is caused by the filthy practices of homosexuals.”
- “Homosexuals are sick and not natural.”
- “Muslims are going to have to take a stand [against homosexuals] and it’s not enough to call names.”
In addition, Farouk Abdulmutallab, the infamous “underwear bomber”, and Daniel Maldonado, a convert to fundamentalist Islam, , have attended classes at the institute,while its instructors have attended and spoken at events hosted by Islamic Relief, a charity which Stand for Peace has revealed to be linked to a number of terror groups and hate preachers (see report here).
In late August, Al Maghrib is running a seminar entitled, “Fiqh of Chillin’.” As part of the seminar, there is a discussion on “how to advise someone to stop listening to music.” Somewhat of a tradition exists among Islamic groups with respect to banning or restricting music. The Qur’an, they argue, suggests, for instance, that the playing of musical instruments is as corrupting as wine drinking. There is also objection to the uncontrollable effects that music can have on individuals and the themes that are contained within modern music. Not all, however, do proscribe music. Some Islamist organisations, such as Hamas, selectively employ music as propaganda.
More specifically to the AlMaghrib institute, it is not a surprise that it errs on the side of proscribing music, rather than exploiting it. Alshareef, and a number of the instructors at the institute, subscribe to ultra-conservative Wahhabism. A number of the institute’s instructors graduated from the Salafi Islamic University of Medina, including the instructor of the proposed course, Saad Tasleem. The Wahhabist movement advocates a strict reading of the Qur’an and forbids both music and dancing, suggesting that they are ‘haram’ [sinful]. As such, a seminar that aims to prohibit music and advises individuals on how to stop listening to music certainly fits in with the Wahhabist ideology practised by the AlMaghrib Institute.