I just wanted to mention that this email was not written by me nor necessarily reflects my view. However as this email is being circulated out there, its best that we are aware of all views to come to a sound decision. Thanks.
ALIMS CALL FOR THE BOYCOTT OF UMAA CONVENTION
Memorial Day Weekend 2003 marked the beginning of a movement for Shias in
the United States. Universal Muslim Association of America (UMAA) held
their first Shia convention and Muslims across the country felt a great
pride in such a beginning. Shias flocked to the convention in Washington
D.C. to show their support and pride for the endeavor. However, the
convention brought us disappointment and regret as we saw the invitation of
Paul Wolfowitz as the keynote speaker. We were further saddened as the
board of UMAA engaged in questionable decisions and made controversial
statements against our Ulema and Marjas. We would like to take this time to
explain to you the controversy surrounding UMAA and leave it up to you to
decide as to whether such an organization deserves to be supported.
Last year, Paul Wolfowitz, deputy defense secretary to the Bush White House,
addressed a room full of dinner guests at the first UMAA convention. The
$100 a plate dinner was reserved for the upper class and no one under 18 was
allowed to attend. As the Muslim elite enjoyed the company of a White House
official, Wolfowitz seized this opportunity to criticize Iran, all the
meanwhile those in attendance lapped it up and offered him countless
standing ovations. Wolfowitz, dubbed as the mind behind the Iraq war and a
staunch neo-con, whose support for Israel is widely known, was especially
invited by the UMAA organizers. When questioned on inviting such an
opposing personality to the Muslim cause, organizers stated that the only
way Shias can gain anything in the United States is if they align themselves
with those in power. An excerpt from an article by Stephen Schwartz
claimed, “He [Agha Shaukat Jafri, a Shia community leader in New York and
organizer of the UMAA convention] described the reception for Wolfowitz as
"very warm.” He added: "We should thank the Bush administration for
liberating the Shias of Iraq. I think Dr. Wolfowitz understands our
viewpoint and our deep opposition to extremism. We were thrilled to have
him attend and to hear his words." To this, we ask: do the UMAA organizers
view Shias in the United States at the mercy of the Bush administration?
At an event at the Shah-e-Najaf center in New York City, Shaukat Jafri, a
spokesperson for UMAA stated, “We [UMAA board] do not believe that the
Marajiyat should get involved with Shia Affairs in the US. Realizing the
audacity of his words, he quickly tried to make amends by claiming, “Don’t
get me wrong, we have Alims on our advisory board. However, one only has to
do a little research to find out that UMAA has only one Alim on their board,
Maulana Mostapha Qazwini, and we should point out that he is from
California, whereas the meetings and work for the convention is done and
held in the New York/Washington/Maryland area. He has little say in the
affairs of UMAA and serves as a figurehead, only to allow UMAA
administrators to claim that they have the backing of an Alim when
questioned about their religious legitimacy.
Many people have linked the convention last year to a literal “meat market,”
the likes of ICNA and ISNA events. Last year many people were appalled at
the show of indecency by the women and asked the organizers to request that
the women observe hijab. The response they were given was that “this isn’t
a religious event but a social one.” As a result of the convention being a
“social event,” Islamic laws are not practiced or upheld and “mingling” and
casual “get-to-know sessions” are encouraged. This year UMAA will be the
host to the "See and Be Seen" workshops headed by a Toronto Matrimonial
website. We would like to pose a question… we always thought that Islam was
not a religion but a way of life, is UMAA trying to preach something
It appalls us that people such a Daniel Pipes are in support of the
organization. Need we remind you that Pipes thinks that all Muslims are
potential terrorists. Jewish organizations are also coming out in support
of UMAA. The Israel-News Today, published by the United Jerusalem
Foundation, iterates its support for American Muslim Congress and United
Muslims Association of America (UMAA). Why would a Jewish group support a
Muslim event? Unless, of course, it benefited them…
Local Alims in New York City along with Alims such as Hujjat al Islam Sayyad
Muhammad Rizvi (Toronto, CA), Hujjat al Islam Hassan Qazwini (Dearborne,
MI), and Hujjat al Islam Shamshad Haider all have asked that people boycott
the convention due to the many ills associated with such an organization.
If Shias attend the UMAA Convention, the organizers will use the number to
legitimize issuing statements that represent only their views and their
stance on issues. For example, the recent article written by Shaukat Jafri,
called for the assassination of Al Sadr in Iraq. Please see link for the
full story: http://www.nationalr...00404160940.asp
Mind you, at the bottom of the article, Jafri identified himself as a
spokesperson for UMAA. When questioned, UMAA claimed that the article does
not represent their organization yet failed to issue a statement distancing
themselves from it.
We need to send a clear message to the UMAA administrators that their
obvious misrepresentation of our religion will not be tolerated. They claim
to represent all Shias in the United States; however, their organization
caters to the ideologies of a select few.
We bring you this information, not to taint the image of UMAA, but to inform
you of the profound ways in which the Shia name is being trampled upon by
these so-called representatives of Shias in America. We would like to
remind you that members of this group aligned themselves with UMAA when it
first came out last year and supported it by attending the convention and
volunteering to help promote it and make it successful. However, we are not
deaf, dumb, or blind. UMAA is a disease waiting to infect the real Shia
cause in the United States.
This email is being sent to over 200 Shias that attended the 2003 UMAA
Convention in Washington D.C. To add others to this list, please email us
their address and we will send them our emails.
Message from Maulana Shamshad Haider, resident Alim at MOMIN Center in
Brothers and Sisters
I have been repeatedly asked on the email as well as by phone about
the UMAA convention. For those who would want to know, I have to
say the following:
This convention is organized by the supporters of the current US
administration from our Shia community. Others who are involved either
do not have any understanding of Islamic politics or want to fool
The organizers had contacted me this year also, and I advised them
to close down this convention because they do not have any political
mandate from the Shia community to show support for this administration.
They invited Paul Wolfowtz the architect of the Iraq war to their convention
There are elements within the Shia community who have a certain dislike for
the Islamic revolution, Imam Khomeini or Islamic government in Iran. Such
people are usually supported by the western governments to win the hearts of
the liberals within the Shia Muslim community in the West.
If such elements are not flushed out, they will become a menace for our
community that will mislead many more.
Allah (swt) is the Guardian of the believers.
Islamic Scholar in Residence
Islamic Center of MOMIN
Edited by HasanR, 28 May 2004 - 06:04 AM.