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Caught in the Act? Akbar Ahmed, the ‘Islamization of Knowledge,’ and the Muslim Brotherhood

Last year, the American University professor falsely claimed the Founders admired Islam, a statement that fits the mission of an MB-associated group he has a 30-year relationship with: Islamization of Knowledge. (Which he strangely omitted from his AU bio. Hmm.)

by
Laura Rubenfeld

Bio

February 21, 2011 - 12:00 am

Per Ismail Faruqi Online, al-Faruqi advocated a “radical Islamization of new knowledge.” According to al-Faruqi’s Islamization of Knowledge: General Principles and Work Plan, (IIIT 1987):

The great task … is to recast the whole legacy of human knowledge from the view point of Islam.… To recast knowledge in the mold of Islam relates to the Islamic vision. It is necessary to Islamize knowledge, i.e. to redefine and re-order the data, to rethink the reasoning and relate the data, to reevaluate the conclusions, to re-project the goals and to do so in such a way as to make the disciplines enrich the vision and serve the cause of Islam.

Note that al-Faruqi says that human knowledge should be “recasted,” not to serve the cause of truth or science, but “to serve the cause of Islam.”

The Islamization of knowledge movement applies its efforts to university textbooks and lectures, and to articles published in journals such as the American Journal of Islamic Social Scientists (AJISS). Ismail al-Faruqi wrote that “Islamizing knowledge [is] to Islamize the disciplines, or better, to produce university level textbooks recasting some twenty disciplines in accordance with the Islamic vision.”

Professor Akbar Ahmed is recognized as a leading authority in the Islamization of knowledge movement. At IIIT’s 3rd International Conference of Islamization of Knowledge in Malaysia in 1984, Ahmed presented a preliminary version of Toward Islamic Anthropology: Definitions, Dogma, and Directions, which was ultimately published by the IIIT in 1986. In an excerpt (on page 207) from a book Ahmed wrote in 1988, Discovering Islam: Making Sense of Muslim History and Society, Ahmed writes how he met al-Faruqi in 1980, the year in which al-Faruqi founded IIIT, and was encouraged by him to write about the Islamization of knowledge:

I first met [al-Faruqi] when I was invited to the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton in 1980. At our first meeting his warmth, sense of humour and moral earnestness impressed me … he wishing to persuade me to join him in the “Islamization of Knowledge” by writing on Islamic anthropology for the Institute, I arguing that I was not yet equipped for it. … For the next few years our arguments would continue. In the end he prevailed. My book, Towards Islamic Anthropology, one of the first in the series, was published about the time of his death.

Al-Faruqi writes the foreword to Toward Islamic Anthropology. In it he praises Akbar Ahmed’s work as being “the first in a series” designed to “prepare that discipline for re-establishment on Islamic foundations”:

This [Akbar Ahmed’s book] is the first of a series of works which the International Institute of Islamic Thought presents to the reader in fulfillment of its program for the Islamization of the sciences. This program, conceived and crystallized in a number of symposia on the subject, consists of twelve steps designed to effect the necessary Islamization in the various disciplines of human knowledge. Some of these steps seek to survey and evaluate modern Western accomplishments. Others do the same for the legacy of Muslim learning. The purpose is to reach full mastery of the “state of the art” in each discipline, and to prepare that discipline for re-establishment on Islamic foundations.

During a 2001 event, IIIT co-founder and Muslim Brotherhood member Dr. Jamal Barzinji introduced Professor Ahmed as the “first to contribute to IIIT’s emphasis on ‘Islamization of Knowledge’” through Toward Islamic Anthropology.

The book continues to be listed on the IIIT website today as one of its publications. Yet this work is not mentioned in Ahmed’s American University website CV and bio. The omission is particularly glaring given that anthropology is the field in which Ahmed holds his doctorate.

Professor Ahmed’s CV notes that he has been a member of the Board of Trustees at the Graduate School of Islamic & Social Sciences (GSISS) since 2002. Ahmed fails to mention the fact that he was in fact a member of the faculty of this organization prior to 2002, when GSISS was known as the Islamic Institute of Advanced Studies, which was raided in 2002 for suspected terrorism financing, money laundering, tax evasion and ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

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