This is what the sanctioning of Al-Mustafa University really means for the Muslim community

Based on a lecture by Shaykh Usama Abdulghani

The Trump administration has made yet another blunder in early December 2020 by sanctioning the Al-Mustafa International University in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

It is important to dissect what this really means and what the responsibilities of Muslims are in this situation. Many Islamic scholars have graduated from this university and these sanctions affect more than just those who are interested in studying at this university in the future. According to the American Muslim Bar Association (AMBA), the FBI will also be interrogating former Al Mustafa students living in America.

In recent history, the FBI arrested Syed Muzzamil Zaidi and Syed Asim Naqvi. The kids of allegations that were thrown at these men made them seem like boogie men. This is the FBI’s normal technique of approaching their targets.

But they also took a more aggressive and intimidating approach. They would show up at a house with 20 cars and break down its door with a battering ram. They even came to people’s places of work, some people lost their jobs, others became terrified of this whole situation without having anything to do with these cases. 

So it is important to ask, why does the FBI single out the Shia community? What are their goals? 

The FBI’s goals

In the first case, their purpose was to “test the waters.” The FBI wanted to see how the Shia community would react if they approached them with violence. It is important for them to know the response of the Shia community as it would direct the rest of their actions. This is why Muslims should calculate their reactions very well as others would be impacted by them as well.

Their second goal was to intimidate and terrorize the Muslims, particularly the Shia Muslims. Instead of showing a warrant and taking people to the court, the FBI would approach these unarmed individuals with tanks and rifles. The only reason for this is to intimidate and terrify the Muslims.

Their third aim was to directly attack the liberties of the Shia community. The FBI is trying to make a legal precedent so that they can’t pay their Khums in America. Those who were arrested simply became an excuse, but all of this was really an attack on the institution of Khums. 

The FBI, however, didn’t stop at being bullies and thugs. They went after the Islamic seminary, the hawza, and this was no small step. America has not only attempted to stop Muslims from paying Khums, but they have also taken a step to prevent the Muslims’ ability to learn and grow. They want to become everyone’s “thought police.”

Like the Pharaoh, the FBI wants to teach people that they can’t think without their permission. 

The Pharaoh made the above comment to the sorcerers who tried to compete with Prophet Musa (a). After these sorcerers witnessed the truth, they started to believe Prophet Musa’s message and this made the Pharaoh extremely furious. The Pharaoh believed that everyone had to take his permission to even think, let alone follow someone else. Is this any different from the events that are taking place in America today? 

In this story, the Pharaoh tried to challenge Prophet Musa (a), but he was the one to lose in the end. Similarly, the FBI is trying to create fear in the hearts of the Muslims and suppress them, but Allah will use them to fulfill His plan for the Muslims. 

How a believer should react in such situations

This was a blunder by the Trump administration and a miscalculation by the FBI. Allah says in the Qur’an:

God has also promised us on the words of His Prophets: Truly Allah assists His religion with wicked people. They’re planning one thing, but you’d be surprised at how Allah moulds this into something that benefits the Muslims.

God will use people, who have chosen to become the enemies of the Muslims, to advance His deed. But the Muslims can’t remain passive because of this. God will not look kindly at a nation who wants to be like the Bani Israeel — People who make excuses upon excuses instead of following their leader and performing their responsibilities. 

The brothers and sisters, who choose to return from hawza studies to America, may decide to open a hawza system in America itself and benefit more people. What could be better than that?

Martyr Qasem Soleimani says that the amount of opportunity that exists in a crisis does not exist in the opportunity itself, provided that you’re not afraid. 

Imam Ali (a) describes a person who has taqwa as someone who amidst earthquakes is tranquil.

The Mo’min is tranquil and simply tries to understand which doors Allah is opening and what the opportunity is, as he/she trusts that Allah assists His religion no matter what the situation. The Mo’min seeks out their responsibility instead of panicking. 

Shaytan only threatens his friends. He can’t threaten the Mo’min because the Mo’min only fears God. In the midst of this trial, if one is looking for guidance, Allah says in the Qur’an:

So what should one do with such an opportunity? They have to help their fellow believers dispel the notion that Shia Muslims, or Muslims generally, are “second class citizens.” The FBI themselves say that the real threats are the white nationalists, right wing extremists.

“Among DVEs, racially and ethnically motivated violent extremists— specifically white supremacist extremists (WSEs) — will remain the most persistent and lethal threat in the Homeland.”

— Homeland Threat Assessment report (October 2020)

They know that that ordinary Muslims are no threat, they know who the real threat is. They also know the role of the US administration in the creation of Daesh (ISIS) and other extremist groups, and they don’t have a problem with the Saudi coalition bombing innocent people in Yemen, or Palestinians being occupied by israel either. It’s not that they don’t know who the terrorists are, but that they choose to pick on the Muslims because sometimes even Muslims consider themselves as second-class citizens. They put their heads down and tell themselves that if they remain quiet and do as they say, maybe they’ll let us go. 

Muslims truly need to educate themselves and others on legal matters, as the FBI has been targeting Muslims for quite some time. You should never speak to an FBI agent without a lawyer. This is your right. They go up in their ranks when they bust someone, they don’t want to prove your innocence.

You also can’t back down from Islam. Once you say that there is no God but Allah, you can’t ignore those who are oppressed in the world. You can’t back down from Yemen, Syria, Palestine, from the oppressed in America. They can’t force you to make your religion the way the tyrant in France wants to. To believe in God means that you have social and political obligations, and Muslims can’t back down from that. 

Full lecture:

The author of this article accepts that she has not expressed any of her personal views in this piece. The perspective reflected in this article is based on the lecture presented by Shaykh Usama Abdulghani called: The Good Life | Unbelievable Opportunity in Times of Crisis, published by the Light of Guidance on YouTube. Please report any errors directly to the editors at

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