Andrew Bostom: Saleha Abedin and The Muslim Sisterhood

By Andrew Bostom:

The extent of Dr. Abedin’s influence on her daughter Huma Abedin’s views and efforts—the latter still a close aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—should long ago have been investigated, clarified, and discussed in the public domain. Where is the mainstream media? Where are our political leaders, other than the wrongfully maligned Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, and Representatives Gohmert, Franks, Westmoreland, and Rooney? The overall silence—punctuated by ignorant and vicious attacks on those few bravely seeking answers, represents a grotesque and dangerous dereliction of duty.


Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, and four other members of Congress—Representatives Gohmert, Franks, Westmoreland, and Rooney—have all expressed legitimate concerns to the State Department  Inspector General (IG; and IGs of the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Justice) regarding policies “enormously favorable to the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and its interests.” The five Representatives, in turn, characterize these policies, more ominously (albeit appropriately) as “deeply problematic,” and even posing overt “…security risks for this nation, its people and interests.”

My colleagues Andrew McCarthy and Diana West have each contributed thoughtful, irrefragable rebuttals to the uninformed attacks on these intrepid Representatives—particularly Congresswoman Bachmann—epitomized by the distressingly ignorant, hypocritical, and scurrilous remarks of “maverick” Senator John McCain. McCain’s non-sequitur, Captain Queeg-like Senate floor diatribe perseverated on his warped reconstruction of Congresswoman Bachmann’s passing query  about the State Department vetting process for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s aide, Huma Abedin.

I share the Congresswoman’s concerns based upon readily available, objective evidence (discussed below), and traditional, long established State Department protocols which screen the background of candidates for such sensitive positions in the diplomatic corps, to avert any potential “foreign influence.”

During a February 2010 speech at Dar Al-Hekma College, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged she visited the college at the behest of her Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin, daughter of Dr. Saleha Abedin, the Vice Dean of Academic Affairs and founding member of the institution. Dr. Abedin’s remarks, elaborated on the pioneering efforts being made by Dar Al-Hekma to collaborate with international educational organizations and programs that might expand opportunities for the Saudi Arabian college’s students and graduates.

So who is Dr. Saleha Abedin? According to World Who’s Who, Saleha Mahmood Abedin (b. 1940), is  a British sociologist, Muslim scholar and academic. She received her PhD from the  University of Pennsylvania in 1977, for a thesis entitled, “Islam and Muslim Fertility: Sociological Dimensions of a Demographic Dilemma.” Dr. Abedin is Director of the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs in London, and Editor-in-Chief of the Institute’s Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs.  She is also a Professor of Sociology at King Abdulaziz University Women’s College, Jeddah, and, as noted, the Founder of Dar Al-Hekma College, Jeddah.

An investigative report by Al Liwa Al Arabi (reported, in part, at Al-Jazeera, and translated via Walid Shoebat) further revealed that Dr. Abedin—Huma’s mother—was an active member of the Muslim Sisterhood—the women’s “component” of the prototype modern (i.e., circa 1928), traditionalist Islamic jihad movement, the Muslim Brotherhood. According to the late (d. 1983) Richard P. Mitchell’s definitive scholarly analysis of the Muslim Brotherhood’s origins, and initial quarter century of development, movement founder Hasan al-Banna,

…made known his concern about the essential role of women in his Islamic reformation, for if reform was to succeed, it must begin with the individual in his family context; the mother was thus a prime instrument of the reformation. Among the first projects was the creation of an “Institute for the Mothers of the Believers” in Ismailiyya. This “school.” In April 1933, became the first official “branch of the Muslim Sisters”…

During a critical juncture in the Muslim Brotherhood’s history—subsequent to al-Banna’s assassination in 1949, and several years later, the aggressive Nasser regime campaign to dismantle the Brotherhood—an heroic female figure in MB lore emerged, Zaynab al-Ghazzali (d. 2005; although technically, despite having pledged herself to al-Banna’s cause shortly before his murder, she remained a member of the MB-independent, “Muslim Ladies Association”). Eventually imprisoned for 6-years in the 1960s, she served a year with thousands of Muslim Brothers, including the seminal MB ideologue Sayyid Qutb, before being sent to the women’s prison. Al-Gahzzali’s autobiographical prison memoir, “Return of the Pharaoh,” elucidates her Weltanschauung. For example, before ultimately separating from her husband, Al-Ghazzali recounts this frank discussion:

I reached an agreement with Hasan al-Banna during the trial of 1948, shortly before he was martyred. I had decided, then, to relinquish the idea of getting married for ever, so that I would devote my entire life to da’wah [proselytizing, to disseminate Islam]. I cannot ask you [i.e., her husband] today to share with me this struggle, but it is my right on you not to stop me from jihad in the way of Allah. Moreover, you should not ask me about my activities with other mujahidin, and let trust be full between us. A full trust between a man and a woman, a woman who, at the age of 18, gave her whole life to Allah and da’wah. In the event of any clash between the marriage contract’s interest and that of da’wah, our marriage will end, but da’wah will always remain rooted in me.

Zaynab al-Ghazzali refused to be broken by her imprisonment under Nasser, and enthusiastically imbibed Qutb’s “revivalist” jihadism—a doctrine that simply recapitulated the classical jurisprudential features of this millennial old, uniquely Islamic institution, and quintessence of the Muslim creed:

The Ikhwan are the same as the Muslim Ladies Group and the da’wah of Allah carries on and the word of truth is upheld forever. Nasir will perish, but the Word of Allah will persist. When our life-terms come to an end, the unjust will surely know what final destiny they are headed for. Allah’s religion will be upheld, and there will always be a group from the Muslim Ummah who will uphold truth, defend our religion, and make Jihad for His sake. This group will not be affected by those who oppose them until Allah establishes His Will. I pray to Allah to be from among those who enjoin truth and forbid falsehood, from those who show the Ummah its way to Allah. For these are the successors of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and it is the people who will revive this religion.

…We had decided, following Sayyid Qutb’s instructions and with the consent of al-Hudaibi [who succeeded al-Banna as the MB’s “Spiritual Guide”], to extend the period of education, training and planting of tawhid [monotheism] in people’s hearts, to thirteen years. This accorded with da’wah’s age in Makkah. The grassroots of the Muslim Ummah in Egypt were members of the Ikhwan who adhered to the Shari’ah of Allah. We were bound to establish all the commands mentioned in the Qur’an and the Sunnah inside our Islamic circle. Obedience was due to our sworn-in.

In a 1981 interview with Valerie Hoffman (published here), Al-Ghazzali stated:

The Brotherhood considers women a fundamental part of the Islamic call. They are the ones who are most active because men have to work. They are the ones who build the kind of men that we need to fill the ranks of the Islamic call. So women must be well educated, cultured, knowing the precepts of the Koran and Sunna, knowing world politics, why we are backward, why we don’t have technology. The Muslim woman must study all these things, and then raise her son in the conviction that he must possess the scientific tools of the age, and at the same time he must understand Islam, politics, geography, and current events … Islam does not forbid women to actively participate in public life … as long as that does not interfere with her first duty as a mother, the one who first trains her children in the Islamic call. So her first, holy, and most important mission is to be a mother and wife. She cannot ignore this priority. If she than finds she has free time, she may participate in public activities … Marriage is a sure Sunna … a mission and a trust in Islam…It is to preserve the human race, establish the family, build the man and the woman, to build the ruler, to bring about righteous government.

Fittingly, when al-Ghazzali was asked what she would do if she came to power she replied that under Islamic rule Muslim women “would retreat to their natural domain as nurturers of the nation’s men.”

Saleha Abedin, and her contemporary cohorts in the Muslim Sisterhood, such as prominent Egyptian MB leader Khairat Al-Shater’s daughter Zahraa, and Naglaa Ali Mahmoud, the wife of Egypt’s newly-elected President, the MB’s Mohammed Morsi, represent the living legacy of Zaynab al-Ghazzali.

But the fulcrum of Saleha Abedin’s own cultural jihadist universe—consistent with being a Muslim Sister—may well be serving as Chairperson of the International Islamic Committee for Women and Child (IICWC), in Amman, Jordan.

A clearly documented report at Legal Insurrection, which simply quotes the IICWC website (in google translator Arabic to English translation of sections from this IICWC post), demonstrates how Dr. Abedin’s organization, as a champion of the Sharia over “manmade law,” vehemently opposes both laws which prohibit child marriage, and bans on the misogynistic barbarity of female genital mutilation (FGM)—an horrific scourge in major Muslim countries such as Arab Egypt, and far flung non-Arab Indonesia, where FGM rates exceed 90% because Shafiite Sunni Islamic jurisprudence predominates in both Muslim countries.

It should be noted such Muslim “jurisprudential logic” is already shared by the US Muslim community. Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA)—Muslim legists in the US who train US imams, advise US Muslims, and are embraced by mainstream, institutional American Islam—also endorses both FGM and child marriage, in logical compliance with the Sharia.

IICWC website pronouncements notwithstanding, a far more comprehensive elaboration of Dr. Abedin’s traditionalist Islamic Weltanschauung—rigidly compliant with the totalitarian Sharia—can be gleaned from her vigorous efforts to assist in translating into English, editing, and publishing the book, Women in Islam: A Discourse in Rights and Obligations

The inner flap of the book cover provides the following “erudite” discussion of author Fatima Umar Naseef’s (b. 1944) bona fides. She is described (quoting verbatim) as

…an accomlished [sic] and renowned scholaar [sic], speaker, academic, educationist and social worker in contemporary Saudi Arabia. She has made outstanding contribution to the advancement of women’s education in the country. As head of the women’s section of King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah for eight years, and as professor of Islamic Shari’ah, and through her popular public lectures, she has inspired a generation of Saudi women. She has also published a number of books and articles on issues relating to Islamic Shari’ah, the position and status of women in society, and on the subject of their rights and Obligations.

On the back cover, Saleha Abedin, who edited and supervised the translation of Naseef’s scholarly oeuvre, adds these observations for context:

The overall objectives of IICWC include the promotion of knowledge regarding women’s issues. It fosters a publication program that is aimed to facilitate the collection as well as dissemination of information on women, family and society. The Committee is, therefore, pleased to launch its Book Series with its very first publication of the translation of the popular and well-received book, Women in Islam: A Discourse in Rights and Obligations, authored by a prominent Saudi scholar, Fatima Umar Naseef.

This book will be of special interest to students and scholars of Islamic law and women’s studies, as well as to that segment of the general public that is interested in women’s issues. It is a comprehensive study of the rights and obligations of women in society from the Islamic perspective, and also provides a comparison with other cultures, while examining the rights and positions of women in those cultures.

What follows are a series of verbatim quotes from Women in Islam. These extracts provide res ipsa loquitur, pellucid illustrations of the traditionalist Islamic views being promulgated without any attempt to mollify, i.e., conceal from Western sensibilities, their bellicosity, liberty-crushing supremacism, and misogyny. I thank the Center for Security Policy (CSP) for this selection of representative extracts, and have simply reproduced the CSP’s arrangement and parenthetical guiding observations, adding some commentary of my own.

Read the rest at Front Page