College-level religious education program through which students can obtain a bachelor's degree in Islamic Studies
Course curriculum is characterized by extremism, anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial, and the preaching of militaristic jihad
All six of Al-Maghrib’s instructors hold degrees from Saudi institutions controlled by Wahhabi extremism
Established in 2002 by Muhammad Alshareef, the Michigan-based Al-Maghrib Institute offers a college-level religious education program whose mission is to help its students “gain a deeper understanding of Islam” and become “better Muslims” by moving their hearts “closer to Allah.” In addition to its Bachelor’s Degree Program in Islamic Studies, Al-Maghrib also confers certificates in Islamic Theology and Ethics; Islamic Law and Legal Theory; Qur’ânic and Ḥadîth Sciences; and Islamic History and Homiletics. The Institute has taught over 80,000 students since its inception and currently has chapters in more than 40 cities across North America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Australia.
Al-Maghrib’s Islamic Studies courses are accredited by American Open University, under the authority of Al-Azhar University in Cairo—the world's largest Sunni institution of higher learning. The required reading lists for the Al-Maghrib program have been dominated by the works of Muslim Brotherhood and Wahhabi theorists like Sayyid Qutb and Sayyid Sabiq. Also prominent have been the writings of Bilal Philips, a radical preacher who condones suicide bombings and forced Islamic marriages for pre-pubescent girls. Other Al-Maghrib courses rely heavily on commentaries by the thirteenth-century theologian Ibn Taymiyyah and the eighteenth-century Wahhabi sect founder Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab. According to national-security and terrorism expert Patrick Poole, Al-Maghrib is well known for its “Wahhabi-influenced extremism, rabid anti-Semitism and Holocaust denials, and militaristic preaching of jihad.”
As of August 2015, Al-Maghrib’s faculty consisted of 19 instructors, many of whom had earned degrees from Saudi Wahhabi institutions. Some examples:
Muhammad Alshareef, Al-Maghrib's founder and current president, holds a degree in Sharia Law from the Islamic University of Medina, which Saudi Arabia's ruling family established in 1961 to promote the spread of Wahhabism across the world. Alshareef maintains that the international media are controlled by Jews and thus are biased against Islam, and that Muslims should never marry, befriend, or imitate Jews or Christians under any circumstances. His father was an associate of Ahmed Said Khadr—a leading al Qaeda financier and a close personal associate of Osama bin Laden.
Yaser Birjas is a Palestinian who graduated from the Islamic University of Medina in 1996. In 2005 he was arrested and detained by U.S. authorities, due to problems with his immigration visa.
Yasir Qadhi also graduated from the Islamic University of Medina. He is a Holocaust denier who, in a 2001 lecture, recommended the book The Hoax of the Holocaust and claimed that “Hitler never intended to mass-destroy the Jews.” Further, Qadhi has drawn from the anti-Semitic forgery, Protocols of the Elders of Zion, to explain that Jews are not racially Semitic and therefore have no right to make a claim on the Holy Land. And in August 2006 Qadhi revealed that he was on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's terrorist watch list.
Mohammed Faqih obtained his bachelor's degree from the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in Fairfax, Virginia, and then earned a degree in Koran Recitation and Memorization from the King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. This latter school was Osama bin Laden’s alma mater and served as a haven for Muslim Brotherhood teachers who fled persecution from President Nasser’s government in Egypt during the 1950s and '60s.
Waleed Basyouni obtained both a bachelor's degree and a master's degree at the Al-Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University in Saudi Arabia, where he studied under the Wahhabite ideologist Sheikh Abdelaziz bin Baz.
A noteworthy former instructor at Al-Maghrib was Ashraf Ismail, who believes that “Allah will make His religion victorious … [and] the preeminent way of life in the entire world,” and that Hamas and Hezbollah are agents of “grassroots rebellions” rather than terrorist organizations.
Apart from their teaching duties, a number of Al-Maghrib instructors appear regularly on Islamic television networks and are in high demand as motivational speakers at Muslim events all over the world. The Institute is also actively engaged with many campus chapters of the Muslim Students’ Association of the U.S. and Canada.
During 2006-08, Al-Maghrib had a media arm called Ilmquest Productions, which published and marketed DVDs and CDs featuring not only Institute-affiliated scholars, but also many other extremists such as Bilal Philips, Khalid Yasin, and the Yemeni al Qaeda cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki. In February 2006, Al-Maghrib and Ilmquest co-sponsored a “Leaders of Tomorrow” conference hosted by the Muslim Students Association of Ohio State University. Additional co-sponsors included Kindhearts and its local parent organization, Masjid Omar Ibn El-Khattab, a mosque that was home to the largest known, post-9/11 al Qaeda cell in the U.S.