by Leonard Getz (April 2021)
Several men entering the mosque in Philadelphia, Special Collections
Research Center, Temple University Libraries, 1973
Qasim Rashad, the Amir of the United Muslim Masjid in South Philadelphia confirmed what many observers over the years have suspected, that the mosque’s goal is to create and sustain a “Muslim only” enclave just blocks away from City Hall.
Mr. Rashad was the guest speaker on a recent Council on American-Islamic Relations-Philadelphia sponsored webinar. He made it clear “the Muslims took these buildings over” and expressed disappointment that part of the neighborhood has become gentrified. He spoke with reverence for the mosque’s financial backer, legendary musician Kenny Gamble a.k.a. Luqman Abdul Haqq who, through his Universal Companies, owns many properties in the neighborhood including the building on the corner of 15th and Christian streets where the United Muslim Masjid has operated since 1994. Gamble didn’t hide his intention when he purchased these properties. “We are not just here for Universal; we are down here for Islam.” Lately Gamble has been in embroiled in charges of bribery and the FBI is looking into Kenny’s Universal Properties role in charges of corruption against Councilman Kenyatta Johnson.
Rashad boasted about his membership in the American Muslim Council in Washington DC and his friendship with its founder Abdulrahman Alamoudi who, Rashad admitted, got “caught up in Homeland Security issues.” Indeed, Alamoudi was sentenced to 23 years in prison in 2004 for planning to assassinate King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. He also raised money for al-Qaeda through the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development which was convicted of raising funds for Hamas. Alamoudi also expressed remorse that the 1998 US Embassy bombing in Kenya and Tanzania did not kill any Americans.
Rashad explained that the American Muslim Council was the forerunner to the Muslim Alliance in North America or MANA. Rashad knew the leader of MANA, Jamil -al-Amin or H. Rap Brown of the Black Panthers who said “if America don’t come around we’re gonna burn it down.” Currently, Brown is in prison for murdering a Georgia sheriff.
Rashad is proud that MANA’s first two meetings were held at the United Muslim Majid. Kenny Gamble sits on the board of MANA along with Siraj Wahhaj, a co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Rashad admitted that gun violence is a problem in Philadelphia and that many perpetrators and victims are Muslim even during the holy month of Ramadan, a time for Muslim reflection and prayer. But he seemed oblivious to the possibility that UMM may be responsible for fostering gun violence. In an effort to attract youth to UMM Rashid said he “gives them want they want,” and what the youth want is target practice. UMM also runs the Jawala Scout camps where Muslim youth engage in firearms training, hand-to-hand combat and wear paramilitary uniforms. One young man on the webinar attended the Jawala Scouts camp and said he “learned a lot about Islam” at the camp.
Rashad said that “Muslims are the best among mankind” especially with their commitment to social justice which, he said is “part of our DNA.” By way of example of social justice advocates he pointed to CAIR, Bobby Seale, the Black Panther party and the Nation of Islam, though admitted that the NOI has a “different perspective on non-violence.”
CAIR was founded by members of the terrorist organization Hamas at a meeting that took place in Philadelphia. CAIR is an unindicted co-conspirator in the federal case against the Holy Land Foundation, convicted of raising money in the United States for Hamas.
Bobby-Seale was one of the founders of the Black Panthers a political organization that had a history of violent confrontation with police.
Both The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League declared the Nation Of Islam a hate group espousing deep racist, anti-Semitic and anti-gay leanings.
Rashad went on to say that Islam is better than Christianity because their Iftar meals take place every day for a month while Christmas was only one day. He is also looking into changing the name of “Christian Street” to “Muslim Way.”
The Muslim enclave in Philadelphia is thought to be the most successful in America. Gamble is also making inroads in Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles. The question is, why are many Muslim neighborhoods quartering themselves off from the rest of society? One of the goals of MANA is to “Promote Islamic unity and tolerance between Muslims . . . within the wide-path of Shari’ah.” Shari’ah law includes controlling an individual’s relationship with its neighbors. According to the National Center for Constitutional law Shari’ah is incompatible with the United States constitution.
While on the surface Gamble’s ridding the south Philadelphia neighborhood of its blight may be commendable its ulterior purpose of setting itself apart from the community in order to follow the dictates of MANA and Shari’ah law is a worrisome proposition and should be a warning sign to the people of Philadelphia.
Len Getz is the Philadelphia Associate with the Counter-Islamist Grid, a project of the Middle East Forum. He’s also the author of the film book From Broadway To The Bowery.
Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast