October 3, 2011 Special Dispatch No. 4177

U.S. Islamic Group IONA's Nurturing Of Al-Qaeda's Samir Khan Connected to Tanzeem-E-Islami Pakistan

October 3, 2011
Special Dispatch No. 4177

Samir Khan of Al-Qaeda in Yemen and of North Carolina

On September 30, 2011, U.S. media reported that Samir Khan, a 25-year-old member of the editorial team of Al-Qaeda's online English-language magazine Inspire, had beem killed in a U.S. drone attack in Yemen, along with Anwar al-Awlaki.[1] In August 2001, Samir Khan (pictured above) attended a weeklong religious camp in New York; the camp had links to the Tanzeem-e-Islami Pakistan, an organization that campaigns for the establishment of the Islamic caliphate and requires every Muslim to work for the enforcement of the ascendancy of Islam and the Koran and Sunnah (deeds and sayings of Prophet Muhammad).

According to an October 15, 2007 report published on the website of The New York Times,[2] "[Growing up in North Carolina, the Saudi-born Samir Khan] mirrored his teenage peers, from their slang to their baggy pants, until August 2001 when, at age 15, he said, he attended a weeklong summer camp at a mosque in Queens, which was sponsored by a fundamentalist but nonviolent group now known as the Islamic Organization of North America (IONA).

"'They were teaching things about religion and brotherhood that captivated me,' Mr. Khan said. He said he went back to school knowing 'what I wanted to do with my life: be a firm Muslim, a strong Muslim, a practicing Muslim.'"

The IONA is an Islamic revivalist organization owing its allegiance to Dr. Israr Ahmad (1932-2010) – a Pakistani Islamic scholar who founded the Tanzeem-e-Islami Pakistan, or the Islamic Organization of Pakistan. The Tanzeem-e-Islami Pakistan runs several religious organizations in many parts of the world, including the Markazi Anjuman Khuddam-ul-Quran in Lahore.

IONA Website: "Israr Ahmad Resigned from the Jama'at-e-Islami… Because of Its Involvement in the Electoral Politics"

The website of the Islamic Organization of North America (IONA) gives the following details about its "background:"[3]

"As expounded by the founder of Tanzeem-e-Islami, Dr. Israr Ahmad. Though many Islamic organizations and groups are working to bring Islam to mankind, Dr. Israr Ahmad has understood the importance of judiciously studying the Qur'an as the basis, and propagating it into today's idiom.

"For the last forty years or so, Dr. Israr Ahmad has been actively engaged not only in reviving the Qur'an-centered Islamic perennial philosophy and world-view, but also reforming the society in a practical way with the ultimate objective of establishing a Just Islamic Order on earth. Dr. Israr Ahmad believes in a dynamic and revolutionary concept of Islam, and in this regard he is a disciple of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad [who went on to become India's first education minister and opposed the creation of Pakistan] and Maulana Sayyid Abul A'la Maududi [who founded the Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan].

"The second son of a government servant, Dr. Israr graduated as a medical doctor from King Edward Medical College (Lahore) in 1954 and later received his masters in Islamic Studies from the University of Karachi in 1965. He came under the influence of Allama Iqbal [the founder Islamist national poet of Pakistan] and Maulana Abul A'la Maududi as a young student, worked briefly for Muslim Student's Federation in the Independence Movement [against the British rule in India] and, following the creation of Pakistan in 1947, joined the Islami Jami'at-e-Talaba [student wing of Jama'at-e-Islami Pakistan] and then the Jama'at-e-Islami, Pakistan.

"Dr. Israr Ahmad resigned from the Jama'at-e-Islami in April 1957 because of its involvement in the electoral politics, which he believed was irreconcilable with the revolutionary methodology adopted by the Jama'at in the pre-1947 period. After resigning from the Jama'at, Dr. Israr continued to give Qur'anic lectures in different cities of Pakistan, and especially after 1965 he invested the better part of his physical and intellectual abilities in the learning and teaching of the Qur'anic wisdom."

"[IONA] Became Independent from Tanzeem-e-Islami Pakistan; It is Now Known as the Islamic Organization of North America (Al-Tanzeem Al-Islami Amrika Al-Shamaliah)"

The IONA website relates the following about its background:[4]

"Dr. Israr Ahmad wrote, 'Islamic Renaissance – The Real Task Ahead,' an extremely significant tract in 1967 in which he explained his basic thought – that an Islamic Renaissance is possible only by means of revitalizing the Iman (true faith and conviction) among the Muslims, particularly their intelligentsia. The revitalization of Iman, in turn, is possible only by the propagation of the Qur'anic teachings and presenting the everlasting wisdom of the Book of Allah (SWT) in contemporary idiom and at the highest level of scholarship.

"This undertaking is essential in order to remove the existing dichotomy between modern physical and social sciences on the one hand and the knowledge revealed by the Almighty Allah (SWT) on the other.

"Dr. Israr Ahmad gave up his medical practice in 1971 in order to launch a full-fledged and vigorous movement for the revival of Islam. As a result of his efforts, the Markazi Anjuman Khuddam-ul-Qur'an Lahore (Society of the Servants of Al-Qur'an) was established in 1972, Tanzeem-e-Islami (Islamic Organization) was founded in 1975, and Tahreek-e-Khilafat Pakistan (Khilafah Movement) was launched in 1991. In 1993, Dr. Israr Ahmad established Tanzeem-e-Islami North America, or T.I.N.A., of which he was the Ameer [i.e. Emir] until 2003. In that year, he appointed Br. Mustapha Elturk to head this organization. In accordance with his wishes, T.I.N.A. became independent from Tanzeem-e-Islami Pakistan with this change in its top leadership. It is now known as the Islamic Organization of North America (Al-Tanzeem Al-Islami Amrika Al-Shamaliah) or IONA.

"As the prophet of Islam, Muhammad (SAW) worked tirelessly to establish justice for mankind through obedience to the absolute Deity. IONA is dedicated to the task of awakening the Muslims in North America in particular and non-Muslims in general to a balanced life offered by Islam through the Qur'an and Sunnah. Moreover, IONA is dedicated to reviving the Qur'an into the hearts of Muslims, whereby the Qur'an is the source of revitalizing one's Iman, in order to fulfill the obligation of making Allah's Deen supreme in all spheres of human life, both private and public."

From the MEMRI Archives: Dr. Israr Ahmad – "The First And Foremost Basic Difference [from a Secular State] is That Sovereignty will Belong to Allah… Expressed in the Unconditional and Complete Supremacy of the Koran"

Tanzeem-e-Islami founder Dr. Israr Ahmad

In June 2010, MEMRI published a translation of excerpts from a landmark booklet written by Dr. Israr Ahmad, outlining his vision of establishing the Islamic caliphate. Written in Urdu, the booklet "Pakistan Mein Nizam-e-Khilafat: Kia, Kyon, Kaise?" (The System of Caliphate in Pakistan – What, Why, and How?) is one of scores of such books the founder of Tanzeem-e-Islami Pakistan wrote to propagate his vision of Islamic caliphate.

The following are excerpts:[5]

"What would be the constitutional sketch of a modern ideal Islamic state? Or in other words, what shape would the Islamic system of Caliphate, state, and politics take practically? Philosophical and ideological debates aside, what the author can positively say on the basis of his study and contemplation is that it will be the most democratic state of modern times, and will have only two fundamental differences with the secular democratic state based on [territorial] nationalism:

i) "Sovereignty of Allah

"The first and foremost basic difference is that sovereignty will belong to Allah. That will be expressed in the unconditional and complete supremacy of the Koran and the Sunnah over the system and the law. This supremacy will obviously be asserted in the constitution as the basis of the state's existence. So the state will be based not on the sovereignty of man but his servitude to god.

ii) "Islamic Citizenship

"The second major difference, which is also a logical deduction from the principle discussed above, is that full citizenship will not be awarded to all the people living within its geographical boundaries, but only to those among them who will announce their belief in Allah and Mohammad as his final prophet. Non-Muslims will be a protected minority whose life, wealth, and honor will be protected and who will enjoy guaranteed freedom in their beliefs, religious activities, family laws, and complete personal law. And their sacred places will be as safe as mosques are. But as law-making in an Islamic state or caliphate will be within the boundaries of the Koran and the Sunnah, and the purpose of the Caliphate will be the expansion and completion of the Prophet's mission, the non-Muslims will not be a part of law-making or of higher order policy or strategy development…"

Dr. Israr Ahmad: "As Far As the Participation of Women in This Plan is Concerned, It is Very Clear That No Women can Ever Be a Caliph; [Non-Muslims] will Not Be Allowed to Vote or Run for Seats in Elections"

Dr. Israr Ahmad wrote further about the status of women and non-Muslims in an Islamic caliphate, observing:[6]

"Participation of Women

"As far as the participation of women in this plan is concerned, it is very clear that no women can ever be a caliph. Though it is not Haram (status of the acts that are strictly forbidden e.g. murder) but it has not been liked. As we have said earlier, they will vote as far as candidature is concerned; it is between these two limits. They can become a member of a consultative assembly yet in proper dress with faces in veils.

"Status of Non-Muslims

"The principled stance has already been stated that they will not be allowed to vote or run for seats in elections of a law-making assembly, yet a common consultative assembly of all minorities or a separate board for every minority will be established through an election among them that will advise government about the issues related to them. This condition is in every way against the modern norms yet we have to bear with it if we have to make an ideal modern state."

Tanzeem-E-Islami Pakistan: "The Practice of Da'wah and Reform Should Extend from an Individual to His Family, His Kith And Kin, And Then Gradually to His Surroundings…"

The website of Tanzeem-e-Islami Pakistan states in its mission statement:[7]

"In our opinion the addressee of Deen [complete way of life, not merely religion] is an individual. To provide his moral and spiritual fulfillment and salvation are the main objective of Deen, and the proposed collectivity is required chiefly for the purpose that it may help an individual in achieving his goal, that is to seek the pleasure of Allah.

"Therefore the nature of the envisaged collectivity [i.e. the Islamic community] should be such that it may have due consideration for the religious and moral training of an individual, and special arrangement should be made so that the religious sentiments of the participants can be awakened and there can be a continuous increase in their knowledge. Their beliefs should be corrected and purified; they should become more and more inclined towards prayers and in following the Sunnah.

"In their practical lives, they should become more and more sensitive about the lawful and the prohibited and their actions should be based on piety. Their concern and passion for the invitation and propagation of Deen and for its domination and establishment should increase with the passage of time. In addition to the intellectual and educational guidance in these matters, it is imperative to pay particular attention to provide practical training and effective [and pious] companionship.

"With regard to the Da'wah [preaching of Islam], we consider it necessary that the spirit of Al-Deen Al-Naseeha (Deen is loyalty and sincerity toward each other) and the gradation of Al-Aqrabo Fal-Aqrab (one who is nearer should be given priority) be maintained. Therefore, the practice of Da'wah and reform should extend from an individual to his family, his kith and kin, and then gradually to his surroundings. In this context, it is imperative to make special effort to provide religious teaching and training to the new generation.

"In regard to the collective responsibility of the Ummah [the global Islamic community] concerning the work of Da'wah and propagation among the masses, we consider that the most important task is to counteract the false beliefs and customs of the period of ignorance (that are still prevalent today) and to effectively refute the misleading thoughts and philosophy of the modern times. Moreover the guidance given by the Book (Qur'an) and Sunnah concerning the various aspects of human life should be explained in clear terms so that their real wisdom and rational worth can be made clear, and the doubts in the minds of the people of the present times may be removed."

Tanzeem-E-Islami Pakistan: "The Struggle to Establish Unqualified And Unconditional Ascendancy of the Holy Qur'an And the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (SAAWS) is Obligatory Upon All Members of the Muslim Ummah"

The website of Tanzeem-e-Islami Pakistan relates the following on its "About Us" page:[8]

"The essence of true and authentic Islamic thought consists of the idea that it is not enough to practice Islam in the personal life only, but that the teachings of the Quran and those of the Sunnah need also be implemented in their totality in the social, economic, and political fields.

"In other words, it implies the establishment of the sovereignty of Almighty Allah (SWT) in the 'religious' as well as the 'secular' domains, or the removal of the dichotomy between collective life and state authority on the one hand and Divine guidance on the other.

"The underlying and pervasive idea in this context, which is also an integral part of the Islamic Revolutionary Thought, is that the struggle to establish unqualified and unconditional ascendancy of the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (SAAWS) is obligatory upon all members of the Muslim Ummah. The goal of this struggle is to achieve the domination of the True way of life (Deen al-Haq), so that the Islamic System of Social Justice – which is the most balanced synthesis of human freedom, fraternity, and equality, and which embodies the Divine attributes of Benevolence, Providence, and Justice - can be established on God's earth."

Tanzeem-E-Islami Pakistan: "[A Muslim] is Required to Try His Utmost to Establish the Ascendancy of Islam Over All Man-Made Systems of Life"

The Tanzeem-e-Islami Pakistan outlines the obligations of a Muslim as:[9]

"The obligations of a Muslim as ordained by the Qur'an and Sunnah can be understood as having four levels:

i) "A Muslim is required to develop real faith and conviction (Iman) in his heart;

ii) "He is required to live a life of total obedience to the injunctions of the Shari'ah;

iii) "He is required to propagate and disseminate the message of Islam to the entire Humanity;

iv) "And he is required to try his utmost to establish the ascendancy of Islam over all man-made systems of life.

"The objective of establishing Tanzeem-e-Islami is to assist the Muslims in carrying out these obligations. The ultimate goal is to seek Allah's pleasure and salvation in the Hereafter."

Tanzeem-E-Islami Pakistan: "The Goal of Establishing the Domination of Islam Can Be Achieved Only By Following the Methodology of Prophet Muhammad"

The website of the Tanzeem-e-Islami Pakistan outlines the methodology to be adopted by a Muslim in his duty of establishing an Islamic caliphate.[10]

"Indeed, there are a number of parties and groups working throughout the Muslim world with the aim of bringing about an Islamic Revolution, or establishing an ideal Islamic state. The crucial point at which most of them differ is the methodology of the struggle. Some have taken the path of electoral politics; others have restricted themselves to the domain of educational and missionary work; some have been engaged in armed or even terrorist activities. So far, however, no group or party has achieved any noteworthy success.

"We firmly believe that the theoretical and the practical guidance for reforming and revitalizing the Muslim Ummah, and specifically the correct methodology for bringing about an Islamic Revolution, can only be derived from the Seerah [the deeds] of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and not from any other source. [Islamic jurist] Imam Malik (RA) has said that the latter part of this community will not be reformed except by following the same process through which its initial part [during the times of Prophet Muhammad] was reformed.

"This means that the goal of establishing the domination of Islam can be achieved only by following the methodology of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), keeping in view the present-day conditions, and for this we must study the life of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and the manner of his struggle in detail. He called people towards Islam, organized those who responded to his call, trained them in discipline and spiritual purification, made them pass through the stage of passive resistance in Mecca when they were not allowed to retaliate even in self-defense; it was only after the number [of Muslims] was sufficient and a base was available in Medina that he took the initiative and challenged the [tribe of] Quraysh by blocking their trade route.

"The resulting armed conflict passed through many battles and finally led to the defeat of falsehood and the triumph of truth. The same methodology must be adopted today, using all the modern means of communication, dissemination, training, and organization that are available to us."

Methodology Outlined by Tanzeem-E-Islami: "We Shall Move On to the Highest Stage of Nahi Anil-Munkar [Islamic Imperative to Eradicate Evil] And Try to Eradicate Evil Through Force, i.e., By Means of a Popular Resistance Movement"

"[Continuing from the previous paragraph:] The title for this movement shall be nahi anil-munkar, i.e., the Islamic imperative to eradicate everything that is evil, wrong, unjust, or immoral. According to a well-known and oft-quoted tradition of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), there are three levels of this obligation depending on the availability of strength and resources, viz., eradicating evil with one's hand (i.e., with force); eradicating evil with one's tongue (i.e., through persuasion); and eradicating evil with one's heart (i.e., by cultivating personal abhorrence against it). As long as the required strength is not available for us to carry out the highest level of nahi anil-munkar, we must continue to raise our voices against all un-Islamic practices that have become prevalent in Muslim societies.

"We must use all the available resources of mass communication to try and persuade the people in authority to eradicate these un-Islamic practices, and we must fulfill this duty to the best of our ability. However, once we have the necessary strength in terms of the number and training of committed individuals at our disposal, we shall move on to the highest stage of nahi anil-munkar and try to eradicate evil through force, i.e., by means of a popular resistance movement.

"We shall target a particular evil in society, and employ all the contemporary techniques of peaceful and non-violent agitation and civil disobedience to eradicate that evil, including street processions, public rallies, strikes, and sit-ins. We shall not damage any public or private property; we shall not attack anyone under any circumstances, but at the same time we shall be willing to lay down our own lives. Our willingness to sacrifice our own lives for the cause of Islam will be matched only by our firm refusal to hurt anyone or destroy anything."


[1] (U.S.), September 30, 2011. Subsequent reports indicate that Anwar Al-Awlaki might have survived the attack.

[2] (U.S.), October 15, 2007.

[3] (U.S.), accessed October 3, 2011.

[4] (U.S.), accessed October 3, 2011.

[5] See, Views of Pakistani Religious Leader Dr. Israr Ahmed (1932-2010) Regarding the Structure of an Islamic Caliphate, MEMRI Special Dispatches Series No. 3066, June 29, 2010 (Views of Pakistani Religious Leader Dr. Israr Ahmed (1932-2010) Regarding the Structure of an Islamic Caliphate)

[6] See, Views of Pakistani Religious Leader Dr. Israr Ahmed (1932-2010) Regarding the Structure of an Islamic Caliphate, MEMRI Special Dispatches Series No. 3066, June 29, 2010 (Views of Pakistani Religious Leader Dr. Israr Ahmed (1932-2010) Regarding the Structure of an Islamic Caliphate)

[7] (Pakistan), accessed October 3, 2011.

[8] (Pakistan), accessed October 3, 2011.

[9] (Pakistan), accessed October 3, 2011.

[10] (Pakistan), accessed October 3, 2011.

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