A black convert to Islam, Ihsan Bagby is an associate professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Kentucky. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, he attended Oberlin College for his undergraduate degree and then earned his Masters and PhD (the latter in 1986, in the field of Near Eastern Studies) from the University of Michigan.
In a WorldNetDaily report detailing how certain Muslim group leaders are hoping that "the U.S. Constitution will one day be replaced by Koranic law," Bagby is quoted as saying, "Ultimately we [Muslims] can never be full citizens of this country [the U.S.], because there is no way we can be fully committed to the institutions and ideologies of this country."
Notwithstanding his belief that genuine Islam is incompatible with the desire to assimilate into American society, Bagby's custom is to depict Muslim Americans as a politically moderate group that harbors no desire to extensively alter U.S. customs or institutions. In 2001 Bagby published the results of his comprehensive study, The Mosque in America: A National Portrait.
In April 2004 he wrote A Portrait of Detroit Mosques: Muslim Views on Policy, Politics and Religion, which interpreted the findings of a survey conducted by a Detroit-area Islamic organization, the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. According to Bagby's reading of the data, "The vast majority of Muslim Americans hold 'moderate' views on issues of policy, politics and religion." In a newspaper interview, Bagby elaborated, stating that the results showed that "the mosque community is not a place of radicalism." But as scholar of Islam Daniel Pipes writes, Bagby's interpretation amounts to "a case of survey research being distorted by its sponsors to hide the actual results. This is intellectual fraud and political deception." In actuality, the survey found that among the Muslim respondents: fully two-thirds believed that "America is immoral"; approximately 90 percent favored universal health care; some 79 percent supported affirmative action for minorities; 81 percent advocated the application of Shari'a (Islamic law) in Muslim-majority nations; and 85 percent disapproved of President Bush's job performance, while only 4 percent approved.
In addition to his professorial duties and research ventures, Bagby is the imam of Jamaa'ah al-Taqwa, a mosque in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is also the General Secretary of the Muslim Alliance of North America (MANA), a predominantly African-American organization which: a) represents Muslims indigenous to the United States; b) is part of the American Muslim Task Force on Civil Rights and Elections, an umbrella group of Islamist organizations created to push issues important to the Muslim community into the November 2004 elections; c) is headed by Siraj Wahhaj, a suspected co-conspirator to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center; d) had its Director of Governmental Affairs, Johari Abdul Malik, compassionately describe Sheik Ahmed Yassin, then-leader of the terrorist group Hamas, as "a poor parapalegic in a wheelchair" at an April 2004 anti-Israel rally; and e) chose not to endorse or participate in the May 14, 2005 Free Muslims March Against Terror, an event whose stated purpose was to "send a message to the terrorists and extremists that their days are numbered . . . [and to send] a message to the people of the Middle East, the Muslim world and all people who seek freedom, democracy and peaceful coexistence that we support them."
Bagby is also a board member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Hamas spinoff; several CAIR leaders have been indicted for, and convicted of, terrorist activities. In 1996 CAIR co-founder Nihad Awad candidly declared, "I am in support of the Hamas movement." In 1998 CAIR co-sponsored a rally at Brooklyn College, where militant speakers advocated jihad and characterized Jews as "pigs and monkeys." In November 1999, CAIR board chairman Omar Ahmad supported Palestinian suicide bombers when he told a Chicago audience, "Fighting for freedom, fighting for Islam, that is not suicide. They kill themselves for Islam."
CAIR endorsed an October 22, 2002 National Day of Protest opposing the Patriot Act's "new set of repressive laws and restrictions on people," while supporting terrorists Lynne Stewart and Jose Padilla, and murderers Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Leonard Peltier - portraying them as American "political prisoners." In April 2005, Ghassan Elashi, who founded the Texas chapter of CAIR, was convicted of supporting terrorism by funneling money to a high-ranking Hamas official. Like MANA, CAIR chose not to endorse or participate in the May 14, 2005 Free Muslims March Against Terror. According to Middle East expert Stephen Schwartz, CAIR "is best described as a branch of the Saudi religious militia operating to impose Wahhabi conformity on American Islam. It is the most active and consistent promoter of extremism in the name of Islam now found the U.S. and Canada, an arm of the Saudi-Wahhabi establishment, partially funded by the Saudi government and rich Saudi subjects."
Moreover, Bagby sits on the advisory board of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), which is responsible for enforcing Wahhabi theological writ in American mosques. ISNA views the Patriot Act as an affront to Muslim Americans and advocates that it be overturned; it also chose not to endorse or participate in the May 14, 2005 Free Muslims March Against Terror; and was a signatory to Refuse & Resist's February 20, 2002 document condemning military tribunals and the detention of immigrants apprehended in connection with post-9/11 terrorism investigations.