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FEDERATION OF ISLAMIC ASSOCIATIONS. Formed through the efforts of firstgeneration American-born Muslims, mostly of Syrian and Lebanese origin, the Federation of Islamic Associations was created as a corporate body to help maintain ties between scattered Muslim communities. Abdullah Igram of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, a World War II veteran, was instrumental in bringing together Muslims from the United States and Canada. His efforts led to the incorporation of the International Muslim Society (IMS) in 1952. The goals of the IMS were to help coordinate efforts to keep the faith of Islam, to preserve Muslim culture, to expound Islamic teachings, and to propagate true information about the faith. During its third annual meeting, held in Chicago in 1954, the members adopted a new name: the Federation of Islamic Associations of Canada and the United States (FIA).

During that same year Igram made a personal request to President Dwight Eisenhower to grant Muslims in the American armed services the right to identify their religion on their name tags. This was perceived by members of the community as official recognition of their American identity. The FIA concentrated on holding annual meetings and conventions, which were attended mainly by persons of Arab background (with a few Muslims from Eastern Europe and Turkey). The organization also provided the opportunity for young

people to meet potential marriage partners from within a common religious and cultural heritage. The recollections of participants in these conventions from the 1950s and 1960s are of pleasant social events in which camaraderie and informal interaction, even some forms of folk dancing, were encouraged.

The FIA has been hampered by lack of funds or trained indigenous leadership. Its assimilationist tendencies have been condemned by more conservative Muslims. In 1970, the FIA published a book that included selected readings from the Qur’an as well as a directory of Muslims in the United States. Efforts by the FIA leadership to compile a census of American Muslims have fared no better than those of any other group attempting such a task. They also tried unsuccessfully to create a standardized curriculum of Sunday school materials to be used by the various centers. The FIA is aware of the hostile media treatment of Arabs and Muslims in the United States and has concentrated its efforts on combating such misinformation.

At the peak of its popularity, the FIA listed some fifty mosques and organizations as its members. In recent years the membership has dramatically declined owing to disagreement with the leadership over policies. The current leader, Nihad Hamid, has been accused of receiving funding from Iraq as well as Saudi Arabia. The Muslim Star, the official organ of the FIA, has provided extensive coverage about the “bloody” nature of the regime of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Iran, as well as justification of the Iraqi position in the Iran-Iraq War. Its public attacks on fellow Muslim organizations, such as that launched against the Muslim World League, have left it with decreasing grassroots support. By 1994, Muslim Star had ceased publication. FIA members had taken Nihad Hamid to court in order to regain possession of the headquarters but the court ruled in his favor. An alternate coalition of mosques has been formed; they continue their annual conventions but have dissociated themselves from the FIA.

[See also Islamic Society of North America; United States of America.]

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Haddad, Yvonne Yazbeck, ed. The Muslims of America. New York and Oxford, 1991.

Haddad, Yvonne Yazbeck, and Adair Lummis. Islamic Values in the United States. New York and Oxford, 1987.

YVONNE YAZBECK HADDAD

Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/federation-of-islamic-associations/
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  • writerPosted On: November 26, 2012
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