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Islamist Organization Profile

Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America

by: 
Ryan Mauro

Year Founded: 2004

Website: www.amjaonline.org

Revenue: $181,462

Address: 2251 Florin Rd., Suite 19; Sacramento, CA 95822

The Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA) says it “was established in response to the growing need of an Islamic jurisprudence specific to Muslims in the West. Its main goal is to uphold authentic standards using high academic standards, moderate approach and a rejection of extremism.”[2]

The organization has an archive of fatwas, or authoritative religious declarations, it has issued about how Muslims should conduct themselves in the West.

AMJA General Secretary Salah Al-Sawy served from 1992 to 1995 as a visiting professor to the Institute of Arabic and Islamic Sciences in Fairfax, V.A., which is a satellite campus of the Ibn Saud Islamic University of Saudi Arabia.[3] He is a founder and current president of Mishkah Islamic University of North America, originally called the Sharia Academy of America. He also co-founded the American Open University and served as its vice president from 1995 to 2004.[4]

He issued a fatwa in Arabic regarding the question of whether “offensive jihad” in the U.S. is permissible. His response was:

“The Islamic community does not possess the strength to engage in offensive jihad at this time. With our current capabilities, we are aspiring toward defensive jihad, and to improve our position with regards to jurisprudence at this stage. But there is a different discussion for each situation. Allah Almighty knows best.”[5]

In 2008, Al-Sawy said that Muslims are only allowed to become American citizens when there are no other viable options because the country is not ruled by sharia law:

As for optionally obtaining citizenship of a non-Muslim country it is definitely prohibited without a doubt, moreover it could be a form of apostasy or main means leading to apostasy because willingly accepting the laws of disbelievers and obeying it without any valid excuse or enforcement, or ignorance is considered a nullifier to Tawheed [the doctrine of oneness of God] and Islam.”[6]

The ruling goes on to say that citizenship is acceptable “on the condition that they do not accept indefinitely the law and legislation of that country and being indefinite belonging to the nation of the non-Muslim country…”[7]

Al-Sawy explicitly preaches “Shari’a rule” as a form of governance. He said, “Not ruling by “Shari’ah is the reason for all that the Ummah [Muslim world] is afflicted with … misfortune, neediness, adversity and disaster.” He said that the Devil has “deceived them into believing that the Shari’ah is not appropriate for every time and place” and that Sharia’s hudud, or penal code, is “harsh and barbarous.”[8]

On the topic of a Muslim’s obligation to wage jihad on behalf of Palestinians in Gaza, Al-Sawy said in 2009:

“[I]f the enemy enters the land of any of the Muslim peoples, it becomes imperative for the inhabitants of this invaded land to fight in their own defense and that this jihad is obligatory on everyone … And if they have the means to defeat their enemy, then the matter is over, and if not, then it becomes obligatory on the rest of the Ummah to enable them to do and to help them in this with every possible means of support: military, financial, political and journalistic.

The obligation begins with the nearest countries and then extends to include those that lie beside them, and then those beside them, until the obligation of jihad encompasses the whole of the Muslim world.”[9]

Al-Sawy’s fatwa said that those unable to participate in physical jihad can assist with “the jihad of wealth, the jihad in the battlefields of politics, finance, journalism and da’wah [proselytizing ]…”

It also said that the conflict should be used to “revive the obligation of jihad;” “revive the call to Sharia rule;” “reinvigorate and continue the option of the resistance and rejection of the Zionist project;” “revive the policy of using all available and possible means of da’wah and jihad” and “revive the bonds between Muslim communities living beyond the lands of Islam.”[10]

In 2009, AMJA declared that Muslims are required to “support the oppressed, rescuing the afflicted from even amongst the non-Muslims, and stopping the oppressor and preventing him from oppression even from amongst the Muslims.”[11]

One fatwa states that Muslims are only allowed to join the U.S. military if they are not “involved in fighting, harming, or even bothering Muslims at all.”[12] In 2007, AMJA said that Muslims are forbidden from providing food to U.S. and other foreign soldiers in Muslim countries.[13]

In another, AMJA scholar Hatem al-Haj warns Muslims aspiring to join the police force against enforcing laws that violate sharia and the job’s potential to cause sin, such as “gender mixing.” He said that Muslims are not permitted to join the FBI and other national security agencies.[14] AMJA warns that Muslim police officers “might have to arrest a Muslim man whose wife said he ‘raped’ her or forced her.”[15]

Al-Sawy states that there are times when Muslims are permitted to lie when there are “compelling strokes of necessity.” He adds, “If someone is compelled to lying, he can indirectly say something that his listener can understand something else.”[16]

AMJA also states that Muslim judges in non-Muslim countries must “judge by the rulings of the Sharia as much as possible, even if by a ruse.” He “must in his heart hate the man-made law” and “do everything in his power to enact laws that allow the Muslims to practice their Shari’a.[17]

A 2009 AMJA fatwa endorses marital rape: “As for the issue of forcing a wife to have sex, if she refuses, this would not be called rape, even though it goes against natural instincts and destroys love and mercy, and there is a great sin upon the wife who refuses.”[18] A 2006 ruling by al-Haj states that the punishment for a married man guilty of adultery is stoning.[19]

A 2009 fatwa by Al-Sawy rules that critics of Islam’s founder deserve the death penalty, stating, repentance does not lift up the set punishment for cursing and insulting the Prophet, i.e., execution.”[20] A 2006 fatwa issued by al-Haj explicitly states that the punishment for leaving Islam is death, but it can only be carried out by an Islamic judiciary system and not individuals.[21]

In 2010, al-Haj approved of female circumcision, stating that the AMJA version of it is different than what is practiced in some African communities. He claimed, “Some extremists from the West and their devout followers in the Muslim world would like to brand all circumcision as female genital mutilation.” He said that because the West has not objectively studied the issue, “all of their propaganda about female circumcision is nothing more than bigotry.”[22]

Al-Sawy advised in 2009, “Do not take as a friend anyone apart from the believers, and do not take other than Allah, His Messenger and the believers as intimates. Your sincere friends should only be the people of faith.”[23]



[1] “Contact,” AMJA website, https://www.amjaonline.org/contact/, accessed February 14, 2013.

[2] “About Us,” AMJA website, https://www.amjaonline.org/about-us/.

[3] “Salah Al-Sawy,” Islamopedia Online, http://www.islamopediaonline.org/profile/salah-al-sawy.

[4] “Dr. Salah AsSawy,” Mishkah Islamic University of North America website, http://www.mishkahuniversity.com/index.php/dr-salah-assawy/

[5] Bostom, Andrew G. “Congressman King: Subpoena the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA),” PJ Media, March 1, 2011. http://pjmedia.com/blog/congressman-king-subpoena-the-assembly-of-muslim...

[6] “Getting an American Citizenship,” Fatwa 77223, December 23, 2008. http://amjaonline.com/print.php?fid=77223

[7] Ibid.

[8] “Why Don’t We Rule by Shari’ah?” Fatwa 77962, AMJA website, February 24, 2009. http://amjaonline.com/00endetails.php?fid=77962

[9] “The Gazan Holocaust,” Fatwa 77473, AMJA website, January 18, 2009. http://amjaonline.com/00endetails.php?fid=77473

[10] Ibid.

[11] “Decisions and Recommendations of AMJA’s Sixth Annual Convention—Canada,” AMJA website, November 1, 2009. https://www.amjaonline.org/2009/11/decisions-and-recommendations-of-amja...

[12] “American Muslim Jurist to Muslims: Don’t Work for the FBI,” Middle East Media Research Institute, August 12, 2010. http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4522.htm

[13] “Is It Permissible to Participate in Taking Food to the American and Foreign Soldiers Working in Muslim Lands?” Fata 3062, AMJA website, June 20, 2007. http://amjaonline.com/print.php?fid=3062

[14] “American Muslim Jurist to Muslims,” 2010.

[15] “Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America Cautions Muslims Against Participating in American Legal System; Urges Them to ‘Hate It in Their Hearts,’” Translating Jihad, March 14, 2012. http://www.translatingjihad.com/2012/03/assembly-of-muslim-jurists-of-am...

[16] “Lying for Repulsing Evil,” Fatwa 937, AMJA website, November 17, 2005. http://amjaonline.com/00en_f1_details.php?fid=937

[17] “Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America Cautions Muslims Against Participating in American Legal System.”

[18] Fatwa 2982, AMJA website, May 30, 2007. http://www.amjaonline.com/print.php?fid=2982

[19] Fatwa 22905, AMJA website, June 22, 2006. http://amjaonline.com/print.php?fid=22905

[20] “Issues about Apostacy and the Repentance of the Apostate,” Fatwa 77506, AJMA website, January 21, 2009. http://amjaonline.com/00endetails.php?fid=77506

[21] “The Shari’ah Ruling on Apostasy (Reddah),” Fatwa 1486, AJMA website, April 17, 2006. http://amjaonline.com/print.php?fid=1486

[22] Fatwa 81556, AMJA website, May 25, 2010. http://amjaonline.com/print.php?fid=81556

[23] “What Should I Do If I Find Out That One or More of My Colleagues in the Dormitory is a Jew From Israel?” Fatwa 79224, AMJA website, June 19, 2009. http://amjaonline.com/00endetails.php?fid=79224