The connection linking Clinton, Saleha Abedin and the Muslim Brotherhood

The Al Arabiya investigation traces the history of Dar al-Hikma university and its links to the Obama administration. (Al Arabiya)

Huma Abdein, the Muslim Indian-American politician, has been in the headlines ever since Hillary Clinton decided to run for president of the United States. Some have even blamed Abedin for the former Secretary of State’s loss in the recent election to Donald Trump, especially after details emerged of her private email correspondence when Clinton was the country’s top diplomat.

Huma may have once been married to Anthony Wiener, a liberal American Jew, but she comes from a family history of Islamists. Investigations reveal that her father, Syed Zainul Abedin, was among the founders of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), and Editor of the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs.

During the 1950s, her father was influenced by the ideas of Abul Aala Maududi and Abu Hassan Nadawi, who are both closely related to Sayed Qutb, the brain behind some of ISIS rhetoric.

However, it is Saleha Mahmoud Abedin, Huma’s mother, who is the subject of Al Arabiya’s interest.

A PhD in Sociology, Saleha is said to be a member of the Cairo-based International Islamic Council for Da’wah and Relief (IICDR). She is also a member of the Commission of the IICDR and International Union of Muslim Scholars, when Dr. Yusuf al-Qardawi was its president.

Implementation of the Shariah has been a subject that is close to her heart. It is part of her book as well as her doctoral dissertation – Women in Islam, their rights and duties – which was submitted in 1999 in Egypt, on behalf of the International Commission for women and Children Affairs of the Union of Muslim scholars.

Saleha is Vice Dean of Dar al-Hikma, which has recently become a university. The University has been sympathetic toward the teachings of Muslim Brotherhood, especially during the so-called Arab Spring. Ironically a number of Western politicians have been closely linked to the university.

Where it all began?

The connection came to light with a picture showing Saleha next to Hillary Clinton and Suheir Qureshi, a dean at the university. Hillary visited Dar al-Hikma in February 2010 and delivered a speech in which she discussed political affairs and US-Iran relations.

It has been claimed that the Obama-Hillary administration continued to be a source of influence for the university. In June 2010, Saleha used the leverage of her daughter working in the White House to send four Saudi female students from the university to work on government projects in Washington DC.

According to reports, preacher Salman al-Awdah served as a guest faculty at Dar al-Hikma in 2011 and lectured on “volunteering”. It is this “volunteering” that provides breeding ground for naïve and enthusiastic students and youth groups. Such activities flourished in 2011, the year the so-called Arab Spring began to take shape.

The university hosted an event – “Islam, my pride” – in May 2011. This was organized by groups such as “Integrated Youth” and Proud Youth”, the latter being affiliated to Dar al-Hikma. The promotional video of the conference – available on YouTube – says issues relating to Islamic Renaissance, youth leaders and upcoming challenges were discussed. Approximately 5,000 female students attended the conference.

Student faces

Ali Hamza al-Omari, president of 4Shabab (For Youth) and owner of 4Shabab channel, was among the participants. Al-Omari is a well-wisher of the Muslim Brotherhood. Kuwait’s Haya al-Shatti was also among the participants. She is known for her participation in a convoy that attempted to break the siege on Gaza. The conference addressed many issues, including a lecture entitled “change”.

Madiha Khatab and Layla Nahdi are the founders of an organization called “Islam, My Pride”. In a speech at a forum in Jeddah in April in 2011, Madiha paid tributes to Salman al-Awda and Kuwait’s Tariq al-Suwaidan as her biggest supporters. The latter publicly announced himself as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. The student also inaugurated her project in Kuwait, Bahrain and Jeddah.

Layla Nahdi is a student of information systems at Dar al-Hikma. She won the College Student Council election in 2007 and describes herself as a social activist. She made an appearance at the “Renaissance” conference in Qatar, which was organized by Salman al-Awda. She openly spoke about youth projects and the importance of young leaders in bringing about change.

At an event in 2012, where al-Nahdi was also a speaker, she said that her organization is at the heart of the Islamic world. In a March 2011 tweet, she wrote: “Came home after attending the 6th Al-Jazeera forum – the Arab world and change: is it tomorrow yet? I was among the finest group of young revolutionaries and everyone kept asking us when will you take over? When is your turn?”

She said that during her visit to Dar al-Hikma, she was smitten by the absence of dress code unlike some public universities, which prohibit wearing of trousers. Students at this campus enjoy complete freedom and wear latest fashion trends, echoing the elegant and modern style of Huma.

In the library, one could notice amazing selection of English books, academic and literary sources. In the Arabic section, two books caught their eyes – Star Preacher Hassan al-Banna and Days of my life by Zaynab al-Ghazali. Zaynab was the founder of the “Women’s Union” which subsequently became part of Muslim Brotherhood. She was appointed by al-Banna as head of the Department of Muslim Sisters of the Community Foundation.

Appearance and character

There is striking contrast between the appearance of students and the faculty, and the content that takes the character of political Islam, in a number of events. The university offers modern education in English and has several scientific and literary departments as well as partnership with western universities.

The Obama-Hillary administration, and their alleged relationship with Islamist groups, has been subject of ridicule for many while others seem convinced of close links. Iranian writer Amir Taheri highlights Hillary’s relationship with the Brotherhood in an article that appeared in Sharq al-Awsat.

In his article Taheri said: “Clinton, in contrast, already has a record. She backed the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt before Obama decided to ditch them.”

*This article also appears on AlArabiya.net.

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