The Islamic Party was a homegrown Islamic Movement in North America from 1971-1980 and as the Islamic Party and Islamic Peoples’ Movement in Central America and the Caribbean from 1980-1991. Its founder, Yusuf Muzaffaruddin Hamid was an aspiring Jazz musician who got exposed to Islam through his interaction with African American jazz musicians in New York City and the literature of Ahmadiyya movement, which, along with the doctrine of the Nation of Islam, was the only “version” of Islam systematically propagated nationally to African Americans in the 1960s. He embraced Islam at the age of 17. He then studied Islam extensively, voraciously reading any available English-language material within his grasp. From 1965-1969, Muzaffaruddin traveled throughout the Muslim world. He met numerous leaders of the Islamic movement in Egypt, Malaysia, Tunisia, Pakistan and West Pakistan before the establishment of Bangladesh. While in Pakistan, Muzaffaruddin was a houseguest of Maulana Abu’l Ala Maududi. He then launched a Dawah effort and gathered anyone he could. In 1969, Masjidul Ummah was established by Muzaffaruddin and other local Muslims in a three-story house near Howard University. Muzaffaruddin was elected the Imam of the newly-established masjid. Muzaffaruddin returned to the United States with the intention of establishing an Islamic Movement like what he had seen in Pakistan and Egypt. But, the concept of Islamic Movement had to first be introduced and generally understood by others. He travelled to various parts of the USA to establish contacts with like-minded Muslims. A document entitled the “Declaration of the Federation of Muslim Communities” was issued by Imams and Muslim leaders from Washington, DC, Pittsburgh, Akron, Ohio, New York, and Chicago, which would create increased cooperation and coordination and provide foundational principles for Muslims in these various parts of the U.S. This document laid the foundation of what became The Islamic Party in North America.
In December 1971, the concept of the Islamic Party was developed. Imam Muzaffaruddin sent out an invitation to the Muslims he knew in various cities to come to DC with the purpose of forming a national movement. On December 31, 1971, these plans materialized, and the Islamic Party was established. Around this time, Najib Abdul Haqq, Imam Muzaffaruddin’s most trusted adviser until his death from leukemia in 1991 in Honduras, embraced Islam. The Party experienced a period of rapid growth in the country with branches in different cities in its early stage. In 1978, the Islamic Party in North America changed its name to The Islamic Peoples’ Movement as they expanded their work in the Americas, St. Croix, Barbados, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominca, and other places. Due to strong government opposition faced by the Islamic Peoples’ Movement, particularly in Dominica, most members moved back to the USA in 1984.
o Islamic Party was based on all the components one can think of for a movement.
o Tarbiyyah program based on a syllabus for its members
o A large number of young adults embraced Islam and joined the Party.
o A written constitution as a national organization
o Establishing its bases in various countries in the Americas
o Established a Credit Union and other business entities
o Established Masajid and full-time schools throughout the Americas.
- It appears that leadership tried to expand too rapidly in the Americas and did not give enough time to stabilize itself which led to its disintegration as one united party.
- At the time of Muzaffaruddin’s death in 1991, the membership of the organization was scattered throughout the Caribbean and the United States. Numerous members of the group had gone in different ideological directions at this time, including some becoming Shias. No successor was strong enough after Muzaffaruddin’s death to continue the work as one party after 1991.
- The Party’s political engagements may have caused fierce governmental opposition in countries like Dominica, Grenada, Belize, and the United States, contributing to the early dissolution of the organization.
- The immigrant Muslim organizations failed to form meaningful relationships with African American and Latino organizations like the Islamic Party and Alianza Islamica, respectively.
o Muslim entities should reach out to the remnants of the Party, their children, and other American-born Muslims to establish meaningful relationships with them while developing ways to mutually come closer.
o Muslim relief organizations should establish their branches in other countries of the Americas by sending along Imams or Dawah leaders and by finding remnants of the Party in these countries.