The Crescent Report

March 26, 2009

The Hatchets May Swing, But the Tree Still Stands: A Response to Investigative Project ‘Expose’ of Imam Mahdi Bray

Filed under: Extremism, Muslim Americans, Muslim Issues — Imam Mahdi Bray @ 7:19 pm

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

By Ibrahim Abdil-Mu’id Ramey

WASHINGTON, DC (MASNET) March 26, 2009 – It’s no secret that many national Muslim leaders have been in the cross-hairs of organizations with a singular dedication to attacking Islam or characterizing high-profile American Muslim leaders as dangerous extremists. Imam Mahdi Bray, Founder and Executive Director of MAS Freedom (MASF), the civic and human rights advocacy entity of the Muslim American Society (MAS), is the latest target in this ongoing form of smear campaigning.

On March 26, 2009, Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project released an expose on Imam Bray, outlining details from a past felony conviction, complete with photos from the arrest record; clearly with the intent to implicate that Imam Bray leads some sort of ‘secret’ life.

However, it goes without saying that, what happened in the past, and what Imam Bray has achieved subsequent to those earlier, troubled years, paint quite a different picture altogether from the one that the IP expose would lead readers to believe.

For starters, Imam Bray has never, either in private or in his extensive public life, denied serving time in prison or having a prior history of experience with drug use while working in the entertainment industry in his earlier years.

That said, it might also be pointed out that, while incarcerated Imam Bray was heralded by corrections officials as a model prisoner, and subsequent to his release, became extensively active in religious dawa (outreach), organizing the National Islamic Prison Foundation – a project with the mission of supporting incarcerated Muslims.

The success of the prison outreach program resulted in Imam Bray receiving a 1995 invitation to return to the Federal Correctional Institution in Morgantown, West Virginia as a motivational speaker for Muslim inmates.

What is important to Imam Bray’s colleagues, community members, friends and family, is not the time that he spent in jail; it is the quality and integrity of the life he has led subsequent to having paid for past mistakes.

What is really troubling to Emerson, Spencer, Pipes, and their fellow travelers, is not Imam Bray’s felony conviction or time spent in prison, but rather his effectiveness in building Muslim institutions and defending the rights of unjust targets of prosecution, as in the cases of the Six Traveling Imams and Dr. Sami Al-Arian, to name just two.

Much of Imam Bray’s work is spent promoting Muslim community civic engagement, encouraging Muslim voter registration and participation in the electoral process, and advocating for justice on behalf of the many innocent victims of the post 9/11 anti-Muslim dragnet that has become so evident to all of us.

The body of Imam Bray’s work – all within the context of nonviolence – is something that Muslim bashers and Islamophobes love to hate.

Islam is a transformational force in the lives of many Muslims, as is evident in the case of Imam Bray. It is with a note of personal pride, I might add, that this transformational force is also evident in the work and legacy of another African-American former inmate: El Hajj Malik Shabazz, better known as Malcolm X.

Clearly the intent of the Investigative Report’s expose is to excoriate Imam Bray by portraying his past moral turpitude as an indicator of un-trustworthiness. The article should, in my opinion, be viewed in the context of the larger campaign against Muslim activists and the advances that Muslims have made in bringing Islamic values and the Muslim community presence to a more central place in the American inter-religious discourse.

The evidence of this advancement is reflected, in part, in Imam Bray’s national stature, as well as the vehement attempts by some of his opponents to discredit him.

They can (and will) chop away at him; but I know this tree – and it won’t succumb to the blows of their hatchets.

A Chinese political philosopher once said, “To be attacked by one’s enemies is not a bad thing, but a good thing.”

Perhaps this latest broadside will only help to illuminate that Islam, indeed, can change the lives of people for the better.

It certainly did in the case of my beloved friend, colleague, and brother in faith, Imam Mahdi Bray.


MAS Freedom (MASF) is a civic and human rights advocacy entity and sister organization of the Muslim American Society (MAS), the largest Muslim, grassroots, charitable, religious, social, cultural, civic and educational organization in America – with 55 chapters in 35 states.


MAS Freedom

1325 G Street NW, Suite 500

Washington DC 20005

Phone: (202) 552-7414

or (703) 642-6165

Toll Free: 1-(888)-627-8471

Fax: (703) 998-6526

MASF on the Web

Contact MASF by Email



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