Part 3 – The Muslim Institute’s work for the global Islamic movement

Crescent International and the global Islamic movement

Immediately after the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Dr Kalim realised that one of its effects would be to give a tremendous boost to Islamic movement elsewhere, all constituent parts of the global Islamic movement whose existence he had hypothesised in the 1970s. Under the leadership of Islamic Iran, he hoped that this boost would prove sufficient to create a genuine, functional global Islamic movement rather than the theoretical one he had previously written about.

One of his immediate objectives, therefore, became to aid the emergence of this new, global Islamic movement. To do this, he teamed the Muslim Institute up with a Canadian Muslim newsmagazine, the Crescent International. This was a community magazine in Toronto, founded in 1972 by Lateef and Zahida Owaisi. Since 1975, it had been edited by Zafar Bangash, who had been a leading member of the Muslim Institute Preparatory Committee in London. Crescent was also writing in support and defence of the Islamic Revolution in Iran during this period, and in August 1980, it became a part of the the Muslim Institute.

The Crescent International has been the major newsmagazine of the revolutionary Islamic movement ever since. In the early years, the bulk of its copy was written by Dr Kalim. Later, editorial responsibilities passed to Zafar Bangash, who gave up his engineering career to run the paper. For a four-year period from 1987 to 1991, an Arabic edition was produced under the name Al-Hilal al-Dawli. The impact of these magazines has been far out of proportion to their circulation and readership.

Other Muslim Institute efforts to serve the Islamic movement included the Muslimedia news syndication service (1981-91) and a popular annual anthology series Issues in the Islamic Movement, seven volumes of which were published from 1982 to 1989. These brought together major writings on the Islamic movement and Muslim current affairs from Crescent, Muslimedia and other sources.

Because of financial and other restrictions, many of these publications have had to be closed down. But the Crescent International survives and is keenly read by Muslim academics and activists all over the world.

Muslim Institute Conferences and Seminars

The other main way in which the Muslim Institute worked to bring together and consolidate the new, global Islamic movement was by a series of world conferences and seminars in London during the 1980s. These were on difference themes relating to the Islamic movement and the contemporary Muslim situation.

The first of these, on the Political Dimensions of the Hajj, was in 1982. It was followed by seminars on State and Politics in Islam (1983), The Islamic Revolution in Iran (1984), What Future for Pakistan? (1984), The Impact of Nationalism on the Ummah (1985), Muslim Political Thought during the Colonial Period (1986), The Future of the Haramain (1988), The Implications of the Rushdie Affair (1989) and The Future of Muslims in Britain (1990).

These combined serious intellectual discussions on matters central to the work of the global Islamic movement, with unique opportunities for intellectuals and activists from the Islamic movement to come together. Among the many senior people who attended these conferences were Shaikh Fadhlullah of Lebanon, Shaikh Omar Abdul Rahman of Egypt, Shaikh Assad al-Tamimi of Palestine, Muallim Ibrahim Zakzaki of Nigeria, Shaikh Muhammad al-Asi of the USA and numerous senior ulama from Islamic Iran.

Following the establishment of the Muslim Parliament (1992), such seminars on global issues continued to be held, but under the Muslim Parliament banner instead of that of the Muslim Institute. The two major conferences held in this period were on Bosnia and the Global Islamic Movement (1993) and Hiroshima to Sarajevo: Fifty Years of the United Nations (1995).

It is, therefore, wholly appropriate that the two institutions should have come together to convene a Memorial Conference, In Pursuit of the Power of Islam, as a tribute to Dr Kalim in November 1996. Unfortunately, this proved to be virtually the last effectively project run by them before the new leadership, following Dr Kalim’s death, proved unable to sustain the institutions.

The Muslim Institute’s overseas activities

During the 1970s, Dr Kalim had established contacts, friends and supporters all over the world. After the Islamic Revolution, he found that many of these people shared his understanding of the vision of the significance of the Islamic Revolution in Iran and his commitment to serving the embryonic Islamic movement. As a result, the Muslim Institute established operations in a number of other countries, directly or indirectly, including Canada, South Africa, Pakistan, Malaysia and India. These have included publishing and distribution of Crescent International, Muslimedia, Al-Hilal al-Dawli and local newspapers reprinting material from them; publication and distribution of books and videos; and the holding of seminars and lectures.

The Muslim Institute was also been active in other countries where the political situation is such that details cannot be given. Dr Kalim Siddiqui, his books and the Crescent International were banned in some Muslim countries. The Institute’s work also included more direct assistance to Islamic movements, some of which are suppressed and underground in their own countries.


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