The Islamic Association of North Texas (IANT) is well-known as the largest mosque in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Established in the early seventies as a prayer meeting, the mosque first went by the name of Dallas Central Mosque. The congregation of the mosque grew in fits and starts until eventually there was enough money to break ground in Richardson, Texas, where it still stands today.
Back in 2008, IANT played a supporting role in the U.S. vs. Holy Land Foundation trial, the largest terrorism financing case in U.S. history. According to Matthew Levitt, in his book Hamas: Politics, Charity and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad, when the Holy Land Five were convicted of funneling hundreds of millions of dollars to the Palestinian militant organization Hamas, IANT — then known as the Dallas Central Mosque — hosted fundraising events with the goal of raising $500,000 for the Elashi Brothers Defense Fund. The mosque also had personal ties to at least two of the Elashi brothers, who were part of the Holy Land Five. Bashan Elashi was a former board member of the mosque, and Ghassan Elashi was active in an affiliated Islamic school.
Today IANT is a proud member of the Richardson Interfaith Alliance and their imam, Shpendim Nadzaku, is an active member of the Interfaith Council of Thanksgiving Square, a Dallas interfaith organization whose mission, according to its website, is "to provide harmony, diversity and goodwill among all faiths, as we unite on the common ground of gratitude." But the mosque's Facebook page suggests that its days of embracing radical ideologies are not yet over. For example, in August of this year, IANT posted this image on its Facebook page:
"This religion will reach everywhere in the world...Allah will not leave a house or residence except that Allah will cause this religion to enter it, by which the honorable will be honored and the disgraceful will be disgraced. Allah will honor the honorable with Islam and disgrace the disgraceful with unbelief."
Several other recent posts appear to relish the torment that the non-Muslim will endure in Hell.
An image posted a few weeks later suggests that the status of the non-Muslim will always be lower than that of the Muslim and that the unbeliever will be forever punished by Allah for misleading faithful Muslims ("Mumin"):
"Whoever accuses a mumin of something that is not true, Allah will make him dwell in flowing pus on Yawm al-Qiyaamah."
That post seemed to raise eyebrows among IANT's supporters as well, with one Facebook commenter noting, "as an institution, IANT should be a little more thoughtful of what kind of messages it throws out there."
IANT's Facebook posts indicate a preoccupation with the torments that await those who disbelieve. For example, on September 4th, IANT posted that Allah has prepared "a way of torment" for those who disbelieve, and on September 18th, IANT made the following statement:
"The hammer used to punish a disbeliever is so heavy that it can reduce a mountain to dust. The disbeliever screams with pain and every creation can hear him besides humans and Jinns." (Mishkat).
On July 13 of this year, IANT presented 17 reasons for "The Importance of the Tawheed" (the Oneness of Allah), featuring a variety of hadiths (meaning recorded sayings or actions of the Prophet Mohammad). Reason #9 seems to endorse the view that Jews and Christians are cursed because of their stubborn denial of the truth:
"9. The prophet mentioned it during his last illness (shows its importance) when he said 'the curse of Allah be upon the Jews and the Christians for they took the graves of their prophets as places of worship (bukhari).'"
Reason #14 discusses a Jew who was saved from the torments of hell through conversion:
"14. If a person dies upon this he will enter Paradise. When the Jewish boy accepted Islam, the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, 'All praise is for Allah who saved this boy from the fire." Although this person had no good deeds. (Bukhari)"
The quote is from Ibn Taymiyyah, a medieval Islamic scholar popular with Salafists. This sect of Islamic jurisprudence emphasizes the earliest companions (salaf) of the prophet and calls on its adherents to return to the ways of Islam's earliest and strictest Muslims.
Several other images posted by IANT on Facebook this past August also seem to confirm IANT's Salafi leanings. "The happy individual is the one who adheres to that which the Salaf were upon and avoids that which the later people introduced," notes one post. Another post, "Upon you is to follow the narrations and the way of the Salaf."
A radical emphasis on Tawheed (oneness) is a predominate feature of Salafism, as noted by the George Washington University Program on Extremism's Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchen's monograph "Salafism in America: History, Evolution, Radicalization." Such an emphasis can lead to the deliberate and even violent denigration of other faiths, raising serious questions about how an Islamic center like IANT can participate in interfaith gatherings in good faith.
IANT's Facebook page vividly and even obsessively focuses on torment of the Jews and Christians.
The churches and synagogues that make the Richardson Interfaith Alliance and the Interfaith Council of Thanksgiving Square might want to consider what message their joining of hands with IANT represents. Does IANT really "[provide] harmony, diversity and goodwill among all faiths," as is the Interfaith alliance's mandate? And if these sorts of statements are the kind that IANT openly promotes on social media, what is it saying behind closed door?
Anne-Christine Hoff is the Dallas associate of the Counter Islamist Grid.