On April 14th, a three-day conference organized by the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and the Muslim American Society (MAS) opened in Baltimore. DNC deputy-chairman Keith Ellison was due to address the convention, but his name was withdrawn from the list of speakers just a few days before the conference started.
As one of the largest events in the American Muslim calendar, the listed speakers at the ICNA-MAS conference disappointingly included a large number of extremist clerics. Here, we detail some of the worst and provide a collection of their most extreme sermons.
Every day, Islamism occupies headlines news. And yet while these conventions receive positive coverage in the media, journalists fail to investigate the Islamist rhetoric of the clerics invited to address thousands of American Muslims from the conference stage. These preachers advocate hate, and play a key role in the growing problem of radicalization within the American Muslim community. Islamist Watch will continue to record extremist clerics and their sermons, and publish our findings as a resource for our anti-Islamist allies, the public, and even journalists -- for the day when the media eventually decides to start investigating the ideas and rhetoric that underpin the growing threat of terror and extremism.
The US Attorney for New York previously named Siraj Wahhaj one of the "unindicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators" in the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing. During the trial of Omar Abdel Rahman, whose group was responsible for the attack, Wahhaj served as a character witness, describing Rahman as a "respected scholar" and "bold, as a strong, preacher of Islam."
Sermons uncovered by the Middle East Forum reveal that Wahhaj has a long history of inciting violence and hatred against minorities:
"The prophet cursed, la'ana, cursed the feminine man and the masculine woman. Cursed. The feminine man and the masculine woman. ... I don't believe any of you are homosexual. This is a disease of this society ... I want you to be able to defend against these homosexuals."
"And you know, brothers and sisters, you know what the punishment is, if a man is found with another man? The Prophet Mohammad said the one who does it and the one to whom it is done to, kill them both. Now let me stop there and say this. I don't want us to go get sticks and start running outside looking for homosexuals. Don't do that. No. We don't condone that, no, no, it's not right. Even if they were outside, brothers and sisters, open homosexuals, you don't beat them up. You don't have that right. Let's go to them and invite them to Islam and make them feel uncomfortable, but don't beat them up."
"I pray one day, Inshallah, Allah will bless us ... I pray one day Allah will bless us to raise an army and I'm serious about this. We were very close, recently. We had made intention to raise an army of 10,000 men in New York City. Muslim men to go fight in the way of subhanahu wa ta'ala. And this is serious."
Adultery, Theft and Non-Muslims
"America is controlled by Shaytan. American government is controlled by Shaytan. American way of life is controlled by Shaytan."
"The word in Qu'ran, zina, means either fornication or adultery. If you commit zina and you're single, the punishment in Islam is 100 lashes. If you commit zina and you're married, the punishment is death by stoning—capital punishment. What you read in Qu'ran is the punishment for fornication, but the punishment for married and committing zina is death by stoning. You know how angry Allah is by the degree of his punishment for breaking a law. Allah is angry at you when you steal. He sees you. Punishment, chop off the hand. He's angry. When you drink, Brother, punishment? Lashes. You take drugs? Punishment? Lashes. ... So, Allah is angry. Punishment for adultery, zina, brother? Serious. Death by stoning."
"Woe to the Muslims who pick kafirs [non-Muslims] for friends. Woe, woe, woe to the Muslims who take kafirs as friends. Kafir will take you away from the remembrance of Allah. ... Take not into your intimacy those outside of your race. They will not fail to corrupt you. Don't you know our children are surrounded by kafirs. I'm telling you, making the hearts of our children corrupt, dirty, foul."
Yasir Qadhi is one of the most prominent Islamic clerics in the U.S. In 2001, he told an audience of Muslims:
"Hitler never intended to mass-destroy the Jews. There are a number of books out on this written by Christians, you should read them. The Hoax of the Holocaust, I advise you to read this book and write this down, the Hoax of the Holocaust, a very good book. All of this is false propaganda and I know it sounds so far-fetched, but read it. The evidences [sic] are very strong. And they're talking about newspaper articles, clippings, everything and look up yourself what Hitler really wanted to do. We're not defending Hitler, by the way, but the Jews, the way that they portray him, also is not correct."
In 2008, Qadhi claimed to have renounced his anti-Semitism. At the same time, however, Qadhi expressed support for the notorious British Holocaust denier, David Irving.
Qadhi reserves some of his hatred for Shia Muslims. He has denounced Shia Islam as "the most lying sect of Islam.... Shias are allowed to lie and it is their religion to lie."
Mokhtar Maghraoui is a "foundation scholar" of the Al-Madina Institute. In one speech, Maghraoui defends the stoning of adulterers and the killing of criminals, but suggests that an Islamic society shows mercy.
Maghraoui is a former member of the Fiqh Council of North America, an organization with a long history as a platform for prominent Muslim Brotherhood clerics.
Omar Suleiman has been condemned by moderate Muslim activists for describing homosexuality as a "disease" and a "repugnant shameless sin." He refers to the Islamic death penalty for the "people that practiced sodomy."
In a lecture titled "Fighting Zina," Suleiman claims that women who are too close with their brothers are likely to commit incest. Women, he declares, should never be alone with a man outside of her family. Further, Suleiman warns, without condemnation, that women who commit adultery risk being killed by a family member.
Suleiman also works as an "instructor" at the Al Maghrib Institute, a prominent Salafist institution. His colleagues include Abdullah Hakim Quick, who calls upon God to "clean and purify Al-Aqsa from the ﬁlth of the Yahood [Jews]"; and Abu Eesa Niamatullah, who says of Jews: "They find it so easy and natural to do what they do....Look at them today, look at the way they massacre. They blow up babies like as if it's a computer game. They have no humanity, no morality, no ethics."
Abdul Nasir Jangda
Abdur Nasir Jangda is a Texas-based cleric who studied at a Deobandi madrassah – Jamia Binoria in Karachi, Pakistan. In 2009, the BBC journalist John Humphreys reported that Jamia Binoria was "brainwashing" children into supporting terrorism. In 2015, Pakistani law enforcement raided the seminary after including it on a list of madrassahs linked to terrorist organizations.
According to detailed notes published by one of his students, Jangda has defended the use of female sex slaves within Islam. He reportedly advocated the killing of apostates and adulterers, and dismisses the concept of marital rape: "The thing to understand is that the husband has his set of divinely given rights one of which is the right to have his physical desires satisfied."
Jangda also describes the Jews of Mecca, during the time of Islam's prophet, as "really bad people" who were "very hateful, very spiteful," and "the enemy."
Suhaib Webb served as the imam of the extremist-linked Islamic Society of Boston from 2011 to 2014. Webb has claimed that animosity toward Jews is understandable, believes that eye contact between the sexes is a sin, and has suggested that homosexuals are cursed. He has described secularism as a "radical, lunatic ideology."
In addition, according to FBI surveillance documents Webb spoke at a dinner in 2001 alongside the late Al Qaeda leader, Anwar Al Awlaki, to raise money for the legal defense of Jamil Abdullah Al Amin, who murdered two police officers in Georgia.
Hamza Andreas Tzortzis
A Greek-British convert to Islam, Hamza Tzortzis is a dawah activist involved in several extreme Islamist charities. Among these, Tzortzis was a trustee of Green Crescent, a British charity, the head of which was arrested on terrorism charges in Bangladesh when an arms cache was discovered at one of its orphanages.
Tzortzis is a leading official at the Islamic Education and Research Academy, a prominent Salafist organization that the British charity regulator recently censured for not discouraging "terrorism and/or extremist views."
In the past, Tzortzis has been associated with Hizb-ut-Tahrir, an extreme global Islamist movement. Tzortzis was forced to disavow a statement he once made claiming that apostates from Islam should be beheaded. He has also claimed: "We as Muslims reject the idea of freedom of speech, and even the idea of freedom."
AbdelRahman Murphy is the assistant imam of the terrorism-linked Islamic Society of Boston. Murphy is a student of Abdul-Nasir Jangda (profiled above), and a graduate of the extremist Qalam Institute. Murphy has claimed, "There is no such thing as an innocent Israeli."
Suleiman Hani is a hardline cleric, who writes that "'Freedom of speech' is a facade of a tool that is used inconsistently by those in power." It is used, he claims, to stifle "objective discussion" of the "Holocaust and Jews." Those who question the Holocaust, he claims, are "labeled as Anti-Semites, or 'inciters of hate speech.'" Hani also promotes 9/11 conspiracy theories.
In addition, Hani warns Muslims against looking at women, claiming that "lowering your gaze" will provide "insight" – the "opposite of that is the blindness which Allah attributed to the homosexuals."
Hani frequently presents shows on Huda TV, an Islamic television station that hosts prominent extremist clerics. Huda TV's website hosts articles claiming there is a "huge conspiracy" against Muslims organized by the Jews and Christians, who are the "enemies of Islam." Hani uses his program on Huda TV to claim that the kuffar [unbelievers] will suffer the "abode of hellfire. ... This is what they gathered from their evil." He states that "the disbelievers, these are the evil people. ... they will be beaten and hammered and turned to dust and then returned back. They will be given a bed of fire, full of darkness." Those who commit adultery, Hani continues, will be "put in a pit of fire."
Jamal Badawi, a founding member of MAS, is a prominent Muslim Brotherhood-linked cleric who was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator during the 2008 Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial. Badawi describes suicide bombers and Hamas terrorists as "freedom fighters" and "martyrs." He also advocates the right of men to beat their wives if they show "disregard for [their] marital obligations."
Nihad Awad is executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR was branded an unindicted co-conspirator during the 2008 trial of the Holy Land Foundation. Awad publicly supported the terrorist group Hamas as far back as 1994 and referred to Hamas and Hezbollah as "liberation movements" in an Arabic interview with Al-Jazeera in 2004.
According to the Investigative Project on Terrorism, in 1998, Awad claimed that "U.S. policy is driven in part by the Jewish origin of many Clinton administration officials. ... These are the same people who are pushing the United States to go to war on behalf of a third party, and they are the same people who are opposing the peace process."
Mohammad Elshinawy claims he was under NYPD surveillance from 2004. According to the NYPD's case synopsis, Elshinawy is a hardcore Salafist and many of his students expressed interest in jihad.
Elshinawy states that women who do not wear hijab that covers their entire body, except for the face and hands, are condemned to hellfire, and are likely to get breast cancer: "Sister, wallāhi, I fear for you. How many beautiful girls with beautiful skin got tried with skin cancer that is so common females now-a-days! How many beautiful girls had to go through a procedure, an agonizing, depressing grievous procedure, because she is tried with breast cancer! You think these diseases were always so common. Wallāhi, they were not – not in the age of obedience."
Fahad Tasleem is a lead instructor at the Islamic Education and Research Academy, a prominent British Salafist organization that the U.K. charity regulator recently censured for not discouraging "terrorism and/or extremist views."
Tasleem coordinates the WhyIslam campaign for the ICNA. Visitors to WhyIslam website are informed about the correct method of stoning under Sharia law: "the person was held fast in a fixed position, and a stone or rock that it took two men to lift (i.e. was heavier than one man could lift alone) was to be dropped to crush the head." Homosexuality is condemned as "evil" and polygamy is encouraged.
Yusuf Islahi is described on the MAS-ICNA convention website as a member of the Central Advisory Council of the Indian branch of Jamaat-e-Islami. MAS and ICNA neglect to mention, however, that Jamaat-e-Islami is a prominent South Asian Islamist group complicit in the 1971 genocide in Bangladesh. Islahi is also the "chief patron" of ICNA's WhyIslam project (discussed above).
According to Irfan Ahmad, Islahi claims that Jews were behind the 9/11 attacks, as part of a conspiracy to defame Islam.
Mikaeel Smith is a graduate of Dar ul-Uloom al-Madania, an Islamic seminary in New York state, which belongs to the Deobandi sect – a hardline South Asian movement whose offshoots include the Taliban.
In an article published at Muslim Matters, Smith describes homosexuality as "evil" and like a "tumour." Referring to the death sentence prescribed by Sharia law, Smith notes that "when living in America, or any other non-Islamic country for that matter ... the penal law and some aspects of civil law are not to be implemented." He adds, however, that, "this does not mean that a Muslim should lose sight of what his or her belief deems to be ideal."