Christians are “filthy” in the sight of Allah and worthy of being looted and slaughtered “in a time of jihad,” according to an American imam and professor of religious studies at a prestigious private college in Tennessee.
These are words Professor Yasir Kazi now disputes he ever said.
Kazi (also spelled Qadhi) is a professor of Islamic studies at Rhodes College, a four-year liberal arts college in Memphis, Tennessee. He has two master’s degrees from Yale and one from the University of Medina in Saudi Arabia. He is expected to complete his doctorate soon from Yale’s department of religious studies, according to his bio page on the college website.
He also heads up an Islamic school called AlMaghrib Institute, which has a worldwide following with 22 locations in the U.S., eight in Canada, seven in the United Kingdom, one in Sweden and others scattered throughout the Middle East and Asia. The school teaches the Salafist brand of Sunni Islam that strives to return to Islam’s roots and is modeled after the life of Muhammad.
He has a dynamic preaching ministry with a YouTube channel followed by nearly 78,000 subscribers.
New York Times Magazine, in a 2011 article, called Kazi “one of the most influential conservative clerics in American Islam.” The article painted him as a rising star within the American Muslim community who once preached violence and was monitored by the U.S. government, but has since moderated his views to become more peaceful.
Connections to terrorists
Kazi has been on the radar of the FBI at least since 2009, when the Nigerian underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines jet bound for Detroit. The Nigerian terrorist was a student of Kazi’s AlMaghrib Institute.
Kazi, born in Houston to Pakistani immigrants, preaches a message that critics say could easily be interpreted as inciting hatred against non-Muslims. For instance, he has said that Allah commands Muslims to fight the “polytheistic” Christians who worship a triune God and that it’s OK to steal their property when in a state of jihad or holy war.
He now says that his words were heavily edited and taken out of context in an effort to smear his name. He said in a statement of “clarification” that he was speaking of non-Muslims in an Islamic State who practice polytheism and even then they would not be killed or have their property stolen.
But these views, which many Americans would find controversial, are well within the mainstream of the Salafist strain of Sunni Islam that is taught in hundreds of mosques across the U.S., several experts told WND.
In a lecture posted on YouTube, Kazi speaks harshly of Christians, accusing them of polytheism or the worship of multiple “gods.” (See video below of lecture.)
In the recorded lecture, he says:
“The life and property of a ‘Mushrik’ (someone who worships gods other than Allah) holds no value in the state of jihad. Make no respect, but in the state of jihad not at all times and places. The life and property of a Mushrik becomes ‘halal’ (officially allowed by Shariah) while in a state of jihad. The prophet … and I quoted the hadith before, said ‘I have been commanded to fight the people until they say (declaration of faith in Allah) and when they say (that conversion) their life and property become protected from me. Which means if they don’t say (conversion to Islam) their life and property are halal (free for the taking) for the Muslims.
“So the Christians do commit shirk, they are ‘kufar’ (unbelievers) and they are Mushriku (polytheists). The Mushrikun are nudges, they are filthy. They are filthy a spiritual filthiness which can only be purified by the purity of monotheism (Islam). Allah calls the polytheists ‘nudges’ (filthy) … a filthy, impure, dirty substance.”
Philip Haney, a retired Customs and Border Patrol agent who spent 13 years analyzing threats for the Department of Homeland Security, said it’s significant that the underwear bomber was a student of Kazi’s.
“The underwear bomber went to AlMahgrab Institute. He was Nigerian, and he was able to come into the country because of our government’s fuzzy definition of who should be refused a visa,” said Haney.
He said Salafists hearken back to the pure, original form of Islam.
Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the San Bernardino shooters who killed 14 people at a Christmas party earlier this month, were also Salafists.
“They aren’t radical. They are Salafist,” Haney told WND. “It would be like Christians going back to the day of Pentecost and living like the first Christians, selling their land and property and combining their incomes. They would be Christian Salafists.”
Timothy Furnish, a historian and author of the new book, “Ten Years Captivation with the Mahdi’s Camps: Essays on Muslim Eschatology, 2005-2015,” said Kazi’s diatribe against Christians should not be seen as surprising or exceptional.
“That’s not stunning at all – that’s the mainstream Sunni and Twelver Shi`i view of us Trinitarian and Jesus-worshiping Christians,” said Furnish, who holds a Ph.D. in Islamic history from Ohio State University, is fluent in Arabic and is also author of the blog Mahdi Watch.
Muslims believe in Jesus, but they don’t believe he is the Son of God and don’t believe he died on a cross to save mankind from sin.
Furnish said Kazi makes a weak attempt in the lecture to throw a bit of gloss on a mainstream Islamic hatred derived from the Quran, the hadiths (sayings of Muhammad) and Muhammad’s life.
“He’s saying that the life and property of us mushrikun (literally ‘idolaters,’ because we Christians believe in the Trinity) is void only ‘in a state of jihad,'” Furnish said in an email to WND.
“But this qualification is meaningless, because in his view – again, mainstream, not ‘extremist’ or ‘radical’ – jihad must prevail until all the planet’s inhabitants either convert or submit to Islam,” Furnish said.
It is true that jihad can be waged in non-violent ways, because Muhammad taught that Muslims should live peacefully with their non-Muslim neighbors when they are living in a non-Muslim dominated society.
Once Muslims get the upper hand in terms of numbers, that non-violent “struggle” of jihad often changes over to violent jihad.
Once they are subjugated, Christians are forced to convert to Islam or live under a condition known as dhimmitude, meaning they have agreed to live a life as second-class citizens in an Islamic society. They pay a head tax to their Islamic overlords for the privilege of living as “dhimmis.”
“Why we want to bring here tens of thousands of folks who believe likewise (as per Pew Research, 2013) is beyond my understanding,” Furnish told WND.
Kazi responds to WND
WND contacted professor Kazi by email Friday seeking comment. He responded Sunday morning saying the video was a complete “fabrication” by an “Islamophobic” website in 2013.
He directed WND to a “clarification” on the website MuslimMatters.org, which reads in part:
“What this audio clip has done is to cut-and-paste these three statements (and more) in one paragraph, and thus give an impression that since Christians practice ‘shirk’, they should not be allowed to practice Christianity, and must also be ‘filthy’. Of course, this shoddy cut-and-paste job flies in the face of Islamic teachings, and cannot be attributed to Islam or to me.
“Never have I claimed that Christians need to be prevented from practicing Christianity, or that they are filthy. This is truly a preposterous claim, as even the most basic exposure to Islamic law would demonstrate that non-Muslims are allowed to worship according to their doctrines in an Islamic state. Therefore (and I have made this point many times in my lectures), if this is the case in an ideal and theoretical ‘Islamic state’, how can anyone claim that Muslims want to ban Christianity in a non-Islamic land?
“In conclusion, my views on jihad can be heard in my lectures and read in my articles (a simple Google will show most of them). In addition, quite a few articles have been written about me and my work (in particular, I reference the New York Times Magazine cover article about me). My message has been consistent and clear: I am a Muslim theologian and teach (and preach) the theology of Islam, but I have never called for violence against any group or religion.
“I have made mistakes in the past (and no doubt will continue to do so in the future); however, what this website, with its concocted audio-clip, is accusing me of is an all-out fabrication and sheer slander. It completely contradicts my talks, writings, public and private work, and indeed my own personal beliefs.
I hope this clarifies the misunderstandings surrounding this audio.”
San Bernardino attackers ‘not radical’
Kazi admits he has made mistakes in the past but that he has been misunderstood and slandered. Whether he has truly undergone a change of heart or simply needed to seek the cover of safer ideological ground following the underwear bomber’s arrest may never be known.
With hundreds of imams preaching thinly veiled messages of hate in Salafist mosques across America, many of them built with Saudi money and backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, it creates a breeding ground for violence against Americans, Furnish says.
Furnish argues that when you look at the Quran and the words of Muhammad, it is clear that the massacre in San Bernardino, California, was mainstream Islam – not “radical.”
President Obama said after the attack there was “no evidence the killers were directed by a terrorist organization overseas or that they were part of a broader conspiracy here at home.”
Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, who killed 14 and wounded 21, did “go down the path of radicalization, embracing a perverted interpretation of Islam that calls for war against America and the West,” Obama said.
Obama says those Muslims who do such things are a tiny minority who ruin the image of “99.9 percent” of Muslims who are peaceful.
Furnish said this was an “absurd statement” from the president because the killers were not following a perverted interpretation of the Quran.
The Pew Research Center study from 2013 polled tens of thousands of Muslims across the world, and overwhelming majorities said they favored Shariah, which requires corporal punishment for theft, stoning as punishment for adultery and death for Muslims who leave Islam. In Pakistan, support for Shariah as the “law of the land” was 84 percent, in Afghanistan is was 99 percent, in Iraq 91 percent, in the Palestinian territories 89 percent, and Egypt 74 percent.
But what about American Muslims?
“We don’t have good data on that,” Furnish said. Pew shied away from polling American Muslims with the same voracity it has polled those in foreign countries.
In fact, those affiliated with ISIS, the Taliban, Boko Horam, al-Shabab, al-Nusra Front, al-Qaida, or any of the various other jihadist groups can legitimately claim that they are the true Muslims, not those who eschew violent jihad.
Is it possible to screen Muslim immigrants for jihadist tendencies?
Furnish said it’s a misnomer to believe the U.S. government is capable of screening refugees or immigrants from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or Somalia for their future likelihood to commit terrorist acts.
“They aren’t self-radicalized. They aren’t radicalized by the Internet. In fact, they aren’t radicalized at all,” Furnish said in a Dec. 15 interview with Bill Bennett. “They are Islamized by reading the Quran, these texts, and deciding to take them literally.”
Former Rep. Michele Bachmann, who sought to have the U.S. government take more seriously the threat of Islamic terrorism when she was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives representing Minnesota, said clerics like Kazi should be taken at their word and held accountable.
“Straight from the mouth of a respected Islamic cleric, we American non-Muslims are considered filthy,” she said. “As long as we don’t convert to Islam, Muslims have the right to steal from us and to kill us.
“I wonder if Obama or Hillary (Clinton) know this?”
She said the U.S. Congress had it within its power Friday to reject the omnibus spending bill that fully funds Obama’s “strange and deadly Muslim immigration program.”
But the GOP-dominated Congress chose instead to approve funding for all of Obama’s refugee resettlement and immigration policies, including sanctuary cities.
Daniel Akbari, an Iranian-born former top Shariah attorney who converted to Christianity and defected to the U.S. in 2007, said Kazi’s lecture gets an “A” for its forthrightness.
“I always prefer to deal with those who reveal their evil thoughts and beliefs than the ones who use manipulation to hide them from me. This young sheikh is the example of an honest and faithful Islamic scholar who preaches what Islam teaches,” Akbari told WND.
There are 14 centuries of credible evidence to back up Kazi’s statements, he said.
“Becoming a Muslim by saying the Shahada is just to be immune from Muslims’ attack. To at least have a hope to go to paradise the Muslim has to become a Mo’men, a believer who practices Shariah,” Akbari said.
Yet, most Americans are taught that Islam is a religion of peace and those who practice jihad are “extremists” or “radicals,” Akbari said, when jihadists in fact are just being devout Muslims who practice what is taught in the Quran.
“Americans might call such a believer, a Mo’men, an Islamist. Quran in Surah 9:30 plainly states that those who say Jesus is the son of God are infidels,” he said. “The Sheikh is merely explaining Surah 9 verses 28-30, repeating the Quranic commandments regarding dealing with non-Muslims.”
According to Islam, those Christians who believe that Jesus is a prophet can enjoy the privilege of becoming dhimmis. If a Christian believes Jesus is God or the Son of God, then that Christian is considered to be a polytheist who should be killed and cannot claim the privilege of a dhimmi provided by the Quran Surah 9:29, Akbari explained.