Qazi Qayyoom, left, shown in sun glasses with a black cap, describes himself as a “moderate and liberal Sufi-Sunni imam” and is the founder of the Muhammadi Center of Jackson Heights, New York. He attended the pro-NYPD rally on March 5, 2012 organized by about 20 Muslim-American leaders and organizations. It was led by Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, (shown here at the rally to the right of Qayyoom. Jasser is the Muslim narrator of our film, The Third Jihad. The following is ClarionProject.org Senior Fellow Ryan Mauro's interview with Qayyoom.
Ryan Mauro: First, can you introduce yourself to our readers?
Qazi Qayyoom: It’s my pleasure. After I finished my Islamic studies in Bangladesh, I established an Islamic kindergarten school in my hometown of Beanibazar in Sylhet in 1985. That’s where I started my carrier as an Islamic teacher and imam. It was the only school in the country that was not run by a radical Islamic group called Jamaat-e-Islami, which is a hub of modern terrorism, in my view.
When they realized that I was not one of them, they began harassing me in different ways. As a result, I had a leave the country. I came to the U.S. in 1991 and became an Islamic home tutor. In 1996, some Bangladeshis of Elmhurst, Queens asked me to become the imam at the newly-started Elmhurst Islamic Center.
When Islamic terrorists took credit for the attacks on September 11/2001 and said they did it for Islam, I was disturbed. Islam doesn’t tell its followers to kill innocent people like this. I began giving my Friday sermons against radicalism, extremism and terrorism. I started educating kids against these inhumane activities in the name of Islam. But unfortunately, few attendees and some committee members of Elmhust Islamic Center went against me and started giving me a hard time by stopping my salary and getting other radical-minded imams to harass me. I had no money to buy milk for my newborn daughter, who was born on Christmas of 2002.
When I realized they wanted to harm me, I had to quit the job in 2004. That year, my son was born. I was jobless with two children and a wife for a year. I was a victim because I spoke out the truth, that Islam is a religion of peace, not for violence.
In 2005, I established the Muhammadi Community Center in Jackson Heights with the mission of, “There is no terrorism in the peaceful religion of Islam.” I’m still facing problems from radical-minded Muslims, imams and their supporters in different ways because, in my view, more than 80% of Muslims in the USA are directly or indirectly involved with the Masjids, centers or groups backed by Jamaat-e-Islami. They are taking advantage of the freedom of religion and non-profit benefits of this country. They collect money through their organizations in the name of helping people abroad, but nobody know s where the money is going.
The problem is that sometimes our officials do not know who is who. For their fundraising purpose, they can do anything. The Muslim radicals are so smart that they do not use the name Jamaat-e-Islami but rather, a meaningful name that means something good so that the officials or Muslims can believe them as good Muslims. Our Muhammadi Center is determined and dedicated to work against them and find them.
RM: What made you attend the pro-NYPD Muslim rally?
QQ: One of my friends who lived in Canada contacted me to raise the right Islamic voice. As a Muslim leader, I thought it was my responsibility to go. Some of them called me and threatened me from unknown phone numbers, but I know I’m on the right side and God’s blessing is with me so I’m not afraid.
I am spiritually encouraged from my Prophet to fight against the radicals with my voice. Even Prophet Muhammad (SA) warned us to be careful about these people who will appear in the last days in the name of Islam.
The NYPD kept our Islamic centers safe after 9/11. They patrolled all the mosques to protect them from any hate crimes. If they need to do surveillance for any suspicious activities, we must let them do it. The NYPD is wonderful.
I also opposed the construction of the mosque at the World Trade Center site. I consider it to be a seditious mosque, as mentioned in Chapter 9 of the Quran. I also do not support buying churches to turn them into mosques.
RM: How do you feel about groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) that claim to speak on behalf of the Muslim community?
QQ: These are the misguided groups backed by Jamaat-e-Islami and their allies like the Islamic Circle of North America and the Islamic Society of North America. Muslims who want real peace must reject them. They often hire newly converted Muslims who don’t know how dangerous they are. My suggestion to all new converts is to not join these groups. Freedom of religion does not mean you should join a harmful group like them.
RM: You are calling on the U.S. government to recognize the birthday of Mohammed as a national holiday. Aren’t you concerned that this will be seen as an attempt to impose your religion?
QQ: No, this is just to allow for celebration like any other celebration in the U.S. We don’t need to impose my religion in this country, because I can practice my religion without any barriers. I thank America, and I salute America for this. May God continue to bless America, who lets me practice my religion any way I want.
Any Islamic religious ideas backed by Jamaat-e-Islami will not bring peace but sedition. The whole Muslim world must reject them and come back to the real Sufi-based moderate and liberal Islam on which the Muhammadi Center was established.
Ryan Mauro is a fellow with the Clarion Fund. He is the founder of WorldThreats.com and a frequent national security analyst for Fox News Channel.