- Imam of the Islamic Center of America
- Openly supports both Hamas and Hezbollah
Sayid Hassan Al-Qazwini was born in Karbala, Iraq in 1964. His father and grandfather — Ayatollahs Sayed Mortadha Al-Qazwini and Sayed Mohammad Sadiq Al-Qazwini, respectively — were highly respected Islamic scholars. The Al-Qazwini family was forced to relocate to Kuwait in approximately 1980, when Iraqi President Saddam Hussein perceived the father and grandfather to be ideological threats to the regime.
In 1980, Sayid Hassan Al-Qazwini enrolled in an Islamic Seminary in Qum, Iran. He completed his studies twelve years later, at which time he relocated to the United States. He served a stint as Director of the Los Angeles-based Azzahra Islamic Center, which was founded by his father.
In early 1993, the Dearborn, Michigan-based Islamic Center of America (ICA), the largest mosque in North America, invited Al-Qazwini to be a guest speaker for its Arabic program during the upcoming holy month of Ramadan. In 1997 ICA hired Al-Qazwini to serve as its Imam, a post he went on to hold for the next 18 years, during which he became one of the most influential Shi’a religious leaders in the United States. In 1998 Al-Qazwini established the Young Muslim Association, whose professed mission is to create an environment in which Muslim American youth can actively promote their faith. He also served for some time as a board member of the American Muslim Council.
Over the years, Al-Qazwini has spoken at more than 100 churches, colleges, and universities, consistently assuring his listeners that the authentic teachings of Islam in no way condone terrorism or violence against infidels. In addition, he has urged U.S. political leaders to be sensitive to the needs and concerns of Muslim Americans, and to speak out publicly against non-Muslims who portray Islam or the Prophet Mohammad in a negative light. Because of these ostensibly moderate and reasonable elements of Al-Qazwini’s message, three American presidents — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama — met with him to discuss Muslim affairs. At the October 1, 2003 session of the 108th Congress, Al-Qazwini was given the high honor of offering the opening prayer.
But Al-Qazwini has also been known to use highly incendiary rhetoric, and to support Islamic hate mongers and extremists:
- On November 15, 1998, Al-Qazwini’s ICA sponsored an event — attended by more than 1,000 primarily Arab Muslim-Americans — where the featured speaker was Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Al-Qazwini and his fellow organizers introduced Farrakhan as “our dear brother,” “a freedom fighter,” and “a man of courage and sacrifice.”
- Al-Qazwini has claimed that the genocidal Islamic terrorist organization ISIS was created by Israel. In one particular YouTube sermon — titled “Connection Between ISIS and Israel?” — he stated: “ISIS is playing the role of the arm of the Zionist in the Muslim world, to kill more Muslims and non-Muslims … The number one beneficiary of all of these atrocities, I tell you, is the Zionists, and it is the Zionist regime.” Al-Qazwini also has said that Donald Trump and ISIS have certain attributes in common, and he has described Bernie Sanders as “an honorable man, even though he is a Jew.”
- On a number of occasions, Al-Qazwini boasted of his closeness to Hezbollah spiritual leader Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah; when the latter died in 2010, Al-Qazwini orchestrated a memorial service for him at ICA.
Al-Qazwini left ICA in mid-2015 amid controversy over the finances of his mosque. He then founded the Islamic Institute of America in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. Soon thereafter, Al-Qazwini also became an Imam at the Az-Zahra Islamic Center in Detroit, where, in a September 2016 sermon, he said: “The pro-Israel lobby has been using the United States as a cash cow. That is the reality. When many people now, in our own community, struggle to find jobs, our country, our administration, is bowing to the pro-Israeli lobby by giving them 38 billion dollars…. [But Benjamin] Netanyahu will never be happy with the United States, unless the U.S. becomes an unconditional cash cow – a farm – for Mr. Netanyahu.”
Further Reading: Biography of Sayed Hassan Al-Qazwini (Qazwini.org); “Who’s Protecting the President?” (by Steven C. Baker, 5-6-2003); “Muslim Leader [Al-Qazwini] to Discuss Muslim-Christian Dialogue” (Hope.edu, 11-7-2005); “Islamic Center of America [and Al-Qazwini]” (Clarion Project, re: Al-Qazwini’s comments about ISIS and Trump, and his closeness to Fadlallah); “Az-Zahra Islamic Center [and Al-Qazwini]” (Clarion Project); “Detroit Friday Sermon on U.S. Military Aid Package to Israel: The Pro-Israel Lobby Uses the United States As a Cash Cow” (MEMRI, 9-15-2016); “Imam Hassan Qazwini” (Clarion Project).