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December 27, 2017 5:07 pm

Houston Imam’s Apology for Sermon Urging Muslims to ‘Fight the Jews in Palestine’ Falls Short for Local Jewish Leaders

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Houston imam Raed Salah Al-Rousan. Photo: Middle East Media Research Institute.

The Houston, Texas imam who urged Muslims to “fight the Jews in Palestine” during an incendiary Dec. 8 sermon spoke of his desire on Thursday to “repair the damage” caused by his remarks — but Jewish leaders said his apology fell short in at least one critical regard.

Imam Raed Saleh Al-Rousan of the Tajweed Institute — a Quranic teaching organization with branches in Houston and Tampa — spoke in a Facebook post of his “hope to establish new and meaningful relationships with my neighbors in the Jewish community,” including through meetings “with Jewish leaders.”

“I want to hear their concerns, learn from them and bring our communities closer together,” Al-Rousan said. “I hope to work with them to alleviate any fears and to combat hatred in all forms, most especially antisemitism and anti-Muslim bigotry.”

“I am absolutely and completely opposed to and disgusted by all forms of terrorism, all terrorists, and I oppose anyone who would commit, call for, or threaten violence against civilians,” he continued.

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But Al-Rousan’s claim in the same post that he was “mortified that an impassioned sermon I gave in light of President Trump’s Jerusalem declaration is being seen as a call for the very things I despise” received short shrift from the head of the Anti-Defamation League in Houston.

The Facebook post demonstrated that Al-Rousan “doesn’t fully understand the ramifications of his sermon,” ADL Regional Director Dayan Gross said in a statement.

“Although he says he opposes anyone who could ‘commit, call for, or threaten violence against civilians,’ and that he’s ‘mortified’ that his sermon is ‘being seen as a call for the very things I despise,’ video of the sermon unmistakably shows him citing an apocalyptic Hadith (a saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammad) which declares ‘Judgment Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews. The Muslims will kill the Jews….,'” Gross observed.

Israel’s consul-general in Houston, Gilad Katz, was also skeptical. “Keep in mind that in his speech, the Imam actually promoted violence and death to Jewish people,” Katz told The Algemeiner on Wednesday. “Therefore, this kind of man is not a partner for a dialogue, whether he apologized or not.”

Al-Rousan’s sermon – first brought public attention to by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) — left little doubt as to his meaning. As well as quoting the widely-cited hadith, Al-Rousan accused the Jews in his own words of having “killed the prophets and the messengers of Allah,” charged that they had maliciously “changed the Torah,” and asserted that “the Hour (Judgement Day) will not arrive until Muslims fight the Jews there, in Palestine.”

In a statement condemning Al-Rousan released on Tuesday, the Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH) — a body that includes 21 Islamic communities in the Houston area — observed that the imam was himself “new to Houston,” and that he had made “inflammatory remarks about our Jewish community in a deeply disturbing tone.”

“While unaffiliated with this organization (Al-Rousan’s Tajweed Institute), the ISGH feels the need to set the record straight,” the statement said. “The ISGH condemns blanket statements against Jews or any other religious community. The ISGH affirms Islam’s values of pluralism and peace-building.”

Another statement signed by a group of community leaders, including seven local imams, emphasized their rejection of “any direct or perceived calls to violence whether it be against Jews, Muslims, Christians, or any other group.”

“We understand that words can create fear and tension and even cause some amongst your congregation to ask the question — ‘are Muslims really our partners, or are they not?'” the statement, addressed primarily to other faith communities, continued. “There should be no doubt — we stand with the Jewish community to combat antisemitism, and we remain confident that the Jewish community stands with us to combat Islamophobia and hate in all forms.”

Both the ADL and the Israeli consul-general welcomed the statements of condemnation from the city’s Muslim leaders.

“Israel sees partners for dialogue like the Muslim leaders who condemned such words of hatred and violence,” Katz said.

In a separate exchange with The Algemeiner, the ADL’s Gross said he was “deeply gratified” by the Muslim leaders’ responses. “These are good friends of our community who stand with us to combat antisemitism,” Gross said. “Likewise, we stand with the Muslim community against Islamophobia.”

“These are friendships that have been formed over many years,” he said.

The initiator of the group statement condemning Al-Rousan told The Algemeiner that while the Tajweed Institute was not particularly well-known among Houston’s Muslims, “we are using this as an opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade, by making it a teaching moment for the imam and for others.”

Shariq Ghani of the Minaret Foundation — a Houston-based interfaith organization — said that Al-Rousan would be expected to “express his regret through actions as well as words,” for example by studying with religious scholars committed to an interfaith perspective.

In a wide-ranging conversation, Ghani said that Al-Rousan’s sermon pointed to a deeper need within the Muslim community “to understand the context in which we speak, the audience we are speaking to, how we should represent ourselves, how we talk about politics, how we develop relationships with the Jewish, Christian and other religious communities.”

Asked whether the problem was better understood as a matter of beliefs and convictions, Ghani argued that creating a communal leadership that set an example was more effective than challenging extremist doctrines on a case-by-case basis.

“The way we can combat extremism is by explaining and clarifying our positions in our sermons and in everything else we do,” said Ghani, whose Minaret Foundation asserts that “one of the reasons Islam is so easily maligned and attacked is mostly because of our own community…Whether it be through not educating those around us or whether we actually end up misrepresenting our Deen (religion) through our actions, we bear most of the responsibility of the distorted image of our Deen in the West.”

“We have to bring people together as a community and show that we are united,” Ghani said. “We have to lead by example, that’s the Jewish and Christian and Muslim way.”

Asked whether he thought Jews and Muslims in America could one day debate the conflicts in the Middle East in an environment free of stereotypes and conspiracy theories, Ghani replied that on this issue as well, “unless we communicate with one another, nothing will change.”

Ghani acknowledged that when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Jews and Muslims “won’t agree on everything.”

But, he stressed, “what happens overseas should not determine the conversations and relationships we have here at home.”

Those “in power” in the Middle East, Ghani said, “should never be allowed to dictate how we live our lives in the course of our relationships with others.”

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  • KyraNelson

    This muzzie is a turd.

  • Jon MC

    “Ghani said [we need] to understand the context in which we speak, the audience we are speaking to, how we should represent ourselves, how we talk about politics, how we develop relationships with the Jewish, Christian and other religious communities.”

    (1) The context: In the US (and West) that is a non-Muslim society, in Muslim-majority Countries then we have the proper context for preaching Islam fully.
    (2) The audience: Given (1), will Muslims or non-Muslims hear our words?
    (3) How we represent ourselves: given (2), How much Taqiyya, Tayseer, Kitman, etc. we have to use in what we say.
    (4)Talking about politics: given (3) whether we have or can advocate for Sharia and and a Caliphate or not.
    (5) Interfaith relationships: given (4), are we forced to treat non-Muslims as equals or can we treat them as Dhimmis?

  • Mel Profit

    The results of poll after poll speak for themselves. Muslims are overwhelmingly Jew hating. Until the Western media stops ignoring this fact and the Muslim countries make some serious changes (which won’t happen in the near future) the situation will stay the same, and to speak of Islamophobia is simply absurd, as Jews should have a legitimate fear of Islam.

  • ncpaul

    The battle with Muslms has been raging in the Middle East against each other and since the 800’s against everyone else on the Planet. Until the Muslim faith addresses its own demons, it is no fit companion in any community. Personally I don’t believe that is ever going to happen. They can’t even get along with each other – much less with the rest of the civilized world. This nonsense that Islam is the religion of peace is a crock of crap. They have been killing one another for 1500 years and the world would be a better place if Islam were destroyed as an ideology. First of all, understand that it is not a religion. It is an ideology. Islam dictates the structure of your government, the courts, your religion, your social fabric, your community hierarchy, your military and your allegiances. It is all encompassing so to talk about Islam – the religion – is a fools folly. Islamists were aligned with the Nazis in WW II and for good cause – they think and act alike. No Muslim can live in American and be a true Muslim and a citizen who swears allegiance to the American Constitution. Islam demands allegiance to Islam – and no other structure. I don’t care how well you think you know a neighbor, a friend, or an acquaintance, the simple fact is that all Muslims – that are true to their faith – are capable of being loyal US Citizens. This is an absolute fact. It’s not islamaphobic. I’m not a hater. I don’t hate snakes. I recognize them for what they are and co-exist. Some are good and do good things.. Others are poisonous and very dangerous. If you live amongst them – sooner or later they will bite and kill you. Others serve very good purposes and will help you keep your property clean and clear of pests and other bad snakes. That’s like the Muslims. Not all are killers – but all are snakes. It is up,to the good ones to kill and keep the bad ones under control. Again, that’s not islamaphobic – that’s just the way it is. Believe anything else at your personal peril. Don’t just read what I write and accept or reject what is written here. Educate yourselves – your strongest defense in life is a thorough education. Learn about Islam and understand the enemy within.

    • Sebastien Zorn

      I think you are being unfair to snakes. Some snakes make loving and faithful pets.

  • Olajumoke Kolawole

    Let’s for once be sincere with ourselves,This imam is just repeating the words of Quran as regards the required Muslims disposition towards both Christian and the Jews Quran chapter 9 verse 29, chapter5 verse 51, Quran 9 verse 124, Quran 4 verse 89and even more commanded every Muslims to be hostile and even kills for the canse of Allah! So if there​ is any felons or murderer it’s not this man.The foundation is from Al Quran! To stop this madness is to stop any Muslim from reading Quran! can that be possible? No! Solution it’s either they are willing to be assimilated into the culture of the Nations they found themselves or they are safely sent back to where they are coming from.No any form of intellectual approach can constraints them from being violent.killing for Allah is the best way to enter Al Janna’s (Islamist Paradise) So will you stop them from enjoying the benefits of their Paradise? For your own safety send them back to their culture and Nativity! Simple.

  • Yitzhakhazak

    Tell the imam that his own book says the Promised Land belongs to the Sons of Israel. You can add that Muslims are the greatest invaders in world history and that Palestine is not in Arabic. It’s in Latin. He should really keep quiet.

  • Brooklyn Ave.

    It’s really very simple….this Mamzer is an anti-Semite of the worst kind who knew exactly what he was saying!!! …He should be escorted out of the U.S. ASAP!!!

  • Sorry but I don’t believe a word that Shariq Ghani said. I would like to hear him disavow the two Hadiths from where the story about rocks growing mouths and calling for all Jews to be exterminated originated. This is the story that was also the Imam’s sermon. It is taught to all Muslims from the time they are children

    HADITH Sahih Bukhari [4:52:177]:

    Allah’s Apostle said, “The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say, “O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.”

    HADITH Sahih Muslim [41:6985]:

    The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews

    I would not hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

    • Sandydog

      If he’s asked to unequivocally renounce and denounce those ahadith–and refuses….

  • Sebastien Zorn

    He’s merely “not a partner for dialogue?” Are you kidding me?

  • cbusa

    He learned from Arafat, Abbas, Erekat, and the other Palestinian two-faced liars. They say one thing to their own people in Arabic and profess the completely opposite position to everybody else in English. Sorry, but “Allah Akbar, kill the Jews” trumps “Islam is the religion of peace.”

  • Andrew Strom

    What a puke faced liar

  • Gooz Chos

    So, the Imam is quoting directly from the Hadith.

    The islamic society of greater houston (ISGH) is saying that it is opposed to blanket statements against a religion.

    Is the ISGH saying it’s opposed to the hadiths?

    • Sandydog

      They’re hoping their deceit won’t be addressed.

  • Reb_Yaakov

    “Houston, Texas,”
    “Houston, Texas”

    “Judgment Day” preferred over “Judgement Day”

    To turn lemons into lemonade, one adds sugar. Does that make it better? What does it really mean when someone says this?