Tafsir is an elucidation or interpretation of the Quran, Islam’s principal text. Devout Muslims throughout the world have made tafsir a significant part of their lives. The work of Ismail Ibn Kathir, a 14th century expert on tafsir, is prominent in South Florida’s radical Muslim community. One mosque, the Islamic Center of Weston, is using a set of volumes from this work – Tafsir Ibn Kathir – to teach a class on the subject. This is alarming, given the amount of bigotry and violence contained within the books, including referring to Jews and Christians as “the enemies of Islam.” It is about time that these mosques are exposed for the centers of hate that they are.
The Islamic Center of Weston (ICW) was incorporated in the state of Florida, in July 2014, and moved to its present location in November 2016. In its short time in existence, the mosque has brought in a number of terror and hate-associated extremists through its doors.
In November 2020, ICW added Faisal Haroon to its board of directors. Haroon has used his social media to promote several videos featuring notorious anti-Semites Kenneth O’Keefe and TruNews host Rick Wiles. In the videos, O’Keefe: claims the US government is owned by Israel; refers to the Holocaust as “the so-called Holocaust”; labels Jews “dual nationals” and “traitors”; and says 9/11 was carried out by “billionaire Jewish businessmen” (Haroon called this one “A Must watch Video.”) In March 2019, Haroon was caught by Facebook posting “false information” about India’s dealings in Kashmir.
In February 2018, ICW hosted a speech by Syed Ammar Ahmed, who is currently the Government Affairs Coordinator for ICNA Relief USA, the social services division of the Islamic Circle of North America and a group with numerous links to South Asian terror. In February 2010, following a debate he participated in at a school, Ahmed wrote, “I hate white people”; called himself a “terrorist”; and at the suggestion of an acquaintance, joked that he “should have threatened to blow up the school.”
And in August 2017, less than a year after ICW began operations at its present property, the mosque hosted a three day ‘Quran Intensive Weekend Seminar’ featuring ‘Complete Tafsir of Quran in 3 days,’ given by the imam of Margate-based Masjid Jamaat Al-Mumineen (MJAM), Izhar Khan. Khan had previously been arrested and charged by the FBI (along with his father, Hafiz) with helping to finance the Taliban. MJAM, on its website, showcases a library filled with texts promoting female genital mutilation, death punishments for homosexuals, stoning of women, and hatred of Jews, Christians and Hindus. One of these texts is Tafsir Ibn Kathir.
On November 7, 2021, the South Florida Muslim Federation (SoFlo Muslims) placed on its Facebook page a post advertising a tafsir class being taught on Sundays, at ICW, by ICW board member Shakeel Hye. In the advertisement is a picture of a set of the same Tafsir Ibn Kathir. ICW is a member organization of the Muslim Federation, and Hye is part of the Federation’s Council of Imams. It should also be noted that MJAM is as well a member org of the Federation, and Khan too sits on the Council of Imams.
The subject matter found in Tafsir Ibn Kathir places its volumes on a level of bigotry and violence witnessed in materials published by the likes of al-Qaeda and neo-Nazis.
In Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Muslims are warned about befriending Jews and Christians (with a more hostile tone than its Quran counterpart), as the two peoples are described as enemies of both Muslims and their religion. It states, “[B]eware of the Jews, your enemies, lest they distort the truth for you in what they convey to you. Therefore, do not be deceived by them, for they are liars, treacherous and disbelievers… Allah forbids His believing servants from having Jews and Christians as friends, because they are the enemies of Islam and its people, may Allah curse them.”
The text further demeans Jews, labeling them with degrading and repulsive terminology. It states, “[T]he Jews… will continue to suffer humiliation at the hands of all who interact with them… [Y]ou will find them (the Jews) the greediest of mankind for life… greedy to live longer, because they know their evil end… Allah cast terror in the hearts of the Jews… Allah decreed that the Jews would be punished in the life of this world and face the torment of the fire of Hell.”
The text repeatedly calls for the death penalty for homosexuals. It states, “Whoever you catch committing the act of the people of Lut (homosexuality), then kill both parties to the act… Whoever you find doing the deed of Lut’s people, homosexuality, then kill the doer and the one who allows it to be done to him (both partners).”
And the text sanctions domestic violence against women. It states, “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women… Allah has made one of them to excel the other… [T]he righteous women… guard in the husband’s absence what Allah orders them to guard. As to those women on whose part you see ill conduct, admonish them, and abandon them in their beds, and beat them… [I]f advice and ignoring her in the bed do not produce the desired results, you are allowed to discipline the wife…”
ICW, MJAM and the Muslim Federation, which according to its website, comprises 17 Islamic centers and many more outfits, all have youth components filled with impressionable children, who are ignorant of the dangerous and hate-filled environments they have been placed in. While these entities embrace such malevolence as described by this author, they operate deceptively as mainstream organizations. For these groups to welcome such a bigoted and violent work as Tafsir Ibn Kathir is proof of their fanatic nature and enough reason for all of them to be investigated and, if warranted, shut down.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.