who is Yasir Qadhi
Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi, previously known by his kunya, is an American preacher, theologian, and Sunni imam. Born on January 30, 1975. Yasir has held significant roles within Islamic education and leadership. Qadhi served as the Dean of Academic Affairs at the Al-Maghrib Institute which is an international educational institution based in Houston, Texas, since 2001. Additionally, Qadhi contributed to the Religious Studies department at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. Presently, Yasir is the resident Scholar of the East Plano Islamic Center in Plano, Texas, and holds the position of chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America.
Hailing from Texas and of Pakistani descent, Qadhi pursued Chemical Engineering at the University of Houston before furthering his studies at the Islamic University of Madinah in Saudi Arabia. Muslims recognize Yasir for his literary contributions and extensive lectures on Islam and contemporary issues faced by Muslims. Notably, Muslims have acknowledged Yasir in “The 500 Most Influential Muslims,” including the most recent 2022 publication.
While Qadhi has garnered influence and recognition, Yasir has faced criticism for his perspectives on women and for his defense of high-profile supporters of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. It’s important to note that many people formerly associated Yasir with the Salafi movement but later distanced himself, now aligning with the “Post-Salafist” movement.
Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi was born in Houston, Texas, to Muhajir parents of Pakistani origin. His father, a practicing doctor, played a pivotal role in establishing the first mosque in the region. Yasir’s mother, a microbiologist, shares roots with Karachi in Pakistan and ancestral ties to Uttar Pradesh in India. At the age of five, his family relocated to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where he attended local schools. Remarkably, by the age of 15, he had committed the Qur’an to memory and graduated as the valedictorian two years ahead of schedule from high school.
Upon returning to the United States, Qadhi pursued and obtained a B.Sc in Chemical Engineering from the University of Houston.
Following a brief tenure in engineering at Dow Chemical, Qadhi enrolled at the Islamic University of Madinah in Medina, Saudi Arabia, in 1996. During his time there, he attained a bachelor’s degree in Arabic from the College of Hadith and Islamic Sciences and later pursued a master’s degree in Islamic Theology from the College of Dawah. Spending nearly a decade studying and working in Saudi Arabia, he eventually returned to the United States.
Continuing his academic pursuits, Qadhi completed a doctorate in theology at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. He contributed to the Religious Studies Department at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, and previously served as both the Dean of Academic Affairs and an instructor at the AlMaghrib Institute, an institution focused on seminar-based Islamic education founded in 2001. Qadhi relocated to the Dallas metropolitan area in early 2019, assuming the role of resident scholar at the East Plano Islamic Center. Presently, he holds the position of Dean of Academic Affairs at The Islamic Seminary of America.
Additionally, Qadhi appeared as a guest on an episode of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates’s genealogy series, “Finding Your Roots,” featured on PBS.
Yasir’s opinion on jihad
Qadhi has contributed significantly through presentations and papers on various aspects of jihad movements. In 2006, during a conference at Harvard Law School, he delivered a concise analysis, lasting 15 minutes, examining the theological foundations of an early militant movement in modern Saudi Arabia led by Juhayman al-Otaibi. This movement gained global attention for its seizure of the Grand Mosque of Mecca in 1979.
Furthermore, in September 2009, Qadhi presented a paper at an international conference held at the University of Edinburgh, delving into the understanding of jihad in the contemporary world. Within this discourse, he highlighted the misappropriation of the specific legal ruling (fatwā) by the 13th–14th century theologian Ibn Taymiyya concerning the Mongol Empire. Qadhi argued that both Jihadist and pacifist groups had erroneously used this ruling in the 20th and 21st centuries to validate their respective stances.
Despite his contributions, some Salafi commentators have critiqued his assertions, asserting that they did not, in fact, revise the definition of Jihad.
Sufism and veneration of the saints
Qadhi holds the view that while some Sufi Muslims visit the graves of Sufi saints and invoke Muhammad or seek their help, it doesn’t amount to shirk (polytheism) but is deemed haram, sinful, and considered an innovation regarded as harmful. He describes it as a preliminary step and entryway to shirk but not shirk itself. Qadhi emphasizes that despite this practice, we should still acknowledge these individuals as Muslims, albeit misguided.
He expresses concern about labeling the veneration of Sufi saints at graves as shirk, as doing so would implicate many Islamic scholars who endorse this practice, potentially accusing them of committing shirk and exclud them from Islam.
According to Qadhi, the crucial distinction lies in whether these individuals believe they are calling upon a deity, intend to worship, or attribute independent powers to these saints. He maintains that Sufi Muslims engaging in these practices do not consider the saints as gods, do not intend it as worship, and do not believe in the saints possessing autonomous abilities.
Views on social issues
Regarding religious freedoms, Qadhi maintains that Islamic teachings do not mandate Muslim business owners to discriminate against or deny services to LGBTQ individuals. However, he does express apprehension about potential challenges faced by Islamic institutions if they engage in disrespectful discourse or hire/fire employees who diverge from conservative perspectives on sexual conduct.
death threat by islamic state of Iraq and the Syria
Yes, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) designated Yasir Qadhi, along with other Western Islamic speakers like Hamza Yusuf, Bilal Philips, Suhaib Webb, and numerous others, as apostates (murtads) in the April 2016 issue of Dabiq Magazine. Some people threatened him with death for condemning ISIS.
In January 2010, The Daily Telegraph reported an incident involving Qadhi, stating that in 2001, he had made statements regarding the Holocaust, suggesting it was a hoax and false propaganda. He had also allegedly remarked that “Hitler never intended to mass-destroy the Jews.” However, Qadhi denied asserting that the Holocaust was a hoax or false propaganda. He acknowledged in 2008 that he had briefly held incorrect beliefs about the Holocaust, expressing a view that Hitler aimed to expel rather than massacre Jews. He later admitted this was an error, affirming that the Holocaust was a heinous crime against humanity, acknowledging the systematic dehumanization of Jews as a precursor to this tragedy.
Qadhi reflected on his past views, admitting a descent into a regrettable path marked by anger toward Israeli government actions that led to inappropriate anti-Semitic remarks, which he recognized as wrong.
In July 2010, Qadhi was part of an official delegation comprising eight U.S. imams and Jewish religious leaders visiting Auschwitz and Dachau concentration camps. Together, they released a joint statement condemning anti-Semitism and denouncing Holocaust denial, aligning it against Islamic ethics.
Regarding his 2015 tour, The Times newspaper reported that British Charity Commission regulators contacted three Islamic charities regarding Qadhi’s alleged controversial comments. He supposedly discussed issues related to Islamic punishments, clarifying that, within an Islamic society, actions like killing homosexuals and stoning adulterers might apply but stressed that these were not to be implemented in Western contexts.
Yasir’s islamic production
Yasir has written a number of books on diverse Islamic issues. Yasir wrote a book entitled “Riyaa’”, a hidden shirk in which he speaks about hypocrisy. Also Yasir wrote another book entitled “An introduction to the sciences of the Quran”. He speaks about the Islamic studies related to the Holy Quran. Yasir has had a further contribution to the Islamic library when he wrote about the “Four principles of shirk”. There is also a significant book entitled: “Du’a, the weapon of a believer”, in which he discusses the importance of supplications for a Muslim. Then Ysir returned back to the Quranic studies when he wrote about: “The fifteen ways to increase your earnings from the Quran and sunnah.” Then he wrote a commentary on Wahabism when he commented on Mohammad ibn Abdel-Wahhab’s “Kashf Al-Shubuhat”. Yasir also wrote many significant books on Islamic studies.