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Mohammad Tawhidi

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Mohamad Tawhidi
Personal
Born1982/1983 (age 37–38)
ReligionShia Islam
Senior posting
Based inAdelaide, Australia
Websiteimamtawhidi.com

Mohammad Tawhidi is a Muslim influencer and reformist Imam.[1][2] Tawhidi has been embraced by a number of centrist Islam groups and anti-Islamic extremism groups.[3][1][4][5]

Early life and education

Tawhidi is a Shi'ite Muslim of Iraqi origin who was born in Qom, Iran,[6] in 1982 or 1983.[7]

In 2009, he enrolled for a bachelor's degree in Islamic studies at Al-Mustafa University in Qom, but dropped out in 2012.[8] He later worked for one of the Shirazi-run television stations in Karbala.[9] In 2015, he returned to Australia, and is currently based in Adelaide.[9] He is fluent in Arabic, English, and Persian.[10]

Views

Tawhidi had earlier held Sadiq Hussaini Shirazi as his marja taqlid -- a religious leader whose authority one follows in life. But since 2015, Tawhidi has stated that he does not subscribe to any particular religious leader.[9] There have been marked differences between his and Shiraji's views on a host of issues.[8]

Tawhidi is president of the Islamic Association of South Australia,[11] which he founded in 2016.[12] He refers to himself as the "Imam of Peace".[13]

Islam

Tawhidi believes that Islam must be reformed in order to survive.[14] He deems all acts of terrorism to be condemned in the Quran,[15] and had denounced ISIL as an extremist body that did not represent the religion;[6] in June 2017, after the jihadi terrorist attack in London, he described the branch as a "cancer" on the religion.[16] He has been also critical of the treatment of women in Islamic countries, has called for the appointment of women to the Australian National Imams Council and rejected the use of hijab in public.[17][18] Tawhidi also oppose Muslims justifying domestic violence, polygamy and the killing of apostates.[14]

He supports limiting the building of mosques,[19][20] has urged for bans of Islamic texts, particularly the Sahih al-Bukhari, in that they have been used as an ideological underpinning for acts of terrorism,[19] advocates for the deportation of radical Islamic leaders from Australia[21] and supports a temporary travel-ban on Muslims coming from the Middle East to Australia.[7]

Tawhidi has claimed of halal certification to threaten the Australian way of life,[13][22] and was one of the most vocal advocates for shutting down of Islamic schools in entirety, or radically reforming them, for security reasons.[19][22][23][24] After making these comments, Tawhidi claimed he had been "escorted into hiding by the police" for fear of retribution by the Muslim community.[19][23] However, a police spokesperson told The Australian that "there have been no incidents relating to the removal of a person from a mosque or similar place."[13][19]

Political views

During August 2019, upon India revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, he said of Kashmir to be a Hindu land which was rightfully claimed by India, and further argued that both Pakistan and Kashmir belonged to India, since it was older than Islam.[25][26]

Media attention

In March 2016, Tawhidi released a statement concerning a man who was released on bail after allegedly grabbing a woman's headscarf on a bus in Adelaide. He stated: "If government laws do not prevent such assaults, then I fear that a day will come where the Muslim community might take matters into their own hands to protect their women and mothers."[12][27] His statement also said that the Australian Government should review its laws on female headscarves.[27] Tawhidi later clarified that his statement was not meant to be interpreted as a threat, and he was unhappy with how his comments were portrayed by the ABC and Daily Mail Australia.[28] He said that the misinterpretation by media outlets inspired him to found the "Imams for Peace" organisation.[28]

Later in 2016, he attended the World Alliance of Religions for Peace (WARP) Summit in South Korea, hosted by Lee Man-hee.[19][29] The WARP Summit coincided with the birthday of Lee Man-hee.[19] Tawhidi was supportive of the event and was quoted as saying "this WARP Summit is an event blessed by God because it is every religious person's wish to achieve peace through an alliance into one religion."[19]

In February 2017, Tawhidi caused controversy when he appeared on an episode of Australian current affairs program Today Tonight.[22] During the episode, he suggested that Islamic extremists were conspiring to set up a caliphate in Australia.[13][19][22][23] He also made claims that these extremists planned to increase the Muslim population in Australia and rename streets after Islamic terrorists.[19][20] Tawhidi called for a government body to be established in order to investigate the Muslim community.[19][20]

In the same month, Tawhidi made a request to defend former Jakarta Governor Ahok during his blasphemy trial.[11] He argued that the aggrieved Islamic groups had incorrectly interpreted the verse of the Quran that Ahok had allegedly referenced in a blasphemous manner.[11] Tawhidi stated that there is nothing wrong with non-Muslims leading a Muslim-majority country.[30] Tawhidi said he has received death threats from Indonesia's Islamic Defenders Front.[11]

Tawhidi previously had his arrival to Indonesia rejected, in October 2015, after he was considered to have insulted the Sunni-majority nation by calling it "Indoneshia".[30][31] Islamic organisation Hidayatullah described Tawhidi as "an extreme Shia."[31] A statement from DPP ABI, an Indonesian Shia organisation, said Tawhidi was suspected of being a "takfiri" and they rejected his presence in Indonesia.[32] The statement went on to say that Tawhidi's presence would undermine efforts to "achieve unity of the Muslims in the face of Zionism."[32]

In May 2017, Tawhidi appeared as a guest on Australian breakfast television program Sunrise to discuss the recent Manchester Arena bombing.[24] He claimed many young Muslims were being pushed to believe killing infidels would allow them to gain paradise and that the Manchester bomber would have believed he would go to heaven for what he did.[24]

He is also a fan of Indian actress Raveena Tandon; some of his tweets about her were compiled in a viral Twitter thread in 2019.[33][34]

In 2019 he was the first Shia Imam to "pay respects at Auschwitz" concentration camp.[35]

Reception

Bronwyn Adcock, writing for the ABC, said Tawhidi had very few supporters in the Muslim community.[8]

Sectarianism

Zuhdi Jasser, writing an op-ed for Asia Times Online, said that Tawhidi only criticised Sunni Islamists and never Islamists within his own community such as the Iran regime;[36][a] in essence, he was not a reformist but a Shia radical.[36] Chloe Patton, in a piece for the ABC, referred to Tawhidi as a "Shia extremist" and accused him of waging a "sectarian war against Australia's majority Sunni community."[19] Patton referred to Tawhidi's comments to Andrew Bolt that Sahih al-Bukhari, a sacred Sunni text, should be banned.[19][22] Paul Barry, presenter of Media Watch, made mention of Tawhidi's calling sacred Sunni texts "monkey teachings", and described Sunnis as "followers of an alcoholic, rapist caliph."[22][b]

Islamic credentials

Tawhidi's claims of being an ordained Sheikh, has been rejected.[19][24][13] The Sunni-based Australian National Imams Council (ANIC) does not recognise Tawhidi as an imam, sheikh or Muslim leader.[13][19][20]

Far right

Tawhidi has been accused of being an ally of Australian far-right groups including the Australian Liberty Alliance as well as One Nation.[19][36] Tawhidi had defended One Nation leader Pauline Hanson[22][40] and supported her stances.[7][13][22][40]

Notes

  1. ^ Tawhidi has however criticised Iran for imprisoning scholars critical of government, and stated the people of Iran regularly witness "waves of oppression, torture and lack of human rights."[37]
  2. ^ However, on occasions, Tawhidi has promoted unity amongst Muslim sects and opposed sectarianism in Islam.[38] In June 2016, he began Ramadan by visiting an Ahmadiyya mosque and paid his respects to the community.[39] In a piece for The Huffington Post, he states that Muslim sects and divisions become irrelevant during serious matters of national safety.[15]

References

  1. ^ a b Patton, Chloe (11 April 2017). "Welcome to the Weird World of Australia's 'Fake Sheikh', Mohammad Tawhidi". ABC Religion & Ethics. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  2. ^ Duraj, Łukasz (2018). "Imam M. Tawhidi i jego propozycja reformy islamu w świetle tradycji muzułmańskiej i współczesnej sytuacji społeczno-politycznej" (PDF). KULTURA – MEDIA – TEOLOGIA. 32: 130–147.
  3. ^ Mackey, Robert (25 June 2019). "How a Fringe Muslim Cleric From Australia Became a Hero to America's Far Right". The Intercept. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  4. ^ News, Emma McIntosh in; October 18th 2019, Politics | (18 October 2019). "Why are Conservatives hanging out with a fringe Muslim cleric with dubious credentials?". National Observer. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  5. ^ Saeed, Abdullah (14 May 2019). "The 'Imam of Peace' Exposed". The Herald Report. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Imam Tawhidi". HuffPost. Archived from the original on 26 June 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  7. ^ a b c "'Stop Muslims coming from Middle East': Australian imam supports Hanson's call for immigration bans". Yahoo! News. 5 June 2017. Archived from the original on 5 June 2017. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
  8. ^ a b c "Imam Mohammad Tawhidi: The problem with the media's favourite Muslim". ABC News. 23 June 2017. Archived from the original on 10 July 2017. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  9. ^ a b c Adcock, Bronwyn (25 June 2017). "Shadows of the Sheikh: how an Adelaide Imam with a mysterious past became a media star Archived 4 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine". ABC Radio National. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  10. ^ Rodway, Nick (26 August 2017). "Man of peace Archived 29 July 2018 at the Wayback Machine". The Spectator. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  11. ^ a b c d "Australian imam volunteering to defend Jakarta's Ahok at blasphemy trial". SBS World News. 23 February 2017. Archived from the original on 20 June 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  12. ^ a b "SA imam seeks greater tolerance and respect for the wearing of headscarfs". ABC News. 23 March 2016. Archived from the original on 17 June 2017. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g "Our public discourse is weakened by one-trick contrarians". The Sydney Morning Herald. 24 May 2017. Archived from the original on 27 May 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  14. ^ a b "Islam must reform or it won't survive: Imam". Sky News Australia. 29 March 2017. Archived from the original on 7 June 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  15. ^ a b "National Security: The Roles of Muslim Faith Leaders". HuffPost. 22 August 2016. Archived from the original on 7 June 2017. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  16. ^ "Muslim taxi drivers offer free rides home after London terror attacks". The Independent. 4 June 2017. Archived from the original on 7 June 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  17. ^ "Alan's 7.10 editorial 070617". 2GB. 7 June 2017. Archived from the original on 12 July 2017. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
  18. ^ "Peak Islamic council needs a female mufti, says South Australian imam". The Australian. 8 April 2017. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Welcome to the Weird World of Australia's 'Fake Sheikh', Mohammad Tawhidi". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 11 April 2017. Archived from the original on 13 June 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  20. ^ a b c d "One Path Network Exposes Today Tonight's Despicable Anti-Muslim Fraud". New Matilda. 4 March 2017. Archived from the original on 6 June 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  21. ^ "Sheikh Mohammad Tawhidi demands radical Islamic leaders be deported from Australia". Yahoo! News. 19 April 2017. Archived from the original on 12 July 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h "'Fake' Sheikh of shock". Media Watch. 22 May 2017. Archived from the original on 23 June 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  23. ^ a b c "Imam Shaikh Mohammad Tawhidi wants some Muslim schools 'shut down'". News.com.au. 6 April 2017. Archived from the original on 5 June 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  24. ^ a b c d "Muslim leaders clash in fiery debate on Sunrise". News.com.au. 26 May 2017. Archived from the original on 7 June 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  25. ^ “Kashmir Is A Hindu Land”: Imam Tawhidi Says Pakistan Has No Right To Claim Kashmir, Swarajya (magazine)
  26. ^ "India is older than Islam, let alone Pakistan: Imam Tawhidi rejects Pak's claim over Kashmir". DNA India. 13 August 2019.
  27. ^ a b "Kilburn man charged for allegedly grabbing woman's headscarf and intimidating her on bus into city". The Advertiser. 23 March 2016. Archived from the original on 29 May 2017. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  28. ^ a b "Adelaide Imam Shaikh Mohammad Tawhidi sets record straight on his warning against violence". The Advertiser. 30 March 2016. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  29. ^ "HWPL Interfaith Dialogue bridged Multiculturalism and Harmony". Munting Nayon. 24 November 2016. Archived from the original on 11 September 2017. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  30. ^ a b "The offer of Australian Imam Shaikh M Tawhidi to defend Ahok was coldly welcomed [Translated from Indonesian]". BBC Indonesia. 17 February 2017. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
  31. ^ a b "The Shia Australians will be in Jakarta, this is the Answers of the MUI Law Commission [Translated from Indonesian]". Hidayatullah. 1 October 2015. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  32. ^ a b "Rejected by ABI and IJABI, Intolerant Shia Characters Cancel to Indonesia [Translated from Indonesian]". ABNA Indonesia. 30 September 2015. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  33. ^ "Raveena Tandon Fan Imam Tawhidi has been Sending Her DMs without Any Reply". News18. 15 February 2019.
  34. ^ "Die-hard Raveena Tandon fan Imam Tawhidi slid into her DMs. Internet cannot keep calm". India Today.
  35. ^ "Imam of Peace visits Auschwitz". The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com. Retrieved 19 January 2020.
  36. ^ a b c "Is Tawhidi the imam Australia's been waiting for?". Asia Times. 10 May 2017. Archived from the original on 12 June 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  37. ^ "The Refugee Crisis: Why Muslims Are Fleeing from Islamic Governments". HuffPost. 8 January 2016. Archived from the original on 1 June 2017. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  38. ^ "Islamic Unity: Realistic Aspects of Success". HuffPost. 11 April 2016. Archived from the original on 5 June 2017. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  39. ^ "Shia Imam starts off Ramadan by visiting Ahmadiyya Mosque". Rabwah Times. 8 June 2016. Archived from the original on 11 September 2017. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  40. ^ a b "Imam calls for a focus on radicalisation". Sky News Australia. 30 April 2017. Archived from the original on 5 May 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2017.

External links