Meeting Imam of Islamic Society of Mid Manhattan

By Mano Bakh

Imam Ahmed Dewidar and Imam Mohammed Dewidar

The six-story building on East 55th street was purchased by the Islamic Society in 1999. The Bank of Kuwait was the creditor of the loan. At present time they owe only $1.7 million to the bank. Two people are donating $500K each and they have cash of $200K and are asking donations to cover the $500K balance. On every floor of this building there were at least four donation boxes next to the elevator and inside the rooms.

The Islamic Society is associated with Al-Azhar University where, apparently Imam Mohammed Dewidar was scholar of  Shariah law. They are planning to establish a U.S.-accredited  Islamic University in Manhattan offering  a full Islamic curriculum, including Shariah and Islamic studies.

In one of the brochures,  it  stated:  “We represent Muslims from all over the world” . “Our diversity continues to grow as we are blessed to regularly witness the shahadah of many brothers and sisters.” “We are Muslims who love the Qur’an and the last prophet Mohammed” “We follow the general guidance of the Qur’an and Sunnah.” “We are dedicated to sharing this guidance with all people, for this is a message of mercy, peace, wisdom and the truth.” Our society invites everyone to a dialogue, based on tolerance, mutual respect and peaceful means”.

Our society invites everyone to a dialogue based on tolerance, mutual respect and peaceful means.

I was hoping to meet two brothers:  Imams, Ahmed and Mohammed Dewidar. Imam Ahmed was engaged in a conference outside, so  I met with  Imam Mohammed Dewidar. When I first came into the door of the Islamic Society of Mid-Manhattan, I was greeted by an American gentleman named Abdul Hagh, who introduced himself as the secretary. Mr. Hagh told me that he was a Jew converted to Islam many years ago and his original name was Jeffrey Glazer.

Mr. Abdul Hagh led me to a room where Imam Mohammed, who was wearing a long white robe and sitting on a comfortable leather couch. We shook hands and he offered me tea, coffee or water. I chose a bottle of water and we began our dialogue.

I shared with him that ” we believe that in the current time, there is no room for the barbaric seventh century laws, Shariah”. He immediately became defensive and said, “Many countries have their own laws and Shariah law is not practiced’’. At that time I changed my line of questioning. “Do you agree with cutting hands off as a punishment for petty thievery”  I asked.

He replied “It is in Quran, it is Allah’s words.”

I added. “I know it is in the Quran, and I know Muslims believe that it is Allah’s word”. “ Do you, Mr. Mohammad, as an individual,  agree to cutting the hands off of a thief, or allowing a nine year old girl to get married?”

He said,  “1400 years ago, there was no law”. “Islam made the laws”.” Today every country has its  own laws”. He added that “for marriage ceremonies that he performs”,” he pays  special attention to the age of the bride”. “He does not agree that any woman should marry before eighteen years of age, because their body and mind is not ready”. He defended Prophet Mohammad when he got married with Aisha when she was nine years old. He said “Arab women were built bigger and stronger at that time and they were ready for marriage.”

Imam Mohammed had a very thick Egyptian accent and I had to pay more attention to understand him. We spoke about one hour. And,  I concluded that even though he does not agree with some of the Shariah Laws, because they are the words of Allah and are  not practiced here in America, he feels there is no need to change or eliminate them.

He invited me to continue our discussion in the near future over lunch or dinner and that hopefully his brother, Imam Ahmed Dewidar would  also participate. I told him that the goal of  Concerned American Citizens is to eliminate seventh century barbaric laws “Shariah” from the spiritual side of Islam.

At the end of our discussion, we took a picture together and Mr. Abdul Hagh accompanied me to the first floor entry door.


4 responses to “Meeting Imam of Islamic Society of Mid Manhattan

  1. It is so sad that these prple are still stuck in the laws of a power happy murderer and thief that lied his way to power.

  2. Mano: Thank you for your dedication & your time in contacting the Imans. I hope through your efforts that the Muslim world will one day abandon the practice of Shari Law.

    • consernedamericancitizens

      Thank you for your support. I am confident that we have found the proper way for Islam reformation. Islam must, as any other religion, concentrate on the spirituality and human values only. They must abandon the governmental part of Islam.

  3. Kwajo Aaron Osteen

    I am Interfaith, and I believe that there is truth in all religions. I also believe that religions have to adapt with the times. We are living in 2013. Certain scriptures do not necessarily pertain to today’s times. Scriptures are not meant to be interpreted literally. You must look behind the words to pull out the true meaning and essence. That is where fundamentalists and fanatics miss the boat. I also believe in Women’s rights as well as gay rights, and believe that the persecution of women and gays in Islam must end. As a spiritual person, I believe spirituality is a tool to enhance one’s life. I think that Islam is a very misunderstood religion, and that more people need to study it, in order to really discover it’s true essence. I also think that Islam must adapt with the times, and become more progressive. When you do that, the message of Islam could reach a larger demographic, and you also change the perception. I believe that most Muslims would want this.

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