Mosque asks leader not to resign
Detroit — Board members at a Dearborn mosque that is among the nation’s largest and most influential say they are appealing to their religious leader to reconsider his resignation over a dispute with the organization’s board.
Imam Hassan al-Qazwini told members of the Islamic Center of America last week he wanted to resign but would reconsider if the board dissolved.
It’s an “insurmountable condition,” said board Chairman Ron Amen, who told the Associated Press he and other board members nevertheless plan to speak with al-Qazwini and his family.
The board took symbolic action Sunday to reject al-Qazwini’s resignation from the mosque in the city with one of the country’s largest Arab-American and Muslim populations.
Amen said hundreds came to the mosque to express their support for al-Qazwini, and the imam told them he would lead prayers one final time Friday.
The Associated Press has left numerous messages for al-Qazwini.
Last year, unsigned letters to members began appearing that accused al-Qazwini of using donations from mosque members for projects run by his father in Iraq and also of having an extramarital relationship. Critics want the money used to retire the mosque’s debt and for projects in Lebanon and other countries.
Al-Qazwini, who is of Iraqi descent and from a family of prominent American Shiite scholars, denies the allegations and said the rift is with board members of Lebanese descent.
Amen said al-Qazwini’s nationality has “never been a bone of contention,” and the number of his critics is “infinitely small.”
Al-Qazwini has met with past U.S. presidents, including Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and with Barack Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign.
While he believes there’s only a “slim chance” of keeping al-Qazwini, Amen said, “we’re hoping there’s some alternative measures we can take to satisfy him.”
Amen said he has been working with private investigators and the Dearborn police on the letters and leafleting last fall at the mosque and rejects the “cowardly attempt” to damage al-Qazwini’s reputation. Still, he added, the imam’s “condemnation of the board is really way out of place.”
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